Yarning Along- A Crochet Catch Up and the Fresh Stitches Ami Club

I know, I know, I was all smug about really truly posting yesterday, but I figured that if I waited a day, I could link up with Small Things yarn along – rationalization will get me every time!  If you are popping in from the Yarn Along, and want to read about knitting catch up and the new Kate Davies club, click here.

But, now, crochet!

So my knitting bud KnittyD, she of the knit hippo, who doesn’t want to learn how to crochet, ordered a crochet kit.  And guess who she asked to do her crochet bidding?  You got it, crochet hippo girl.  Eh, ok – I love me a good amigurumi!

How cute, right?  Who wouldn’t want to spend their hygge evenings crocheting a Bumble??  By the way, I’m all about the hygge and the hygeligg after reading this article in The Times.  I feel secretly Nordic in my soul, actually, as if what I’ve known all along is finally going mainstream.  I’m sure it’ll be wrecked now.  Darn that secret sharing!

Anyway, you can get kits like these – Rudolph, Star Wars, and Marvel Avengers at your local BJ’s – I picked up a Star Wars kit – and now, of course, I’m going to have to make a memorial Princess Leia  – damn 2016, really.  Soooooooo ready for 2017!

Let’s forget 2016 and take another look at Bumble and Rudolph –

I had a lot of trouble with the felt that came with the kit – a stingy stingy little square – and of course, I didn’t have any felt in my stash, so this is actually quilt batting.  It got the job done, so it’s all good.

Anyway, Bumble and Rudolph put me in the ami spirit, so I went off to the Fresh Stitches website to poke around, and discovered that she has a new club as well, the Ami-club.  A few years ago, I was in the first iteration of the ami club – every month you got a pattern, yarn, and a goodie, like stitch markers or tiny scissors.  I have to admit, I didn’t love it.  I ended up tossing most of the kits aside, not motivated to make a leaf, or a snowflake, or a maybe a fish, and I eventually cancelled my subscription.  This time around, the club is completely digital.  Each month you get a pattern, a few e-guides (this month we received a guide to traveling with crochet, a guide to crochet hooks, and a guide to charity crochet), access to a club forum, a crochet-a-long, and a swap.  For I think $6/month I was in – no worrying about not liking the pattern, or the yarn that came with the kit – if I don’t like the pattern of the month, there’s still plenty to do for my $6.  Unlike the Kate Davies club, to which its forum calls Ravelry home, Fresh Stitches is trying to move her base from Ravelry to the Ami-Club Forum hosted on her own website.  I’d say there’s a bit of resistance – the Ravelry forum is still much more active than the club forum.  I’m not sure what she’s going to do to about it – the Ravelry forum is pretty much self-sufficient, organizing it’s own swaps and cal’s.  I think she’s going to have to release some really special club exclusive patterns and sales if she wants to put a nail in the ravelry forum.  But you know, I have no idea what her business model is – maybe she wants the Ravelry forum to keep on keeping on, and selling her larger patterns through Ravelry.  Maybe her business plan accounts for both bases.  I really don’t know.  But, I do know that I’d like to see more activity in the forum, and more people participating in the events.  For instance, the first swap was an easy one, a holiday card.  I made this:

The card pops open, and there’s a hanging circle in there stamped with Cheers and a message.  I mailed it last week with my own holiday cards, and I know that the card was delivered because it has tracking on it, and no one has even gone on the forum and thanked me.  It’s a handmade, crocheted card!  Now, I don’t make cards to get a thank you – that’s not my meaning.  My meaning is that if this were a truly active community, there’d be tons of cards and thank you’s posted.

And, while I loved the first pattern, Bentley bear:

I don’t know if this was the super special thing you wanted to get the club started with.  But, again, what do I know?

The bottom line is I really like the concept – I loved the bear, I like the new forums, I like the organized swaps – everything – I just hope more people get on board once the holiday season is over.

So, that’s the crochet in my world right now.  Once I finish the Kate Davies cardigan, I’m going to spill out my Lotus Moon Tiles , figure out what yarn I need to get moving, and well, get moving.

On the reading front, I’m reading The Nix:

I love this novel.  Its about a failed novelist, bored college professor, who is addicted to a game that is essentially World of Warcraft, as he’s sucked back into his own life when his mother, who abandoned him at 11, suddenly becomes national news when she commits an act of political protest, sort of.  Anyway, the novel moves in time, and the characters are really richly drawn.  The chapters are not stand alones, but are short stories in a sense – I read this book a chapter at a time, and when each chapter is done, I feel really fulfilled – like a just ate a piece of really good chocolate.  Anyway, that’s what I’m reading now, and I highly recommend it.  Hope it doesn’t have a crap ending, like this year.  Buh bye 2016.

