25 September 2016

When the cat decides, and putting a scarf on a tank.

I decided I'd try to blog at least once a month, and of course the month has been busy.  Among other (non-job) things:

And of course, a certain amount of travel.  I managed to connect a business trip to the North Carolina Opera premiere of "Das Rheingold", which was the first time the opera had been performed in the Southeastern USA since it premiered 147 years ago.  And although not fully staged, it was quite a wonderful production - and I've seen a lot of operas, a lot of Wagner, and several Ring Cycles.  The benefit of a partial staging is that the performers and characters and story really get to shine.

I've decided not to enter the Berlin Fair this year, but I will work on a couple of projects with an eye towards next year.  I was thinking of being on a retreat that weekend, then some other things came up, and I'll be traveling elsewhere.  Either way, it complicates the dropoff, or pickup, or both.

I finished the last set of blankets for my niece's birthday gift, and when I counted I realized I made one more than needed (she's 16, I made 17 total), but I had been having fun playing with yarn and of course they were handy sizes to carry around and work on whenever.
I'd made another in these colours, and
had plenty of yarn left for a second one.

Basic diagonal pattern, different yarns.

This one is based on the Ten-Stitch pattern

This extra number came in handy because my niece's cat decided that one of the blankets is HERS.

I also made pieces for the Sherman Tank at the WWII Museum in New Orleans.  They asked people to make pieces of a certain size and yarn and colours to celebrate the Knit Your Bit 10th Anniversary on September 17th, at which they gave scarves to veterans.  (They distribute scarves regularly, and have established local outposts to shorten the travel.)  I was going to make one piece, but someone posted about doing one in every colour, and I managed to find all of them (some stores had sold out), so I did also.
The pieces I made - US#35 needles!

Museum staff model the finished scarf.

The Sherman Tank with its scarf.  Booyah!

Now I'm working on baby blankets.  Which I decided to do somewhat spontaneously, and will post more about once they are done and delivered.

17 August 2016

There and Back Again

I thought that when I got back to town I would do more to keep the blog current, and of course this has not happened,  Let's see, a quick summary of the last year or so:

  • I got a new job and moved, temporarily, to Madison (WI).
  • The job wasn't what I expected, and my old boss made a determined campaign to keep in touch and let me know he'd hire me back - which happened.
  • So I moved back to the Hartford (CT) area.
This involved selling things, moving, moving back, and buying replacements for things like a bed.  At all times, of course, I kept reading (I am definitely going to miss A Frugal Muse and being near Half Price Books) and yarny things (including a visit to the market at the Madison Knitters' Gui;d Knit-In and the impressive yarn section at the Wisconsin Craft Market, and joining a couple of meetups, and the crafters group at the local makerspace) and enjoyed the Dane County Farmers' Market's winter markets.  I also went to Madison's Winter Festival and volunteered at their first MakerFaire, helping Eepy Bird with their Coke® and Mentos® performance.

And I didn't do much with the blog, because I didn't bother to do an internet hookup at the temporary location, and the wifi in the common area didn't work well, and I didn't feel like saying after hours at work to do the blog because it was about an hour's drive (in good weather) and I was trying to have a social life.  So.  No blog posts.

Now I am back in Hartford.  And trying to not get involved in too many things at once.  I did volunteer to help staff a booth at the Bishop's Corner Farmers' Market because it's associated with my old CSA (I got back too late to rejoin), and the person who was staffing the booth suddenly got a job on Maui.  It's not bad, mostly hot and boring, but I take yarny things and have some sales.  It ended up with a few dates as guest vendor at the West End Farmers' Market as well.

I'm involved again at MakeHartford, of course,  An apparently am considered a volunteer for Bici Co., although I don't participate at the location, although I helped to build some of their storage while home visiting one weekend last fall.  And designed a hat that won a contest and brought them some money when they were getting started.

What else?  I am still deciding.  This is a chance to not get quite so involved, or to do so in ways I wasn't able to do before.  Once the Farmers' Market season is over, of course!  And this period in October when I am traveling quite a lot - to the ACC Annual Meeting (I spoke at two of their previous conferences this year, this makes a hat trick) and then to the North Carolina State Fair for our annual family expedition (being the cool auntie who goes on the more exciting rides).

