Monday, June 23, 2008

PLEASE join me...

... at my blog's new address:

I know it can be a pain to switch your readers, etc, but I'd love it if you joined me over there. I love the new place, and all my posts are over there, too.

My "mommy blog" is over there, too, in case you're interested...

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

We don't need no steeking badges!

Sorry about that. I tried hard to think of something clever for my first-ever steeking post. That was the best I could come up with.

If you're not a knitter, or even if you are, you may not be interested in this post. It's very picture heavy, and probably a bit boring... but today was a huge day for me in my knitting life.

Remember this? My cousin's 40th birthday was last August 17. And almost 10 months to the day later, I finish her gift. sigh... for most of those 10 months, it has been sitting at the bottom of my craft cabinet, waiting... for inspiration? for me to have time to finish it? No, it's been waiting for me to man up and do what was needed...

Steeking. Cutting up what you so carefully and lovingly made. Usually reserved for cutting in sleeves and cardigan fronts in sweaters that are knit in the round. While it was recommended that I tink (un-knit - get it? "tink" is "knit" backwards) the tight bind-off, I just got this idea in my head that I needed to steek it. Wait... is it sick to say I wanted to steek it?

Ok, here come the pictures... I wanted to document the whole thing for (my) posterity.

I did some research online for info about steeking. Most of the info about steeking includes some type of alcoholic beverage to steel yourself for the cutting of your beloved knitting project.

So while the fridge was stocked with beer, this was my comfort food of choice:

Better, eh? (very delicious, too - handmade by a friend for my birthday yesterday)...

So I laid out the Coachella, cookies, and scissors in front of my computer. I was going to read the toots word for word (BTW - the tutorial I relied most on was this one. THANK YOU, EUNNY!!!) as I attempted this brave feat.

After reading about several different ways to reinforce your steek, I decided upon the crocheted steek. Heck, I'm a crochet wiz after making a couple amigurumi, right? Um... It really helps to find a tutorial that really tells you step by step how to do.. whatever it is you're doing. My first attempt at crocheting on my reinforcement was completely wrong. I'm afraid about what would've happened it I had cut after having done this, whatever it was I did.

This was wrong. Don't do it this way.

But, thanks again to Eunny (new website!), I ripped out the sad crochet chain I attempted at first and really got started.

After eating a cookie (or 3).

MMMMmmmuch better.

OK - here was the line (marked by the straight pin) that I was going to be cutting. Starting to crochet (correctly this time, I might add)....

Wait - that's not a crochet hook! It's a needle! What in the world am I doing here? Hmmm... well, pretend it's a crochet hook - because that's what it looks like when you start your crochet chain.

And DONE! It looks just like the pictures I saw online of the crocheted reinforced steeks...

See the "ladder" of stitches between the 2 raised crochet chains? Look really hard -it's there, I promise. That's what needs to be cut. I kind of made up the "turn around" at the top of the slit. Everything I saw online went all the way through the knitted piece or was reinforced by machine stitching.

Ready? OK - CUT!

Oh, so nice! Exactly what I imagined in my head! And when you tug at the waistband, no more tightness!
But be sure you don't tug too hard. See?

Whoops - OK, easy to fix... better!

Here's the next side, ready to go.

I've moved from cookies to a tall glass of iced water - thankfully. I ate way too many of those cookies. I feel confident enough to turn on some music with iTunes, and then I notice that I need to hurry... only 30 minutes left until naptime is over! OK - 2nd side is ready to cut!

I don't know why I don't have a picture of the 2nd side cut, but I love it... I don't know what took me so long to do this! And I don't know why I was so scared... well, yes, I do. It's a scary thing, cutting up your knitting projects.

I'm loving the look of the single crocheted edge on the steeked slits. I thought I'd try a single crocheted border around the armholes.

See how there are tons of loose stitches up there? There are loose stitches all around. Some due to increases, some due to my inexperience at the time, and some, I think, due to the nature of the yarn that I used.
Anyway, I got one armhole bordered with single crochets during naptime, and finished the other one up during the rest of the afternoon. I was worried the whole time that I was going to run out of yarn.

But thankfully, I didn't. This is all I had left - you can see the cardboard tube through the yarn, though.

It's been blocked, and it's ready to be wrapped up to give to the er... birthday girl. (sorry about the horrible vinyl tablecloth. It's the only thing that keeps Big Boy from wrecking out dining room table)....

See the borders around the armholes?
See the steeked slit?

Ah, it feels nice to be able to get this done. Finally. I'm going to see my cousin this weekend at my family's reunion, so I'll get to give it to her in person. She knew I was knitting something for her, because I had to explain why I showed up in St. Thomas empty-handed for her birthday celebration. Next time, I'll show you pictures of her in it!

So family reunion in New York = 8 hours of knitting time in the car each way (if the boys will let me do it!). I'll be working on my Domestic Betty Baker's Dozen KAL June Sock... I hope I'll get them done this weekend with such nice, long cartrips.
Wish me luck!