Thanks for stopping by!

This and That Before 2017 – A Knitting Catch Up and The Inspired by Islay Club

I’d say “my it’s been a long time,” but that’s how this blog has gone for years, I suppose.  I’ve picked a word for 2017, and I’ll talk about that later this week (yep, really, I will!), but an element of my word is consistency, so I’m going to come up with a plan for being more consistent here in this little space of mine.  Perhaps I’ll sit down on Sunday and write a bunch of short posts I schedule to publish throughout the week, or maybe I’ll commit (hint hint) to blogging twice a week.  I’m not sure yet, I’m still figuring it all out, but I do know that I don’t want to ditch the whole thing, so I’ll come up with something.

So, this week I’m going to do a series of catch up posts, just a little this and that before the new year.  First up, knitting!

In my knitting world, I finished the gigantic sweater I knit for my husband (a sweater for a 6’4″ guy is necessarily going to be gigantic, so I knew what I was getting into, but it still didn’t make it any less of a, cough, cough, slog – miles and miles of stockinette.  I’d show you a photo, but I haven’t actually taken a picture of it yet – which is strange, because he’s already worn it a couple of times, and it is his favorite of the three sweaters I’ve knit for him.  And, that, in and of itself, was a lesson learning thing.  The first two sweaters I knit for him were lovely – last year’s sweater was Guston in Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter, and a few years before that, Brooklyn Tweed’s Cobblestone, in Katmandu Aran.  Both sweaters, two me, were fab – texture and tweedy yarn.  Joe, however, really doesn’t like anything that isn’t structured, and he likes a smooth yarn, rather than a tweed.  So, this year, I let him pick the pattern (sort of, he described what he wanted, and I found it), and I let him pick the yarn.  And, now he has his fitted neck, saddle shoulder, ribbed sweater that he always wanted, Churchmouse Yarn’s Saddle Shoulder Pullover.  This pattern was frankly ridiculously expensive, but it got the job done.  My one problem was that rather than the instructions being in inches (like knit until armhole is x inches), it was knit 97 rows, or whatever.  This was done intentionally, as there’s a whole section on getting gauge, including row gauge, as well as how to add length here and there, to get a better fit.  I’m just not all that concerned with row gauge, and I like my instructions in inches.  Because I’m a lazy counter, I had to do some fudging sewing the saddle and the sleeve into place, because I didn’t have quite the same number of rows where they were supposed to be, but you would never know from looking at it, and all is good.

On the selfish knitting front, you may remember this:

This is Islay, from I think Gudrun Johnson.  I abandoned Islay because I a. ran out of yarn, and had to order more and b. it was time to knit giganto husband sweater.  When I picked it up again, I didn’t remember where I was, and of course, I hadn’t written it down.  I couldn’t figure it out, didn’t love it, decided to part ways with it, and knit something else.  So, I decided I wanted to knit this with my precious Miss Babs, Baby Cocktails’ Dirty Martini:

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You would think this would be an easy color to find a contrast – grey, maybe.  But, I tried at least a half a dozen colors, yes, I actually swatched, and hated them all.  Meh.  So, I abandoned that idea (although I still want to knit this cardigan), and waited for something to come to me.

And, what came to me, ironically enough, was the Inspired by Islay Club from Kate Davies.  Back to the Hebrides!  I signed up for the club around Thanksgiving, but the first pattern didn’t come out until the second week in December.  I couldn’t wait, and I cast on Kate’s Braid Hills, not part of the club, but still a Hebredian inspiration:

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Perfect right?  So, here’s mine, just about the same place I ripped out the other Islay:

Anyway, no offense to the first Islay, but I’m so much happier with this version of my Miss Babs.  And, this is actually a pretty good representation of the color, as opposed to the grayer photo above – it’s a really beautiful, vibrant blue green.

I have long been a Kate Davies fan.  I’ve knit Paper Dolls, and her owls sweater, and I’ve admired her yokes and her haps.  I even have a fan girl photo:

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That’s Kate and I in 2009 when she visited Philadelphia.  Of course, I look at that photo, and I see how thin I was, and think, “oh my, how did I get from there to here,” but that’s a post for another day.

