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Lost and Found

14 Jan

I’ve gotten well and thoroughly used to how convenient Ravelry is for keeping track of projects. I’ve used it to check the care instructions on yarn knitted years ago, I’ve used it to remind myself to rotate my shawls and hats from time to time so that some don’t end up completely forgotten.

But most of all, I’ve used it to know where I am and what I am doing.

I hadn’t appreciated this for a while until yesterday when I had a good look at my WIP basket and found a complete mystery project. The day before I took a moment to dump all my knitting tools and notions on the livingroom floor, and sort through them all. Apparently this also meant going to my WIP basket and picking up all the hooks and needles that had found their way to the bottom.

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All neat – ready to be messed up again!

I didn’t realize this was problematic until, on closer inspection of the WIPs themselves, I found the first 8 inches of a Fall Fields Cardigan. There was no hook attached. No matter – I was off to Ravelry. Where, for some reason, I hadn’t made a single note about this project, including that it existed. Uh oh.

At first I didn’t even know it was the Fall Fields Cardigan, or when I’d started it, or in what size. Finally a hazy recollection of Interweave Crochet helped me track down the pattern. Then I spent half an hour carefully counting stitches to figure out what size this was supposed to be (I can’t quite “read” crochet as reliably as knitting so counting stitches isn’t all that straight forward). The pattern suggests a size which would result in 6″ of negative ease, and I was fairly sure that I wouldn’t have picked that size but something bigger. This still left 4 possibilities.

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The hook was more problematic even still, but based on a notion of a general sort of pinkish orangeishness, I looked through my hooks and figured I had used a size 4, which happens to be that sparkly color.

And then I spent a while figuring out where in the pattern I was.

Now I’m working on it again, and I’ve updated all this info on Ravelry. It would appear, though, that some of the yarn I’ve bought for this project has wandered out of the WIP basket and has possibly been used for something else. What I have simply isn’t enough for a cardigan.

The whole thing may be doomed, but it is still kind of pretty. Besides, there are a lot of cut yarn ends for some reason, so I can’t rip back either. I figure I can always get more, and in a stripy thing like this, it doesn’t matter as much if the dye lots don’t match perfectly. Staying positive, that’s the thing.

I trust that without Ravelry this kind of thing would happen to me often enough to render this hobby very frustrating. But even Ravelry wouldn’t help if I didn’t update it religiously.

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I must have been good

13 Jan

Christmas 2013 was the Christmas I was absolutely spoiled with crafty gifts.

It’s rare for me to afford a sweater quantity of yarn, for instance, but with a giftcard I could treat myself to that luxury, in the form of this superwash merino yarn. And one person had tucked this gorgeous merino and silk blend ball in a beautiful shade of orange inside another gift – how thoughtful and adorable!

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Those near and dear might sometimes feel like, say, a giftcard to a local yarn store is unimaginative or impersonal somehow, but to me, it’s always so much fun. For instance, I had given up on the hopes of ever finding blocking wire sets in any local yarn stores, but when I went into one to spend my giftcard, there it was, sitting quietly in a corner, kind of collecting dust. So now I’m the happy owner of blocking wires, and  cannot wait for my next shawl project to bust those babies out.

I was also generously gifted a Prym i-cord mill – the very same I had been eyeing earlier in the fall and had deemed too expensive for me. It was a fun gadget but not strictly speaking necessary so I couldn’t justify the cost. My SO had been paying attention, however, and picked it up for me in all secrecy. I cranked out a couple of yards of i-cord the other day and it worked  like a charm flawlessly. Not wanting to waste the yarn, I looked for ideas for i-cord, and finally tied it into a Turk’s head knot to fit around my wrist

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This broadened my horizons for uses for i-cord. Suddenly the mill doesn’t seem like a one-use gadget at all.

And last but not least, my brother gave me an absolutely gorgeous book of crochet patterns: Virkkuri by Molla Mills (that’s a tumblr link). This book is different from all the rest I’ve seen in style and layout. It’s sleek and graphic all the way through.

Virkkuri by Molla Mills

Virkkuri by Molla Mills

The patterns are un-apologetically striking and time consuming. Nearly all of them have been done in black and white, and I find myself loving this solution because it highlights the end product as it will be for the book’s end-user, and not the project as it is in the book.

Normally, when I look at patterns, I find myself drawn to things that are already pictured in colors I like, and quickly disregard other patterns purely based on the color of the sample project. I lack the kind of imagination that can switch up the colors and not be constrained by what has already been thought of. So the black and white style works for me.

For some reason I was especially delighted by the gloriously red and vampy manicure of the hands in the step-by-step technique pictures, of which there are many, btw.

I had to make something out of the book straight away, and there was one project in there that I had the materials for on hand: chain earrings.

