My cousin rocks

Do you have family members who are just awesome? Who just randomly call you, just to say “I’ve been thinking about you and I hope you’re doing well. Is there anything I can do to help?” (Shoutout to Arul right here). Yes? No? I mean, don’t get me wrong, things can just as easily crazy, and annoying, and there may be quite a bit family drama. And then there’s the aspect of personalities. For example, I seem to always – ok, almost always – clash with one of my cousins. We just get annoyed and grumbly at each other, but that doesn’t mean that we like each other any less. I guess that’s true for just about any family – some people you like, some people you fight with, and some people you’d rather not see again. Yes, I have some those relatives too, but fortunately I’m not close to them (obviously), nor the rest of the family.

Yup, that’s our family tree – my sister’s idea, and I love how it turned out. Btw, it’s really hard to get a baby’s handprint when it wants to curl up its fingers, even when it’s sleeping

I have bazillions of relatives. That has to do with my grandma being one of 14 children, and my Dad one of 9. Then you add in other relatives with multiple children, and I end up having 19 first degree cousins. Don’t even ask me how many second degree cousins I have. I have no idea. I always have to ask “who is their parent/sibling/child” so I can somewhat figure out who they’re talking with. And there also those relatives who have the same names, making life even more complicated. Then you have relatives like my brother-in-law’s sister-in-law’s sister, who is a friend, and to whose wedding I was invited to. I have a whole bunch more relatives like that. Btw, my Gran is turning 90 this year, so you can imagine the insanity of relatives turning up there. Still, she wants everyone to come. No idea where we’ll all fit. Yes, that’s another Indian thing, at least in my extended family – people come into town and will ‘naturally’ stay with you, how distantly your related – or not – to them, no matter how little or how much space you have. It’s an expectation and it’s very difficult to convince people otherwise

You’re probably asking yourself how all this relates to knitting. Well… I haven’t knit many garments. I’m intimidated by the whole shaping and customizing thing, and figuring out the right size and negative/positive ease and so on and on. I wanted to go to the fibre space workshop “Fit to Flatter” with Amy Herzog, but it fills up so ridiculously fast, I didn’t make it into the class – again. Enter my cousin. Well, he works at a startup in the education field, at Udemy. They offer online courses, including craft courses, some free, some not. He told me about Craftsy, and gave me a course as a gift. I of course chose “Fit Your Knits” by Stefanie Japel.

www.craftsy.comI have to say, Craftsy is awesome. I haven’t spent a lot of time on the website, but I love the fact that the courses are online. You can watch – and rewatch the courses, your access doesn’t expire. The Fit Your Knits course consists of 11 lessons, on a whole bunch of different aspects of garment fitting and modification. One of the lessons is called assessing the pattern which I think will be really really helpful. I mean, how often do you look at a pattern or a finished object, and you wonder how it’ll fit and if it’ll work for your body shape. And then they also have workshops which is pretty ingenious, since it is basically a combination of a pattern with a tutorial by the designer, and the possibility to ask questions.

The best part is that not only do they have a bunch of different knitting courses, they also have other courses, on crocheting (of course!), quilting, sewing, gardening and food crafts. Really neat, I’ll definitely have to try out some other courses.

There are other great craft websites out there, I’m sure. I’ve heard of Craftfoxes, Craftser of course , DIY Network and so on. If I’ve left one out that you think I should absolutely include, let me know. I’m planning on putting up a separate page on useful craft websites, as well as a page listing craft blogs and blog hops, so let me know what you’d like to see on there. Happy crafting!


Monkey business

I apologize to all followers who are subscribed to my posts. I had planned to schedule the post for June 26, of this year, but it accidentally was published as a 2011 post. So now it’ll go up earlier – and I’ve also added content and  photographs, so I hope you’ll like this improved version.

Nephew #2 is a little munchkin, just a few months old. One of the best things about babies and toddlers are that there are so many great patterns out there for kid knits. Well, at least from a knitter’s point of view. Plus, they’re so small, it’s so easy to whip up something really fast – I mean how often can you say that you knit a sweater in a day? Instant gratification.

