Thursday, February 25, 2010

I glossed over this project in my weekend recap but here's the (relatively long winded) details:
Monday a week ago,  2/15, I go to my knitting meetup group and find that I've accidentally missed the band-wagon on participating in the knitting of scarves for the Special Olympics. Three other ladies had their yarn and were already going. I had just been to the salvation army for my rag-rug material supplies, to Michaels to stock up on yarn for the Squares of the Month, and I was in the midst of the tricky Penguin hat. But I figured that on that Thursday, 2/18, I would need to go to the laundromat and I could stop by ACMoore for the specific yarn needed for the scarf. I, of course, had a coupon and they ended up having an awesome lilac scented candle for a good price. Irrelevant but awesome.

Unfortunately the scarves need to arrive at their destination by March 9th. The group mentioned mailing them together but I'm still not sure what exactly deadline they'll be following. I figure that I'll be finishing up this weekend and can mail it myself if needed. so I need to finish by our next meeting which is on Tuesday, 3/2. This is not much time.

PhotobucketSo of course I picked this awesome double knitting pattern, which means that my one scarf awesome looking scarf is really 2 less awesome scarfs together. Not the most economical decision but I really enjoy the cause which the scar will be going to. And just envisioning the joy that it will hopefully bring to someone. And the fact that it will hopefully become a treasured bit of memorabilia and or inspiration, well that makes the current scramble to knit quickly worth it.

As of today I think I have 25-30 inches. It needs to be 55 so I'm only about half way. At first glance that's a bit dis-heartening. But let's do some math...

7 days since I purchased the yarn + 2 non-knitting days (skiing/movie watching) + 2 half-non-knitting days (boyfriend distracting me/working late then band) = 4 days of knitting so far.
6 days til the meetup + 2 free evenings + 2 concert days where I'm so burnt out that I really never bother listening to the concerts anyways = Plenty of time!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Movie marathons are difficult.

When I first got it in my head that I wanted to have a marathon of watching all of the Extended Lord of the Rings movies I anticipated that the devoting of an entire day would be the difficult part. I was wrong. Being a completely lazy bum and doing nothing (the man wouldn't even let me knit!) but watch a movie (albeit an awesome one) all day is difficult to do.

11:30am: Settle in with 'brunch' of Sheetz breakfast sandwiches, hash browns, and doughnuts.

11:45am: Determine that my doughnut is filled with peanut butter, not Bavarian creme. The man is silly and likes angel creme filled doughnuts. So I took the filled doughnut he had rejected because Bavarian creme is obviously the best. Things are off to a rock start but I prevail and eat the doughnut anyway.

12:30ish: Start thinking about how long this sucker will be and if I can knit during it. The man is consuming large quantities of orange juice.

1:15ish: Change disk and ask if I may knit. Proposal rejected.

2ish: I love these movies but already having hard time keeping my eyes focused on the screen.

3ish: Finish FotR and after a rather short bathroom/stretch break fire up TTT. Retrieve left over from skiing Gatorade from fridge. The man is smarter/less thrifty and goes for the caffeine in an Arnold Palmer. However this is also stupid as he has already consumed too much orange juice.

4ish: Am intermittently closing eyes and listening until I know something exciting is happening to watch on screen.

5ish: Establish that having eaten crazy heavy brunch we do not yet require pizza. Figure we can wait til end of TTT. Change disk. Continue sporadic eye closure.

6:45ish: Order Papa Johns online. Fight over what type of bread sticks to order. I win.

7:00ish: Finish TTT. Rouse selves to drive and pick up pizza.

7:10ish: Car is overwhelmed by smell of garlic and butter. Question choice of bread sticks but am also very anxious to eat them.

7:20ish: Dole out pizza, bread sticks, and cherry coke. Determine that the bread sticks are borderline too butter/garlicky but also may just be ridiculously awesome. Start RotK.

7:40ish: Determine that unhealthy food is delicious and has properly woken me up to stay engaged through final movie.

