A little bit of this and, a little bit of that, makes a little bit of me.

Archive for the ‘wool’ Category

Keep My Mind Active


Studies confirm what knitters and crocheters already know

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVEbBh4KvTk

–knitting and crocheting are good for my health and mental well-being.

One of class samples for my crochet class started earlier in the week

I like that it keeps my mind active as I try to figure out complicated patterns or stitch motifs.

It’s also incredibly calming.

Another sample for a crochet class

How does knitting, crocheting, or your craft help you?

Happy crafting and keep those creative juices running!

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(still doesn’t do MySpace, Twitter, StumbleUpon, DiggIt…but caved into Facebook, a smartphone, and a little bit of texting!)

To Be Better


My goal is not to be better than anyone else, but, to be better than I used to be.  Here I’m referring to my fiber passion.  But, how?  I like to be specific about the things I could do to improve myself.  I need a refresher and adjust my attitude.

Last week, my prayer was answered.   A friend from Team Jazz Hands recruited me to join Nerd Wars (not the TV show or movie) on Ravelry.  Every project that I do, I try to tie it in to a Broadway or movie musical.  It’s been great fun so far planning projects to fulfill nerdy challenges.

For my first dissertation in my first Nerd Wars, I have chosen crochet freeform as my New Frontier challenge with concentration on Irish Crochet (lace) study.

When Kate Middleton walked down the aisle at her wedding to Britain’s Prince William, the lace that adorned her gown was immediately copied in fashion centers around the world.

For centuries lace has been a fashion favorite, where in the late 19th century it decorated the wardrobes and homes of only the wealthiest members of society.  1930s fashion was an era of feminine and romantic style as influenced by America’s captivation with silver screen stars who wore sensual silks, luxurious lace and backless gowns.

1950s style marks an era of feminine glamour… ’50s clothing inspired women to embrace their figures with hourglass silhouettes and hip-hugging cuts a la the pencil skirt and wiggle dress…and not without the elegant embellishment of lace.

Another sample for a crochet class

I’ve had the passion for making lace since I was in my teen. Next three months of studying a new form of crocheting is thrilling to me.  I love accessing the creative side of my brain.

The constraints of the tournament will motivate me to move this study along in a good pace.  As each motif is small and portable, I can consistently crochet at least one or two a day. This project will take 3 months as it involves a lot of trials and errors, ripping, and re-doing. Mid-way would be having individual scrumbles all done up and have their placements against my tunic template. I will concentrate on picking a mesh design (or a few) to use for making up the background and joining the scrumbles, then, writing up an essay to support my thesis and what I’ve learned specifically and without wandering.

Hook 2.75mm (C)
Paisley (light fingering Wool/Nylon, Red/Pink): 1.5” x 3.5”
Ridged Leaf (light fingering Wool/Nylon Yellow/Orange): 3” x 3.5”
and Curly-edge Leaf (Bulky Alpaca Wool, Maroon): 2.5” x 7.5”
Hook 4mm (G)]
Small Leaf (Worsted Merino, Hot Pink): 2” x 4”

Project Summary:  Freeform/Irish Crochet study. The latter is totally foreign to me. Through the process, I like to make a freeform tunic with the help of my freeform knitting knowledge/skill already in my tool box.  I don’t quite get the presentable way to crochet/join the pieces together in a garment yet.  Instead, I did a knitted mock-up for a visual guide while I progress in the study.  People sketch with pencil and paper.  Me?  With yarn and needles.

Pattern:  Freeform crochet, by some definitions, is a combination of stitches and colors, worked in a multi-directional way. Style of freeform typically doesn’t follow a pattern. It involves a combination of small pieces of knitting and crochet into patches (scrumbles,) that later be joined together to make a larger piece of unique and extremely tactile fabric. It means not only that I don’t follow a pattern, I don’t necessarily follow the standard “rules” of crochet. I add stitches anywhere I see fit. I start blocks of fabric and then end ‘em and start anew. It is a form of painting with yarn and a hook instead of canvas and a brush. The yarns, hooks, stitch type and direction are constantly changing. It gives the scrumble its appealing variety. Sometimes a new yarn is joined in and the work carries on; other times, it’s necessary to break off the yarn and begin again with new yarn in another place on the scrumble. These are decisions made as I go along.

