Friday, January 29, 2010

A Portrait of the (Graphic) Artist as a Young (Wo)man

Hmmm...Can I still be considered a "young woman" if I'm in my thirties?

I've been diligently knitting this week but am unable to show you my progress (it's a gift--Hi, K!). I've been a little crafty on the computer, though.

I've been wanting to change the masthead on this site for awhile, but severely lack the technical know-how to do it. Anyway, I downloaded Gimp to my computer and have been playing with it here and there. I really have no idea what I'm doing. It doesn't seem that user-friendly (and by user-friendly, I mean a monkey would not be able to use it; a monkey and I are definitely on the same computer skill level), but this is what I've come up with so far:

It's been fun to play around with the program although it has been somewhat frustrating trying to learn how to do things, mostly because I have not read the Help section at all. I know some people diligently read a manual or instructions before using an item or putting something together. I always seem to take the hard way and plunge right in. This could be the reason it took me about 4 hours to put together Baby C.'s ExerSaucer, and it is definitely a symptom of my impatience problem.

If you want to manipulate photos etc. Gimp is a good, free alternative to Photoshop. Apparently you can do a lot of cool things with the program. Now I just have to figure out how.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Girls Night: January

K hosted January's Girls Night 2 weekends ago. The boys were able to attend and it was fun to all get together.

K decided on a Valentine's Day craft she saw on Martha's website. The heart garland is a cute, inexpensive way to decorate around the house.

K hung hers over her fireplace.

The scrapbook paper was really pretty, and I had a good time cutting out extra hearts to hang. At one point I got way too into the "craft zone" and found myself alone at K's dining room table, contently cutting out shapes by myself. This would be a good craft to do with kids.

It was a fun night. Thanks again to K for hosting. I have Feb.'s Girls Night. I have to start thinking of a craft we can do...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Blair Witch

I'm pretty sure the Blair Witch was really just a knitter.

Maybe an evil knitter, but a knitter nonetheless.

This is my first attempt at using double pointed needles (DPNs) and all  I could think about were the stick things from The Blair Witch Project.

Double pointed needles seemed as strange to me as the unnatural stick figures in the forest from that movie.  I always think about the first person in history to do something out of the box, and think, where did they come up with this? I kinda feel that way about double pointed needles. Whoever came up with this technique? I really do admire inventive folks.

I sort of got the hang of it after awhile, but I need more practice. Here's a video that illustrates how to use DPNs.

Apparently there's another piece of witchery that you can use instead of DPNs to form small circular knits. It's called the Magic Loop method. I can't wrap my head around that yet, but I might try to use it for the sleeves on one of the sweaters I'm currently making.

Anyway, here is the end result.

It turned out cute in spite of me not really knowing what I was doing. I followed this  pattern, but added an I-cord to the top instead of the leaves/ stem.

*Note: the "I" in I-cord stands for "idiot"--as in it's supposed to be so easy to make that even an idiot can do it. When I read that I immediately felt a TON of pressure. What if I couldn't make an I-cord??? I would officially be an idiot! Would this be an episode I would need to seek therapy for years from now?

Never fear, I was able to do it by following this tutorial. Whew! Disaster averted. I am not an idiot, so it seems. But it was a close one...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

AAAOS (annoying acronyms and other stuff)

Here are two WIPs:

A cardigan I am unenthusiastic about and will probably rip out.

A newborn hat on circular needles.

IMHO acronyms are starting to take over everything. I see them everywhere. I know I'm not the only one who doesn't know what all of them mean. What are TPS reports IAC? IDK. Somehow I feel like a stranger to my own language.

BTW acronyms are not just for the military, government, or business, education, medical community, or facebook pages of millions of teenagers across the country. AFAIK knitters and crocheters have been using acronyms for ages now.

It took a TOT for me to figure out what some of the terms meant before I turned to my good friend, Internet ,for help. You can find a list of some knitting acronyms and abbreviations I use frequently  here  and follow this link for crochet.

I better get back to my WIPs and turn my UFOs into FOs. ASAP. Hopefully I won't have to frog any of them. BBL.