8:00ish: Determine that man has over eaten and feels ill.

9:00ish: Would have introduced dessert of left over valentines cake except that my man is still ready to pop. Move to final disk.

11:25. Finish entire movie marathon and even watch RotK credits!

We did it. I'm way too proud of us.

Notes to self: Must figure out how to do hair like Eowyn in funeral scene or like the common Gondorians. I need to re-read RotK (I've done FotR and TTT within recent memory). Next time must not let silly boy over-eat.


Birds on a line.

I am very good at coming up with ideas. Sometimes I am even good at starting those ideas. Seeing things through to completion however, is not exactly my best selling point.

Back in October when I moved into my apartment I debated how to decorate. The walls are all this boring creme/beige color. Painting is not an option. And they walls also happen to be plaster so even hanging things can be a bit sketchy.

But I had an idea.

At some point back in my old housing situation I tried to convince my landlord/roommate/friend that our walls needed more excitement (they did) and that as it was her house we could totally paint something awesome. Then I became mildly obsessed with wall decals. When I she didn't go for the paint idea I tried to sell contact paper but failed.

Now in my own apartment I tried to find something locally but failing, I ordered a roll of black contact paper. It was 18" by 75'. Go big or go home eh?

I fairly quickly churned out a dozen or so butterflies, which are still on one of my walls, as a test. Then after much debate over what to do I settled upon copying this scene of birds on a line.

I'm not sure how long I worked at the project but I had about 80% of the line and about 5 birds up on the wall. I also had a paper pattern for the last bit of line just taped up there. It blended it fairly well because it was pretty rare that I'd notice the odd in-completion. The odd lack of birds was it's own awkwardness.

Then finally this weekend I tasked myself with 'completing the picture'. I meant to take a 'before' picture but sadly never did. But I did finish the line and add a dozen or so birds. So now here is my newly improved wall.

It is obviously the focal wall of the whole apartment really. But alas that is owing to my TV addiction so I suppose I didn't look up much beyond the clock all that often.

Now it is awesome. I am happy. And it's definatly time to think about what wall should be improved next!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ski bunny.

We went skiing on Friday and it was fun!

The 'getting there' was a bit sketchy. To start things off my man had a death in the family on Thursday. Yea he pretty much had a really sucky week. But he wanted to keep going with our plans. So we were a go, but it did end up delaying my planned timing.

I had established the times in an attempt to maximize the amount of time we'd be on the hill. I do such things because it is expensive and I am cheap. So we started off with me in an 'off' mood but trying to pretend I was all good. Not really ideal but I did get better.

So we get there and stand in line for our passes and my rental. It was pretty busy. I managed to find a buy one get one lift ticket coupon which was awesome. And I had a gift card that was an awesome Christmas present. All together I think we really confused the ticket seller guy. As I had calculated he gave us an initial total of $74ish. But then once I thought just about everything was done (there were like 3 signatures required somehow) he asked again how many rentals? "one". And then said he would refund the 2nd. So the man (who had paid the balance) handed back over the card he'd paid with.

Later I looked at the transactions and I'm pretty sure we were charged $0 for the lift tickets. And I'm quite positive that the man ended up being refunded more than he'd been charged because of using the gift card. Basically it was awesome, all-be-it a tad morally questionable.

I went and got my rental. Having marked that I was a moderate skier the dude asked me what size ski I wanted. I'm not into it enough to recall at all what size I like best. So I asked for something short because I'm a chicken, I think I amused the guy. We managed to stuff everything in a locker. I really didn't think it would fit but maybe I should actually trust the man....And we were off to the lift.

If I'm remembering correctly the last time I was skiing was 2007 with a college bus trip. So I was inevitably a bit rusty. And of course my man is all gung-ho and likes to barrel down double black diamons with his buddies. The big hills scared me but before the end I was comfortable on moderate stuff, willing and able to go down steep stuff, and downright speedy on easy stuff.