Hook 2.75mm (C)
Irish Leaf with center ridge (light fingering Wool/Nylon Red/Yellow): 1.5” x 3”
Hook 4mm (G)
Starflower (Aran Acrylic Ref/Purple): 2” x 2” and
1/2 flower (Aran Acrylic Red/Purple): 2.5” x 4”

Yarn:  Red hues in Merino, Bamboo, Linen, Silk, Blend, Acrylic, Alpaca, BFL, cotton thread, cobweb singles, lace, light fingering, DK, Worsted, Aran, Bulky, Super Bulky…use everything I have in my stash including handspun.

Swatch:  Gauge doesn’t really matter for this project, but, I got a general gauge that I liked on 1.25mm, 2.75mm, and 4.00 mm.

Hook 2.75mm (C)
Red Rose (Sport weight/Acrylic): 1.75” diameter

Hook 2.75mm (C)
Spiderweb Square (light fingering Wool/Nylon ): 4.5”

Hook 2.75mm (C)
Fan/Shell (Silk Haze lace weight): 2” x 4”
Circle (Silk Haze lace weight): 1.5”

Hook 2.75mm (C)
Celtic Leaf (Sport weight/Acrylic Red): 4.5” (tip to tip between two leaves)

Hook 4mm (G)
Large Leaf (Aran Acrylic, Red/Purple): 5” x 10”

Hook 1.25mm
Padded ring (Cotton thread, Red) 1/2” diameter and
Ruffled Flower/ring (Cotton thread, Red) 3/4” diameter

Team tie-in:  The red colorways of the scrumbles in my tunic can be linked to the playful swing dress Tracy Turnblad had on in You can’t Stop the Beat, in Hairspray.  Mine will also ‘keep spinnin ‘round and round’ as in the line You Can’t Stop the Beat.  ‘The motion of the ocean. Or the rain from above. You can try to stop the paradise…,’ but, you can’t stop my making of this New Frontier.

Writing up the mini-thesis proposal took me back to college days where I sweated for days as I went into its writing totally clueless…then the wait for grade was even harder; it made me nervous.

I did it.  It took me two days of researching and preparation.  I submitted the proposal last night and received approval to proceed with the study earlier today.  I’m thankful for the supportive teammates who encouraged and walked me through all the steps.  Let the game begins.

Are you on Nerd Wars?  If not, what are you doing to challenge yourself to be better than you were?

Hook 4mm (G)
Bullion Stitch Scroll (Worsted Merino, Hot Pink): 2.5” x 5”

Happy crafting and keep those creative juices running!

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ƸӜƷ•.¸¸.• ƸӜƷ

(still doesn’t do MySpace, Twitter, StumbleUpon, DiggIt…but caved into Facebook, a smartphone, and a little bit of texting!)

Welcoming Happiness in the Home


The kolam, or rangoli is a traditional mandala, a geometric pattern, that women design in front of their houses during festivities.

Isn’t she awesome…just as women are?! What a voice she has found.

In Tamil Nadu, culture is a strong form of expression by the women, who express their feelings in this secret way.

During Diwali, the festival of lights, all Indian women make rangoli in front of their houses. If they live in small flats/apartments, then a small one in front of the main entrance door.

The white powder is made by crushing glass at factories, usually from cups and saucers collected from scrap. This plain rangoli powder is also mixed with different colors and used in the patterns.

Rangoli making competitions are held during different festivals.

It can be a square foot for homes to several square meters for Rangoli competitions.

Rang means Colors and Oli means lines/pattens.  Making a rangoli in front of the door represents welcoming happiness in the home.  It’s a everyday affair for women in Tamil Nadu.

What brings you happiness?