Digression over.  Of course, now I’m midknit while the Inspired by Islay patterns roll out – 12 patterns over 12 weeks, and 12 newsletters filled with the most gorgeous photos of Scotland, and little history lessons to accompany each pattern.  The patterns come out on Wednesday, the newsletter on Fridays.  The newsletters also include Kate’s husband Tom’s whiskey reviews and recommendations.  Not only am I inspired to knit Islay inspired patterns, I am totally inspired to visit Scotland, and stay in a caravan and stare out over the lochs, and climb the foothills in my Islay inspired socks.  Not only do you get the 12 patterns and 12 newsletters for $36, you also get a discount code for Kate’s yarn, Buachaille.  So, for $3 a pattern, free whiskey advice and dream inspiring photos, and a coupon for  Scottish yarn, it is completely worth it.  There’s also a nice Ravelry group as well, but you can join the group without joining the club.

The first Inspired by Islay pattern is Kate’s wedding cardigan, Finlaggen:

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I think this is the pattern that I’ll order my Buachaille for – although I’m going to wait for all 12 patterns to come out before I decide.  I love the heart shaped cables, the shawl collar, and the ribbed waistline.  I’m thinking I’ll forego the pockets though.  So, this might just be the Winter of Islay, which shall hopefully not be my winter of discontent.  In any event, if you are at all a Kate Davies fan, you should definitely check out the club – it’s a bargain, it’s delightful, and it’s inspiring.

Tomorrow, a crochet catch up, and another club!

Yarning Along – It’s All Over But the Neckline

When last we left the cardigan, I was still mad at it.

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Darn you sweater for making me run out of yarn and lose my place in the chart.  Oh, and make mistakes, that made me rip out, and back and . . . whatever, I’m mad at you, into the closet you go.  I’m seriously considering ripping the whole thing out and making the sweater I originally planned to make, Dirty Martini, but Baby Cocktails.

And then I made the mitts.  But, still mad at the cardigan, I was looking to be distracted, and you know, email can do that to you.  I received an email from my LYS, suggesting I knit this, Boardwalk by Heidi Kirrmaier, from Wool People 3.

And, I said, thanks LYS, I think I will knit that.  Of course, LYS also suggested I go to said store and plunk down big bucks on Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft, but I said no thanks to that.  Maybe this is sacrilege, but I hate Loft – I’ve attempted to use it twice, and both times the twist was so weak it broke – again and again.  So, instead, I went right back to the fingering weight, Davidson’s yarn that I used for my mitts, and cast on – and one week later, I have this:

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I just love those little cap sleeves.  The true color is a bit more purple than above, but I’m in my office, and I’m not going to get a shot of the true color.  I just have to finish up the mitered neck placate and block it up, and it’ll be done!  And, we finally have the perfect weather for it.

On the reading front, I just finished Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have a Family?

 

When this book was long listed for the National Book Award and the Man Booker Prize last year I poo poo’d it – why on earth would I ever want to read something so incredibly depressing?  The premise is that a woman loses her family in a house fire on the eve of her daughter’s wedding.  Not a spoiler – it’s the springboard for this really lovely meditation on what it means to have a family, about love, and loyalty, choices, and legacy.  It’s about forgiveness and connections, compassion and humanity.  I really enjoyed it; it’s not often a novel can move me to tears, but this one did, and in a wholly genuine way, unlike last year’s other manipulative tearjerker, A Little Life.

And now, I’m reading Bruce Springsteen’s “heart-stopping, pants-dropping, race-riot-creating, oddball-hating, soul-shaking, love and fear making, heartbreaking” autobiography, and so far, which is not so far, just a couple of chapters, it’s just like going to one of his concerts – he brings you into his stories, mesmerizes you, and leaves you wanting more.  Some sentences read like pure poetry, others kind of go clankety clank, but it’s all very real, just like he is.

So, that’s it for this week!  Knit on and knit well, my friends!

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It’s All Over But the Zapping – Eclectic Beaded Crochet Jewelry

As I’ve mentioned a few times, I signed up for Robin Dudley-Howes Eclectic Beaded Crochet Jewelry months ago during an early bird special.  At the time, I had just – and I mean just, I think I got the email about this class maybe a day after I watched the other one – watched a beaded crochet video on Creativebug, but I had problems with it, and while I became intrigued with the technique, I wasn’t inspired.  The woman who taught the class did not know how to crochet – which is fine, I guess – do what works for you.  But, it was very hard for me to watch her hold the hook wrong, and pull the cord through incorrectly as well.  I hate to use the words “wrong” and “incorrect” when it comes to craft – I’m a believer in doing what works best for you, but for me, at least, it was painful to watch, mostly because she was doing it a harder way than the technically correct way, and I felt she was sending her students down the wrong path.  If you were taking the class, and wanted to actually learn how to crochet, you probably could get away with doing the weird chain stitch she was doing, but you wouldn’t be able to build on it – that would be the only stitch in your toolbox.  Someone actually posted something about it in the comments, and the Creativebug staff did jump in and say, this is not the traditional crochet method.  But, in any event, I didn’t mean for this to be a negative review of the Creativebug class, I just wanted to give a thumbs up to the Robin Dudlley-Howes class, hosted on Jeanne Oliver’s ning, which I had been anxiously awaiting, hoping it would be the class that the Creativebug one was not.  And, I was not disappointed!