These are right up my alley like you wouldn’t believe. *grin*

I actually made three pairs, one for my mom in blue and one for a little girl in coral. They were a big hit. The book also has a pattern for a shark tooth patterned round bag with a lining and draw-string closing – perfect for a project bag. Even though it was made with lace-weight yarn and a tiny hook, I must possess this object, and some day I will.

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Giraffe Bookmark

17 Dec

I nearly forgot! I’ve been planning for a while to make a giraffe bookmark for Christmas – just as a little addition to another, bigger and better gift. The bit about it being a giraffe is the point. It’s only a bookmark because I couldn’t find anything else in a giraffe theme that I liked enough.

The pattern was free, and so I have no real complaints. But as a newish crocheter there was a lot of “I have no idea what I’m doing” going on while I made this. Like here. I was completely unsure of everything at this point.

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But whatever, I got it done and it looks like a giraffe. A really huge giraffe – as bookmarks go that is. Its head is nearly the size of my palm. I did use thicker yarn than the pattern suggested. It said “10” and I used “12” (Freccia from Anchor). I have no idea what that means, other than that these crochet yarns have a weight system of their own.

I’m stiffening it with sugar-water (1 dl sugar, 1 dl water). I hope the sugar is not a problem if this bookmark is actually used.

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I hadn’t used this crochet hook before, and I noticed something. When the hook is that small, I can’t really see which way it’s pointing. And when I can’t see, a round handle like that doesn’t really work. Some shaping in the handle allows me to feel what the hook is doing even though I can’t see it.

The round handle might be better for my hands if it worked at all in practice. In a lot of hooks the handle is very far from the tip of the hook, and the way I crochet means I need to have my fingers right near the hook itself. Like so:

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So the handle is pressed against my palm where it does no good at all.

I have a completely random assortment of hooks, and have come to love certain characteristics in them. Like I know now that I prefer my hooks to be sharp and thin as opposed to blunt and round. I only realized this after buying a hook like that completely accidentally. I have no idea how one goes about finding hooks with certain characteristics, but maybe I’ll come across some more if I keep my eyes open for them.

All the Pot-Holders

9 Dec

I have a new book that I’m ridiculously excited about: Patalappuja á la Carte, by Jaana Vehkasalo (Ravelry link).

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It’s all pot-holders. And nothing but pot-holders. Of course it is.

 The book was published by an organization that strives to uphold traditional Finnish handcrafts. They asked people to send in their designs  or designs passed down in the family, and received 250 distinctive pot-holders. Out of these, 27 were chosen for the book. The book also includes a short history of pot-holders which was surprisingly interesting, and a few recipes which seems apropos. 

There are so many my fingers are just itching to make. Whenever I leaf through the book, I can’t help but think of a box of chocolates. It’s all in the pictures: colorful, clear, just the right amount of detail versus overview. Who knew pot-holders could be photographed so brilliantly.

The pictures sell the whole concept to me, because mediocre photography of the subject matter would’ve made me glance through the book and conclude that it’s silly to dedicate an entire book to pot-holders of all things. Now I can’t wait to try all these techniques, and crochet these little beauties.

Achievement Unlocked

16 Oct

Back during the Olympics, I unexpectedly took part in (and won!) the Ravellenic games. I was able to do this only because, having broken my spindle bone (and how fitting is it for a spinner/knitter/crocheter to break their spindle bone, amirite? No, wait, that might actually be the opposite of fitting) I was off work for about 8 weeks.

For the first week or so after I face planted in a pretty impressive manner with my bicycle (wear your helmet, kids!) I was unable to dress, bathe or feed myself. Luckily the boy had his summer vacation right then, and spent it taking care of me. When he had to go to work, I scooted back home to mom. At that point I had already had instructions from a doc to try to use my broken arm.

Judging by my experience, I would vastly prefer it if I never had to recuperate from an actual, serious injury – although I have to say that there was a sort of bitter sweetness to moments such as being able to successfully use a fork or lift my arm up and actually touch the top of my head.

Well since I was under doctor’s orders to keep doing things as much as possible, I actively came up with stuff I could do even though everything just felt really weird and wrong in my arm, especially at first. Mom helped me with this, and bought me yarn enough for an Azilal cardigan. Since the Ravellenic games were starting, and I was pretty scared of crocheting an actual garment that had to fit and everything, I figured I’d take part. So for two weeks I watched all the Olympic games I could stomach, and crocheted.

The resulting cardigan is by far my favorite garment that I’ve ever made.

