Friday, April 20, 2007

Butter Lamb!

This is from a couple of weeks ago (Easter to be exact). This is a Polish butter lamb I made for our Easter dinner celebration.

His body is made of sticks of butter, and his "wool" is made by extruding butter through a garlic press. Mr. Knittykat extruded all of the butter for me, and I arranged it on the lamb.

He turned out so cute!

Monday, April 16, 2007


As promised, here they are in all their perky glory.

You'll notice some have "nipples" and others do not. The "nipple" ones are the future faces of pigs, and the one without is a future "butt".

The stitch pattern for the blanket is very nice; it makes a thick and soft yet still drapey fabric, and the lines going up are actually crocheted cables.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Don't Be Mad At Me!

I am just a bad blogger, aren't I? I wouldn't blame you if you all went away and never wanted to read my blog again. There's nothing more frustrating than checking....and checking....and checking.....

I will attempt to make up for it with a longass post. Okay?

I finished my lovely green Wandering Aran Vines capelet. I ran short of yarn during the collar, but decided I was not crazy with the design of the collar anyway. I ended up doing an attached i-cord to stabilize the neck a bit. Since it's definitely bright green, I wore it to a St. Patrick's Day wedding to celebrate. Since then, I've found it's a lovely casual coverup to toss on to go for a walk or at work when I feel chilly.

I also made a pair of socks from the Opal Rainforest yarn in the Parrot colorway. I think I have the "procedure" for toe up socks two at a time down now, these socks only took me a week to make! Since I have made so many socks in this manner, I collected the instructions that I like for each part of the process and made myself a set of little "flashcards" to tuck in my bag, so I don't have to remember to take 3 different knitting patterns with me when I wish to travel light!

In progress, I currently have a blanket I am making for my baby. I do not have a picture of the blanket right now but I can tell you that this blanket has been nicknamed the "Titty Blanket". Why? Because the blanket design features squares along the top and bottom with the faces (and butts) of pink pigs. I have yet to add the ears and eyes to the faces, and so right now....they look like perky pink boobs adorning the bottom of the blanket. I'm having so much fun working on it and watching people's expressions, I'm almost tempted to leave them as boobies rather than piggies. Almost. :-)

*Project Theory*
You expected that list to be longer, didn't you? Well, I'll tell you why it's not. I've always been the type of person who has a million projects going at once. At some junctures, this was an acceptable set of circumstances for me, but I realized it was bothering me for more than one reason. First of all, having unfinished projects makes me feel guilty. I see all the projects sitting in my bag and I feel like they are hanging over my head. Second, it affects my work. When I am just grabbing something to quickly knit in front of the TV, I never bother to work out a gauge swatch, or copy the pattern so it's easier to read, or do any of the other things that make a project turn out correctly.

With some big changes coming up in my life soon, I decided the last thing I needed to do with my limited knitting time was feel guilty and do shoddy work. And so, I decided I may only have 2 projects in progress at once at any given time. A new project may not be started unless I have finished, woven in, sewn up, and blocked the previous project, or whichever parts of that process it requires.

At one point in my life I would have found this stifling. But honestly, I have actually found it LIBERATING. I am now freed from the ominous Unfinished Projects lurking over my head. It forces me to either finish them or undo them and leave the yarn for a new project. I no longer need to keep a journal to keep track of my knitting projects in progress. I no longer feel obligated to knit when I'd rather do something else just to "get things done". Since I only have two projects going, they fit in 1 or at most 2 knitting bags. No longer do I need 7 of them lined up on the couch. No longer do I grab my knitting bag for knit group only to find my notions bag is somewhere in one of the other bags. I grab my main bag and I go, and everything I need is in there (and it's not overflowing!)

Between projects, I find myself actually savoring the process of deciding what new projects to make. The decision to make a project is a much more thoughtful one now; I want to make sure it is something I will actually enjoy and wear and use, not just "something to do". And since I only purchase yarn when I KNOW it will be used, I am free to choose what yarn I want, rather than feeling I must buy something inexpensive.

*Knitting Drama*
Of course, new, relaxed, easygoing knitting policies have not eliminated knitting drama from my life. One of my recent projects (I cannot call it finished yet) was a lovely shawl out of some lovely handspun handdyed Polwarth wool that my mother bought for me at Stitches Midwest. I looked for a pattern I would enjoy, but I had difficulty finding one that was not too easy yet not too complicated. I don't like a lot of complicated lace designs because I don't find them relaxing to knit. I found the perfect design in a knitting page-a-day calendar and started. I enjoyed knitting this shawl so much and it was such a simple, enjoyable knit that I finished it in 2 weeks. Well, almost finished it. To my horror, I ran short of yarn with only 6 inches of the lovely knitted-on edging to go.

I didn't want to rip out the edging and rip back any of the shawl body, because I would have to remove a whole pattern repeat. I had also spent all of Easter sunday working on the edging and didn't want to rip it out either. But the yarn is sold in very large balls and there was no way to match the lovely colors.

So I did what any desperate knitter would do...I called Rovings, the company that makes the yarn. The dear lady there listened to my tale of woe and agreed to send me a small ball of yarn so that I could finish the shawl. Talk about customer service! I highly recommend both the yarn and the service at Rovings of Manitoba!