I’ve knit quite a few baby items, but I haven’t knit up a layette set. (A layette is a baby outfit set). I already had a baby hat that I needed to modify. When my nephew #1 was born, my sister received a lovely little hat as a gift, but it didn’t quite cover the ears. So my sister asked me to add earflaps to the hat. I never did quite manage to get around to knitting the flaps for her. Long story short, I finally managed to finish the flaps. I basically picked up stitches on both sides of the hat, knit for a few rows, and then I shaped the ear flaps with matched decreases, followed by a purl row each time. To make sure that the hat stays on the baby’s I added I-cord at the end of each flap so it can be tied. But the yarn I picked wasn’t quite exactly the same shade as the hat, so the plan was to overdye the hat. It didn’t quite fix the color difference, but it looks much better.

baby outfit set

Monkey layette!

I had also planned to knit some kind of baby booties. The pattern I thought about was for a pair of baby mocs that should ideally be knit in two different shades, or different colors. well, I only had the one skein of basic blue. But the dying gave me a second shade of blue, and I knit up a pair of mocs using the undyed blue and the darker dyed blue, to match the hat.

I had enough dye, so I also dyed a baby onesie at the same time as dyeing the yarn. Since my older nephew really likes Paul Frank, I decorated the onesie with a blue Paul Frank napkin using decoupage. I basically peeled off the top layer of the napkin with the print on it (very carefully, to avoid tearing), and then using fabric decoupage glue, I applied the design to the onesie. After drying, it needed to be ironed, and voila! I have a baby layette for munchkin #2. I guess I could have knit a baby cardigan, too, but babies grow so quickly. I’d rather knit him a cardigan when he’s a bit older and he’ll get more use out of a it.

Blue monkey baby layette

The entire baby layette

Decoupage is a great technique to create or redo items. It’s also a fun activity for kids – my goddaughter decorated easter eggs using napkin decoupage (hollow eggs, the egg had been used for Easter baking). You can use the decoupage technique to decorate all kinds of items – not just clothing. You can decorate everything from jewelry boxes to chairs. I saw these awesome mugs that someone very creative had decorated, using specific porcelain glue. Make sure that you use the right glue for your project. The basic glue usually works on wood and paper – for garments you need specific glue, otherwise the applied object will come off once you wash it. I let my nephew decorate coasters – for those, and anything else that’ll be exposed to moisture, you need extra lacquer to keep help keep the moisture away. Have fun creating your own items!

1. Gift bags for Easter 2. Jewelry Box 3. Tissue boxes 4. Children’s apron 5. Toy box

Monkey business keyholders available here. Photocollage made using the BigHugeLabs website and PicFrame.

This was not how I was planning to get more knitting time in…

I was having a lovely dream. I won’t bore you with the details (partly cause I don’t remember them all), but it basically encompassed the life story of this old woman, whose husband had died a few years ago. She missed him, and wanted to go visit their favorite place, on some little island, and she’d asked me to take her there. And then she wanted to leave a la Titanic (the movie) style, but suddenly she was trying to convince me to move on with her. With a big serrated bread knife that she was trying to stab me into my stomach with. Grandma had turned into a deranged little lady. Which was when my dream turned into a nightmare and things evolved into all kinds of horror scenarios with this sweet little old lady trying to use various means to kill me while ranting at me. Yeah.

I should add, I’m not the horror movie kind of girl. I have a way too active imagination. I end up freaked out with nightmares. If I end up trapped in a situation where I just can’t leave – I really hate those horror movies, no matter how well they’re done – I end up sticking my fingers into my ears, closing my eyes and mentally singing lalala. I can’t read stories with horror elements either, much less full-blown horror stories. I was translating the beginning of Stephen King’s “It” for a friend (she was reading it to improve her English), and I was so freaked out by that damned clown that I started to imagine it in all corners whenever I was walking home late. Ugh.

I know that some people love horror stories, and there are some really funny campier ones out there too, which should be totally up my alley, but no. I can’t do horror. And there was no reason for this dream either – I’d been blogging and planning recipes to try out and reading, So this came out of nowhere. But hey, thanks to the dream I woke up at 4am and didn’t fall asleep. I mean, what’s a knitter to do – there’s no reason this shouldn’t be knitting time, don’t you think?

I continued knitting on my Indian Red scarf, plugging away at sections D & E. I was all proud of myself, feeling righteous when I realized I’d made a mistake. I won’t bore you with the details, but basically, I needed to go back to section C and redo sections D & E. Grrr. So instead I thought I’d work on one of my Arts & Crafts projects, a decoupage picture frame made with paper napkins (my Father’s Day gift). I did a base coat, and after I’d finished with the various parts, I got up to wash my hands – and manage to put my foot through the glass. Yay. A huge mess of glass, and a puncture and a cut. I threw in the towel.