In the meantime, I have the Berlin Fair to look forward to entering - I didn't last year due to the move.  And this event sounds cool, maybe we can do something like it in Hartford?  I'd suggest it for DFW Fiber Fest, but the crocheters would be annoyed as I think fewer people can crochet while walking than knit while walking.  I can do both, but not everybody does.  I know there are people who drop spindle while walking.  Hmmmm......

07 June 2016

Some yarny things I've created recently

I'll catch up on where I have been lo, these many months that the blog has been dormant, but as a quick kickstart back into blogging, I'll post a few photos of items I have made.  For some reason, this post doesn't look like what I created - there shouldn't be a big blank area, and the pictures should be more neatly organized!  Sorry about that.  Obviously, I'm out of practice.

First, the annual collection for Mittens for Akkol's annual collection of items for graduates of the two orphanages in Kazahkstan.  One set of grads were known and asked for specifics; for the other orphanage we had just genders and had to guess what they might like.

The two "known" grads for whom I made items - one boy wanted a white and spring green set, for which I crocheted a scarf, and the other wanted a white sweater (but he was OK with off-white) and black accessories.  Someone else volunteered for the accessories, I just knit the pullover.

Wrist-to-wrist yoke, vertical body.
Very slightly green in the white, an ancient fingering wool used tripled.

Sweaters are usually the last things for which people sign up, so I tend to make a lot of those.  This year, I got to make a few sets, which I enjoy because the accessories are more portable.

Handdyed multi from Fiberlady and Patons Classic Wool in
'Lemongrass' - mittens are the Siena Mittens from Knitscene
and the hat is  a variation of the knitpicks 'Garter Stripe' hat.
Scraps of Lopi from another project.
Patons Colorwull, Lion Brand Fisherman, and various other yarns.
Knit mittens and hat, crocheted scarf.
Patons Classic Wool in 'Shades of Gray' with some of the related
greys and black solid for the scarf.  Knit mittens and hat, crocheted
scarf and sweater (knit neck and wrist ribbings on the sweater).

Mostly Lion Brand Fisherman yarn used double,
with some oddballs added for accents.

For the sweaters, I made up the patterns based upon measurements.  At this point, my hands and brain have "go to" patterns for mittens, hats, and scarves, so that mostly autopiloted.  I've put links where specific patterns were used.  Even the white sweater was mostly designed on the fly.  I was not going to do a very complicated pattern, partly due to time limitations, but also didn't want to do an absolutely plain white sweater, so this is my compromise.  And yes, the cables on the sleeves twist in two different directions, that was a deliberate design choice.

I also created a number of scarves for the Knit Your Bit collection at DFW Fiber Fest.  The scarves will go to veterans, and they asked us to use mostly neutral colours as there are more male recipients than female.  These photos show just a few of the ones I made, mostly in plain stitches (garter stitch quite often, or a 1dc 1sc crochet stitch) with interesting yarns.

Lion Brand Kool Wool (left) and Wool-Ease (right)
Lion Brand Tweed Stripes.
Loops and Threads "Charisma" in Ashes and Woodland.
Anne Geddes Baby yarn from Red Heart, doubled.
Grey and blue Caron Simply Soft held together, with accents
of Lion Brand Wool-Ease left over from other scarves.

Lion Brand Wool-Ease in the
KYB Mistake Stitch pattern.

Top Scarf is Red Heart Super Saver, left over from another project.
Bottom Scarf is Lion Brand Vanna's Choice 'Woods Print' with
some stripes of Wool Ease in 'Forest Green Heather'.

Lastly, my grandmother snuggled under her birthday blanket, knit from a new Bernat yarn called "Home Bundle" which is available only at Joann's.  It goes through four different yarns, so there's very little work involved, but the end result is soft and warm and light, and she loves it!  Since my grandmother is always cold, blankets are an appreciated gift, even for her May birthday, and even though she lives in Florida.