My other knitting drama came in when a dear friend Pearl asked me to knit her a capelet.....last August. She had a ball of lovely handspun yarn she had bought from another friend, but didn't know how to knit or crochet, and asked me to incorporate the yarn into the capelet as an edging. Alas, the yarn, gorgeous as it was, was totally inappropriate for an edging. It would have stolen the beauty from the lovely thick & thin yarn. I decided instead to try to figure out a way to feature the yarn in the capelet. The only problem was that there was only about 100 yards. Nowhere near enough for a capelet.

Over the months I tried. I gave it my best. I tried different size needles, lacy patterns, a neat drop stitch pattern. Nothing worked. Nothing showed off this yarn properly, and I really wanted to do right by it! Mournfully I related to some friends that I thought I would simply have to send the yarn back and disappoint Pearl. I could make her a scarf or a hat, but what she wanted was a capelet, and I wanted her to have a capelet. I came to my friends looking for a nice, non-jerky way to send back the yarn and call off the swap.

Instead, my lovely friend Ninnycat came up with a perfect solution. She offered to send me a capelet she had made, so that I could send it to Pearl and she would have her capelet. Then I would be free to make something more appropriate with the handspun yarn, and no one would be disappointed. In exchange for this wonderful kindness, I was able to find some yarn that Ninnycat wanted that she couldn't find locally, and so I think everyone, all around, is happy.

And so both of my knitting dramas have come to happy conclusions!

*Decluttering & Good Energy*
I have never been a particularly "woo woo" person, but I think I am starting to really believe in positive energy and how it relates to a space. Before I found out I was expecting, I had 2 of the three bedrooms in my house filled with...stuff. One was supposed to be a crafting room. It was so overwhelmed, however, with THINGS, that I could never really relax in there and it was always a mess. The other was a guest bedroom, which was somewhat more relaxing as it didn't have as many THINGS in it.

I wanted, of course, to clear out a room to make a room for the baby. However, I was saddened by the thought that my cluttery room and my not so cluttery room were going to have to merge, making a REALLY cluttery room that would rob me of my relaxing little haven all together. And then I decided that I was being silly. It did not have to be so. I was in charge of these things, they were not in charge of me. A good percentage of the things in my cluttery craft room were either unfinished projects, or items I had gathered to "do something with someday".

With the help of my fearless husband, we decided that Someday had come. It was time to clear the decks, and do some rough justice on the prairie, as my favorite TV judge likes to say. It was time to decide which supplies I was going to use for crafts I enjoyed, and which were merely things for crafts I didn't enjoy and wasn't going to do. And it was time to face those unfinished projects and "someday" supplies and decide what I could reasonably expect to use, and what should be passed on to someone who will use it.

The first box was hard! Breaking the seal, beginning to admit to myself that no, I really wasn't going to do this project but SOMEONE would. Admitting that maybe I shouldn't have bought that huge cross stitch kit, but keeping it around to guilt myself was not going to make me enjoy the project (or even do it, I'm remarkably immune to guilt). But when I began offering up some of these unloved supplies to my friends online, I was touched by how excited people were to take these things off of my hands! The cross stitch kit went to someone who genuinely enjoyed cross stitching. Some beads went to someone who was currently working on a project in just that color. A shrug I had made that just didn't flatter me went to someone with a more petite build who is still getting compliments on how cute it looks on her.

All these folks sent me either shipping money or something fun that they made in exchange for my stuff, but to be honest knowing that the things are out there being used and enjoyed rather than stuffed in a box is even better to me! As I continued to sort through things, I looked at things with new perspective. I no longer saw it as "What if some day I really NEED this odd little kit that doesn't really appeal to me?" Now I saw it as "Someone out there somewhere will enjoy this kit and make the project, and it's selfish of me to keep it crammed in a box."

Due to this, when it came time to merge the craft room and the guest room, I was completely surprised to find that I actually found the new combined room MORE relaxing and comfortable than either of the old rooms. The boxes on the closet shelf contain supplies I like for projects I plan to do and enjoy doing. The drawers in the armoire contain the same. Nothing is overcrowded or stuffed full. I can find everything I need. Everything has a place. I keep finding little boxes of odds and ends and find I can put 95% of them away right off the bat, because there is a place for everything.

And so now I felt a wonderful feeling flowing through my rooms. Good Energy! Positive, calm, happy energy, rather than stifled, cluttery, guilty energy. I feel so much lighter having let go of the things that I don't want and don't use, and don't enjoy. Many of them were things I bought on impulse, but kept them because I had spent good money on them. This added to the feelings of guilt, and why keep something around that makes you feel guilty? It won't bring back the money you spent on it. But maybe, just maybe, it can make someone else happy.

And I've rediscovered and am enjoying so many of the things I DO love, because I couldn't find them under all that stuff! I can happily access yarn I want to knit with without having to confront a drawer full of pinecones I picked up in the park to do something with "someday" :-) Many of the things I found inspired me....and I realized I DID want to do the projects and so those things are carefully stored and ready to be used in the future. At any rate, I'm happy all around with the results of my efforts.

Lessons learned:
1. Don't buy things on impulse
2. Resist the urge to buy things just because they're cheap
3. If you do wind up with things that make you feel guilty and bad, let them go
4. Someone else will always want what you do not
5. Clearing out things that don't matter to you allows the good energy to flow...
6. ....And it lets you enjoy the things you DO love even more!