The only times I fell were stupid times: got scared and turned too hard basically laying down, attempting to stop and retrieve a guys pole for him, stepping on the man's ski coming off the lift, going too fast and trying to stop too hard at the bottom.

And while I could feel my leg muscles kicking in and working hard on some of the downhills I really wasn't sore at all. The only thing was that my shins feel brused which I attribute to rental boots.

A good time was had by all. Maybe someday I'll be less cheap and ski more often!

Weekend crafting.

A good bit of my weekend time was lost (in large part owing to the fact that my man wouldn't let me knit during the LOTR marathon) but luckily I was able to spend most of Sunday with my various crafts.

The knitting was a necessity. My local knitting meet-up decided to participate in the knitting of scarves for the Special Olympics and the deadline is pretty tight. I only just got my yarn on Thursday and me being me, unlike most of the rest of my group, I didn't pick a particularly quick pattern. But I figure if I bang out at least 5 inches each day I'll be good. And given my status as "glued to the TV because she's addicted to the olympics" I may even best my 5 inches each day.

I added 4 rows to my kitchen rug. Before it seemed big in my lap and not so big in the kitchen. It takes approximately forever to get a whole row done, but it's easy work. So now I work on it on the floor while sitting on it, it's big, and it doesn't even look half bad in the kitchen. Yay.

And speaking of craft projects from recycled materials (the rug is from old sheets) I have my eye on another recycled materials project. Stay tuned for that.

It was my intent to add at least another page to my art journal but after painting backgrounds on 2 pages I didn't find quite the inspiration I was looking for to keep going. Although I totally just had an idea for what I should do. (Note to self: simple paint chip mosaic) Backgrounds are totally useful however as now I won't have to wait for paint to dry! Plus having just had that idea I'm good to go whenever I find the time and inspiration again. Also earlier today I totally had the idea of what I would like to put on the cover of the journal. (note to self: favorite quote plus feathers, figure out how to secure feather nicely)

But most excitingly of the weekend I 'finished' (really I could easily add more but it's not necessary) a project that I started in October or November and managed to ignore despite the fact that it is prominently displayed in my apartment. Brilliant. However I'm ridiculously long-winded so this is already long. I think that I shall describe this project as its very own post.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ars gratia artis

Having been quite inspired by everything that I've been reading from the postcard swap and all of the beautiful postcards I decided that I wanted to try my own improvisatory/mixed media/whatever comes to mind "art". I especially liked the idea of an "art journal".

But before any arts and crafts time I needed to clean house. In organizing/clearing out my bookshelf I came across an old notebook. It's a bit odd so I'm not a big fan and decided it was silly to be keeping it and went to throw it out when it struck me: Art Journal!

I tore out some old notes I had from a business conference and found a crazy squiggle pattern that is a doddle I've often done. Although normally I don't get the page nearly so full. I must have been very bored.

My hope is to just get myself creating something different at least somewhat regularly. There's no other goal. Maybe in the future I'll be able to take it less from a random creation to more of an emotional/journaling type creation. Actually I already have a few ideas :-)

Here are my first pages:

Left: pen on paper. Right: 2/17, acrylics, regular brush, scrap paper stencil, sponge brush, thread, mod podge, paint chip, puffy paint.

Ars gratia artis: Art for art's sake

Home is behind, the world ahead.

This weekend should be pretty durn good. Why will it be good? Well I coerced my man into making plans for some good activities.

Friday = Skiing
He's big on skiing. I quite enjoy skiing but rarely get out because expensive and can be cold. It was long ago established that we ought to hit the slopes. Particularly because if we wait much longer the season will be over! Somehow I suspect that if left to his own devices he might never make it out there. Good think I like to insist upon plans.