Finishing is always the hardest part to get right for me when I knit something. But with crochet that was a breeze and I couldn’t not get it right it seemed. The whole experience was so positive that I can’t wait to find the next great crochet pattern I want to make 🙂

Better than Ever, I’m Back

15 Oct

So I realize I just broke my arm and then went away for, like, two months. But I forgive myself, because, you know, the broken arm turned out to be both a more and less dramatic experience than I had expected. Then I went to London for three weeks, alone, and that was something. When I came home, I and the boy packed up and moved house. Then I started writing a graduate thesis.

I am also the type of person for whom something like finding a secondhand couch on the local equivalent of Craigslist (except less seedy), arranging for transportation for said couch and then going to get it is a whole-day affair requiring all of my energy and concentration. And since moving house entails many such a stressful occasion, overly complicated by yours truly with fun things like being afraid of talking to people over the phone, I’ve had my hands kind of full.

This doesn’t mean I haven’t done any crafts, no sirree bob. I have my priorities straight.

Admittedly the three weeks in London went by without a moment for knitting or crochet – oops, no, I tell a lie: I did cast on for a pair of socks from the Socktopus books while sitting in a cafe waiting for my  silver ring making course to start (I’ll get to that). I guess those ten minutes spent knitting ribbing totally justified three weeks of carrying needles and yarn with me all around London.

I was crafty and cunning, and packed two easily portable projects for my trip. I decided to pick things that would be interesting enough to keep me entertained for a whole three weeks while still being easy enough not to require total devotion. I think I failed on that a little bit.

The sock pattern was fine. It’s a crossed stitches type of cabled sock pattern called Farmer McGregor from the Socktopus book I’m knitting through (that’s a great book o ‘ socks, btw).  I just had other things to do while I was there. I’ve since finished one sock of the pair (apart from grafting the toe), one weekend when nothing much else was on.

We can blame the wonky rib stitches on Pret getting me over-caffeinated at that point. (Honestly it’s fine.)

The bigger fail was the crochet shawl pattern I chose because it was gorgeous: Venus. When I read the pattern, I noticed that it would require I learn a completely new crochet technique, but instead of putting off doing the pattern (perhaps appreciating the extra challenge I was already facing crocheting with lace weight yarn) I congratulated myself on noticing this before I actually left on my trip. So I kind of learned the new thing (Tunisian crochet I believe it’s called, maybe).

There was a clear need to get a wooden crochet hook just so I could crochet on the plane, so in my pre-trip shopping frenzy I bought a pretty one disregarding both the price tag and the fact that I had a plastic one that would be just as acceptable to the airline. This was before I admitted that leaving at the damned crack of dawn would probably mean I wouldn’t have the energy to even think about crochet for the whole duration of my flight, anyway.

Turns out I was too busy fearing for my life on the first flight and then running through the whole Helsinki-Vantaa airport to catch my next flight to give too much thought to crochet. When I was safely seated on the next plane, I was barely able to keep awake until a nice lady brought me the best sandwich and cup of coffee I had ever eaten in my life (until I found the sandwiches at Eat – we Finns really don’t know anything about proper sandwiches), and then I slept until the plane was nearing Heathrow.

When I got there I was promptly so completely freaked out and overwhelmed by a city, which has a population of 1,5 times that of my entire friggin country, that I spent my first afternoon not acknowledging what lay outside my window, and also not feeling up to facing Tunisian crochet. It only got worse for the shawl from then on, but for very pleasant reasons. No regrets!

Later on I saw that the four rows I had crocheted at the airport here were entirely wrong anyway, ripped back and forgot about the whole thing for a few weeks.

I’ve since then gone back to it, but my results aren’t all that fantastic. Still, I’ll probably get this done at some point. Maybe.

So that’s me, back with a bang.

A Broken Bone, and Broken Plans

19 Jul

Yesterday I learned that I did actually break a bone on Monday when I fell with my bike: it is a teeny tiny fracture in my right elbow. A GP told me I will probably need to hold the elbow stationary for quite a while. Today I saw an orthopedist and got some good news: instead of  holding my elbow immobile for a few weeks it’s actually better if I start using it within the limits of the pain right away.

So knitting, crochet and spinning are back on just as soon as my arm and elbow feel ok enough for them 🙂

But for some reason I don’t much feel like starting any of the projects I had lined up earlier. Partly it’s because I do feel like knitting and spinning might not be the best of ideas right now.

I need to do some sort of craft or something because I’m losing my mind, just sitting and watching TV all day long – I still can’t clean or cook or do anything that requires lifting or putting pressure on my elbow.

So I’m starting to consider maybe trying to learn crochet left-handed. Maybe I could crochet a small granny square blanket or something, something where inconsistencies in the gauge wouldn’t matter that much. That way I can get back to my original plans once my elbow has healed.

I have no idea whether it’s a feasible plan but I’ll find out soon.

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