28 April 2013

Blog Week Day 7: Looking Forward

Thank you all so much for the lovely comments yesterday! Tim and I had a great time celebrating our wedding with our family and friends, our photographer-friend Mike from Pasarella Photography took a veritable ton of pictures because, in his words, how often would he get the chance to follow me around all day with a camera and take tons of pictures of me looking pretty in my gorgeous hair and make-up, (done by Mike's wife, the lovely and talented Adriana from Mysterious Mind) without me getting the chance to run away and hide from his camera? Not that many, indeed! We had a ton of fun, going out for a High Tea lunch, a visit at the local bird zoo and dinner at a nice little restaurant, and I hope I'll be able to share a few shots of yesterday with you guys soon. Ish. Mike's a bit of a perfectionist, so he'll be editing photos first.

Well, after that little preface, let's get back to business, shall we? As always on the last day of Blog Week, I look forward to next year and think about where I want to be, craft-wise, in one year. I think the answer this year is simple: I want to embrace my inner Monkey.

 Sorry, House of Bee. I know I vowed my allegiance to you, and I will wear your yellow-and-black stripes with pride until the day I die, but that doesn't mean I can't flirt with other houses, right? A bit of inter-house-bonding, if you will?
The House of Monkey, if you remember from Monday, was described as follows:

"Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting. "

 It's the idea of liking the challenge of something new and interesting that so far has eluded me a bit. And that's what I'm going to be working on this year.

© Elin Berglund
Earlier this year, my eye fell on this gorgeous knitted cropped cardi called Cecilia, and I actually went through with my intended plan to make one up to the point where I bought yarn and needles and the pattern and had everything up and ready to go. But something in me held me back from actually casting on, and that was the Fear of Fucking Up. I'm pretty sure most of you have experienced this in one way or another, as it can range from a light shudder and be easily shook off to a full-blown crippling stunning fear that stops you dead in your tracks. I think this particular fear was somewhere in the middle: I found myself making excuses for not casting on, but I still really wanted to! I even planned for this to go with my wedding dress. Well, my wedding was yesterday, and I still haven't even cast on.

© SpillyJane
Similarly, I once, in a previous edition of the Blog Week, proclaimed that I was going to make these Swedish Fish mittens. Never even looked back at the pattern because all those colours, all those strands, oh my, and knitted too?!

© Alexandra Tinsley
The Most Bespeckled Hat by Alexandra Tinsley is another one of those projects that I just really, really want to make but somehow, the concept of hats is daunting to me!

So, I hereby vow to you, dear reader, that I will be embracing my inner monkey this year. I will cast on for complicated things, I will crochet big, exciting projects, and I will flip the bird at the Fear of Fucking Up. Check back in this spot regularly to see how well I'm doing with this plan, okay? Okay.

And that's it! The last post of this year's Blog Week! I can't believe it has already come to an end! The week flew by so fast, wouldn't you agree? Even with me barely being able to keep up with the enormous host of posts. I hope you all enjoyed reading my take on the topics, I really enjoyed reading your posts and comments and I hope to catch up with reading a lot more over the next few weeks. See you next year, Blog Week, I'm looking forward to it!

27 April 2013

Blog Week Day 6: A Tool to Covet

After yesterday's extraordinary interruption, let's get back to business, shall we? Blog Week still has 2 days to go after all!

Today's topic is A Tool to Covet and it has proven to be a difficult one to write about! I don't own that many crafting tools. Most of my tools are needles and hooks, but they're mostly boring aluminium. They bend, they scratch easily, and the numbers on the end of my knitting needles that have been pressed into the plastic knob that indicate size have faded after a single use. They were cheap, though, and that's why I own most of my tools.

Nothing like a tall, refreshing glass of needles.