IMHO -- in my humble opinion  (or more rarely, I Might Hire Orangutans)
TPS------? this is just made up to annoy office workers
IAC------in any case 
IDK------I don't know
BTW-----by the way
AFAIK---as far as I know (or A Freckled Apple In the Know)
TOT----- tons of time
WIP------work in progress
UFO-----unfinished object
FO-------finished object
ASAP----you know this one already, right? Yes, A Soapy Angora Piglet!

Frog---not an acronym, but I didn't know what it meant for awhile. It means to pull out your knitting
BBL----be back later

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bloods vs. Crips

It seems like people who are interested in yarn work gravitate either toward knitting or crochet. It seems rare that people seem equally drawn to both. Some truly talented knitters simply DO NOT crochet and some talented crocheters DO NOT knit. It's like this great line separating the two.

Because I was in the crochet gang, I always felt a little suspicious and jealous of the knitting crew. They seemed more hip with their bamboo needles and luxury yarns. The craft itself seemed more difficult, with strange (to me) circular needles, cable needles, and challenging-looking double-pointed needles. And the patterns available to knitters just seemed more aesthetically pleasing. The sweaters and even little dresses looked more modern. I had a hard time shaking the feeling that crochet can very easily take a turn for the worse and wind up looking like something from the sixties (and not in a good way!) or like something an old lady with blue hair named Mildred would make.

I know I'm not the only person who has a conscious or unconscious prejudice about crochet. Apparently crocheters wasting yarn is one "myth" that is sometimes bandied about. I read a funny blog post where a woman scientifically set out to disprove this theory. She bascially discovered that based on the stitch, crocheters and knitters use close to the same amounts of yarn. She did, however, learn that the stockinette stitch in knitting uses the least amount of yarn. This is handy information if you have a limited amount of yarn to work with.

Anyway, this year I decided that instead of being jealous or looking longingly at patterns that I would love to make, but were FOR KNITTERS ONLY, CROCHETERS NEED NOT APPLY, I would just set to work learning how to knit once and for all. I wanted to bridge the gap between the two rival factions. And it does the mind good to learn new skills, right?

Things have been progressing pretty well, I'm happy to report. Paraphernalia that I used to find scary, I'm now excited to use. I haven't tried cables yet, but I'm looking forward to trying them soon.

As I embark on this new journey of discovery (I'm like the Christopher Columbus of Yarn) though, I seem to be looking back at crochet and am constantly struck by its versatility.  Crochet is known for it's sculptural quality (don't believe me? look at this guy who was featured on Martha Stewart last year.  He even crocheted a urinal, for the love of God!) Even with my limited experience, I was able to add a little collar to Baby C's sweater just by visually looking at it, or the stem/ vines to a pumpkin hat, etc. It seems like it's easy to add to crochet. Much easier than I think it would be with knitting. Crochet also requires fewer tools, and is easier to maneuver. No matter what pattern you're following, you're only using that one hook. I think crocheting lends itself more easily to larger projects too, like a blanket or throw, mostly b/c the item is not attached to any needles/ hook. Therefore, you have more freedom of movement/ don't have the weight of the work on your hook. I also love crochet for the various granny square patterns. The creative possibilities seem endless when it comes to crochet throws.

I have this newfound respect for crochet. I've finally come to realize that the grass is not always greener, so to speak. I am excited to be learning something new, and happy to be trying patterns that I couldn't use before. However, I've belatedly come to see that there are limitations to knitting (for me) as well as limitations to crochet. I think most knitters/ crocheters should try to use both where needed. Each craft offers its own unique opportunities and obstacles. And that's my diplomatic take on it.

***Obviously, the above hat has nothing to do with this post. It's just one more hat (yes, even I am getting tired of hats!) that I made this week for my godmother who was going to a baby shower. I am currently working on three knitting projects; one is a hat and the other two are baby sweaters. I'm not abandoning the crochet gang--I'm just focusing more attention on knitting right now.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Show and Tell

Here are some of the Christmas gifts I made for some special little nieces and one nephew.

A visor beanie made from Naturally Caron Country yarn.

Earflap hats made from Lion Brand Cotton Ease yarn

Mittens made from this pattern.

I was very worried about fit. Fortunately, all the recipients should be able to wear them, though not all the fits are great. If I was to do it over, I think I would just ask for the measurements and forget about the surprise factor.

Regardless, the kids look really cute in these and that was an awesome gift for me!
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