Category Archives: Crafting

All The Updates!

Update #1: My shawl won a blue ribbon at the Champlain Valley Fair! I couldn’t believe it when I saw it, all folded up and looking pretty under the Winner’s Circle banner – I felt like I was dreaming! I took my $6 winnings and had a grand old time at the fair with my friends Liz and Patrick, hanging out in the beer tent, eating all the foods on sale that were bad for us (this took up most of our time), and going on the ferris wheel which was definitely not terrifying.

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Photo Credit: Hillary Turner

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Crawford

Update #2: My shawl won a blue ribbon at the Tunbridge World’s Fair! This fair is a little bit different because they don’t give one blue ribbon per category, and that is the best entry. Instead, they judge everything on its own, and a blue ribbon simply means it was of a certain quality. (Red ribbon would mean that a few mistakes were noticed such as the ends weren’t woven in completely, and a yellow might be a bigger mistake like the seams were crooked or the blocking was poor.) My winning check (yes, check) for four whole dollars still sits, uncashed, on my dresser – I should probably head to the bank, get that puppy cashed, and go out and have a rip-roarin’ good time!

Update #3: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) begins in 24 days, and I think I may pass out from fear/poor preparation. NaNoWriMo is a worldwide self-challenge where you try to write an entire novel of 50,000 words (150 pages) in one month, which means an average of 5 pages per day. This insanity occurs every November and has hundreds of thousands of participants from all over the world. The neat thing about it is the community aspect – you get emailed pep talks from prominent published authors every week, can be ‘writing buddies’ with fellow participants, and most regions have their own chapters that host all night write-ins at local libraries, or other kinds of group support. The purpose is not to have a finished, polished novel at the end, but to have all of your ideas down on paper, that can then be edited and spruced up later. I have wanted to participate in this for six years now, but decided I couldn’t commit to it until I was out of school and had more time. So this, being the first November that I’ve been out of school, will be my first attempt! I am very nervous/excited, and if anyone would like to join me in this “thirty days and nights of literary abandon,” a link to the NaNoWriMo website can be found here, and a link to my personal profile here.

Update #4: The Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival was so fun! It took place last weekend in Tunbridge, VT, at the same fairgrounds where the Tunbridge World’s Fair and my shawl were held last month. It was a bit rainy and muddy, but a sturdy pair of hiking boots and a good raincoat took care of both of those pesky little problems, and the rest of the fair was awesome. I used my usual method of taking a preliminary sweep through the whole place, jotting down items/prices I liked, and then at the end mulling it all over with my wallet and going back to pick up the things I couldn’t live without. This time that included some absolutely scrumptious yarn from Nightingale Fibers that was 70% baby alpaca, 20% silk and 10% cashmere, 1300 yards of lace weight for $32. I nearly fainted at that quality and quantity for that price. The stuff is soft as a cloud and comes in many gorgeous color ways – and if you’re not into knitting lace, they have plenty of worsted, sport, and bulky options as well, in addition to their heavenly roving. I chose the color Bluebell, and I can assure everyone that I will be paying these folks a visit again – one skein for an entire shawl!

I also got a wool/mohair blend for a Christmas gift I’m working on, and then walked by a booth at the very end that stopped me in my tracks. Looking down at me from all over the booth were dozens of gorgeous needle felted ‘paintings’, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I bombarded the woman behind the table with excited questions for over a quarter of an hour, and then raced off to find myself some colorful bits and pieces of wool roving for felting purposes, which I found at Frosbite Falls Farm’s booth. They don’t seem to have their own website, but their information can be found here. The booth with the needle felted ‘painting’s’ belonged to Heartbeet Lifesharing, which is a farm in Hardwick, VT that works with residents in their community with special needs, part of which includes creating and selling the artwork. Which leads me to…

Update #5: I made this.

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Photo Credit: My crappy computer

I apologize for the terrible quality of this picture – my camera is currently dead. :/

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Filed under Crafting, Exodus, lace, Lost shawl, novel, shawl, The Cap Shawl, The Novel, Uncategorized, Writing

JP’s Hobby Horse!

The hobby horse for my nephew is essentially done! And by essentially, I mean that I still need to finish stuffing it, weave in two ends, re-sew up the ears, and find a cane/dowel/broom handle to use as the ‘body’ of the horse. But that’s not really so VERY much left, is it? Right.

I do not have all that much experience knitting fair isle, so this was a really fun opportunity to experiment with color and tension while carrying yarn around back. My approach was to twist the two colors I was using around each other after every two stitches, to keep things nice and even. This worked out well, and now the ‘horse’ feels very thick because there is a double layer of yarn, so to speak. The pattern called for eyes to be sewn on using duplicate stitch, but I thought that buttons would be more fun and really pop.

I also changed the colors a bit. The pattern uses a full rainbow of colors, with an oatmeal/tan color as a neutral. While my nephew is turning two next month and might not mind a rainbow-colored toy now, I worried that in a few years he might feel like he shouldn’t have toys with rainbows on them, or be made fun of for playing with one. I struggled with this decision, because these kinds of stupid social pressures that we put on children (or really people in general) bother me a great deal, and part of me said, “I should teach him that it’s ok to be a boy and play with a toy that is rainbow-colored.” Ultimately, however, I concluded that he is two years old, this is a gift for him and not a political/social statement, and it is more important to make something that I think he will like than to ‘teach him a lesson’ with it. So I compromised and switched out purple for chocolate brown. The effect is to make the horse look more colorful than rainbow-y (I think, anyway. I don’t know, you guys let me know if I’m just being crazy here.)