Saturday = Lord of the Rings Marathon
This has been on my personal to-do-list forever because I am a giant dork. I'm ok with it. He, when we first started communicating indicated an interest in Fantasy and an enjoyment of LOTR. I of course assumed he was  a dork like me. Later I learned that he had only seen the movies and never read the books. I wanted to break up with him then but it didn't work out (the breaking up that is). I prodded him to read them so that we could have a marathon and for 4 months he generally ignored me. In January by means of a bribe he was made to finish them off (and is appropriate he enjoyed them and freaked out at how different they are from the movies). Now a large part of why I never previously had the marathon is because the only DVD that I owned (of LOTR persuasion) is Return of the King Extended Edition (I do however have FotR and TTT on VHS - be jealous). However, for Christmas my man got me FotR and TTT Extended editions on DVD. And he even got me the editions that matched my RotK. How could I not love him?

There will probably be much junk food involved. I put together a rough spreadsheet/schedule of the marathon but I have been informed that it is improper to plan such things.
Home is behind, the world ahead
And there are many paths to tread. 
Through shadow, to the edge of night, 
until the stars are all alight
Mist and shadow, 
cloud and shade, 
all shall fade
all... shall... fade...

and the World is Wide

Reading How About Orange I followed a link to Totally Severe where I fell in love with this wallpaper:

 I'm thinking it could totally be an awesome paper cut. And then I realized I could go even bigger and if I'm feeling particularly crazy it could be a ridiculously awesome wall decal using contact paper.

Hooray for scissors.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Making it up as I go.

As a card carrying member of the Secret Society of Penguins (ok, so I actually lost my cards years ago, but I think the fact that we did make them and for a time I had them justifies being able to say that) I have a bit of an obsession with all things Penguinal. This of course includes knitting.

Sitting in my ravelry queue for quite some time was this penguin hat. It's just been sitting there for a few reasons:
1. The pattern is for a small child. I may be small but I am at least bigger than a five year old.
2. It's knit flat and then sewed up in hat shape. I hate that.
3. I don't know how/have never before knit with multiple colors like that.

But on Sunday during my marathon olympics watching I ignored common sense and went for it.

To start I opened up excel and colored the cells to map out a new color chart that was twice as large as the original. Then I looked at an old hat project that I knitted and considered/compaired to established how many stitches I should cast on. I didn't want to double the original as I figured that would be too large. In the end I choose 100 because well it's nice and easy to remember.

I cast on my orange (red heart super saver I think, basically the cheapst orange I could find was the logic) ribbing on my size 5 circulars but soon switched over to double pointeds where I worked it up a few rows. Then I switched to my black simply soft. I knit approximately half of the black stitches and started to consider how the heck to make the color switches work. A bit of internet research gave me an idea and off I went.

To pick up the white yarn I twisted it around the end of the black. Then leaving the black hanging I knit across all of the white stitches. When I reached the end of the white I left the yarn hanging and then turned the piece around to be looking at the inside. Then I transferred all of the just completed white stitches onto the working needle (after a bit of doing I switched back to the circulars which was a tight fit but easier to keep everything up on). So at this point I'm looking at the inside of the hat my row of white stitches is on the right side working needle with the working yarn farthest to the right which is the inside of the circular needle.

I picked back up the black and proceeded to purl across the already completed black stitches and then when I reached it purled a first row of black on top of the remaining orange stitches until I reached the white. I really ought to have taken pictures but at this point it the picture would show 1 full row of the black and white pattern plus a 2nd row on the inside half of the black. It's entirely possible you have to do it to get it.

From there I twisted the yarns and just continued to purl across the white (using white of course). Then again I turned to the other side of the work and transferred all of the white stitches onto the working needle then picked back up with the black going the other way.

Can you see the pattern there?

If (or more likely when) I make a second attempt at this I'll probably start right on the white which i think should eliminate what ends up being pretty much an extra half row of black. But that's mostly speculation.

When I got to the pattern portion I would just knit the extra black stitches as needed or leave off the appropriate white stitch to be knit up when I came back around with the black. Then I hit the orange beak. 3 colors - o my.

