My Yarn Ornament

This is the first time Ellette and I will be celebrating Christmas at home.  I’m not big on Christmas for reasons that do not need to be discussed here.  Ellette, however, loves the idea of it – spending time with family, being secretive, surprising her friends and family, and making, giving, and receiving gifts.  She has never had a visit from Santa, nor has she ever had a stocking or even tree.  Family members we have spent the holiday with in previous years had both, but not us.

My gift to Ellette this year is decorating our apartment for the holidays.  She made her own stocking.  We have a tree and hung lights, but we have no ornaments.  That didn’t seem to matter to her, though, because as soon as we plugged in the lights and the Christmas tree lit up, so did her face and she squealed over how proud Santa will be.

Rather than spending money I don’t really have on ornaments we don’t really care about for a holiday I’m not too keen on, I suggested to Ellette that we use our creativity and the supplies we have on hand to make our own ornaments.  Then, each year we can make a couple more.  This way, everything will be meaningful and well-suited to us.  I see trees in the apartments of acquaintances that are idyllic – garlands, lights, and standard glass ornaments, and they look lovely.  But to me, they lack the warmth and spirit of the holiday.  It is how these individuals think a tree is supposed to look, and while that may be perfect for them, it is not for me.

Enter: Pinterest.  I’ve been scouring the online world for ideas on a handmade Christmas.  Some of these ideas I have been sending to Ellette’s nanny to work on afterschool, and some I have been saving for myself or for us to do together.  Last night was the start of our ornament-making adventure, which leads me to the subject of this post – I now have a yarny ornament on my tree.

You will need: A Styrofoam ball, a ball of yarn, two bamboo skewers, scissors, hot glue, and two beads that fit over the skewers.

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Step 1: Stick the skewers through the Styrofoam ball at whatever angle suits you best.

Step 2: Cut the skewers to the length you desire.  I cut them short so the ornament would fit nicely on our tree.

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This is what it looks like when you are ready.

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Step 3: Glue your beads to the flat ends of the skewers.  (One end is pointy, one end isn’t).  Ellette chose purple heart-shaped pony beads.

Step 4: Glue down the end of your yarn of choice to the ball, and start wrapping!

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Keep wrapping until you can’t see the Styrofoam underneath.  This took a lot more yarn that I had anticipated.

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Step 5: Glue the end of your yarn in an inconspicuous location.

Step 6: Use yarn or ribbon to create a loop for hanging the ornament.  (Can you tell this was an afterthought for me?)

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Step 7: Hang it on your tree!

I want to get tiny Styrofoam balls and toothpicks and make a dozen more.  Maybe make a garland of tiny yarn balls.  That sounds like heaven.

Do you have any special ornaments on your tree?

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Cast on Three, Bind off Six

Cast on, Bind off, Cast on, Bind off.  It’s getting to me.  It was very subtle at first, but it has slowly become more and more difficult to stay on task.  My eyes keep glossing over and I think about other things I could be making.  All of that holiday knitting stretching out before me, my Ravelry queue that somehow gets longer and longer every day, my stash that tumbles across the room when I get ready in the morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very satisfied with the way the picot bind off is looking.  The squishiness of the yarn and the pleasing combination of colors makes me eager for the end result.  I find myself occasionally petting the project or laying it out as flatly as possible and admiring the juxtaposition of the colors.  It is simply that, after three days of bind off, I haven’t even finished one side of the triangle yet. And I keep losing count.  Cast on three, bind off six, cast on three, bind off six.  Wait, did I bind off five or six on this one? Crap, tink those stitches and try again.

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In an effort to keep my sanity, I have made a list of the projects I am working on and prioritize them as best as I can (granted, this fluctuates depending on my mood).  I map out times of the day when I can be working on different projects, so the monotony doesn’t destroy me, and I can look forward to something being completed soon.

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I worked on this little number a bit last night, in between cursing the picots.  It’s really close to being done.  I have one more strap to make, ends to weave in, eyes to attach to my little owls, and a lining to make.  This holiday purse will get crossed off the list!  I liked it so much that I think I am changing one of the other gifts into another owlie tote bag, only bigger than this one.