The class consists of two wrap projects (one that’s a simple bracelet, and one that could either be worn as a multi-wrap bracelet or a necklace) from start to finish, as well as some extras, adding chain to your bracelet, creating a tassel, and sculpting charms from Apoxie Sculpt.  What makes this class special are primarily two things.  First, Robin teaches you how to do what she calls a bridge over the larger beads, and second, she has a really effective, three part method of securing her closures, which thankfully does not involve Super Glue.

This is the bridge –

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The top bead is the method she teaches in class, the bottom bead is my variation.  I’m not going to tell you how to do it, and reveal her secret sauce, but for an experienced crocheter, it’s easy peasy, for an ok crocheter like me it was easy, and for an inexperienced crocheter who is just learning to chain, it would take a bit of practice, and be a bit fiddly, but no more than actually what it would take to learn to chain.  Anyway, this element is such a nice touch in the finished piece – it just makes it look more polished, as you no longer have the cord showing while it’s awkwardly stretched over a large bead.  And because she films the whole process of crocheting the wrap, this technique is repeated enough times you don’t have to keep replaying the video, or slow the video down, or remember the exact tic of the video where to watch it, it’s going to come up again and again, which is great for learning.

The beads, by the way, are part of a custom made kit I bought from Robin through her Etsy shop.  This is the kit I received:

 

I told Robin the color family I was interested in (pink) and that I loved butterflies.  And here is my kit, with two butterflies!  I really appreciated the fact that she was able to go through her stash and find something that was exactly what I was looking for.  Perfect.  This kit also included the recommended hook, a Size 6 metal hook, as well as some C-Lon cord.  Mine was hot pink.  I wasn’t so into that, but you never know, I might use it.  Along with the beads and the hook, there was also a little packet of crimp beads, head pins for dangle making, and toggle closures.

How much nicer is this selection than my paper beads!  I’m so over the paper beads, now – spoiled.  I don’t think I can go back.

Anyway, after watching the videos, I got to sorting my beads:

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And arranging them how I wanted them on the cord.

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In the class, Robin doesn’t use a bead board, but (and that’s not to say she should, obviously, I just like it) she goes through her thought process in picking her beads, and how she strings them on her cord.  As she’s creating the longer wrap, there’s not a lot of skipping over steps just because they’re repetitive, and you see her crochet the entire thing over the course of several videos.  I found this really helpful; sometimes when I’m watching a speeded up video I’m disappointed – it may be boring to the teacher, having done it 50 billion times, but it’s new to me.  So, I appreciated that the whole process was there.

Then I had a choice, string up my pretty beads, and start crocheting, or wait because I didn’t have the final, necessary tool to wrap up the three part closure process, the ThreadZapper II.   Of course I couldn’t wait, and I whipped up my wrap bracelet:

At the beginning and end of the wrap, I used a vintage pearl bracelet, just by opening up the jump rings and splitting it in two.  So, I already had a ready made large jump ring on one end, and a clasp on the other.  The buttons are from my own stash, as was the Eiffel Tower charm, but the rest is from the kit.

I thought about using this rhinestone piece as a closure, but I really wanted the rhinestone bling in this one, so I used it.  You can’t see them so well in this photo, but there are these super cute pink, rhinestone rhondelles (next to the Eiffel Tower) in there too – love them.

And the butterfly!

I love it, but can’t wear it yet – not until the closure is complete.  I’ve completed steps one and two of the process, and now I just need the ThreadZapper.  Most videos that involve creating a loop, or securing a thread, or ending a bracelet like this, or perhaps a ladder bracelet like the one I posted about earlier in the week, use SuperGlue, or some kind of glue.  This does not work for me – not only do a make a mess, and end up glueing my fingers together, but it just seems to get stiff and brittle on the cord without actually securing it.  I’m not a fan of the glue, so I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of my ThreadZapper.

Of course, I’m already planning my next bracelet!  This time, I’m going to do a button closure, with that big brass button with the pink stone in the middle (photo of the kit).  There are plenty of beads left to string up at least one, maybe two more bracelets, and I have plenty of head pins in my stash to make more pearl dangles.  And, I may have ordered some beads from Etsy as well.  Yeah, I did.

Of course.

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Yarning Along, Quickly!

Holy Moly, I completed a project with yarn from circa 2007-8!!!  Now that’s a deep plunge into the stash.