Actually the beak ended up not being a problem at all. Doing the white back and forth was essentially knitting as one would flat and so I used standard intarsia knitting to form the orange beak just carrying the white behind it.

By the time I got to the top of the white patch where just the beak is sticking up I was ridiculously confsed and it took me forever to figure out what to do next. Theoretically I needed to just do the same thing, but I hadn't really thought through what I was doing (I was just doing whatever worked) so in theory I could do it now and be less confused (famous last words).

At long last reaching the eyes I was impressed that I'd done so much but also quite sure that I am crazy. I just attatched on the white and carried it back and forth wherever I needed it. I don't recomend this as it didn't lay nearly so nice as I would like. Plus I went and messed up and made a few stitches that should have been white black. D'oh.

Now having 'tried on' the hat during the process I was pretty sure it was going to come out much larger than I wanted. So I set out with the goal of decreasing it down from 100 stitches to 8 as quickly as possible without being ridiculous. The first row of solid black I decreased ever 8 stitches. Next every 6 stitches, 5, 4, 3, 2 and then every stitch. By this point it was crazy late and so I don't think my counting was so good but I just went with whatever.

Voila Penguin Hat!

Olympic Addiction

I'm really not all that much of a sports person. It can be fun recreationally but even then I tend towards other activities. And I've never been one to watch or follow any professional sports teams. But for some reason I absolutely love the Olympics.

It started on Friday with the opening ceremony. Really I don't know how anyone will ever beat the sheer awesomeness that was the Beijing opening but Vancouver had a few pretty neat things. But even when it's boring (parade of nations, seriously just watching athletes walk in is not that entertaining) I can't tear myself away. Something about the emotions that I know those people are experiencing. And I like the random trivia that the commentators give.

On Saturday I was distracted by my friends wedding and so didn't watch anything.

Sunday was Valentines Day but my man abandoned me so I turned on the olympics at 1 I think and left it on until at least midnight. There may have been some breaks when local programming was on. During this time I also, of course, engaged in crafts.

Monday was Presidents Day. Apparently they don't air nearly so much olympics during the day on weekdays so that was disappointing. But I proceeded with my other activities: knitting, errands, ballet, and then rushed home to catch as much of the prime time coverage as possible. Then having also become addicted to the penguin hat I was knitting I stayed up until 2:30. Mostly driven by my desire to finish the hat, but of course watching the Olympics the whole time.

Tuesday I quickly turned on the TV as soon as I got home and discovered that NBC is lame and has local programming until prime time. I managed to tear myself away to sleep at 1.

Wednesday I remained calm and didn't other things that did not revolve around the TV until just before prime time. And I turned it off when the prime time block was over at 11:30. I am totally re-gaining control over my addiction.

Pretty much every time they show a medal ceremony my eyes water a bit.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rag time

Some time ago in the midst of this frigid winter I bemoaned the fact that my kitchen floor was very cold. At the time I do believe my solution was to put on thicker socks or shoes, but I also had the idea: How awesome would it be to make a rag rug?

Very awesome indeed.

Off to the inter webs I went. And as always it did not disappoint. I added a 'pattern' to my ravelry queue and there it existed for a time forlorn but not forgotten.

Then this Monday when I had off on presidents day my knitting/crochet group had a meeting during the day and I realized that we met near the craft stores and near the salvation army store. Coupons were reviewed and a plan was formulated.

First I stopped at the salvation army where I was incredibly excited to find a rather large selection of bed sheets. I picked out 4 sheets using a palate of soft greens and browns, neutral but, hopefully, not boring. The grand total was $12. I love thrift stores. After that I made my way to Michaels where I picked up some jumbo crochet hooks and since I'd printed off a 20% of of your entire order (sales included!) coupon I also stocked up on some yarn for my squares afghan :-)

That night I abandoned other projects on the needles to start tearing up a sheet. Joyfully I discovered that it was incredibly easy to tear the sheet along the cross-grain line. And by stopping before the edge I could have one giant huge strip of fabric. Rolled up the ball was about the size of my head. Rock on.