Brandon thinks I should make the mane a little bit fuller than the pattern called for, as right now it looks a little like the horse is balding, or maybe like he has a mohawk. I’m still debating whether to add more or not, so if you have an opinion on the matter, please leave it in comments!

After working on my lace shawl for so long, this project felt like it knitted up in seconds, and my size 10 needles felt ginormous in my hands. I loved everything about this pattern – it was complex enough to be interesting and fun, but simple enough to not be frustrating. It is a very adaptable pattern, with a lot of room for experimentation with color or form. I considered doing something else for the ears besides knitting them on, for instance – maybe a piece of soft leather sewn on? – and there are plenty of other places for extra little touches to be added, such as the button eyes. The sky is the limit with this pattern!

I used Lamb’s Pride worsted weight yarn, 85% wool/15%mohair from Brown Sheep Company. One skein of each color was way more than enough, and I am now using the leftovers for a few fun little projects that I will be blogging about at a later time. The one thing about using this yarn that was a little annoying was that it is variable in its thickness, so at some parts of the horse there are little gaps where the yarn is thin. Other than that, I absolutely loved working with it, and I am planning to buy more for other projects in the future. If you are interested in buying some, there is a link to the company’s website here.

The pattern I used was in the Fall 2012 issue of Interweave Knits, my favorite knitting magazine, as discussed in a previous post. A link to pictures of all of this issue’s projects – and to subscribe to the magazine if you would like – can be found here. Finally, here is a picture of the magazine’s original hobby horse, which can be compared to my own take on it.

So, what do you guys think?

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Filed under Crafting, goals, knitting, projects, Uncategorized, Unfinished Projects

Ladies and Gentlemen…

Ladies and Gentlemen….at 1:06 this morning…..the shawl is completed.

I am in a sleep- and food-deprived daze…I have been knitting for 12 hours straight today, my homework is not submitted, and I have to be up at 6:00am (that’s five hours from now, for those of my readership who were not blessed with stellar math skills.) But the shawl is made. I can hold it and wrap it around myself and it is warming me up right now, and I don’t really feel capable of forming a coherent sentence right now I am so excited and confused. It’s taken almost three years to complete, six months of work, tens of thousands of stitches, hundreds of hours, but this piece is finally done, and I cannot wait to show it to you.

Even though the knitting is done, I still need to weave in ends, wash it, and block it, so I have made the decision to not share pictures until it is in its final, completed, beautiful form. The one thing I will share right now is this:

The Last Stitch

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Filed under Crafting, goals, Jane Sowerby, knitting, lace, Life, Lost shawl, portfolio, projects, shawl, The Cap Shawl, Uncategorized, Victorian Lace Today

My Nephew’s Birthday Present

Today was a great day! Why? Because I went to work for 8 hours and then followed it up with an hour of filling out tedious paperwork! Just kidding, it’s because my fall issue of Interweave Knits arrived in the mail, and with it, an idea for my nephew’s birthday present! My nephew is turning 2 in September, and picking out his present is a big freaking deal. Not only is he the most adorable, clever, fun, and sweet nephew ever (other than my other nephew, Riley), but he lives three and a half hours away, putting me pretty close to the top of the list of World’s Most Terrible Aunts. I don’t get to see him that often, and when I do, I feel like we just start to form a bond and then I have to leave again. It breaks my heart every time. Which is why picking out the perfect birthday present is so important! And I am hoping I found it.

First of all, let me just say that a subscription to a good magazine is one of the best gifts I can think of (though this is NOT the gift I’m getting for my nephew), which is why I am so happy that I was given a subscription to Interweave Knits for Christmas. In my opinion, they produce some of the best content, and some of the best, cutest, and – most importantly – most wearable* clothes of any knitting magazine I’ve seen.  Add to that their great online presence with excellent free content and videos, along with their attention to other crafts in addition to knitting, and I think they offer the best bang for your buck. Plus, there is the major point that I consistently like their patterns more than most other magazines, which tend to be hit or miss for me.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t overly fond of many of this issue’s patterns because they just didn’t happen to be my style, but the ones I liked I fell in love with. And one of these, is going to be my nephew’s birthday present. What is this magical item, you ask? It’s a hobby horse, and it’s freaking awesome.

For those of you who do not know what a hobby horse is, the ones you buy in the store look something like this:

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You can purchase this one at http://www.sunny-bears.com/inv/gund/hobby-horse.php

And the ones you make at home look something like this:

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This one can be found at http://www.ms-notsoperfect.com/2011/04/bugz-horsefly-costume.html

Mine was named Trigger; he was made by my mother and was loved to death. We still have him, but I think he’s missing a few facial features at this point. The point of this toy is that a small child with a humongous imagination will straddle this stick, hold it with one hand and the ‘reins’ with the other, and gallop around on his or her ‘horse’, having all kinds of dangerous and wonderful adventures. I loved this toy, and I am hoping my nephew will as well. It is coming at a good time, I think, considering his new fascination with ‘skipping’, which tends to look more like a gallop anyway.

I will post a pic as soon as I can, but for now suffice it to say that this one is very colorful, with a fair isle motif in big blocks of color all over it, and a funky blue mane sticking out the back!

*By this I mean that many knitwear designers either go too simple with their clothes, so they’re boring to knit and to wear, or too complex so the clothes just look silly and no one except a super model or movie star would actually wear them out in public (I’m looking at you, Vogue Knitting.) Interweave Knits strikes a good balance by featuring beautiful clothing that is complex and interesting, but has classic lines and styles that anyone would feel chic and comfortable wearing. This, I think, is the mark of truly good design.

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July 27, 2012 · 1:52 am