Saturday, May 30, 2009

Handspun Happiness

It feels so good to finally be over my knitting funk! Thanks for sticking with me when I had no desire to knit and therefore nothing much to blog about. All of the creative juices are flowing again, so I have lots of projects to share!

The one thing that really helped me get back into knitting was my handspun. My initial inspiration came from my bright and cheery 'eye candy' yarn, which I made into a little shawlette just large enough to cover my shoulders. Though I wish I had more yarn to make something larger, this little guy makes me feel really warm and happy.

And once I got started knitting with handspun, I could not get enough of those beautiful and subtle variations. So I cast on a pattern I've been wanting to make for a while now, Saartje's Bootees, with some fingering weight I made when I first started spinning. There is no baby in mind for these, but I think that the cuteness of these booties was reason enough to knit them.

I guess I am going to be sharing some spinning projects here in the future, as I need to restock my diminishing handspun stash!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My First Swap

The internet is such a big place that you are bound to run into someone who shares your interests. For me, that small corner of the net is the Harry Potter House Cup on Ravelry, amongst other groups that I take part in there. And now, I can add the Reducio Swap group to that list!

The Reducio Swap is a Harry Potter-themed swap of very small items, including a mini-sock (hence 'reducio') and a Herbology item. It seemed like just the budget-friendly/friendly people kind of thing for me to try out as my very first swap. And I was not disappointed!

I received my little swap package from Ms. Madrigal Fairden, who also happens to live in Madison! Her mini-sock skills were impressive and I was delighted to receive some mistletoe for Herbology (she assured me it was nargle-free when it left her house). It was a wonderful little package and I'm glad to know another knitter in Madison.

And since this was a swap, I sent a little package to Ms. Minerva Pigwidgeon down in Florida. I had a lot of fun putting everything together and knitting up the mini-sock. But perhaps I am most proud of the Herbology item--a Guide to Rare Wand Trees. I cut felt in the shapes of Elder, Holly, Hawthorne, and Yew leaves, each representing a wand that Harry comes into 'possession' of during the series: Dumbledore's, his own, Draco's, and Voldemort's, respectively. Not only was the crafting fun, but it made me happy in a really geeky way.

So, the first swap was a very good experience and I'm thinking about signing up for the next round of Reducio!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wait! Just There! Did You See It?

It was here just a second ago. Maybe it's hidden under this huge pile of work on my desk. Ah, yes! There it is--my knitting mojo.

My mojo came back to me last week at a moment when I was feeling pretty tired and bleak, right in the middle of working 12 straight days. Suddenly, I had a craving for something warm and cheery. Remembering some bright yarn I spun last January, I cast on for a triangular shawl-ish object. I have no pattern and no idea how big it will be (or how I'm going to wear it for that matter), but I don't care because it makes me happy.

Also helping on the inspiration front are two awesome books that came into my possession recently, courtesy of my mother and my mother-in-law. My mother gave me a copy of The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin. So far I have read the background on the different types of fiber (protein, cellulose, and manufactured), which is written in enough detail to let you understand the processing and the structure/characteristics of the fiber, without being overwhelming. The author also gets bonus points for her detailed table on identifying fibers by burn test. I'm not even to the chapters on spinning and I can already tell this is a great book.

The other book I'm drooling over at the moment is Martha Stewart's new Encyclopedia of Crafts. Kudos to my mother-in-law for knowing how much I would enjoy having a copy. I've skimmed through the book's wide range of covered crafts, from etching glass, to making wreaths, to crepe paper flowers, and making candles, and found many new things that I want to try out (and a few old ones from her magazine or website). There is not a lot of fiber content here--no knitting or crocheting and minimal sewing--but it still provides plenty of inspiration to craft. Which is exactly what I need right now.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

An Invasion of Faeries

One of my favorite movies when I was a kid was Labyrinth. Between David Bowie's awesome hair and the fantastical creatures that lived in the Labyrinth, how can any child of the 80's not love it? It is the only movie that I still own in VHS form, and, even though I no longer have a tape player, I'm not giving it up anytime soon.

So it was much to my delight when I discovered Brian Froud, the artist who created many of the creatures from the Labyrinth and the Dark Crystal, last week. I immediately took two of his books, Faeries and Good Faeries Bad Faeries, out of the library. Now I'm seeing faeries everywhere!

It probably doesn't help that I've read a few tales from Faery recently, like Neil Gaiman's Stardust and The Ladies of Grace Adieu*. Without my realizing it, the faeries have crept into my literature, and I'm now convinced that one has taken up residence in my lab equipment at work.

The one place that the faeries appear not to have infiltrated is my knitting. While this can be a blessing, as faeries are known to delight in mischief, some of the more friendly faeries have been know to be muses for artists. I'm hoping that one of the latter will decide my yarn stash would make a nice home. So while I wait for my knitting inspiration to show up, I think I'll see if my library has any more of Froud's books to enjoy.

*Not Martha tipped me off to this book and I highly recommend this collection of extremely charming short stories.