Frustrated with my Islay Cardigan (recap – I ran out of yarn, bought more yarn, waited for said yarn, forgot where I was in the chart, realized I couldn’t figure out where I was because I had done the decreases for the wrong size, unknit the additional decreases, and I still had the wrong number of stitches, oy!), I decided I wanted to knit something quick quick quick and get a finished project under my belt.  Get my knitting mojo back, you know what I mean?  I feel like it’s been awhile since I finished a knit project.  So, I went looking for something small, something modest.  Every year I admire the dooable projects in Ysolde Teague’s Knitworthy e-books, patterns perfectly designed and timely released for gift knitting.  These patterns are released bi-weekly until the ebook is complete, and while from the start you can preorder the entire ebook, and get the patterns as they are released, you can’t buy the individual patterns until after the subscribers get their full ebook.  So, I usually like the first pattern, don’t want to commit to the whole book until I see the whole book, and then I forget about it.  So, when I really liked the first pattern this year, Belyse, I just decided to go for it, and I subscribed to the whole book.

So, because I needed immediate gratification, I wasn’t going to buy anything, and I started going through my stash.  Dig dig dig – and I ended up finding a nice, tweedy Rowan 4 ply Tweed, which came out sometime between 2006-2008, and is now discontinued.  For the main color, I picked this purply pink tweedy yarn from Maryland Sheep and Wool, from Davidsons.

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Unlike traditional glove patterns, Belyse starts at the fingers, not the cuffs.  Interesting.  The fingers are actually pretty ingenious – they’re knit like I-cord, and then you make a stitch from the tail, ladder it up the back, and close up the circle.  Crazy.  And then the fingers are joined to start the palm.

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Here’s the first one in progress.  Sorry about the crappy photos – I knit these through Saturday and Sunday football – not to much movement out of the blue chair.

The back (yep, with some dog butt) –

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And front (sans butt!)

I really did mean to take better photos – but I forgot.  Oops.

And of course, as soon as I finished these mitts, I saw these –

 

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OMG I love these! They’re from Ann Kingston Tup Knits (tups apparently refers to sheep mating, learn something new everyday!), and I love the mitts, the hats and the cowl – although I think all three is a bit much.  I think I’ll make the mitts and the hat and call it a sheep.

So, that’s where I am in my yarning!

And the reading!  I finally secured the digital download of Dark Matter, and read it in a day and a half.

The beginning is edge of your seat exciting, the middle starts to read like a traditional time travel novel (although its not about time travel), and then there’s a twist and bam! Gotta find out what happens!  I enjoyed it, and obviously it was quick, like my mitts.  I guess that’s the theme this week!

Back next week with probably a return to the cardigan, or the start of something tuppy!

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Still Not a Closer

As predicted, my one-handed, fast and wrong bead glazing and drying technique was a bit of a disaster – I lost a handful of beads that stuck together because they were strung too closely while they were drying.  At least it wasn’t a surprise – it was pretty darn predictable once I had it all strung up – just with only one hand, I was somewhat helpless to start all over again.

But, I did rescue enough beads to string up a ladder bracelet:

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I didn’t have any leather cord in my stash, just hemp, so I went with that.  And, I broke out the new C-Lon cord that I bought for my next up Eclectic Beaded Crochet Jewelry class.  I did taped down my button closure, did some macramé knots to get it started, and laddered on down to a finished bracelet.

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As you can see, I tacked down my loop with the same macramé stitches with which I began, and I thought my loop was secure.  Wrong.

My husband is always asking me why I don’t sell my finished objects on Etsy.  First, the only thing that I think I make that is sellable quality is my knitting, and unless I come up with my own design for a small item – like mitts or a hat, the time v. expense v. profit analysis just isn’t worth it.  If I make a shawl, I’m probably spending at least – well, let’s not guess, let me look at the last shawl I made – which was super expensive.

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I made the Spice Market Shawl with a Miss Babs gradient set, $76 (now $83 in her online store), and then I ran out of the main color, and I had to buy an additional $26 skein to finish the project.  I think the pattern cost $8 or something close to that.  So, to break even, I’d have to start pricing at $110.  Now, what would someone pay for this?

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It’s hard for me to say. My motivation for making something is rarely “I love that shawl so much I have to wear it, and it must be a part of my wardrobe,” it’s “I love that yarn, I love that pattern, I really want to knit it.”  Once it’s finished, of course, I’m happy to wear it, but I’m a process knitter, not a product knitter.  But, I’ll render a guess that someone might spend $150-$200 on this handmade item created with luxury yarn.  But is my labor only worth 50-100?  That comes to less than $10/hr.  Obviously, I didn’t log my hours knitting this, but it took more than 10.  And, I have zero motivation to knit it again.

