Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Girls Night Long Term Project: Take 2

I've been diligently working on my basket weave blanket which, as you may recall, was supposed to be my long term project for Girls Night. I abandoned it as an idea for craft night because I was crocheting it so quickly. I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with another idea that I could work on during these meetings. It had to be something easy, fun, and practical. I normally don't make New Year's resolutions (this year I made so many I had to write them all down. I just counted and there are 22 of them--don't ask!) One of the craft-related resolutions was to be more resourceful with the materials I already have. For knitters and crocheters this means "stash-busting."

I really hate waste. Whenever I knit or crochet something I always look at the little ball of yarn left after a project and think, 'Now what am I supposed to do with that?' I always figured I would eventually make a scrap blanket of all these leftover yarns, but I hadn't found a pattern that I wanted to use. Until now! This pattern was exactly what I was looking for.

These little circles will eventually have a white (or cream, or beige, or gray) square border around each one. And then I'll sew them all together. Right now I'm just having fun making the different colored circles though. They're fun, provide instant gratification, and they're helping me meet my resolution to be more resourceful.

They're perfect for the meetings with the girls. I have a lot more yarn to filter in, so I can see this being a very long term project indeed.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Not My Knits: Pink Zig Zag Blanket

The other day I got to thinking about where my crochet/ knitting obsession originated. It feels like it was an overnight thing: one day I was a normal young (ish) woman, minding my own business, and the next thing you know I was tackled by this tremendous urge to crochet/ knit. All the time.

I started to feel victimized by the power of this addiction.  And if it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone.

Then I realized that I'm probably not that "normal" in the first place (but who is?) And that the obsession wasn't an "overnight thing" at all. In fact, the groundwork had been laid in my childhood. Maybe even in my very DNA.

I mentioned before how craftiness is in my blood. Clearly being surrounded by such talented ladies--or more truthfully--being surrounded by the finished objects of such talented ladies had a huge influence on me and my appreciation for handmade things. You can't spend years under the blankets that someone has spent literally hours and hours crocheting for you without thinking about the artistic decisions and skill that went into them.

This is one such blanket. The Pink Zig Zag blanket that spent some time at the foot of my childhood bed, and spent much time in my parents' TV room. It's a blanket that both of my childhood pets loved (by the way, ever notice how cats and dogs are instinctively drawn to knitted or crocheted throws? It's like a magnet) and I have vivid images of them curled up on top of it. I borrowed it from my parents this month to take a photograph of it. As it sat folded up in my house while I waited to give it back to them, I was astounded to discover how much it felt like "home" to me. It was such a comforting object and had such a nostalgic "home" feeling to it. Some things can be very powerful like that. But I hadn't really ever experienced that feeling to such a degree before with a physical object. It's fitting, I suppose, because this is a blanket that was made by my own grandmother's hands. Each stitch crocheted by her.

I know that this blanket is one of the stops along the way on my crochet/ knitting journey. Now that I know more about the craft I can appreciate my grandmother's sense of color (she stuck to a pink hue and alternated three colors, one being a variegated yarn which brought in a touch of light brown); her consistency (I can't see any mistakes, her gauge doesn't change, and she single crocheted a border around the entire blanket using a pattern instead of just going about willy-nilly, which I unfortunately tend to do); and her pattern choice. I know zig zags or chevrons have been very popular in the past. They have a more modern feel to them today (sometimes softened into ripples instead of zig zags). They could even be considered quite fashionable since they are always visible when it comes to the design house Missoni ( a beautiful, Missoni-inspired, knitted chevron blanket pattern can be found here). It's a pattern that I know my grandmother must have enjoyed making because there are several more of these blankets at my parents' house that I grew up with. From my own experience with the earflap hats, I know that you only revisit a pattern if you really like it.

I plan on showcasing these blankets here in the future. I've decided to periodically highlight some of the crocheted and knitted pieces that have surrounded me as a child and as an adult in a series of posts titled "Not My Knits." It's a way for me to pay homage to the people--both living and deceased--who have made these items, and it's also a way for me to understand how they influenced me directly or indirectly.

Who knows, but after studying my grandmother's blanket for so long I'm kind of wanting to make one myself now! Remember, it's in my blood. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Forgotten Hat

Somewhere in the hustle and bustle of the new year, I forgot all about this little hat I made for Baby N.

I had been half-heartedly sorting some photos on the computer and came across these. I totally forgot I made this for her for Christmas. Lethargy + Mommy Brain+ Fatigue+ A Mild Cold= ....wait, what was I talking about? Anyway, I've been in a bit of a slump and have been having trouble focusing.

I do remember that when I was crocheting it I kept referring to it as the "Snow bunny Hat." She is quite the adorable, plump little thing-the kind of baby where you want to pinch their cheeks all the time; I bet she looks every bit the snow bunny in it. I used my all-time favorite pattern for the hat as always.

Despite feelings of inertia, I have actually been working on some things lately. It's not that I am lacking inspiration; I'm kind of in inspiration overload and feel like there are a million things that I want to make all at once, and all right now, this very minute! Sometimes this feeling winds up making me immobile instead of being the catalyst to get my butt moving. But I'm sure I will slowly get myself together once I kick this cold.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Warm and Cozy

Even though I have fallen into the mom rut of wearing sweatpants most of the time (in my defense, watching after Little C. is pretty physical work; I am always crawling around on the floor, squatting to pick crap up, struggling to put him in his car seat, crib, or grocery shopping cart. Why not wear work out clothes?), I still have my finger on the pulse of what's in fashion, even if I, ahem, choose not to follow the trends.

From the fashion sidelines, I witnessed cowls make their debut last year. I was excited to see that they were still relevant this year, along with moebius scarves and plain, long circular scarves. I had noticed a great pattern over the summer for a designer-inspired cowl, and I was excited to make it as a gift this Christmas.

It was a quick knit, fun to make, and a good learning project (I learned the kitchener stitch and provisional cast on). I made a little gift tag to go with it using Picasa and Picnik too.

I had planned on making another cowl, but I didn't get around to it. There are a number of cowl and circular scarf patterns that I'm interested in knitting, but it occurred to me that I wear sweatpants ALL THE TIME! These will not be enhanced at all by a trendy scarf. Oh well, maybe I'll clean up my act this year and get off the fashion sidelines. Maybe I will resolve to stop wearing fleece 24/7. And maybe I'll even get around to knitting a circular scarf for myself. But I'll have to check first to see if they're still trendy for Fall/ Winter 2011.
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