Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekly Goal WrapUp, 11/20

It took some pretty serious nose to the grind stone, but I rocked the list this week.
  1. Piece multi-color hex bag
  2. Sew bag lining for blue hex bag
  3. 3 color work ornament- Everytime I successfully complete one of these stockings I fall in love again.
  4. 2 solid ornament
  5. Finish bag top and bottom
  6. Bag handle
  7. Sew bag lining for multi-color hex bag - I got way faster the 2nd time.
  8. 24 hex circles -I was so close to having enough but I ran out of 3 of the 4 colors (shades of green and yellow) at 22 circles. So I figured out a new configuration that should work.
  9. Ply 4 oz of Rosie- Although turns out it was only 3.5. But it was super amazing because my two 'bobbins' were virtually the exact same length. Like wow.
  10. Prep 3 oz of Rosie  - actually I only fully prepped 2 but I sorted through through the whole rest of the fleece and bagged up what I will be keeping and the 1.7 that remains to be spun.
  11. Spin at least 2 oz of Rosie
  12. Knit Squirrel - He has a body but nothing more.
  13. Knit Fox - More epic cuteness.
  14. Knit Mouse with beret - Well he's still in pieces, but all of the pieces are there.
  15. Knit many animal scarfs
  16. Add eyes and noses to animals -Added the finishing touches to all of them, but I'm a bit afraid my details are a bit of a weak point. May want to re-evaluate for the future.
  17. Add Fringe to Super Bulky Scarf - Super easy to do and while some mixed opinions on the addition made me a bit hesitant I think it looks great.
  18. Bulky Crochet Scarf
  19. Create a business identity - Yay clean and simple.
  20. Design business cards - Clean and simple but a touch of yarn for pop. I'm way too excited about my own design skills in this....not usually a good sign.
  21. Design item tags

Bonus Items:
  • Establish online business presence - It's a modified blogger page (free!), but I'm really digging what I'm able to do with it.
  • Super Bulky Scarf - I am totally making myself one of these once I have time again. And the shade of green I had for this is just perfect.

So 19 out of 21 things accomplished. Plus 2 bonus items which I say easily offsets the 2 missing tasks. Woohoo.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Charity Crafting

I am currently working on projects for two different Charity's.

2010 Colors
First is the Scarves for Special Olympics project. I may have this story wrong as I can't find it documented online and am going from memory but...The project started small with one state program asking crafters to use certain colors of yarn to make scarves for their athletes. The scarves serve "As a symbol of unity, community and support within the Special Olympics Movement". They were quite successful and scarves poured in and so each year the project grew a little bit bigger. This year the Special Olympics organizations from 40 different states are involved and thousands of scarves will be crafted and donated.
2011 Colors

This year is I believe the 3rd year that I have participated. I really love the idea and the goal of the program. Plus the guidelines leave room for quite a bit of ones own pattern interpretation. I have made scarves of varying difficulty but now have settled in with my adorable heart pattern which is also simple enough to be perfect anywhere anytime crafting.

My other charity project is a hat. A friend of mine created something on facebook that asked everyone she knew to make and donate hats to go to a children's hospital in memory of a young girl who passed away much to young. Crazily enough the friend who started the initiative has never learned enough knitting or crochet to make one of her own to donate....but kudos for starting the ball. This is certainly a worthwhile and moving endeavor.

A small, but very stretchy, infant hat.
I have a small pile of infant hats that were never donated to my local hospital that I plan on sending. Plus I cast on and managed maybe an inch or two of a Swirl Hat. The pattern is quite interesting. It really seems intellectually like it shouldn't work...but it does. Ah the magic of yarn loops.

The problem is I love these initiatives but at the end of the day sometimes it feels like they've become more burden than enjoyment. When I have a ton of Christmas gifts to make and an endless supply of ideas for projects that I just love for myself it can be hard to have the time. As you see I've already taken some steps but finding cute but simple patterns, but at the end of the day I'm either not that speedy of a crafter, or it's entirely possible that I'm just trying to do too much.

So for now the plan is to just keep plugging away prioritizing whatever project has the next deadline and trying to fit in at least the occasional bit for myself.....Am I the only one who sometimes struggles with the time for charity projects, or maybe your struggle is gift making? How do you prioritize your crafting?

Thanks for visiting! Be sure and check out the rest of the Fiber Arts Friday blogs!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sew what.

I woke up to find a message in my inbox from Bran. "How sweet" I thought "he hasn't done that in a long time." I can quite easily be described as a suckers for small gestures. So this was quite well received.