So, the only way I’d knit to sell is if I came up with my own one of a kind small item pattern that I could crank out in a fairly short amount of time, and use 1-2 skeins of luxury yarn.

So, until that time, my only marketable craft skill just isn’t worth it to me.

What does that have to do with the beads.  Well, while I may sew a lot of things, and put together some jewelry here or there – I just don’t think my workmanship is of the sellable quality.  I have never made a piece of jewelry that hasn’t, over time of course, fallen apart in someway – with the wrap bracelets, inevitably my button or my loop comes loose.  I made a lot of these ladder bracelets a few years back, and all of them eventually came apart at the button or the loop.

When I finished this ladder bracelet, Joe asked if I could sell it, and I pondered a moment – the paper beads are inexpensive, the wrapping/laddering only takes an hour or so – and then I stopped myself.  Let’s see if this holds together.

And, it didn’t.  Even though I had macramé knotted the loop closure down, it opened up.  Sigh.

But, there is hope!

I have now watched all of Robin Dudley-Howes Eclectic Beaded Crochet class, and she has an awesome, three part method for securing her closures.  I was so happy when she admitted that before she discovered her method, her jewelry fell apart too.  I really do enjoy successful crafters and artisans sharing their fails as well as their successes.  Anyway, I’m now thinking that selling my stuff might be entirely possible.  Forget the paper beads for the most part – back to the junk jewelry beads, flea market beads, beads from broken jewelry.  And, the crochet bracelets are back in my wheelhouse – fiber, stitching – all good!  And, because I do know how to crochet beyond chaining, slip stitching, and single crochet, I’m thinking how I can add other stitches, and make bracelets that look more like my own.  Anyway, the cogs in ye old brain are turning.  But, I am so far ahead of myself.  Let’s get that bracelet closed properly first!  And, I will leave you with that, as I await my ThreadZapper II from my Amazon Prime 2 day shipping!

Back tomorrow with a Yarn Along, and a spur of the moment finished object!

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Yarn Along – Head to Head Hippos

Of course, you’ve already met my Ravellenics Hippo, and now meet the knit version, Knit Hippo!

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How cute are they? KnittyD did an excellent job with her knit hexagons and pentagons – the colors are really beautiful in person – they really sparkle like the jeweltones they are.

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As you can see, there’s quite a size difference, but I don’t think that’s the pattern so much as the yarn choices and gauge. Both are fingering weight yarn, but KnittyD knit hers on size 1 needles. I don’t remember the size of my hook, but the fabric is like the equivalent of being knit on a 3 or a 4.

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Photos don’t really do these guys justice. They are so squishy! Someone at the yarn store asked what we were going to do with them, and we just stared at her – what do you mean, what are we going to do with them? Love them, duh.

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What are we going to do with them, please.

On the current knitting front, I finally wound the Miss Babs that perfectly matched my already underway Islay cardigan.  Unfortunately, when I tried to figure out where I was in the pattern, I had no idea – totally lost.  When I had some non-t.v. quiet time to spend with my knitting and the pattern I realized that I couldn’t figure out where I was because I had knit the decreases for the wrong size, and I didn’t have enough stitches between markers.  Oospy.  So, I unknit back to the right number of stitches, and I should be able to go from there, hopefully.

On the crochet side of things, as predicted, I did run out of yarn.  I thought I had enough to get through all of the Lotus Moon Tiles, but alas, I ran short on the second to the last row.  So, I have 9/12 Tiles complete.img_2014

 

And, in a moment of success, Dark Matter finally became available from the library.

The beginning, at least, is edge of  your seat excitement.  The only reason I put it down last night is because I just had to go to sleep, I was head bobbing into my Kindle screen.

So, that’s that the fiber/reading report for the week!

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Rumors of a Bead Fail Are Greatly Exaggerated

So, when last I left you, I promised to show you my bead fail.  Ah, I had such little confidence in myself!  Shame on me!

As I’ve mentioned before, my craft pursuits are usually the result of a tiny spark that leads to a stream of seemingly unrelated ideas – for instance, photography lead to image transfers that lead to art journaling that lead to portrait painting that lead to dolls.  Of course, it wasn’t such a straight line, from photography to dolls, there was sewing and sculpting along the way too, but basically, one spark lead to another.  This past weekend, after I finished up the doll, I switched to beads.  How did I get to beads?  Crochet to crochet jewelry to this class that’s starting next week   (I’m always a sucker for an earlybird special!) to a desire not to invest in any more store bought beads.  I’ve been down that jewelry hole before, you see.  Gotten all excited about beading or wire wrapping or soldering, or whatever, and then I’ve gathered my materials, made a sizeable investment, made one thing, and that was the end.  Not again, I said to myself.  Small investment, this time.  And, I stumbled on paper beads.  I invested in 2 bead rollers (a big one and a small one) from this Etsy shop, and paper marking template from this shop.  Of course, now I’ve made a $26 investment, but I’m still not paying any money for the beads, right?  Whatever, I say to myself.