I keep most of my tools in a half-pint glass on top of the bookcase that contains most of my yarn. It's turned into a bit of a gathering place for other random crap, though: There's pens in there, chopsticks for some reason, and a plastic yellow clothespin. I'm pretty sure there's a lighter in there, too, but it's probably hiding. Then there's most of my crochet hooks, a sewing needle or two, and all my knitting needles not currently holding any yarn. As you can see, it's really not a good place to keep them. The needles are too tall, and the hooks are too short, it's easy to throw other random stuff in there.

The question about what my favourite tools were is therefore not as easily answered. Right now, my most favourite tools are one simple set of bamboo needles that have some sentimental value, and a shiny steel 3.0mm crochet hook.
You have no idea how hard it is to photograph a thin, shiny metal stick. No idea.
Sinterklaas over here is giving me a hand in showing off my favourite crochet hook. It's not too big, 3.00 mm, but it's the material that makes this one stand out over my other hooks. It's steel. Shiny, gold-coloured, cold steel. It's heavier than the aluminium hooks, which I think is a good thing, and I love the feel of it in my hand a lot more. I might be alone in this, because I know people usually like their hooks on the light and soft side, and since I have yet to try wooden crochet hooks I don't know if I would like those better than the steel one, but for now, this little hook is my go-to!

Yes, that is indeed another pink blob!
It's funny that I choose a steel hook over lighter aluminium ones, yet of all my knitting needles I am most fond of these bamboo ones! These are a bit special, though. I got them as a gift from two of my friends for my birthday along with a pattern and two balls of yarn to make my first ever knitting project, my Little Green Bag. They're 5.0mm needles, they are a bit grabby and don't feel as smooth as you would expect from bamboo, but they're perfect for random projects! I've been doing test-runs with the pink babbymelting acrylic yarn from hell on these and while normally, I would have to worry about stitches slipping off the needles, or not being able to see what I'm doing because the stitches are too small, with these needles I can drop them mid-row and don't have to worry about losing a stitch.

For actual knitting projects, I suspect that these would not be my first choice because of those 'features', but as test needles, they're perfect.

Because my crafting tools are mostly cheap and only bought because they were what was on hand in my LYS or the hobby corner of a cheap shop and they would get the job done, (there's that House of Bee-personality rearing its head again!) I do have a big lists of tools that I do covet. For instance, a proper set of knitting needles that comes in a case, like a set of circulars in every size you can imagine, along with a whole host of DPNS ranging from tiny tiny tiny to huuuuuge, especially if they come in a pretty little box. And of course, since I'm bicraftual, a complete set of crochet hooks would be glorious too. And as long as I'm listing tools I covet anyway, a good ball winder wouldn't go amiss either!

It's a shame I just had my birthday, really.

26 April 2013

Blog Week Day 5: And now for something completely different

Day 5 is usually my favourite day of Blog Week because I just love how creative people can get with as open a prompt as 'Do something outside your comfort zone'. Last year, I went with a talking ball of yarn, but this year I'm going with something truly different. I'm pretty sure that I'm the only one who has a post like this one today...

And because today's post is special, it's being posted a tad later in the day than my other posts because, if everything goes well (fingers and toes crossed), as of 11 am today...

Tim and I will be married!

Naturally, I don't have any actual wedding pictures to share yet so you'll have to make do with tiny Tim and mini Me in our wedding getup and tiny glasses! 

Loving, kissing, dancing, holding hands!

I hope you'll excuse me from being absent today, since I'll obviously be a bit busy, eating delicious cake and sandwiches and drinking delicious tea, and making memories with my family!

(obligatory selfie is obligatory)
Regular programming will resume tomorrow!

25 April 2013

Blog week Day 4: Colour Review

"What are your favourite colours for knitted or crocheted projects. Have a think about what colours you seem to favour when yarn shopping and crafting."

That's easy. Blue and Grey. And black, but let's focus on the blue and grey here.

I tend to lean towards cold colours a lot for some reason:

My last pair of glasses were framed in ocean-blue, most of my wardrobe is blue and grey, and the first thing I do when I'm shopping for clothing is search for blues and greys and greens. It's one of my mother's major annoyances because she keeps trying to get me to wear horrible colours... like purple and orange. Not my thing. At. All.

