Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Simple Gifts

It's starting to be that time of the year again, when I think about cheer and gifts and the like. The time of the year when it gets more difficult to talk about my knitting because inevitably it's destined to be given to someone who reads this blog. But today's post is less about all that worry and more about the joy of giving and receiving.

First of all, no post on gifts would be complete without mentioning the beautiful skein of yarn I recently received from my knitting pal DrChopSuey. I'm amazed by her thoughtfulness, especially as she gave me the yarn in the midst of a busy semester and about a week before she eloped! So congrats to her and her now-hubby, and thanks for the lovely skein and introducing me to the Frontier Fiber Mill!

I was able to balance the yarn karma this week by gifting away some of my handspun as part of a swap between the seven-term members of the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup on Ravelry. You know, as much as I am ambivalent about swaps, I really liked spindling up this yarn in my partner's favorite color and putting together a little package of goodies for her. Perhaps I'll think about doing another swap after the holidays are over.

Last up is a little item that is actually intended for holiday gifts: this awesome globe fabric from SpoonFlower. I found this project idea through the Craftzine Blog (which is always an amazing source of crafty ideas and inspiration) and I thought that some of the little people in my family would love to get plush globes for Christmas. Between these and my 'PhD quilt', I have a lot of sewing to look forward to!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cleaning House

As I start to generate ideas for new and interesting content for my blog, I feel the need to clean house a bit and update you on what is currently on the needles. I'm the kind of person who likes to put a definitive checkmark next to items on my to-do list, so it's been hard for me to organize my new ideas while my current projects are only half-finished. Writing this blog post has really helped me define the big items that need to be finished before I can start new projects.

The first project on the to-finish list is spinning 1.5 pounds of Corriedale/Mohair fleece my mother gifted to me in May. Thus far, I've spun up over a pound of this fiber in to 6 skeins of 2-ply, sport-weight yarn. My current total is about 1350 yards and I'm hoping end up with enough yarn to make a Cria sweater from Ysolda's upcoming pattern book.

The other project that I'd like to get off the needles is a Swallowtail Shawl. Goodness knows why I thought it was a good idea to cast on a lace shawl so soon after finishing the monster-shawl-of-doom, but at least the Swallowtail pattern is easier and I'm not using lace-weight. Still, I'm having a hard time finding the motivation to work on this project, which I strongly suspect is because this yarn sheds worse than anything.

Now that I've put a voice to my shedding concerns, it makes me wonder how badly the finished object will shed after I block the shawl out. If I weren't so afraid of getting Mohair everywhere, coupled with the fact that I'm not sure I would ever use this yarn again, I would frog the whole thing. So yeah, perhaps I should focus on my spinning this week while I figure out what to do with this fuzzy little problem.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sleep Sleep

I've been sleeping easier recently. A lot of this is because my PhD thesis defense is done and all of my paperwork is submitted to the grad school. The other reason I'm sleeping better is that I found a way to deal with my neighbor's porchlight being just outside my bedroom window--an eye mask. Crafting to the rescue again!

This particular eye mask was made using a combination of hand-sewing, felt-work, embroidery, and a crochet motif from Crochet Adorned. I really love to do projects that combine multiple crafts as they utilize lots of supplies from the stash (so I can tell my husband that yes, I really do use all that stuff) and always make me feel like a crafty superstar for being proficient at multiple crafting techniques.

The other benefit of using so many different crafting techniques in one project is that it excersizes my creativity. Now that grad school is officially over and I'm working more normal hours, I am so ready to be a more creative and balanced individual. Hopefully my creative exercises will translate into some interesting blog posts in the future!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Knitting Around Town

My hometown of Madison, WI is a pretty cool place. Located on an isthmus between two lakes, it's a small city with all of the big-city amenities. Nowhere else can you ride your bike to the country's largest farmers' market in the morning, watch a sailboat race in the afternoon, and end the night by enjoying some of the finest locally-made beer and cheese curds. Oh, and I should mention the knitting.

Madison has a HUGE local knitters' guild, but as I've mentioned that in a previous post, I want to show off some really neat knitting that I've seen recently around town. The first is the bus-shelter cozy which was created by the UW School of Human Ecology. It's located on State Street, just a few blocks from the capital, and I know that its bright colors must be turning lots of heads. Personally, I think that such a unique knitting project in a high-traffic area is a great idea!

The other knitting I espied was at the new Madison Children's Museum, which I took my family and in-laws to when they were in town for my PhD defense. The second-story wall of the museum is home to this neat knitted tandem bike. There is obviously a bike frame under there but almost all of its surfaces are covered in wool. It makes me wonder what I could do with the tandem bike hubby and I ride.

Finally, though it's not knitting-related, I want to put in a good word for the local fabric shop Stitcher's Crossing. I'm really excited about my 'PhD quilt' idea and just purchased a bunch of cute fabric from this shop (almost everything in the photo is from this shop except for the fabric at the middle left and in the upper-left corner). I can't wait to start cutting and sewing!