Friday, June 6, 2008

It's started again.

So You Think You Can Dance is back on this summer. Last year I had a really hard time knitting while watching it. This year, I found I can single crochet while watching! YAY!!! I can fuel two of my obsessions at the same time. See?

Isn't she cute? She's going to be this. Have you seen Owlishly's patterns yet? I found her when she was featured on the Craftzine blog, and I absolutely fell in love. I think I have about 6 of her patterns so far. This is the first one I've worked on, and it's been a delight! Take a look at her Etsy store when you get a chance.

In other news.... I found some lighter-weight colored paper for cutting.

I ran into Staples the other day for a printer cartridge, and I found some good stuff. The paper in the first photo is a little bright for me, but they didn't have any earthy colors in reams available. I may not use all of it for cutting, but I'm sure the boys will get some use out of the paper for crafts in years to come! The second photo is paper I'm much happier about - it's Staples' house brand of "mix and match" stationery. I only bought the black, brown, silver, and gold, but they had tons of other colors I'm sure I'll be going back for. And the paper came by itself - you could buy cards and envelopes separately, but the paper was all I wanted, so it was perfect!

I'm giving my dandelion paper cutting as a house warming gift tonight. I finally also got some spray adhesive, and the cutting looks great without all the shadows behind the dandelion parts. Here it is framed and ready to go...

I also made a cutting for my brother's birthday this year.

and framed....

Poor guy. He's 30 years old, and I realized that the past 3 gifts I've given him are robot related. Remember this for his birthday last year? And this for Christmas? I didn't think about that until after this cutting was done. I'll do something different for him for Christmas this year.

Along with a gift card, I also made him this:

And his wife, whose birthday is only a couple days after his, this:
I used the stencils from this great site, and the freezer paper method from this site. The freezer paper tutorial has given me another list of projects I want to work on... Anyway, I really like the stencil on the red shirt. I think it looks fabulous. On the blue shirt, it's hard to see. But it's still fun!

On the home front, we've decided to put the boys to work.

Baby D should be proficient in all the Office applications within the next week or so. He's a quick learner. And the Big Boy? He's going into the entertainment field, of course.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm a Betty!

...a Domestic Betty, that is! A group of women that I know and respect started a very cool website last year... a place to share what we all need to know about - well, everything! They recently put out a call for a couple more writers, and I raised my hand faster than Big Boy can yell, "No!" If you get a chance, stop by - my first post is up there today!

Soon, and very soon, I'll post some more pictures. I've done some more paper cuttings, and I'm working on a very cool gift for my baby brother - who just happens to turn 30 this week! Happy Birthday, UncaDo! So I'll see you later this week with more updates.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The promised update

I meant to type all this up while I had no Internet connection... however, the time slipped away as I was working on other things. Namely, cleaning my house and working on a menu planning system that works for our family (I'll blog more about that when it's actually done). Shockingly, I had little time to do any crafting while we had no Internet. And I discovered something - the Internet is what gives me crafting ADD. Well, let's say.... it feeds into it. I have always moved from one thing to another, Internet or no. But recently, it's been very apparent. I think it's more apparent to me now because the crafting I do is pretty much the only thing that changes in my life. That sounds odd, but it's a good thing right now...

While I was in school, I loved being a music major. Not only did my classes change each semester, I also was in a couple different opera or musical theater productions at a time. I was always doing something different. Also, I used to think that I loved to move (gasp! WHAT?!?) because I never moved as a child (that I can remember). My parents lived in the same house from when I was 3 years old until I was 23... But now I think it's a sysmptom of my ADD. When I went to college, I remember loving the move-in at the beginning of the year and the move-out at the end of the year. Even now, as an adult, I've loved packing up whole houses and moving. It's the thrill of something new...

Anyway - all that to say my crafting ADD shouldn't surprise me. But right now, it frustrates me to no end. I have so many things I want to work on, but absolutely no time. I guess I could have time if I totally neglect my kids, my husband, the house, etc. But then Hubby would probably get really upset. And rightfully so! So my crafting (and Internet time!) is squeezed into a little time each week. Some days I don't get to pick up a knitting needle or a crochet hook at all, not to mention my Exacto knives....

"Exacto knives?" you may ask. "What in the world do Exacto knives have to do with yarn crafts? Isn't that a bad combination?" Yes, definitely. But when you put some paper in front of me, you get one of my "newest things..." ...paper cutting.

Mmmmm - I've been in love with this for some time, and I finally bit the bullet and actually purchased some quality cutting tools. Now I need to work on finding a good, light-weight paper supply with tons of different colors. Any ideas? I've been using card stock, but that gets a little hard to cut, especially when it's an intricate design. Here's some pics of what I've been up to...

I have a couple more that I don't have pictures of yet. And of course, I have big plans.... I have so many ideas rolling around in my head for motifs to cut. This is where I get really frustrated about not having time to do all that I want. sigh...