(favourite shoes, however? Bright yellow. Go figure.)

It's hard to look through my latest projects to see what colours I use most because I hop from project to project depending on what I grab from my stash and not because I shop for it. That, and most of my latest mini-projects that I've actually finished were plushies. My granny square stack is very much in theme, though:

With a lot of greens mixed in, too.

But when I look at the handmades that I've used most over the past year that were either made from stash yarn or that I purchased yarn for (like the knit hat), they're all in this same colour style:

My mitts and my crocheted hat... (god I miss that fluffy red hair!)

And my knitted hat and crocheted shawl!

It's no surprise that that shawl and hat are still getting a lot of use. It may be a surprise, though, that none of these pictures actually do justice to the colours because, thanks to today's topic, I found out that these types of blue are almost as difficult to photograph as bright reds! But that's just a minor setback that only a blogger would be bothered by.

Naturally, these colours couldn't be farther from my house's 'colours', but they do have in common that most projects were made from yarn I had on hand. The Bee strikes again!

24 April 2013

Blog week Day 3: Infographic

Since the whole point of an infographic is to convey information in a handy and graphic format, I'll just let the image speak for itself.

23 April 2013

Blog Week Day 2: A Mascot Project

Since I labelled myself as a project crafter yesterday, it won't come as a surprise that actually sitting down and consciously picking a project is really hard for me. I trawl the pattern database on Ravelry almost daily to some extent, and despite all the pretty stuff I see, I hardly ever actually sit down, pick a pattern, buy the yarn and make the project. Rather, I get an idea and fiddle around a bit on my own first, and if I don't figure it out myself I might look for a pattern to make with some stash yarn. It's no surprise that most of my projects are small things like amigurumi or hats or mittens... Most of which were made with stash yarn.

These days, most of my 'inspiration' to create comes from other people, as I'm sure is the case with many of you. I regularly thumb through the new projects on Ravelry, and there's a topic in a group I frequently visit called 'Patterns not everyone has seen' that is really inspiring, it's almost 300 pages of patterns with 100 projects or less and there's gorgeous items in there! Most of them are garments or accessories, and as I was looking through the posts with this day's topic on my mind, I did consider going with a more ambitious project as my mascot.

However, my first idea for a mascot project for this week was a blanket. Blankets are often worked in smaller pieces, like blocks or strips. and then sewn together later, so they really are projects that you can work on whenever you feel like without too much hassle, or without having to either memorise or stick to a pattern.

Were I to pick a blanket, I would have to choose one of the following:

© Clockwise to centre: Kate Davies, A Passionate Yarn, Solveig Grimstadt, Bumpyduey(Ravelry), Crochet86(Ravelry)
Clockwise to centre, these are:
1. Kate Davies' Rams and Yowes Pattern. Rows and rows and rows of little sheepsies, how adorable is this? I think I first saw this blanket on the blog One Sheepish Girl though I might be mistaken on that one. It's a knitted blanket, and that alone would put me in a position to learn so much techniques in order to even be able to make this one that it's unlikely to be a pattern I'd go for, but honestly, despite that, it's still a lovely blanket that I'd love to have. Sheep! I mean, come on!

2.  A Passionate Yarn's Easy Meadow Lace Baby Blanket Pattern. The name is a mouthful, but what a cute little blankie! From what I can gather, the pattern is easily memorised and knits up quick.

3. Solveig Grimstad's Flowers in the Snow Pattern. It's so pretty! What can I say? It looks so neat and put-together, and even though I'm not a flower person I'm drawn to this one like bees (ha!) to honey!