Preparing for Nerd Wars’ T10 Dissertation/New Frontier thesis proposal

More crochet class samples plus felting and embroidered embellishments

Happy crafting and keep those creative juices running!

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ƸӜƷ•.¸¸.• ƸӜƷ

(still doesn’t do MySpace, Twitter, StumbleUpon, DiggIt…but caved into Facebook, a smartphone, and a little bit of texting!)

A Single Moment


In the end, I only regret the chances I didn’t take,

One of class samples for my crochet class started earlier in the week

the relationships I was afraid to have

and the decisions I waited too long to make.

Another sample for a crochet class

Don’t waste a single moment.

Class sample felted and awaiting needle embellishment

There’s something about participating. It’s almost my religion. If the world is still here in 100 years, people will know the importance of participating, not just being spectators.~~Pete Seeger.   RiP.

In honor of the Ravellenic games, Katy Swift is offering her patternscuff-down socks and shawl designs–for free through February 23, 2014.  At check-out, use coupon code playfulrav.

Another sample for a crochet class

When you make any of these patterns, I would love to see the finished pictures…please.

More crochet class samples plus felting and embroidered embellishments

Happy crafting and keep those creative juices running!

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ღ(✿◠‿◠)˙•٠•●ღ
ƸӜƷ•.¸¸.• ƸӜƷ

(still doesn’t do MySpace, Twitter, StumbleUpon, DiggIt…but caved into Facebook, a smartphone, and a little bit of texting!)

Let Go and Start Fresh


If I want to live my life in a creative way, as an artist, I have to not look back…too much.  I have to be willing to take whatever I’ve done and whoever I was and toss ‘em away.

A leaf neck gaiter for my mother-in-law for Christmas

A leaf neck gaiter for my mother-in-law for Christmas

Mental prejudices, faulty education–these things will only lead to a blank pain of incomprehension.  It is time to begin transformation–though it may take centuries before I can truly see any difference.

The jump is so frightening between where I am and where I want to be.  Because of all, I may become…I will close my eyes and leap.

My identity must always be determined by irredeemable pasts and irrepressible futures.  Life is hard. I aim for a 19th century patience and prepare to display a 22nd century innovative-ness. Most of all, I must try.

Today’s Free knitting pattern (to Ravelry members) is An Awful Lot of Running To Do cuff-down sock.   Use coupon code at check-out RAINBOWSRULE, good ’til the Winter Olympics next month.   Thanks, Leslie, for the nice gift.

Foxy key cozy for the crocheters, complimentary of Susanne Madsen.  Download your copy here.

When you make any of these patterns, I would love to see the finished pictures…please.

Neck gaiter for father-in-law for Christmas

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Happy crafting and keep those creative juices running!

(still doesn’t do MySpace, Twitter, StumbleUpon, DiggIt…but caved into Facebook, a smartphone, and a little bit of texting!)

The Greatest Gift I can Give Someone


is my time.  ‘cuz when I give my time, I am giving a portion of my life that I will never get back.

When my cyber-sis expressed how much she would love her beautiful designs knit up by me, without hesitation, I cast on Pretty Little Things, two-at-a-time, this afternoon to work on during guild meeting this evening.

Due to chaotic schedule this week taking older teen to District High School Honor Band rehearsals, I chose light worsted yarn, in Size 1 needles instead of fingering yarn and Size 2 needles.

The teeny tiny goof on the fair-isle motif is miniscule so I forged ahead with a possibility that I may go over the center stitch with the main-color yarn.  No gut.  No glory.

The folded, picot hem adds a little bit of oomph to the socks to make the ordinary extraordinary.

Mine isn’t as pretty as the designer’s.  But, I know I will never want to get out of bed again with this pair of comfy, toasty warm socks.  Pretty Little Thing (designer’s sample below) is a great design and super easy to knit up.  Purchase your copy herea nice treat for your feet.

Today’s free pattern (to Ravelry members) is Adult Knights Helmet.  It’s so dang cute. Thanks, Brie Crochet.  I’m looking forward to hooking this adorable helmet up during Ravellenic games.  How about you?