So, there’s not much progress to report on. Sigh. But I will finish my Erin Go Bragh shawl before next Wednesday. I’ planning to work on my Indian Red scarf, and the blanket, well, it’ll have to take a back seat for a while. It’s just to warm to work on it. Here’s a peek at my Erin Go Bragh – I just need to finish the last few short rows, the final wedge of color and the bind-off. That’s manageable, I really should have this done by Wednesday.

Now for the blog hop part: I’m linking up with this week’s Yarn Along, this week’s Tami’s Amis WIP Wednesday, through Ambassador Crochet’s Wip Wednesday and Frontier Dreams’ Keep Calm and Craft on (KCCO) blog-a-long. See you next Wednesday!

I don’t know how to sew…

but I totally want to learn! It would make life so much easier – for example, I could shorten my own hems instead of paying $14-16 (especially if I want to keep the hems on my jeans). Plus, you can just fit your clothes better. A friend of mine made beautiful quilts for her grandchildren.

But this, this is amazing. I mean, how awesome to know how to sew bathing suits? I love all the little details.

Something different – but it’s still Wednesday

Another Wednesday! It’s once again time for a yarn along, but I also want to talk about last week’s Knitting and Crochet Blog week.

I’m still working on my Erin Go Bragh shawl. I know, I’m almost done, and I should have finished this project before the end of the month, but I’ve been so busy blogging this past week that I really haven’t made any progress. But, I have a new wip! Yes, even though I already have plenty of projects on my needles (I think I need to make a collage of my wips!).

But actually, I’m not the one who decided to cast on for a new project. Noooo, my knitting needles decided. In fact, my knitting needles decided to cast on a Windward scarf and have a little battle over the yarn for this project (Wollmeise 100% in Indisch Rot). Don’t believe me? See for yourself:

There is a good reason why I made this video. Remember the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week? Well, Friday’s topic was all about creativity:

Day 5: April 27, 2012. Something A Bit Different It’s back, and this time it has the most amazing of prizes (look for the prize for ‘most creative post’). This was a massive success last year, and for many it was the highlight of the Blog Week, so this year you are challenged, again, to find a new way of blogging. This is an experimental blogging day to try and push your creativity in blogging to the same level that you perhaps push your creativity in the items you create.There are no rules of a topic to blog about but this post should look at a different way to present content on your blog.

Wednesdays are the days with the most traffic for me, so I thought I should spread the love and share some of the other awesome creative posts out there. Here are my favorites:

  • A Pile of Sheep created a Yarn Personality Test! I’m Madeline Tosh Vintage – I’m an “easygoing person with just a touch of wild child for spice!” What are you?
  • PumpkinSpins used mind mapping to draw up a chart to answer “Why I create” – really interesting, and now I want to think more about why I myself create
  • Knit One, Stitch One, Save One drew a series of images, and created a quick animation out of the gif images to show what her hands look like while knitting. So creative – and the drawing are just beautiful.
  • Stitched Together is planning to knit a shawl with stripes, and the color of the stripes will be based on the comments that people have left on the blog, and in the end she’ll hold a random drawing where the winner will get the finished shawl. Awesome!
  • All She Wants to Do Is… created a knit/crochet version of The Onion website, call Crafting News Network. How hilarious!
  • When Did I Become a Knitter: It’s a post from the perspective of her Roan sweater, a wip of hers, at a self-help group called Unloved Knits Group. I have a few nominations from my wips for that group too.
  • Sanday Spinners put up a Knitting Riddle – I’m still trying to figure out the answer on my own. And you can win a knitted item from her!
  • Wickedly Artsy created a visual knitting timeline with images of the different stops in her knitting life
  • Fidlstix has a great post titled Something You Should Know About Me (no, I’m not going to tell you what it is, you need to play the video yourself)
  • Laylock‘s animated gifs of her knitting techniques (cast on, knitting, purling and cast off) are really interesting – my version of those techniques look different. Plus they should be really helpful to new knitters
  • KellPattsBlog‘s contribution is a crytoquote. How cool!
  • AStashAddict made a Hexipuff Evolution vlog. I haven’t made a Hexipuff yet, but I foresee a Hexipuff blanket in my future.
  • Frog-Soup‘s funny drawing (naked sheep in need!) made me giggle
  • and a ton more more…

And then there’s of course my stop motion animation – I’m ridiculously proud of this video. The family is already discussing whether we should do a video for my grandmother’s 90th birthday.