I Am A Well-Oiled Knitting Machine

With my inspirational dry-spell being cleared up by disappointing news earlier this week, I have charted and started more projects than I can remember.  I’ve sketched, written, and swatched enough new patterns to last me through to April.  Granted, my holiday knitting went swiftly to the back burner, where I somehow manage to do a single row each day (not nearly enough to finish in time, I’m delusional, but that isn’t new).

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I’m hoping to have this fun, colorful item charted by the end of the weekend so I can begin construction on Monday.  I know exactly which yarn from my stash to use for it.  It’s a yarn that I have worked with many times before so the gauge is solid and I can anticipate how the yarn will react to the pattern.  Of course, when has gauge ever been predictable??

Any guesses as to the inspiration for this one?

40 and Counting

Progress thus far, with near diligent monogamous knitting (I must admit, this is not the best piece to knit and travel with since there are charts, and as such I allow myself a travelling sock as fiber companion).

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This is the shawl folded in half, since it is almost symmetrical.  I can see the distance I have yet to go.  You see that middle section of stockinette?  Yeah, that has 40 stitches in it.  I have to decrease every fourth row until it has 17, then every other row until there are only 3.  That middle section is how I am gauging my progress – how many stitches have I decreased in this knitting session?

 

I must admit, it really is starting to wear on me.  What are your methods for getting those fiddly, tedious projects knocked out?

A Lazy Crafternoon

This Sunday, I hosted a “crafternoon.”  This is a concept inspired by another blogger (and for some reason right now I can’t hyperlink to that blog).  I have been wanting to host a craft party for some time, and I finally set a date and invited people over with no real plan in mind.  The only caviat was that you had to be working on your own personal “craft” at the party – bring something creative, inspiring, helpful, etc. 

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I finished and blocked the baby skirt for Jeana and Ellette’s birthday vest.  Then, I wandered around a little aimlessly, so engaged in conversation and laughter that crafting was difficult.

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Granted, I was also distracted by my adorable goddaughter – here you see our cat Pyggy being introduced to a tiny human for the first time ever.  He was very curious.

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Jeana’s mom worked on the baby bodice for this summer’s impending Renaissance Festival.  I think her outfit is going to be irresistable!  What a lucky girl.

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Craft was defined fairly loosely, so people brought snacks to prepare (culinary crafting), music to practice, and someone even took apart my hand crank espresso machine to find out what was wrong with it (what we thought would be a $15 fix is quickly become a $200 one….hmm….)

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The kids had a blast, as well.  There were tons of projects for kids to work on – from drawing to beading and anything else they could wrap their imagination around, but they decided that playing dress-up would be the most fun.  We have the perfet house for it, too, because my fairy costumes kind of litter every room.

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A different kind of dress-up and craft took place at one point.  My friend Arielle, who is an art student, needed to do a particular type of project in which she needed a live model to sketch from.  Her theme was “urban legends” and she chose the razor blade in Halloween apples, and used Ellette as her subject.  Ellette thought it was mostly fun, until Arielle squirted her with fake costume blood.  It was a rather dark addition to the party, but we all found it interesting.  And then Ellette started glaring at all of us and we couldn’t stop laughing.

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There was some knitting, but the most yarny thing happening was Caitlin – the friend every knitter should have – who wove in the ends on my Tech Square Afghan.  I have no excuse not to finish now.  It just needs a couple of embellishments and it’s done.

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It was a wonderfully productive, inspiring day and I am so blessed to have so many amazing, talented people in my life.  I am hoping to make the crafternoons a reegular occurance, and maybe even create themes or tutorials for the future.

Resolutions

I have had quite a bit of time for reflection over the past week.  There have already been many trials for the new year, and somehow I have kept my cool and a smile while I shovel through the mess.  This “c’est la vie” attitude has been quite refreshing, and I have found myself all around in a better mood.  It would appear that the recent life changes have been good for me and I am determined to continue rolling with the punches.

I don’t normally give in to new year’s resolutions, but with the flurry of activity this week, I think it would be beneficial to have something to look back on that will keep my head on straight.  This is also so I can keep track of my goals to prevent December arriving and bringing with it the realization that I failed to complete half of the things I had meant to do for the year.  Lastly, I may need a gentle nudge every now and then if when I begin to stray.