When I opened up the message I found "Good morning. Be sure to check Woot." Ok, so not quite the romantic gesture I was anticipating. In fact this is downright dangerous stuff as he is sure to have found something I'll want to buy but alas buying things costs money and I have yet to find any money trees.

Dutifully I loaded the website. And there was a shiny sewing machine. *want* Well, he may not be so great on the romantic gestures front but Bran does know me.

Of course I already have a sewing machine, but it has a few less than satisfactory qualities. The thing is a beast. I can still lift it so it's not the most epic but it takes some considerable effort on my part so I would guess somewhere in the 35-45 lb range (I'm probably underestimating my weakness and its like 30lb, but for now the numbers stand). This makes it pretty darn inconvenient to get set up and sewing. It is old. Certainly older than me, it's a bit possible at doubles me in age. Which leads me to the most important quality issue. The thing sucks at sewing.

I'm now at a point where if I'm going to sew something I know it has to be of a heavier fabric. I can almost get away with 2 or more layers of quilters cotton but silk or taffeta or anything beautifully light and airy is out of the question. Sadly I have lost some good fabric to this problem on more than one occasion. The tension on it doesn't quite work properly anymore. It takes quite a bit of fiddling to get a relatively decent stitch. And even then quite often things are pulled to one side or another or the fabric buckles. Lastly it skips random stitches. This particular quirk is absolutely infuriating and makes the machine useless for any sewn objects that I want to actually look well made.

But on the other hand...hey it works and I can (mostly) sew things. Plus how often am I sewing stuff these days.

The idea was now in my head however, and it wasn't going to let go anytime soon. I spent a good bit of the morning researching. Woot had a Singer electronic machine with 70ish different stitches and a few extras for $150. It seemed like I ought to be able to to better than that.

So after a good bit of looking I found this machine at Costco. It always seems like these machines have way more than I need. But hey decorative stitches can be fun. And in reading the owners manuals online I fell in love with lots of the spiffy things it could do like an invisible hem. How awesome is that. Never mind that it would likely take me as long to get it set up as it would to sew by hand. It had lots of good reviews on the Costco site and elsewhere. Plus it was more on sale than the link shows now and shipping is free.

After sitting on the idea for a few days I went ahead and ordered and a few days after that my new toy arrived.

I've only used it a bit so far but am absolutely loving it. And rather amusingly one of the little bits of use that I got from it was quite spontaneously sewing a test veil for a friend who is getting married. Crazily it was like the easiest sewing project ever.

Rock on.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Knit Picks Wishlist

A few weeks back I ordered from Knitpicks for the first time. I figured since it was a place of fibery goodness I would enjoy window shopping and allowed them to add me to their email list. Scanning it quickly while in the midst of something I noticed it said I could win something! But having no time I just left it in my inbox.

Yesterday I finally managed to revisit the email and discovered the following contest:

As posted on their website you add stuff to your wishlist, which requires signing up for a username, then email the list to someone. Once you do this they must somehow know about it and will select 3 winners on Friday who will each receive $50 to spend on things from their list.

Now being all about window shopping this was no problem at all.

My first introducing to knitpicks was a catalog that my parents had somehow received. But they passed it along to me and I absolutely fell in love with the most amazing penguin socks. Seriously how cute are these guys? I knew the pattern was in a book so I tried looking for it, which of course involved pulling up Ravelry to find exact sock pattern and book. And then utter disappointment when it seems that knitpicks no longer carries this book. Luckily there were more categories to explore.

I started with the needles and accessories as yarn is harder to select online I think, its much nicer to feel it. I already have the knitpicks interchangeables which I use all the time. They're great. But it would be nice to have a longer cord for magic looping larger items. Plus I actually may have broken one of my cables. I was pulling it out of a swatch and the metal bit that has the screw part pulled most of the way off of the plastic cable. It was very sad. Then of course they didn't have much of those things but lots of other good stuff. How awesome would it be to have a real swift in place of my foam core arms with paperclip hooks kinda taped to a lazy-susan. Or lace blocking wires to actually block things with decent straight edges. Or whoa, a pretty needle case.

The $$$ amount of the wishlist went up pretty darn quick.

Then I figured I'd at least take a look at the yarns even though I couldn't vouch for their softness. The first thing to catch my eye was the absolutely beautiful line of Chroma yarn. I have a somewhat random love for all things gradient so these were right up my alley. The choices range from beautiful fall colors to a bold sunset to a bright rainbow. Love it. A bunch of those went on the list even though I have no idea what I would ever make with the yarn. And well I may or may not have accidentally purchased an awesome bright rainbow graduated yarn from A C Moore on Saturday....buuut moving on.