4. Attic24's Neat Ripple Pattern. I love this pattern because it's so easy to memorise and leaves the colour options wide open. Ripple a rainbow? No problem. Ripple an ocean? No problem! As moderator of the We Love Lucy-group on Ravelry, I have seen every colour combination in the world, from bright to subdued colours, from rainbows to randoms, from simple colour changes to interlocking ripples... I'm very partial to the interlocking rainbows, though.
5. Sarah London's Wool Eater Blanket Pattern. I actually started this one once. With leftovers. Needless to say it's in hibernation now because this one is called Wool Eater for a reason. It's lovely, though.

But I'm not picking a blanket. Nope. My post yesterday may have already shed some light on this, but I'm ready to move on to bigger, better projects, but need to pluck up the courage to actually do something out of my comfort zone, in other words, something that's not crochet. Knitting it is! Now, since most of my projects are chosen by sheer coincidence of having a type of yarn that suits a type of project, I've decided to dedicate this post to my box of skeins that I originally bought to make a knitted, lace shrug. I've got the needles, I've got the yarn, now let's see what I can make with that, shall we? In pure me-fashion, I went through my favourites on Ravelry to find some patterns that I liked, not paying attention to yarn weight or anything as for most shawls, this only influences the size and that's adjustable in most patterns. Simply do a repeat or two extra!
© top-left to bottom-right:Veera Välimäki, MrsSophie(Ravelry), Veera Välimäki, Martina Behm, Trefles(Ravelry)
Clockwise from top-left to bottom-right, these are:
1.High on the list of possible projects is a shawl like Different Lines by Veera Välimäki. It's a really popular pattern on Ravelry, with over 1100 projects listed, and it incorporates 2 colours of yarn into a striped shawl. I love it! It's modern, it's got stripes, and it's mostly stockinette (I think, haven't seen the pattern yet), but it's got an interesting design.

2. Stephen West's Daybreak. I think everyone and their mother has made a Daybreak by now so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I too have hopped on the Westknits bandwagon. Of all the designs he's made so far though, this one is definitely the most likely to ever end up on my needles, though whether that is soon, I cannot say.

3. From the same designer as the Different Lines shawl, there's also the Stripe Study Shawl. It's so pretty! Similarly to the Different Lines shawl, it's a modern, stripey shawl with a twist in its design.
4. Martina Behm's Leftie. A shawl designed for leftovers? I have those! And plenty of them, too! The only downside would be that I have no idea what my leftovers are made of, so it would be an experiment to actually make this without having to rip out the colour rows all the time if they come up to short or the yarn is off in thickness and warps my knitting... But it sure is adorable.

5. Marc Smollin's Megalodon. More stripes! More asymmetrical shapes! More of basically the same things in the previous patterns. I'm sure you've begun to see a pattern here too.

If I had to choose, I'd go with the Stripe Study shawl. I love the slightly asymmetrical look, it looks easy enough for a beginner like me, but it's also interesting due to the design. I think it also looks like a project I can easily put down and pick up whenever I want, even if it is a big shawl, because there's no stitch pattern to keep in mind or follow religiously, like my first ever crochet shawl, the Elise shawl, where I messed up so regularly and had to rip back a whole row that it was no longer funny! (which reminds me, I need to block that monster again, it's beginning to look a bit scruffy.) The Daybreak is a close second, though. Like I said, I might have to make one for myself someday soon... But after I've made the Stripe Study.

Is it the perfect project for someone like me, from the House of Bee? I like to think so. It's a big project, one that I can merrily work away on and it will satisfy my need for relatively easy projects that I can work on whenever I want!

22 April 2013

Blog Week day 1: The House Cup

This year, the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is split into 4 houses and that means it's time to get sorted! But rather than putting on a tattered old talking hat that does all the hard work, I have to pick my own house. That's not easy, let me tell ya.

The 4 houses are:
  • The House of Bee: Bees are busy and industrious, but can flit from one interesting project to the next as bright and shiny things capture their interest. “
  • The House of Manatee: Manatees are gentle, calm and cuddly. Relaxed and unflashy they represent the comfort and soft side of knitting and crochet. “
  • The House of Monkey: Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting. “
  • The House of Peacock: Peacocks take something good and make it brilliant. Buttons, embellishments and a bit of sparkle prove that perfection lies in the details – like a Peacock's Tail. “

Depending on how you interpret the descriptions of the houses I'd fit in any of the houses but the House of Peacock. But after much deliberation, I went with...