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So, I marked up my paper with my template – for Pandora like, fat beads, with a large hole in the center to place a bead core, a fancy name for an eyelet.  This, frankly, was a pain in the ass, and no fun at all.  To make these beads, you have to cut three sizes of strips – one that’s the same size on both ends, a second stip,  with one end that matches the width of the first strip, and tapers in to about half the other end, and a third strip, which matches the width of the second strip on the one end, and then tapers to a point on the end.  That’s a lot of marking, cutting and rolling.

Bleh.

And, here are the four beads I finished:

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Not quite finished, I didn’t even bother to put the cores in – I was just over them.  For four beads, I had to measure and slice up 12 strips of paper!  That adds up, my friends, and with scrapbook paper, and a rotary cutter, is zero fun.

So, I thought I was done with the beads after only 4 beads, but then I went back to the youtube drawing board, and found this video – Paper Beads 101, and it all just clicked.  I don’t need to mark my paper – I can just measure on one end, cut to a point on the other.  I don’t need to use scrapbook paper – I can use magazine paper, and it’ll fit right in my Fiskar’s paper cutter.  And, I don’t need to use multiple strips for a bead, I can just use one.

With this measureless cutting technique (well, I did measure the one end to be 1/4′ but that was more about aligning the paper on the paper cutter, than measuring), I cut cut cut away my National Geographic magazine, tossed aside the big bead roller with the 5 mm hole for the eyelets, and started rolling up beads like a machine:

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These small beads are perfect for my crochet project!

Of course, then there was the glazing.  Unfortunately, even though I burned my hand on our grill (yes, the grill handle is there for a reason – don’t touch the top – oy! so stupid), I didn’t want to waste the evening, so I strung up my beads one handed, and created a makeshift drying rack out of my quilting hoop.
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Doing this one handed was quite a feat, and probably stupid – since the beads are too close together, and the Glossy Accents will probably glue them together, and then they’ll be worthless, we’ll see when I get home!  Fast and wrong.

Anyway, if you clicked on Paper Beads 101, she makes a bracelet that takes 300 beads.  When I first watched it, thinking it was the excruciating process of the big beads, I thought, holy cow, no way, but in the span of the PSU/Pitt football game, I rolled all of the above, about 150 beads, so 300 – easy peasy.

Since I didn’t do such a good job with the glazing, I think I’m going to make a ladder bracelet with these, and then start the rolling machine going again for crochet class.

For which, by the way, between my bead fail and my bead success, I purchased the class kit – so much for not buying any more store bought beads.  Although, of course, these are special vintage beads, plus charms! And a hook! And C-Lon thread!

I should have had more faith!  Hmm, but now I have the special beads and the paper beads – win win!

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My Mini-Me

Well, she took more than a weekend, but she’s done!

I managed to paint her face – with only one or two paintovers of the eyes.  I started with arcylic paints, and then I switched to pastel pencils.  The pastels didn’t blend as well as I thought they would, and, if I make another one, I think I’ll use oil pastels with a bit of water.  The next time I’ll probably make a stencil for the eyes, too, and maybe I’ll manage to get them to look symmetrical.  Processed with Snapseed.

And here she lay for a few days while I contemplated what she was going to wear.

Processed with Snapseed.

The woman who wrote the pattern, Anya Balybina, translated two parts of her Russian language only class  into the patterns I bought, but she hasn’t yet (or may never, I don’t know) translated the parts about clothing the doll and attaching hair.  By the way, if you’re ever looking for doll tutorials, and don’t mind some awkward google translation (or if you understand Russian), this site, I think it’s called Livemaster, I’m not even sure if that’s what it’s called or that’s the closest translation,  but it has tons of tutorials you can plop into google translate.  The Russians are huge into crafting dolls.

But, googling along to Russia aside, I was left to my own devices for the finishing up.  I decided to do what I know best, and knit.  I downloaded a bunch of vintage knit Barbie clothes patterns from Etsy for a buck a piece, changed the gauge, and adjusted here and there and voila!

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Well, that’s not voila! yet.  That mess above was the crazy construction necessary to be able to get the sweater onto Barbie – the back needs to be snapped shut in order to get the clothes on and off. If I make another someday, I’ll definitely knit in the round, because I can always sew the head on after, like I did with this one.

Here’s the real voila!