The next, and final, thing(s) I fell for were the bulky yarns and the soft sounding yarns. Having just had such fast sucess with the super bulk yarn used for the crochet scarf it seemed like it would be lots of fun to make many more such quick gratification projects. And then I am always a sucker for soft, particularly Alpaca and Angora so Alpaca Cloud Lace, Capra Cashmere, and Sugarbunny Yarns all found themselves on the list.

Here's my list. I just need to win the lottery so I can buy it all with or without any contest winning. Now go and make your own list so maybe we'll both be lucky winners!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekly Goals, 11/14

Last week I had a very good moment of inspiration when I decided to take my weekly list, break the items down into smaller chunks, and make myself daily lists of what I wanted to accomplish. And while I may not have accomplished everything from last weeks list I still kicked some pretty good butt so my plan of attack is to do the same this week. Blue items are carry overs from last week. And I'm also going to take a slightly different approach. There shall be a primary objective list and then a list for the bonus stuff that I'd like to do but know time is short so they may not happen. My hope is that I can actually get through all of the old stuff plus all of the this weeks stuff and and even knock out a few bonus items and then be able to start Thanksgiving week from a very good position.

  1. Piece multi-color hex bag
  2. Sew bag lining for blue hex bag
  3. 3 color work ornament
  4. 2 solid ornament
  5. Finish bag top and bottom
  6. Bag handle
  7. Sew bag lining for multi-color hex bag
  8. 24 hex circles - Although I don't know what color palate to use :-/
  9. Ply 4 oz of Rosie
  10. Prep 3 oz of Rosie
  11. Spin at least 2 oz of Rosie - But all 3 would certainly rock.
  12. Knit Squirrel
  13. Knit Fox
  14. Knit Mouse with beret
  15. Knit many animal scarfs - they are cold
  16. Add eyes and noses to animals - Confession: many of my animals are still lacking eyes and some are even missing noses. There may also be one bunny without a tail, but I think he also has weirdly placed ears so he just really did not luck out.
  17. Add Fringe to Super Bulky Scarf
  18. Bulky Crochet Scarf
  19. Create a business identity
  20. Design business cards
  21. Design item tags

Bonus Items:
  • Knit Hedgehog
  • Knit Otter
  • Super Bulky Scarf
  • More Ornaments - I didn't put these on the regular list because I still have all of last weeks to complete but I would like more if possible.
  • Establish an online presence for my 'business'.
  • Prep & Spin Dyed Alpaca for my scarf

Ok....I definitely am feeling way over ambitious again. There is pretty much no way all of this can happen.....but I'm not very inclined to pare down the list either :-)

Weekly Goal Wrap Up, 11/13

I feel very much like I kicked some butt this past week. But it was a big list, I started late, and I know i didn't get everything so lets see what the list says:
    1. 16 multi colored crochet circles - So many colors, so much fun.
    2. Spin double ply alpacas of york - It was fun and the yarn was surprisingly squishy.
    3. Test yardage for alpacas of york scarf - Although I was mostly experimenting so the knitting was pretty rough and maybe not the most exact test.
    4. 1 color work ornament - I think I made at least one of these in stripes which is almost cheating but works. Although this list vs. the one prior is kind of all blurring together so who knows.
    5. Finish mitten -After failing at the next item I went and rocked my mitten thumb to make myself happy again.
    6. Sew bag lining -Utter fail. I was spending lots of time and being extra awesome to sew the most beautiful bag lining. But I cut the bag to my intended width instead of the width with seam allowances. For a while I thought it would still be ok, but it was not. Gah. And of course I was good and bought a small amount so I didn't have enough fabric for a second try. Very annoyed with self.
    7. Piece multi color bag - I've made it almost half way but there's still the rest to go and I decided to sleep instead of keep hooking.
    8. 3 color work ornaments - Thought about these guys and am totally loving them but ran out of time.
    9. 2 solid ornaments - Thought about these guys and am totally loving them but ran out of time.
    10. 1 knit squirrel - He is so stinking cute.
    11. 2 knit bunnies - Seriously these little knits need a post of their own to describe/depict the awesome.
    12. Prep 2 oz of Rosie - My carding technique is improving methinks.
    13. Spin 2 oz of Rosie - And, despite some initial questionable spinning, I am getting to be super fast and much more even at spinning Rosie.
    14. Prep 2 oz of Alpacas of York - This project has more or less officially been moved to the back-burner as it doesn't have such a hard, or soon, deadline.
    15. Spin 2 oz of Alpacas of York - This project has more or less officially been moved to the back-burner as it doesn't have such a hard, or soon, deadline.
    16. Crochet fast scarf from bulky yarn - Bulky yarn may be my new favorite thing ever. So fast and pretty darn awesome.