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ƸӜƷ•.¸¸.• ƸӜƷ

Happy crafting and keep those creative juices running!

(still doesn’t do MySpace, Twitter, StumbleUpon, DiggIt…but caved into Facebook, a smartphone, and a little bit of texting!)

Want to be Happier?


Try making my life a tad harder, preparing for Ravellenic games.  It’s epic.  I am on two teams, already!  Heehee.

Have you read Little House on the Prairie books?   Just imagine…scrubbing my menstrual flannels in a bucket, stewing up endless turnips, and chasing off the locusts.  Oh boy…my volumizing hair would surely have been greasy…petticoats grubby and encumbering…cuticles raggedier than my kids’ rag dolls.  Yet, the Ingall-Wilders were connected to their own lives.  Their every happiness and very existence were created from the work of their own hands.  Pa fiddled by the firelight while the girls knit themselves stockings with Ma sewing pantaloons.  Don’t forget…kids skipped school ‘cuz it’s time to boil maple syrup, harvest rutabagas, or cut ice from the lake.  I am full of envy.

My longing is no mere fantasy.  I’m actually happiest when accomplishing tangibly productive work–cleaning dishes and putting ‘em away in proper places and stacking order, shoveling snow, replacing a shirt button for the boy’s jeans, cooking up feast, picking up hair from dogs and girls–rather than crossing virtual tasks off my on-screen to-do list.  I love seeking out activities that cultivate mindfulness.  The sense of oneness with my activity whether it is crocheting an afghan square, knit a sweater, or we felt.

The repetitive work helps me in two ways.  Counting chains/stitches and shingling fiber, a cognitive distracter,  distract me from stress while I’m doing the craft.   I get a great sense of accomplishment when there is a clear connection between my physical efforts and results.  My reward chemicals increases while the anxiety/stress toxins–heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration and all–drops.   This is a pretty nice cocktail, wouldn’t you say?!

Leisure turns out to be complicated and important.  But, any type of repetitive motor activity can calm the brain.  What do you do to ease the anxiety?  Will you be participating in any of the Ravellenic games?  Here is a pair of newly published Carved Heart Socks, perfect for Valentine’s Day gift, I plan to cast on for the kick-off ceremony and knit during the games.  Coupon code at check-out is Heart for your free pattern, good ’til January 8.

Kate Heppell of Shetland Story have made Love in Cold Climate FREE for the run-up to and duration of the Olympics as her little way of helping to raise awareness of the plight of the LGBT community in Russia, subject to terrifying levels of persecution, discrimination and abuse. You may read a little about this here.

Other candidates for the games are:

    • To Zola With Love, a prayer shawl worked up/designed by Kay Meador for a special someone in her life.  Free to Ravelry member. No coupon needed.

How’s that for starter?  I will show you my Ravellenic queues of JenJoycedesign by my dear friend next.  For now, Pin-striped Fingerless mitts is a free download to Ravelery member.  Grab a copy.  Sharpen your needles.  Dig in your stash.  Cast-on away.  Now, I must get to my daily walk.  Come back soon for more Ravellenic enabling.

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Happy crafting and keep those creative juices running!

(still doesn’t do MySpace, Twitter, StumbleUpon, DiggIt…but caved into Facebook, a smartphone, and a little bit of texting!)

Wild


To be human is to be wild.

Wild is the strange pull and whispering wisdom.  It’s the gentle nudge and forceful ache.  It’s my truth, passed down from the ancients, and very stream of life in my blood.  Wild is the soul where passion and creativity reside and the quickening of my heart.  Wild is what is real.   Wild is my home.

Today, I choose to step into it.  My primal self.

  • Be courageous.
  • Stand up and show who I am, authentically and completely unapologetically.
  • Be fearless in my ambitions, goals and decisions.

These energies will then spread into the world and boost the human race…for one drop may indeed raise the entire ocean.