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How cute is that sweater!!!  Man I hate knitting stripes though – all of those ends to weave in – sheesh!  All of that work for a doll that’s just going to sit in my craftroom.  But, the fun is in these little details, so it’s all good.

Time to sew on the head! Oh, and maybe she needs some pants.  For the pants, I just cut off a leg of one of my old jeans, traced around the doll right onto the back of the jeans, sewed up the seams, and cut it out.  Another, Voila! Jeans.

 

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For hair, I used some roving that I had leftover from a needle felting kit I never finished – I just poked it onto her head.

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And now she can take her place among the other dolls of the craft room!

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And altogether now!

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Her clothes are definitely my best effort so far – it definitely helps to work in your comfort zone. Although – it may be too close to my comfort zone – Joe says I made a mini-me.  I can see his point – my blond hair is gone, and I’m back to the dark brown, and she is wearing a handknit sweater and jeans, my fall/winter uniform.  But, that wasn’t my intent.

So, now I’m feeling like clay.  But, it’s really hot again, and I don’t know if I have the patience for it – I think that’ll wait until fall – real fall, not this faux fall with 98 degree heat.  I really want to take these classes by Adele Po, but that’s not in my budget at the moment.  Maybe my holiday present to me!  I do want to continue to paint heads, so this weekend I might just sew up a bunch of heads, and the ones I like will get a body – doll eugenics!  I think it’s an acceptable method of survival of the fittest in this case at least.  Not quite natural selection, but I’m the creator, so I’m good with it.

Have a great weekend!  Next time, I’ll show you the great bead fail!

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Yarning Along – Lost in a CAL

I am a machine.  A crochet machine.

I just keep cranking out round after round after round.  Very relaxing.  I have no idea where I’m supposed to be in the CAL, but I think I’m working at a good, steady pace – on pace to run out of yarn, again.  And that’s not to say that I’m not checking in on the CAL, and looking at everyone’s pretty pictures.  I am, and Polly has a really nice intro video every week highlighting some challenging parts of the pattern, it’s just that it’s a pretty relaxed CAL, everyone is working steadily, and I seem to be about where everyone is.  I’m just not on a timer – like the Ravellenics Hippo.  And, since it’s not a mystery, I don’t have to wait for the next part of the pattern to come out.

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I should finish the tiles without any yarn shortages, and then I’ll have to wait for a replenishment shipment to start the connecting squares and corner triangles.  But, it’s all good.  As you can see, I have plenty of ends to weave in, uch, and I also have my knitting to go back to, since my Miss Babs was a perfect match.  Plenty to do while I wait!

On the reading front, I downloaded a mystery from the library, thinking that since I was next up in the library queue for Dark Matter, I just had a bit of time to kill.  But, I’ve been next in the queue for about a month now – I think the Dark Matter borrower must have turned off their WiFi to get the book finished, because it should have been returned by now – drat!  Anyway, so I’m not reading that planned next up book, I’m reading Elizabeth George’s A Banquet of Consequences.

A Banquet of Consequences: A Lynley Novel (Inspector Lynley Book 19) by [George, Elizabeth]

It’s 19th in the Inspector Lynley series, which of course I didn’t know when I downloaded it.  I have not read the previous 18, and I usually don’t like to start a series in the middle (or at the end, as the case may be), but oh well.  So far, I haven’t encountered any historical nugget that harkens back to anything other than the ramifications of the last book on one of his fellow detectives. I’m not that far into it, it’s ok, but I just love the title.  There was a prosecutor in Pennsylvania who recently died who always closed with the defendant now sitting at the feast that he had prepared for himself – and I when I saw “banquet of consequences” I thought what a better turn of phrase.  If I were a prosecutor, I’d definitely use it – but as a defense attorney, it doesn’t quite fit.

Speaking of defense attorneys, as some of you may know, I’ve been a public defender for 20 years.  I just finished watching HBO’s The Night of, and once again, I am just horrified by the portrayal of the woman defense attorney.  Just like that show on Lifetime, where they had the Innocence Project woman lawyer taking her top off on death row to impress a client, and later hooking up with a client to kill another suspect, this defense attorney, Chandra, falls for her client, and does beyond belief things.  Why? Why? Why?  Why can’t women defense attorneys be portrayed like their male counterparts, and not sexualize their clients?  I go to work, and I’m a professional – I treat my client’s the same way the male character on the show, the John Turturro character, treats his clients – with humanity, but not anything else.  I don’t even worry about crossing the line – because the line is so far off on the horizon it’s unimaginable.  At least the show’s one fantastic lawyer, the prosecutor, is a woman, so at least there was that.  So, just my two cents.

Thanks for stopping by!

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