    Hmm...not quite so much bolding as there could be but I'm quite happy with my accomplishments. Plus it's actually less than a weeks worth of stuffs so extra awesome. And I'm feeling good so I fully plan to keep this ball rolling into next week.

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Fiber Arts Friday: Nice and Squishy

    So I've had a pretty serious lack of online presence lately that is mainly owing to all of the ridiculous amounts of work but also contributing to that is the fact that pretty much all of the time not spent at work or work events has been going into crafting.

    I have managed to complete quite a few little goodies at this point that I'll take home to (hopefully) be sold at the Christmas Market. But with the deadline of Thanksgiving its rather inevitably that I feel quite rushed to get things done. Good things do always seem to take time.

    The other day however I was  putting on an old scarf that was a gift from my Aunt a number of years back. It was a simple crochet pattern but the bright fluffy yarn has made it a favorite for a number of years now. "I must make some of these" I thought.

    A few days later I found myself at Jo-Ann's and wandered the yarn aisle considering the myriad of options. Choices are one of the many banes of my existence. How am I supposed to choose! But I had a friend along which always helps and a sale price plus a coupon made the $ less of an issue. I grabbed two skeins of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in a gorgeous deep orange rust color. The yarn has the advantage of being super soft and squishy plus being machine washable.

    Back home it sat for a few days as I worked on other things. Then Wednesday night I decided I wanted to start on it. I checked the band and it called for a "N" hook. I checked my hooks and my biggest regular hook was "H". D'oh. I knew I had some bigger hooks somewhere from way back when I crocheted the rug for my kitchen. But I had no idea where I'd stored them. After much thinking and some searching, I was scouring the craft room when it dawned on me and I found the hooks stashed in a box of miscellaneous craftiness.

    The smallest hook of the bunch was "P". Well at least I was getting closer. I tried out the P hook but the loops looked insanely large. So I reverted to the H and started a few rows of double crochet. It was ok but the fabric was just too dense. I ripped it out, was at a bit of a loss, and considered buying another hook. However before doing that I decided to give P another try.

    Of course the loops were still huge but I was more comfortable and just went with it. After a bit of testing I settled on 10 stitches which gives me 5 or 6 inches. It is insanely easy going and after 2 nights of sporatic work I've used up all of one skein and have somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 feet. I still want to add more length but it'll be an easy project to finish.

    I think I need to work with bulky yarn more often (and buy more yarn to whip up one or two more to sell).

    PS: Help me out! To fringe or not to fringe? that is my question. Let me know what you think in the comments!

    Thanks for visiting! Be sure and check out the rest of the Fiber Arts Friday blogs!

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Late Weekly Goals, 11/9

    I feel like I've made some really good progress so far this week. But it's pretty much all progress that I wanted to have done last week (in blue) so that's a bit of an issue...

    1. 16 multi colored crochet circles - to finish last weeks batch of 24. I determined last night that I can crochet 6 in an hour.
    2. Spin double ply alpacas of york - I have about half of the spinning done of solid color stuff. I do still want to try playing with some blends. I love this yarn so it should be easy if I can find the time.
    3. Test yardage for alpacas of york scarf - I still have no idea how much yarn I'll need for my amazing linen stitch scarf.
    4. 1 color work ornament
    5. Finish mitten - only the thumb to go!
    6. Sew bag lining - Randomly tacked this one on for myself, but I have the fabric and everything else is done so I'm anxious to have a 100% finished product.
    7. Piece multi color bag
    8. 3 color work ornaments
    9. 2 solid ornaments
    10. 1 knit squirrel
    11. 2 knit bunnies
    12. Prep 2 oz of Rosie
    13. Spin 2 oz of Rosie
    14. Prep 2 oz of Alpacas of York
    15. Spin 2 oz of Alpacas of York
    16. Crochet fast scarf from bulky yarn

    Given the rockstar crafting I accomplished on Monday and Tuesday I actually have some hope for this weeks success rate.

    Oh and last week Marni commented on the fact that all my list is fun craft stuff. This is way true. It would just be lame (and depressing) to add the real work that I inevitably must take care of as well. As much as I love my cat and having my own house being but one person who has to work a lot and likes to make many crafts does not make for the tidiest of house and yard. My mother happened to be up and we visited briefly and I inquired about their leaf raking habits. Apparently father doesn't like to leave them lay for fear of the grass. I freely confess that I took this into consideration and decided that I need even more leaves so that the fact that I kinda slacked on mowing the lawn as we got towards fall would be hidden.