So, in no particular you order:

  • I want to knit a dress this year.  It is something I keep “meaning” to do, and never seem to find time for.  So, this year, it is going to happen.  I cannot decide if it is going to be a pattern by someone else, or one of the dozen in my head.
  • With the partner moving out, I need to make room for the roommates moving in.  This means I am giving up my craft room.  I know, I know – horror.  I’m managing.  Everything is getting sorted through and reorganized to optimize space and fit into my little bedroom.  There is some spillage, I admit.  My ready-to-ship items are occupying the loft in the pantry (why we have a loft in our pantry, I will never know), but the wips and materials are in my closet, a tall bookshelf, and a spare dresser in my room.  The three-drawer-dresser is currently housing my yarn, and of course the yarn is filling boxes and bags in my closet (and on my floor, actually, as I try to locate all of the renegade balls for organization – you understand).  In any case, my goal is to yarn diet until all of my wool fits into this dresser.   This will protect my wallet and the personal space of my housemates – and really, my wool as well since my cats love to sleep with it.  While filling the drawers, I organized it so the top drawer is filled with immediate projects, the second with projects I would like to do, and the third with wool that sort of has a purpose, but nothing solid.
  • On that note, I want to finish up all of my works-in-progress.  The Two Year Tech Square Afghan that really just needs finishing, the Christmas socks that never got finished, the Chess Board, the shawl I started in DC this past summer.  If it is not going to be finished, it must be frogged so that I can have a fresh start.  I will not make a rule that I cannot cast on while I am finishing (I may or may not be obsessed now with this crazy granny square afghan I may or may not have started this week….).  I am going to burn that candle at both ends, just for the fun of it.
  • I want to spend one Sunday each month to explore something new about Chicago.  I never intended to live here very long (and still don’t), but I never took the time to see the city.  I closed myself off to the possibility of liking it because I just wanted to move on.  It’s hard to say how much time we have left here, and I would like to search out friends, stories, and adventures whenever I can.
  • I am going to save up money for more intensive workshops, classes, and possibly certificates in aerial acrobatics, because that is what I love to do most right now, and I really want to pursue it as a career.  This is also going to help me move out of the Midwest.
  • I will attend the Aerial Dance Festival this summer.  Nothing will hold me back.
  • I am going to push myself to be social, even if I feel like being a hermit, because the past month has really opened my eyes as to how much I had been on my own, and how unhappy that was making me.  I need to cultivate the friendships I have and seek out new ones.
  • I will try not to be such a control freak.  The world will never bend at my will and nothing is as important as I think it is.  I must slow down, relax, and see life from different perspectives.
  • I will work hard to realize all of the beautiful designs in my head and share them with all of you knitters.

I think this is a good point from which to launch.  A diverse enough list, with physical, emotional, and mental goals to be achieved at various levels of difficulty.  I have high hopes from what lies ahead.

The Box

I am terrible at self-discipline.  I can justify any sort of procrastination.  For instance, I spent my entire afternoon knitting a sleeve because I have a deadline, and the house was chilly, and there is plenty of time for cleaning and laundry and food later.

I really need to learn to suck it up and work.

This is inspired by the fact that I need to list my excess stock online and decide what needs to be sent out to various consignment shops.  This is, in otherwords, a very daunting and rather tedious task.

In an attempt to make it more interesting, I decided to write a tutorial for making a light box with which to photograph all of those lovely things.

Step 1: Gather materials

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A nice sized box, scissors, ruler, paper, and tape or glue (not pictured).

Step 2: Remove the flapa from your box.

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Step 3: Measure your paper for the inside.  I cut two long strips, which seemed much easier than doing individual sides.

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Step 4: Beware boxnappers (This should really be a constant rule, but I personally did not consider it until I was a victim)

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Step 5: Tape or glue your paper to the inside of the box.  Remove squatters first of course.

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Step 6: Photograph.

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With better light, a light box gives you that floating effect for your product.  Some people cut a hole in the side for a lamp.  I did not have a big box, so I wasn’t sure what my light situation would be.

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I need to figure out a better light source, but I am overall pleased with my project.

Now, I just have to push myself to the next two phases: photographing and uploading everything.

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