Still unable to contain my excitement I immediately tried to start crocheting. It took a number of attempts and some experimentation but I finally got something started. Since I didn't want a circle I tried shaping it into an oval, but I ended up going rectangle. I was happy.

The next day I tore up the other 3 sheets. I, of course, took pictures to document how huge the crazy balls really are. By that point I had decided to reject the rectangle and frogged the previous nights work. Then experimenting more I managed an oval shape!

The sucker is pretty rough to work with. But I tried standing on it so far (12 by 6 inches maybe?) and love it. Given my craft progress recently I anticipate being done before the end of February :-)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Recently I've been reading more artsy/craftsy blogs. Towards the end of January Alice at Future Girl Craft Blog posted a link to a postcard swap hosted by Hanna. I absolutely loved the idea.

Making and receiving any type of mail is pretty much the most awesome thing ever. I've been known to send the occasional random piece of mail to a friend just because I love it. And actually I have made my own post cards before even! But to do a swap with a group of other serious artsy people....well that was intimidating. I started thinking on what I might be able to put together.

The afore mentioned post cards were simple little things (word clouds) designed using this nifty little tool/website. And I didn't want to use that for an art-type swap. Most of the ideas/suggestions were things like drawing/paining/mosaic/decoupage. All things I can do but I'm really exactly wild about. So I considered what I have been doing as of late: yarn-craft. On a whim I googled "knitted post card" and struck gold.

It was a busy day and so it wasn't until late that night when I should have been sleeping that I whipped up my own knitted post card. I took a picture but it was dark and horrible. I slapped like 3 stamps on that sucker and sent it off through the mail to my local friend to test that the thing would actually go through the mail.

Sure enough a few days later she had received the post card and I embarked upon a mission to knit up the things en-masse. I needed 10 for the swap and wanted to make even more as valentines to send to friends. At some point I settled upon making 20 cards. This is possibly in part owing to the fact that I purchased a 'book' of $1 stamps to use for mailing them all and that is of course 20 stamps. I figure the process for each card was somewhere around 2 hours.

I was using pink, white, and black carron simply soft yarn I had left around the house from other projects. After a bit of experimenting I settled upon 23 rows of 27 stitches on size 6 needles. I made a seed stitch border 3 stitches wide around the whole card and left the center a flat knit. Then I used a contrasting color to embroider on a heart. The tricks I learned to stitching on a not so tight knitted fabric are: use a hoop, trace the pattern onto a piece of cloth in the back, and poke the needle through the strands of yarn. The hearts weren't at all perfect but I'll pretend that adds to the hand-made qualities. I spent a bit of time modifying a post card back designed by Hanna which I could then print 3 up on a piece of card stock. I also cut out a second blank piece of card stock to the same size becuase it was relatively flimsy. My modifications included marks around the boarder ever 1/2 inch where I needed to poke holes. To poke the holes I took an old shallow cardboard box and pre-poked in appropriate holes. Then I could take up to 6 layers of card stock and pinned them down in place on top of the box using push pins. Then I poked through each hole with another push pin, then moved up to progressively bigger knitting needles or just using alot of force (and sometimes ripping the paper) with the larger needle. This was easily my least favorite part of the process. Lastly I stretched the knitting over the card and secured it with clothes pins then secured it with my contrasting yarn.


I didn't know how I was going to get them all done in time but then mother nature snowed in the whole city and I used the day to finish all of the cards! Stupidly I never got around to taking a picture of all of the finished products, the sheer volume amused me greatly. But here is a picture with all of the color variations.

Ebb and Flow

So for about a week there I managed to re-invent myself as a good little blogger. But alas once again I have been positively remiss about posting.

The only thing to do is to try again!

I have tons of ideas sitting waiting to be written up so hopefully I'll be able to do it. Plus I've been quite crafty lately and craft posts are fun!

Wish me luck.