    3 out of 38

    I've been rather absent from my newly renewed online presence here but my schedule has been somewhat ridiculous lately. And it’s not that I’m doing anything that I want to do. It’s all work.

    I took some time to count today and determined that in a stretch of 38 days I have only 3 days that do not have work or work related events on them. The goal line is Thanksgiving. 24 days in I'm starting now to see the light at the end of the tunnel...maybe

    The stretch started on Monday October 17th with a regular work week. I had that Saturday off, woohoo. And I was able to drive out for a friends party. Also woohoo, except it added to the lack of time at home. That Sunday it was only a few hours of work. But when the few hours are right in the middle of the day it's pretty darn lame.

    After that it was another regular work week. Except this one was fairly busy owing to the concerts that weekend. Then the weekend hit. A normal work weekend is about 10:30-11ish on Saturday with a brief respite of an hour or two at home. And then 12-6ish on Sunday. However to add to the mess we were blasted with the crazy snow storm. Snow + Central PA residents = chaos to begin with. Add in the fact that it's only October and we have a couple thousand unhappy people. Of course it's my responsibility to deal with those people.

    That weekend hurt. Literally I was all kinds of sore and worn down but so started the next week. Having survived (more or less) the weekend we realized we needed to look at the next event. And of course it was a doozy. My coworker and I had agreed to take on one project. However we didn't realize all of the extra bits that had been added to its responsibility (rightly or wrongly) plus some of the support that was supposed to be included fell through. That was fun. Tuesday through Friday were probably the most filled days that I've had in some time. Ouch.

    Somewhere in that mess I agreed to a quasi-work related side gig that was pretty cool but also quite stressful and left me once again sore for a few days. But hey at least I got paid for that extra effort.

    This past weekend was the big event. But first I had a day off on Saturday. That was pretty exciting, although worrying about Sunday's event unfortunately did leave some less than ideal thoughts lingering in my head. Sunday went quite well for the guests but was quite the mess administratively.

    I cheated the system and took Monday off, allowing for a grand total of 4 days off in the stretch. It was a much needed day. I mostly crafted :-)

    Yet to survive is the current work week. Saturday off. What should be an easy concert on Sunday but still a lost day for me. Then a full week stretch plus concert weekend. Tack on the few days before Turkey Day as the home stretch.

    At least "my domain" is pretty.
    It is fully my plan to take off the day before Thanksgiving, but I may have to battle with my coworkers for the day. You see we're, mostly, all salaried so we work all of these extra days and don't get paid anything. Technically we get to take time off but no one does your work when you're not there so it's a pretty ineffective system, although I've gotten better at taking off anyway. I've actually tried to start an uprising in the office to push for the whole office to close on that Wednesday. But more importantly for the whole office to close between Christmas and New Years.

    Ah the glamorous live of a non-profit arts administrative worker.

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Weekly Goal Wrap Up, 11/6

    I ended up being absolutely demolished by work this week. The insanity is quite deserving of a post itself but I've not even managed any posts at all this week so we'll see if anything really happens... *sigh*
    1. Organize Craft Box- Nope never got around to it. Still a giant mess.
    2. 24 Multi-color Crochet Circles - Thought about this but never even retrieved all the yarns from the yarn closet.
    3. Test Alpacas of York Double Ply, Blending, and Yardage - This was to be the fun project. I'm not even sure where the fiber is stored quite precisely and never bothered to go searching.
    4. 2 Mice - I knit up one mouce body a few hours ago and could realistically maybe knock off some more but probably fail.
    5. 2 New Animals - Purchased and printed off the patterns at least.
    6. 3 Plain Ornaments - 1 sock and 1 sweater completed. So 2/3 isn't awful except its about the success rate of this list.
    7. 2 Ornaments with colorwork - Nothing.
    8. Plan New Mitten Top - The modification doesn't look quite as good I think but it's still good.
    9. Finish Mitten #1 - Yea this didn't happen either.
    10. Ply Ellie - Easy, probably only 30 yards or so.
    11. Wash and Finish Ellie - This requires being in the house while actually being up and moving for a bit of time. Tricky.
    12. Card 2 oz of Rosie Rollags - I may have been slightly underweight and cheated by counting/using stuff I had been testing with but still calling it good.
    13. Spin 2 oz or Rosie - Hooray for spinning a thicker single. So much faster.
    14. Crochet Blue Tote Bag Handles - Well I think I'll start these right now at least.
    15. Start hat for Ren donation - I'm awesome at starting new things... finishing on the other hand...

    At least the second half of the list has some bold stuff......

    Here's to a day off tomorrow!