I hope you liked all of these different, creative takes on the something a bit different topics. I had to stop adding posts to the list or it would have been unendingly long. You can find more posts on this topic by googling 3KCBWDAY5. If you’d like to nominate any of these posts (or any others!) for the creative award, click here to go to Eskimimi’s nomination post. Of course, if you’d like to, you can also nominate my post too 🙂 If you cannot submit your nomination even though you’ve filled out all the fields correctly, then that means that someone else has already put in a nomination for that post. Nominations close on May4th, at midnight British Standard Time.

That’s it for this Wednesday. I’m participating in this week’s Yarn Along – there are links to other great Yarn Along posts there, with information on how to participate yourself. You can also find a link to this post through Tami’s Amis, through Ambassador Crochet’s Wip Wednesday and Frontier Dreams’ Keep Calm and Craft on (KCCO) series.

Crafting Balance

Day 7: April 29, 2012. Crafting Balance 
Are you a knitter or a crocheter, or are you a bit of both? If you are monogamous in your yarn-based crafting, is it because you do not enjoy the other craft or have you simply never given yourself the push to learn it? Is it because the items that you best enjoy crafting are more suited to the needles or the hook? Do you plan on ever trying to take up and fully learn the other craft? If you are equally comfortable knitting as you are crocheting, how do you balance both crafts? Do you always have projects of each on the go, or do you go through periods of favouring one over the other? How did you come to learn and love your craft(s)?

Today is about balance. Crafting balance, yes – but I could also talk about the balance between knitting and blogging or about life balance and finding time to fit in crafting and so on. For me, this week has been more about blogging rather than knitting. For the most part, I spend quite some time crafting my posts, rewriting and editing and putting in pictures and so on. I try to make sure that I don’t infodump or write paragraphs that are too long (to avoid tl;dr) or too many paragraphs without some kind of visual interest to break them up. So I guess blogging is a kind of craft for me as well. And the balance between the different crafts, that’s the challenge for me.

When it comes to knitting and blogging, I usually go in spurts. I’ll blog very frequently for a bit while my knitting is neglected, and then I’ll get caught up on my knitting and then I’ll be so busy getting projects done that my blogging is rather sporadic. If I am more structured about it then I prewrite posts and schedule them – sometime they only require a few pictures and they’re good to go. I’m also trying to figure out what frequency of blogging works best for me, and for my readers. I mean, if I put up new content every day, then that’s pretty challenging for me, plus I’m not sure you guys enjoy that – it’s hard to catch up on what’s going on. Let me know what you guys think – what do you prefer?

So, let’s talk about the balance between my knitting and my crocheting. I actually started out as a crocheter. I learned to crochet in school when I was, oh, maybe 11 or 12? No, I must have been younger. I have to ask my parents. Anyway, I think my skill level hovered at single crochet stitch, maybe going as far as double crochet stitch. I went to buy yarn with my parents, and I remember coming into the arts & craft section of our department store (when they still had one), and being overwhelmed by all the colors, and the different types of fibers. I had no idea how to decide what to select. We ended up picking this light blue acrylic yarn – nothing special, I don’t remember much about it apart from the fact that it was scratchy, especially after working with it for a while. I plugged away at the scarf for a while.

Why yes, that is a Christmas ornament with a pacifier in it! Making Christmas extra special for my nephew.

And once we moved on to another project in class, I tried to continue crocheting the scarf at home – and tried to motivate myself by labeling it my Christmas present to my Mom. I think it ended up being the shortest scarf ever. Mom still has it, somewhere. ETA: And I apparently started to make gloves for her out of that same yarn. I’ll have to ask her to dig them out.

Well, that was the progress my crafting work made for a while. Over the following years I was more occupied with other hobbys like reading (a lot!), singing, all kinds of sports… I learned to embroider from Mami. Plus there was school, of course, and then college and life and so on. Fast-forward to 2008. I hadn’t been crafting much, and then, and then my sister and brother-in-law announced that were expecting their first child. Yay!