House of Bee.

The House of Bee, the way I see it, fits best with my way of crafting: I'm a process crafter. I enjoy crafting, I love having a hook or a pair of needles in my hands and I love making things, but I rarely really plan a project. I do pick up a lot of projects whenever something catches my eye, or when I'm in the mood for crafting. It often happens that I abandon projects (temporarily or permanently) in lieu of a newer, better, more interesting project because I like working on it better, not necessarily because it's more interesting, or more challenging, or even prettier. I have a bunch of WIP's scattered around the house as we speak:

This is a study in knitting lace. It's pink. It's acrylic babymelting yarn. It's not a project that will actually be anything but it's something that I pick up every now and then to practice knitting lace on, or bind-offs, or other techniques. Last time I picked it up, I bound off and started a new swatch just to practice switching between knit and purl stitches. There's going to be more lace when I'm done with the bumps, but will it ever be anything? I highly doubt it!

This? I have no idea what this will be. Will it be a blanket? Or just a pillow cover? Or nothing at all? Probably that last one, but it's a project that I can add to whenever I feel like it because it's all granny squares in leftover yarn of roughly the same thickness. (Okay, so it's partially because I really want to start making a dent in what I like to refer to as my 'Granny Stash', otherwise known as all the leftover yarn I inherited from my grandmother. I don't like buying new yarn because I feel guilty about having so much yarn in the house already and not really any space to put it, but most of it is tiny little bits and bobs! So what better use of my granny stash than to make granny squares? Plus, there's enough of it to actually make a blanket if I wanted to.)

This was something I had actually planned and what made me doubt my choice of house, because it's so ambitious that I could place myself in House of Monkey just because of it. It's supposed to be a Cecilia, a cropped cardi. A knitted, lacey cardi, in black, with black and red striped ribbing. Have I ever knitted lace? Nope. Have I ever made a garment? Nope. Have I ever attempted to knit something bigger than a hat yet? Nope. But the process of knitting something so awesomely ambitious really drew me into the project. Have I cast on yet? Nope! But I will. I might. I might change my plans and use this yarn for something else entirely, though, because that's what process crafters do: we flit from project to project, whenever something captures our interest.

So that's me! Proud member of the House of Bee! Buzz Buzz Buzz!

10 April 2013

Drive-by-post: Hard at work

I'm still here! We're slowly but surely creeping up on W-day, otherwise known as 'the day that Stef will be wearing a dress and heels all day, good thing there's going to be a dude there with a camera', otherwise known as our wedding day! Even though we're sticking to our small, no-fuss little wedding, there's still a lot to take into account and it's taking up a lot of our time. Who knew that would happen?! (no seriously, you could have told us, sheesh)

In my spare time and during breaks at work, I'm busy as a bee planning all my posts for Blog Week. How are your preparations coming along? Are you scheduling posts? Or are you going to post each day and let the inspiration of the day guide you? I did that last year. It's great fun, although it can be somewhat exhausting. 

I haven't done a single crafty thing all month so far, apart from a bit of dabbling for my Blog Week-posts, nor have I spent time in the kitchen apart from making our daily meals. I did finally haul myself back to the gym for an actual session and I'm exceptionally sore now, so whooo for that, and I'm doing the Fitocracy Spark challenge (though I've slacked off a bit, my original idea was to do it every day). I need to train, though, have to wear heels all day, my calves will thank me for it.

Hopefully I'll be able to do some actual blog-worthy stuff in the next week or so. Something food-related, possibly. I want to bake delicious things so bad, if only I had the time for it!

Well, if I don't catch you here for another post beforehand, I'll see you during the Blog Week!