The teddy bear was a gift for her birthday also, which my grandmother had to spend in hospital because her gallbladder has been giving her grief.  Hence, the rather medical-looking surroundings.  My grandmother is itching to get home, and should be soon!

06 March 2015

Update on what's been leaving

I meant to post an update on the Minimalism Game every week, and of course that didn't happen.  I did keep going strongly after the first week.  I need to finish totaling up everything, but so far recorded:
  • 278 items to the thrift stores
  • 35 lbs of fabric sold on Craigslist
  • Three household items on Craigslist that will go to the thrift store if they do not sell
  • Three soap kits that I'll donate to some homeschooling friends if they don't sell on Craigslist (and which I count as one item because they are listed together)
  • Six bags of paper and non-redistributable magazines (mostly old, boring professional ones) to recycling
  • Three bags of magazines offered on Freecycle (and which will be recycled if they don't find a new home soon!)
  • Four items rehomed to others (a huge ball of cotton yarn to a friend who makes facecloths for the New Start Washcloth Project; a wooden box of soaps from England to another friend; a Scottish wool sweater to a male friend who fits it better than I do - it's a bigger medium than I apparently need; and a can of Tazo "Calm" tea to the dance mistress of a show I did at the beginning of the month, that I'd been given but I cannot tolerate chamomile)
  • A Lantern Moon tote bag to the raffles at DFW Fiber Fest
  • Two cartons of paper items to be shredded (one box was 13" high and I forgot to measure the other - the friends who inspired that decided each inch of paper counts as a "thing")
  • 37 items into the trash
If you are counting, that's only 381 items and not 406, because I didn't count the magazines separately and only have one measurement of inches of paper being shredded, and I didn't count the extras that I put into the lot of soap kits.  Plus, I think I have not finished counting items because there's a pile on the guest room bed......

Now some people are doing a "one bag for every day of Lent" thing, and I'm not ready to enter into that, but will keep it in mind.  I suppose you can always pick a month to do "a bag a day" and see what you can discard.

In other news - I've made a couple-three scarves to take to my friend whose church gives them to The Samaritan Inn.  Some people have talked about attaching scarves and hats and such to fences or trees in low-income neighborhoods and near shelters for people who need them, but it hasn't happened in Hartford to my knowledge.  I've also done four pink-and-purple cat hats for a friend's daughters and nieces (a commission project!) and a hat for her SIL (that I promised to make less pointy on top), al in reflective yarn because the SIL thinks they need to wear lots of reflective gear when walking home from services at night.  My friend thinks these are a bit more chic than the construction workers' vests her SIL distributes.

07 February 2015

28 Items Ready to Go

The first week of the Minimalism Game is done, and although I got busy and didn't pick out item for the last couple of days, I caught up this morning.  This means that in addition to the items I had already packed up to go to a thrift store, twenty-eight more items are heading out the door.  I calculated that by the end of the month, I need to have gotten rid of over four hundred items!  To be precise, Σ28 = 406.

In some cases, the item was a thing I had thought about sending away, but hadn't made up my mind.  The challenge helped me make up my mind.  In others, it was something I had gotten thinking I would use it and have not, or had gotten for gifting and that never happened either.  Sometimes it's a child's item and the children I know are older now.

So hopefully on Sunday I'll take this week's collection to the thrift store, and get some boxes and things to start the next week's collection.

I did add some rules of my own, at least for this week:

  • Items already packed up for the thrift store - I had 21 of them - did not count.
  • Items I have set aside to send to Mittens for Akkol for their current grads collection also do not count.
  • The boxes and things that I am using to take the items to the thrift store of course do not count.
  • Items for my Etsy shop also don't count, since I keep hoping to dispose of them by having someone buy one.  Or several.
So far, everything I packed up on a day had a single ending, mostly the thrift store, with one exception.  I think that may change later in the month, but we shall see.  I know I have plenty of magazines for some of the larger-numbered days.

