Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Knitspiration (or Lack Thereof)

I have no inspiration to knit at the moment. The only project on my needles, a fair isle sweater, is currently languishing in a corner and I am lacking desire to start anything new. We all got through periods like this and I think it's helpful to be honest about these natural lulls. So the question is, what does one do when her knitting inspiration is gone?

First, I find it helpful not to force things. If I don't feel like knitting, then I don't knit. Instead, I play with my other craft supplies. I pull out craft books that I haven't perused in a while and go through my craft supplies to see what looks interesting. There's usually no plan or goal in mind, I just pick up whatever strikes my fancy.

I also like to whip out small projects when I'm feeling uninspired. Small projects are great because you get the joy of creating something without the large devotion of time and effort. Small projects feel more like trying things out and play, which is exactly what I need to make crafting feel enjoyable and fun again.

Lulls in knitting inspiration can be hard to deal with, but they are also opportunities to branch out and try new things. They're a chance to remind myself about all the other crafts that I enjoy doing. Taking a little break from knitting and playing with other things is usually the best cure for being excited about knitting when I pick my needles up again.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Try Then Improve

One thing that I love about knitting is the ability to try then improve at challenging techniques like fair isle, lace, or pattern designing. But I realized that this love of a challenge also extends to my other hobbies of sewing and baking. A good example of this is my recent endeavors to make homemade crumpets, marshmallows, and macarons (shown here).

Marshmallows are surprisingly the easiest of the three to make while macarons are the fussiest (there are thankfully blog posts and YouTube videos dedicated to getting these cookies just right). Crumpets, on the other hand, are the baked good I'm still trying to improve upon. It's not that my crumpets taste bad, but I'm still in search of a recipe that will yields those lovely holes for soaking up butter and jam. Definitely a case of try then improve.

You know, I think this theme of 'try then improve' should be my motto for tackling life in general. And if I get tasty-but-imperfect crumpets or warm-but-imperfect knitwear out of it, so much the better.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Geek Dog

A friend of mine sent me an interesting request a few weeks ago: could I create a dog collar with the Balmer series on it? My friend, a chemist, had just got a new dog and wanted to deck him out in something geeky. