Archive for the 'crafts' Category

Knitting Olympics.

February 25, 2006

So I have been doing that “Knitting Olympics” thing, where you attempt to knit an entire project during the sixteen days of the Winter Olympics. If you are a knitter and you read knitting weblogs, you have probably heard of it, since 4000+ people signed up for it, so most knitting bloggers out there are either talking about how they’re doing it or explaining why they’re not doing it. So here’s my token post about my Knitting Olympics project, and why I will not be finishing it before tomorrow night.

I’m knitting “Happi” by Cheryl Oberle, and I’d love to show you a picture of the completed garment, but there’s nothing available online. It’s a lace-patterned, Japanese-inspired jacket–very pretty–and I’m knitting it in a gorgeous grape-colored wool-mohair blend. I received the kit as a Christmas gift, because, I assure you, there is no freakin’ way I could afford to shell out $150 for a kit, no matter how beautiful, when I’m about to mortgage my soul and the souls of all my future offspring in order to build a house.

I finished the back/body within the first week of the Olympics. I knitted diligently, every evening, while the Olympics played in the background. I didn’t take my project to work, or take time off work to knit–I just worked on it in the evening. Last Sunday, it was time to do the three-needle bindoff for the shoulders. I don’t hate finishing, but I don’t like it, so I decided that it might be easier to finish as I go rather than devoting a bunch of time at the end of the project to finishing the garment.

I’ve done three-needle bindoff before, always with crappy results. I used three-needle bindoff for the hood of a baby sweater that I made for a gift last year. This baby sweater was made out of a pretty-but-really-annoying-to-work-with yarn, and the three-needle bindoff was a pain in the ass because the yarn kept splitting. Also, I didn’t follow the directions properly and the seam ended up on the outside of the hood. It didn’t look bad, but it didn’t look the way it should look. When I tried to pull out the yarn and re-do the seam, the yarn wouldn’t budge, so I just left it. It didn’t matter in the end, because the sweater’s recipient is so stinking cute that she could wear a Hefty garbage bag and still look like the most precious little baby on earth.

This time, I didn’t want to mess it up, because I can’t pull off just anything, and because this kit was so expensive that I’d better make sure I can get my money’s worth (er, my mom’s money’s worth) out of the finished product. So I pulled out my Vogue Knitting reference, followed the directions to the T, and started my three-needle bindoff. I was kicking some bindoff ass, and then I noticed a hole where I had (apparently) dropped a stitch and not noticed.

I went back and pulled out the bindoff, totally messing up the last few rows of each side of the garment. I unraveled and picked up the stitches–something that I am not very good at–and re-knit what I messed up. Then I started the three-needle bindoff again, thinking to myself “I am going to be much more careful this time. I do not want to do this again.”

I got through the whole three-needle bindoff, and it looked good. I didn’t drop anything, there were no holes, just a nice, neat little shoulder seam. Good, good! Then I spread the garment out on the floor, and realized that, somehow, I had twisted the left side of my sweater into some kind of freakish Moebius. I farted around with it for a few minutes, trying to untwist it, and I quickly became frustrated. Tim was sitting next to me on the couch, so I thrust the sweater into his unsuspecting arms and said, “FIX IT!” as if he could work some super-special magic to untwist the untwistable. He couldn’t, so he handed it back to me, and I promptly had a very juvenile but totally necessary fit and threw the thing across the room in frustration. It sat there for a few minutes, until I realized how stupid it was for me to throw the sweater across the room, then I got up quietly and got back to work undoing my three-needle bindoff YET AGAIN.

The second time, I managed to not screw up the whole thing. I dropped very few stitches when I pulled out the bind-off, so I was able to pick up the top row without much hassle. The THIRD time, I was so careful and meticulous that it was just plain silly. But I got it done, and I got it done right. Needless to say, when I did the other shoulder, I paid a LOT of attention and didn’t make the same mistake. I got it right the first time, and yay for that, because I don’t think I could have handled another series of dumb-assed mistakes.

Once I finished the body, I proceeded to the sleeves, which are knit in the round. The first ten rows are in garter stitch, so I was able to zip right through that. I got to the third lace row of the first sleeve when I noticed that, yet again, I had managed to turn an otherwise lovely piece of knitting into a Moebius. I don’t know how I did it, and I probably couldn’t have done it if I was TRYING to do it, but I ended up unraveling the entire sleeve and starting over.

The following evening, I decided to take a night off from knitting. When I get to the point where I’m making mistakes like turning a sleeve into a Moebius, I think it’s time for a break. Since then, I’ve been taking it easy with the knitting. The truth is, I still have a hard time knitting without looking at what I’m doing, so it’s really affected my ability to actually watch the Olympics. I’ve never been absolutely committed to earning that little gold medal graphic for my weblog–I like to keep things kind of minimalist around here, as you may have noticed. I signed up for the challenge, and to see if I could really complete an entire project in sixteen days. Even though I probably won’t be completing the project by tomorrow night at 10 PM, I know that I could have if I had managed to apply myself a little bit more. It’s kind of like being valedictorian of my high school class or earning a 4.0 GPA in college–sure, I could have done it, but I wouldn’t have had very much fun on the way, so why bother?

I’ve enjoyed working on Happi. It was somewhat of a challenge, and it’s made me more confident in my mad knitting skillz. And I will finish it, and soon–it’s so pretty that I can’t let it languish in my pile of unfinished projects. But it won’t be done by tomorrow night, so perhaps someone can make me a tiny little “DNF” graphic for my weblog or something.

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Buy D.I.Y.: Some Recommendations

February 22, 2006

For Valentine’s Day, my husband bought me some cool handmade goodies. I love getting handmade stuff as gifts (and I love buying it for myself as well). There’s tons and tons of online craft businesses out there–here’s a few of my personal favorites:

Young and With It Industries is the “home of the chicken butt.” I have the chicken butt matchbook notepads (a Christmas gift from Tim) and the chicken butt stationery (a Valentine’s Day gift from Tim). Clint and Dixie are super-nice–they’ve included extra goodies in both of Tim’s orders, and they always send a very nice handwritten note as well. (This really impressed Tim, especially since they remembered him when he ordered from them a second time.) Really clever stuff, made by nice people!

Emily Martin describes herself as a “curiosity peddlar and picture scribbler.” I purchased a print from her (the Smiths Girl), and she created a fabulous custom painting, which was my Valentine’s Day gift to Tim. I gave her a rather sketchy idea, and she brought it to life, fabulously. She’s very sweet and super-pleasant to work with. Besides, what’s cooler than having your own custom-made piece of art?

I found Pixelgirlshop via someone’s link to their Lego Man Bracelets, which are super-funky. Because I have absolutely no willpower whatsoever, I also bought a set of hair clips (sorry, no link–they don’t have them any more). I ordered right after the holidays, so they were low on Lego Man bracelets and my order took a while to ship. Though it definitely wasn’t necessary–I was expecting the delay!–I received an extra set of hair clips with my order, along with a really nice note apologizing for the delay. Now that’s customer service! Pixelgirlshop has a diverse array of items for sale in a variety of price ranges. If you like handmade stuff, you’ll probably find something good here.

Yankee Girl Designs sells pretty jewelry. I found Lindsey through The Sampler community–she was having a sale, and I took a look at her web site, found something I liked, and sent Tim an e-mail saying “hey! Here’s a good gift idea if you were, uh, thinking about buying me a gift!” (Yes, he took the hint, and I got a lovely bee-themed necklace for Valentine’s Day.) I’ve got my eye on the bird’s nest necklace–maybe for my birthday. Lindsey is a fellow library worker, so that’s another bonus!

Emotion Lotion is the best (and, perhaps, only) place to purchase a set of buttons based on R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet.” I bought three sets–they’re great gifts for people who are amused by R. Kelly and his so-bad-it’s-brilliant lyrics. Emotion Lotion also sells a wide variety of non-R. Kelly-related merch, includng a number of buttons featuring Morrissey/Smiths lyrics and lines from the classic television comedy series Mr. Show. If you really want to advertise that “five-inch taint” you’ve got going on, you can get the button (or magnet, or ring) here. They’ve also added some buttons featuring quotes and photos from Arrested Development, which (in my not-at-all humble) is the best comedy since Mr. Show. I remember April and David from back in the Amplified to Rock days–they’re great people, and their store kicks ass. It looks like they’ll take requests and suggestions, and they can hook you up if you need custom buttons.

I’ve always been a sucker for a good grab bag, and The Sampler is a monthly grab bag of “samples” from various online D.I.Y. shops. Last time I subscribed (back in November), a 3-month subscription went for about $50. It’s been well worth the money, as I’ve received some real treasures. (And yeah, I’ve received some not-so-great stuff as well, but the good stuff makes it all worthwhile.) If you’re not so sure, you can check out the “sneak peeks” section of the web site–Marie posts photos of all of the contributions, as well as links to their web sites.