Friday, July 30, 2010

Girls Night: July

It was my turn to host Girls Night last week and I felt pretty confident that the other ladies would enjoy my crochet necklace craft that I experimented with a couple months ago.

I had beads, thread, and crochet hooks on hand. Along with the necessary chips and chocolate. P supplied my favorite: rice krispie treats. For a crafty touch she cut some into the kids' initials. And K. made a little piece of deliciousness that I have never had before: compost cookies. Here's the recipe. They're real winners, even if their name kind of turned me off--all I could think about was trash. But they taste awesome!

My old friend J came quite a distance just to visit and craft with us, which was another treat to enjoy. I really wanted everyone to enjoy the craft and walk away with something they could wear. So there was a little pressure to deliver.

We enjoyed some libations and snacks with the boys/ kids and retired into the kitchen to begin our craft. Everyone was festive. Most of us were relishing a slight margarita buzz. Our tastebuds were eagerly sampling the different snacks. The gossip was fresh. Everything was going great...

...Until my craft killed it.

This craft required 1. previous crochet experience. 2. serious concentration. 3. sobriety.

If we were happily buzzed when we started, this craft quickly sobered us up. I can't even describe the number of problems I should have trouble shooted before introducing this technique to the girls, but let's just say that our "necklaces" wound up being bracelets instead.

P and I also had to start over because we ran out of length while crocheting. K's bracelet was too mauled to even talk about (and it had nothing to do with her talent/ effort). It was really a failed, nightmare craft night. Thankfully the girls are too nice to say so.

Anyway, I really need to think of an easier, more user-friendly, more thought-out, quicker, alcohol-friendly craft for the future.

The above necklaces were made by me later, after Girls Night. I've actually worn the silver and purple beaded one a couple times already, so all is not lost. Oh well. You can't win them all.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cable Guy

So,  you want to hear a secret? Knitting cables is really easy! At least the cabling I have done so far has been really easy.

I never thought I would ever be able to do it. It always seemed way out of my skill level. But, let me repeat: it's really easy!!

I started thinking about all the other things I've thought were too hard for me to do (sewing clothing, learning another language, mountain climbing, running a marathon,...etc) and now I wonder if I really could accomplish them. As crazy as it sounds, I think I probably could conquer a lot of them. I guess knitting and certain crafts (among other life experiences) have taught me that the only thing between me and accomplishing a goal is the time/ dedication necessary to make it happen. Although running a marathon/ climbing a mountain would certainly produce MUCH more sweat than knitting these cables, it's exciting to know that even in my "old" age, I shouldn't put limits on myself or cap my own potential. Who knew that knitting could inspire so much confidence in oneself? From knitting cables to mountain climbing cables...I love it!

The sweater pattern is from here. It comes with two videos that explain parts of the pattern, which is really helpful. This is the first time I've had to knit from a diagram, or in this case, two diagrams. Although I initially found it pretty annoying, I started to feel neurons growing in my brain from the mental exertion and that's always a good thing after living in a constant state of "mommy brain" for the past year and a half.

I also really like this color which is officially called "Bluebell." I keep calling it periwinkle, though. It even matches the WIP bag that I made a little while ago. It's a good color for Little C; It really makes his eyes stand out.  I guess he's a Spring? (I'm an Autumn). People don't talk much about "their colors"anymore, do they?  My husband would be content wearing a blue shirt everyday for the rest of his life. And he refuses to wear certain colors too. Men's clothing is so boring.

Anyway, Little C. is still just a little man, so I can dress him in colors he won't be caught dead in when he's an adult. This sweater could easily be unisex too if I ever have a little girl in the future.

As Little C. chomps noisily on his cheerios next to me with an impish grin on his face, I feel pretty confident that somebody'll be doing some climbing in the future. It might not be a literal mountain, but climbing up the stairs (his new trick) probably feels a lot like scaling Everest to him.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Toddler Mutant Stenciled Turtles

Remember back when you were a little kid and everything seemed larger than life? Maybe your house or school seemed huge to you or maybe your older brother seemed like a giant hovering over you?

Events always seemed larger than life too. I have certain memories burned into my brain that are actually pretty mundane, but as a child they seemed so big and important.

About a month ago my nephew "discovered" a large turtle in his grandmother's backyard at the shore. Her house is between the ocean and the bay. Though not exactly a far distance in either direction, it would be quite a long journey for a turtle to make. How did the turtle find itself in her yard? How long did it take to get to her house? How did it manage to avoid being hit by a car in this busy summer season? This out of the ordinary experience was exciting to me as an adult, I can only imagine how magical it would seem to a child.

Since I had already made a turtle stencil, I decided it was only fitting that my nephew have a shirt of his own to commemorate this event. These photos are of Little C's romper. I didn't take a picture of my nephew's, but it looks exactly the same in t-shirt form.

I used plain fabric paint from the craft store (in marine blue--how fitting!) and one of those 15 cent throw- away sponge brushes. Here's a tip: use a straight, up and down motion when stenciling.

I find myself checking my mother-in-law's yard whenever we visit, hoping to see that turtle, or another turtle. If I was my nephew, I would feel convinced that grandma's yard always contained turtles. These events are so big in our imagination because they're not likely to happen again. And that's what makes them so memorable.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Christmas in July

Q: What do knitters and magazine editors have in common?
A: They have to plan their projects six months in advance.

For magazine editors right now it means thinking about pecan pies, roast turkeys, and stockings hung by the fireplace with care. For knitters and other crafters it means creating a list of possible presents to make for a small queue of special people.

I have to confess, I think I started thinking about this year's Christmas presents on Dec. 26th of last year. Ah, so much I want to knit and so little time...

I did find a pattern I am VERY excited about. SUPER EXCITED, actually. It's top secret, but this is a peek.

I can't say much more about it, but it did force me to learn how to make cables, using a cable needle.

It reminds me of the One-Armed Man's hook from The Fugitive or less dramatically*, a plain old fishing hook. Anyway, it's easy to use and I'm having fun making cables now.

I also learned some other new techniques from the pattern, but I'll have to unveil them later...much later. How does Dec. 26th sound?

*On whether a fishing hook is dramatic or not? I guess it depends on who you're talking to...

(a little cartoon sketch made while eating lunch).
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