In other news, this also left the house this week.  Given that it is a commissioned item, I don't really count that as something that should leave.  I was working on a scarf for a friend, and our stage manager saw me, and asked if I would make a scarf for her.  In discussing colour options she mentioned grey, and when I asked what shade she wanted, her eyes lit up.  "You know, there's that movie coming out....."

I told her that there was no way I would try to find, or work with, fifty shades of a colour, but I'd see what I can do.  This is five shades worked in single crochet entrelac.  Washable acrylics because she has three large dogs; the outermost one has a touch of sparkle.  She's not a big "bling" person, but was thrilled to see a bit of it in the yarn.  And she loves the end result, which is the best part.

Next up are to finish my friend's scarf, and make five hats of reflective yarn that a friend commissioned for her sister-in-law, nieces, and daughters.  And I want to get a couple of boxes of craft supplies organized and photographed to post on Craigslist to see if anybody wants them.  I'm sure they will go quickly on Freecycle, which will be the next stop for them.

02 February 2015

The Minimalism Challenge

A friend's boyfriend challenged her to do this, and some of us think it's a good idea.  I am going to challenge my parents, because my mother is always trying to get my dad to throw things away.

The idea of this game is that you must get rid of as many things as the number of the day of the month.  So one thing on the first day of the month, two things on the second day, and so on. The original challenge says that "each material possession must be out of your house—and out of your life—by midnight each day", which really doesn't work in the middle of a blizzard.  So we've adapted it to you have to put the item in a box, and not take it out again, and on the weekend donate it someplace - Goodwill, Savers, Salvation Army, local charity shops/thrift stores, a shelter. 

One of the people in my friend's feed suggested: 

If you have anything you think a teacher might use, contact one you know or a local school. Art supplies, old shirts for paint smocks, magazines, even old stickers that come with address labels and envelopes to return bills you pay online can be useful in elementary schools. High school teachers use all kinds of used stuff as well. 

Some after school programs could use art supplies, too.

If you decide to do this, follow the standard rule for donations: Make sure the item is in good, usable condition.  If it's not, throw it away!  Nobody can wear falling-apart shoes, or would want a torn and stained shirt or pants.  Dried out paint and glue will not benefit a crafts program.  Expired personal care products or food.  If you cannot use it, why give it to someone else?

Because I already had a box going, I wrestled with whether to count it or not.  For now, I will, but this weekend I may get caught up on items.  I am going to keep a list so that I can see how much goes out the door.   Magazines will definitely be included in a later week when I have to get rid of a lot of things per day.  There's a debate about getting rid of old papers, and we seem to be agreeing that one inch of paper would count as one thing for the day.  Too much?  Too little?

29 January 2015

I went to Dallas - crocheted flowers, Mutant Leeches, and Cupcakes!

OK, until the last few days we haven't had much snow around here, but it seemed as good an excuse as any to explain why I haven't updated the blog all month.  Best-laid plans, and all that, as Robert Burns (whose birthday was celebrated last Sunday) would say.

In the meantime, I finished the hat I was knitting at the turn of the year:

Sadly, it is too big for me.  I do have quite a bit of yarn left, hopefully enough to make the mittens and a new hat.  A friend tried it on and said it fits her so she wants it, but I don't know if she will buy it or just wants it gifted.  The hat might go into my Etsy shop.

I donated a reflective yarn hat to the silent auction at a friend's weeklong storytelling and arts event. As you can see, it's neon yellow and has threads that reflect.  The hat can be less pointy if pulled down, and the bottom edge can roll up into double thickness if wanted.

I went to Dallas to see "The Cupcake Conspiracy" and "The Attack of the Killer Mutant Leeches" (one of the Pocket Sandwich Theater's infamous popcorn-tossing melodramas), and while there stopped by the Crochet Texas! monthly meeting and learned how to make flowers from buttons.  These are the ones from the class; the two circled ones are mine:

We got to eat cupcakes of course!  Local bakers provided them at every performance of Rover Dramawerks' "The Cupcake Conspiracy."  My friend Kim made these, and the Cherry Cheesecake ones were very yummy:

So yummy, we said, that people come from Connecticut to eat them!