Our family has always placed a great emphasis on handmade gifts. It doesn’t matter if they were big or small, they were all appreciated. Handmade gifts were – and are – more valued than purchased ones, no matter how big. It is the thought and the effort that counts – and when you make a gift, you think about the person you are making  it for, what they would like, what would suit them, and what you can offer. Putting up our Christmas tree always means to look back on our life as a family, where we pull out all the Christmas ornaments, so many of which have been made by us, with all of their little imperfections and cracks.

Now that my sister was pregnant, I really wanted to make something for the baby, something that they would get use out of. I thought about a baby blanket, and I figured out that I could pick up crochet pretty easily, even though I’d forgotten all of the stitches. I decided to make this pretty baby blanket, which I had found through the Lion Brand Yarn website. It was a great way to get back into the groove. While browsing around the Lion Brand Yarn pattern page, I came across a pattern for a baby mobile – and an idea was born. And then I found this awesome Alan Dart Shaun the Sheep mobile, which was perfect, apart from the fact that it’s a knitting pattern. So, with the help of YouTube, the Knitting Help website, and a few library books, I learned how to knit. And fortunately my great-aunt, Mami, my knitting hero, was in town so I could get help from her. That started my love affair with knitting, and since then crochet has been pretty much neglected. Yeah, so much for balance. Oops.

Looking back at my crochet, most of them have been amigurumi projects. Amigurumi projects, hats, and that baby blanket. And everything else – scarves, shawls, socks, hats, cowls, gloves, baby items, toys (uhm, what’s left?) – has been knit. But all the Day 7 posts on this topic have reminded me that I really do like crochet. There are so many amazing designs out there, and I love knitting amigurumi toys. I mean, how can you not love amigurumi? Just look at Geek Central Station’s geeky Amigurumi patternsStar Wars amigurumi! The Lord of the Rings characters as amigurumi! Captain Jack Sparrow, the Firefly Crew, Star Trek, Indiana Jones!  Full of Win! Though there are also amazing knitted toy options, just look at MochiMochiland or the Hansigurumi patterns!

I forsee crochet in my future 🙂 And then there is spinning and weaving. I know it’s not Annual Spinning and Weaving Blog Week, but hey, they’re also fiber crafts, and neither are skills that I have. A friend of mine has a loom that she’s offered to let me borrow, so I’ll hopefully get to play with this year. But the craft that I really really really want to learn is spinning. I mean creating thread out a a fiber braid, how amazing is that? It takes us back to the very beginning of fiber crafts – that’s what we need for all the other crafts that follow out of it. It connects us to our ancestors, to the beginning of creating garments, clothing to take us through the seasons and makes us able to adapt to our environment (once garment creation was based on humans having domesticated animals and not being as dependent on our skills as hunters and gatherers and the resultant availability of materials. And if I’m off with my representation of fiber crafts here, I really haven’t researched this, this is off the top of my head, so let me know if I’m wrong).

I’m sorry that this post was so long! I really hadn’t planned on it… but I guess I had a story to tell. I’m sorry to say that this year’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is over. It really has been a lot of fun. Sometimes it was more challenging than other days to figure out what to write – hello Day 5! – but it definitely was good to topic on a specific topic. I think I’ll do that more often. If you have a topic you’d like me to blog something about, let me know.

I’ll be blogging more frequently than in the last few months, definitely. I’ll also get back to putting up posts about food and photography, as stated in the blog’s header (well, I mentioned reading there, too, but I tend to post more about food), which have been missing. But all in all, it’ll be good to get back to my knitting – I’ve been neglecting it with all this blogging. I have a day to finish up my April project, so hopefully I’ll make it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. If you’d like to see all my posts for this week, go here. And if you’re interested in seeing the posts on the individual days, just run a search for the different short codes to see posts on the different topics: Day 1 – Color Lovers (3KCBWDAY1), Day 2 – Photography Challenge (3KCBWDAY2), Day 3 – Your Knitting or Crochet Hero (3KCBWDAY3), Day 4 – A Knitter or Crocheter for All Seasons (3KCBWDAY4), Day 5 – Something a Bit Different (3KCBWDAY5), Day 6 – Improving your Skillset (3KCBWDAY6), today’s topic, Day 7 – Crafting Balance (3KCBWDAY7), and the Wildcard topic – Craft your Perfect Day (3KCBWWC). I may even put up a a post on the Wild Card topic tomorrow or Tuesday, that topic is just so intriguing.

I’m looking forward to next year’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week!