Then, of course, I'm working on amigurumi. Here's my latest completion:

The big guy in the back was one I've written about previously. The little sweetie up front is from the same pattern, using acrylic yarn instead of cotton, and using a smaller hook. I like her better - and she's going to be a gift for a really adorable baby girl who is just a tad younger than Baby D. And her ears are floppier (the bunny's, not the baby's).

A while ago I was poking around some crochet sites, and I kept seeing Tunisian crochet popping up. I really liked the way the resulting fabric looks - not lacy like crochet - more like a knit fabric. But it helps to have special crochet hooks for it - they are longer than normal. So I thought I would wait a while until I had time to learn something new and purchase some supplies online.

Well, then I visited my local Ben Franklin's (I've found that outside of the local LYSs, they have the best yarn selection - and by far the best knitting needle and crochet hook selection). I can't remember what I needed when I went in, but I know I came out with many different sizes of Tunisian hooks and Cro-hooks (still not sure about this one - apparently it is another crocheting technique using a double hooked long crochet hook. I'm planning on using the hooks for Tunisian crochet, though). They had a really nice selection!

This is my first attempt at Tunisian crochet. It's a simple dishcloth made out of Sugar 'n Cream yarn. Tunisian crochet has a tendency to curl, but this was my first attempt at it, so I decided not to try any modifications for this one. Plus, it is a dishcloth, so it's wet most of the time and the curl is not noticeable. Look at the stitch:

Nice and tight.... I love it! I'll show you the "purl" side on another project - it looks even more like a knitted purl stitch. The other project = a baby blanket for Baby D. He may be 15 years old by the time it's done (it only has about 6 inches done so far), but I really wanted to make something special for him. Big Boy got so many personalized gifts when he was born, but Baby D, being the 2nd son.... not so much.

It's a 3 Colored Tunisian (TM) crochet with the 3 different colors of the soft and yummy Lion Brand Lion Organic Cotton. Um, well, their website shows 4 colors, but I haven't seen the Almond color around here yet. I love it - the stitch is simple, and the organic cotton is so soft. The back:

See how much that looks like a knitted purl stitch? I love the way this looks, too - what I think I'm going to do is make 3 panels in the same 3 Color Tunisian stitch, and then attach them all together, with the middle panel purl-side forward. I'll show you a picture when I finish it in 15 years.

My other plans include a LOT of sewing. Tons. I tried making bibs for Baby D, since he is a spitter and drooler. Nice.... we go through about 4 bibs a day with him! Silly me, I thought sewing on bias tape would be self explanatory. Nope. But thanks to this video tutorial, I am ready to try again. When, though, I don't know. Then there are the curtains I still haven't finished for a friend, valances for the Big Boy's room, and some repurposing of Hubby's old undershirts that involves Rit dye, freezer paper, and fabric paint. Oooo, I can't wait!

I seriously need about 5 hours added on to each day to get things done. Of course, after the kids go to bed would be nice. One (or two) hours for household chores, maybe an hour for reading for leisure, and then the remaining time for crafting. Please, Lord? Just for a while?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Not Happy

I'm not so happy with my new blog header. I like the new layout - but now I need to figure out what in the world I'm doing in Photoshop so I can make a decent header. Hmph. One day, one day...

Written April 14

It is really amazing what happens when one’s Internet connection is cut off. Especially when one thought one would have several days to prepare herself…

We are switching providers for Internet, phone, and cable, and to make the switch, we had to remove the DSL connection from our phone line so our number could be transferred to the new provider…. Blah blah blah… So we were told it would take 3 to 5 days for our DSL to be removed from our line. OK – 3 to 5 days – plenty of time to send an email to people notifying them of upcoming changes, post in forums letting them know we’ll be gone for a while, and copy info out of our provider’s Webmail service that we would need.

30 minutes later, our connection is cut off.


Then, the flurry of activity: trying to find a connection to take care of some business, calling the new provider to see if our installation date can be moved up.

Next comes the resentment – of everyone who has access to the Internet whenever they want it. Including Hubby, who has 2 – count them, 2 – laptops for work, and who can even check email from his new company issued BlackJack. Company issued, meaning no personal use. Especially not for the wifey.

Resignation sets in. OK, so maybe I really didn’t need all that info that was in my Webmail. And I guess I’ll find something to do while I have no Internet.

Resignation turns to amazement when I realize how much I can get done without running to the computer every chance I get. Wow… tons of laundry, clean floors, a shower… and that’s just during naptime. When the boys are awake, a lot of quality playtime happens. Mmm… that’s nice! And after bedtime, I get a lot of crafting done.

It’s still hard… I am typically the one who pays our bills online. So now I have to remember to ask Hubby to do that while he’s at work. If I need a quick recipe, I can’t hop on to look something up. And I shudder to think what my blogroll will look like when everything gets hooked back up. But at our new blazing fast download speeds, I should be able to whip through my missed reading with no problem at all!

So writing this not even half-way through my Internet exile… things are going well. We’ll see how I’m doing at the end of the 2 weeks.