When I peel back the layers of what I think I should be doing, what is it that I really want to be doing?  When will I revisit those things? Is everything else really more important?  Tiny time-fillers.  Do they ultimately matter?  Why is it that I become sick before I learn about what I truly, individually, need on a deeper level?   Today, I listen to my soul cravings.  They’re wild.  And they’re my truth.

What do you crave?  How do you want to feel?

#2 of the temperature knit is underway (shown two images up,) recording hi and lo of first 5 days of the year.  20 wedges made with 8 more to be added over next two days.  Each circle is ~7”.  It may grow to a 9” square.  Once the first square is completed on Sunday, math work would be more accurate.  To make it work, I need to add 2 fillers–good place to embroider in the year and perhaps the city.  I envision the throw be about 5’ by 7’ when finished.  What do you think of this modified Easy as Pi(e), another free pattern by Knitty.com here?

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Happy crafting and keep those creative juices running!

(still doesn’t do MySpace, Twitter, StumbleUpon, DiggIt…but caved into Facebook, a smartphone, and a little bit of texting!)

Anxiety Relief Meditation


Meditation keeps me sane in a sometimes insane world.

http://youtu.be/8_jcEpwKQXc

  • First, I find a quiet place where I won’t be disturbed for next 13 minutes.  (not as easy as it may sound, mind you…at least not around me) 
  • Second, find me a comfortable position to sit.  Most times, I just lay flat on the floor.
  • Now that I’m ready, press PLAY.

Well…did you follow along?  How are you feeling?  Calm?  Peaceful?  Safe?  Uplifting?

Another common relief I find regularly is playing with fiber.  This is not spaghetti squash.  Just yarn in Wilton Cake Gel, lemon dye bath.

I needed some quick dyeing for a project ‘cuz the high temperature around here has dropped to the 30s in a day.  Why does it matter, you ask?  Read on.

Have you heard of a “temperature,” “sky“, and/or “weatherconceptual knitting scarf?  The outcome is totally dependent on the weather observation.  Each day, you knit a stripe in color that matches that day’s sky/weather.  At end of the year, you would have a spiffy 5-foot-long scarf.  This has been in my “queue” since 2011.  It has taken this long to move up to the plate.

If your temperature stays relatively constant, choose corresponding colors based on moods (chart linked.)  If you’re trying to diet in 2014–pick 3 colors and change your rounds when you lose weight, gain weight, or weigh the same.  The latter could be more challenging as you’ll have to step on a scale every day around the same time.  None of these flies?  No problem.  Just choose other motivator(s).  I choose blue for cold, red for hot, etc., but, you may pick anything appeals to you, whatever in your stash. Choose an easy hat pattern–there are tons of ‘em and free–on Ravelry.  Knit, crochet, weave, or full/felt goes.

Same idea fits easily into a hat, a sock, a mitten, a square, a blanket…one round a day, one color for each 10 degrees…Initially, I picked the high at 3 p.m. each day, wherever I may be.  Chances are the color changes won’t be too dramatic so less ends to weave in.  On the other hand, if you select 15 or more colors as I do, the gradient effect would be glorious.

After the 3rd day, I decided to just take the high of the day to simplify my life.  Less is more, right.  (Yeh…secret is out the bag.  I love BACI.  No if or but.  Just LOVE ‘em.  24 boxes for Christmas.  Beyond sweet!)

At a snail’s pace, it takes two months for a hat.  Six hats a year for gifts.  What a cool chemo hat this would make, don’t you think?

Rebecca aka socksformumtook started taking pictures of the Colorado sunrise every morning on May 12, 2012, used various motifs from Mary Jane Mucklestone’s 200 Fair Isle Motifs and modified her Fair Isle Sampler Hat…

What a stunning beauty she has grown up to be (as of December 31, 2013.)

I am madly in love with Alice’s double-knit option to record hi and lo temps.

Weather underground is a good site for looking up historical, present, and forecast, recorded temperatures in case you miss them on any given day.  It goes back to January 1, 1942 for my area.  However, it only went back to 2011 when I did a search for my birth place outside of the U.S.  Guess it takes time for the site to build up its historical database.  Do you know of other useful site(s) for tracking historical weather data?

Two heads are better than one.  Since the kick-off of A year of Temperature/Mood Scarf/Hat/Patchwork Blanket-Along for Ravelry 52in52-2014 member group challenge, the list of possibilities/ideas grew exponentially by the hour!  I am still charting, planning, prepping, and constantly changing/shuffling color orders.  This is what my 2014 Almanac looks like…4 days into it.

To accomplish my initial sizable project, instead of a row a day, mine goes like this:   2 rows first 2 days, 1 row on the 3rd, 1 row on the 4th.  Repeat the sequence.  Did you see a problem with my sequence?  If you do a lot of color work, you would spot it immediately.  On the 4th day, the designated color is quite contrasting from the day before.  Changing color strand on the backside would create an eyesore line of dashes on the public side of the project.  Image below is the backside of the fabric, but, you see the dashes between Lavenderish Wisteria and Royal Purple I am talking about, don’t you?

That just doesn’t fly with me.  Oh, no.  Solution?   With public side (aka right side) facing me, pull cable all the way to the left.  Attach new color strand and knit away.  Voila.  No dash.

Now, have I lost you in all these knitting gibberish?  Or have I convinced you to knit/crochet along?  You gotta admit giving a temperature scarf to an out-of-town friend–with his/her year of local temperatures–is nifty, cool.  If a sky scarf isn’t for you, maybe you can think of knitting, spinning, or even sewing/felting something else to represent your life on a daily basis.  By the way, if you have young kids, this is a wonderful project for teaching weather, temperature, charting, tracking, and more.  The sky’s the limit.

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Happy crafting and keep those creative juices running!

(still doesn’t do MySpace, Twitter, StumbleUpon, DiggIt…but caved into Facebook, a smartphone, and a little bit of texting!)

Winter Knits/Crochets: Freebies


In life, I realize there is a role for everyone I meet. Some tests me. Some uses me. Some loves me. And some teaches me.

But the ones whom are truly important are the ones who bring out the best in me.  You are the rare and amazing being who reminds me why it’s worth it.  Thank you.

The past few months have been a whirlwind of changes in both my teens and my personal life.   But, one thing remains constant.  I am STILL knitting, spinning, wet felting, designing, sewing, and working to open an etsy shop.

After taking a 3-month break, I am now back to share my daily reflection, random thoughts that I find interesting, and not to mention my crafty obsession.  More on my fiber adventure tomorrow.  For now, I want to enable you with new projects.  What’s best?  They are absolutely free!

  1. You gotta check this Snowflake Stranded Shawl beauty out.  Use coupon code Snowflake for your free copy.  Deborah Tomasello, the generous designer, wants to give away as many patterns as she can!   I’m not sure how long this is good for so grab it while you can.
  2. Autumn leaves cowl is another freebie.   Use coupon code MyNewCowl at check-out.  The offer is good ’til January 5.
  3. Hat with Small Lacy Diamonds in Size Adult is up for grab–complimentary–’til January 31.
  4. 33 Blocks Sock is free for winter duration.  No coupon needed.
  5. The elegant Rhombix scarf is free ’til January 12
  6. Cirque Cardigan is a part of Lace Ice ebook, free through March 15.
  7. Get your free pattern code when you sign up for Lucy Hague’s newsletter.  Her Celtic shawls are absolutely fabulous, fun knits.

Where did the last week go?  I actually enjoyed the days where my fingers didn’t hit the computer keys.  How did you spend the holiday?

Friday evenings are da best!  I go to the library room of the house and start creating.   TGIF!  (Shown below is one of my three 12″ by 12″ knitted blocks for a local community project to a Rosie Bareis 2014 fundraiser, a fun and elegant piece to show off lacy details.)

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Happy crafting and keep those creative juices running!

(still doesn’t do MySpace, Twitter, StumbleUpon, DiggIt…but caved into Facebook, a smartphone, and a little bit of texting!)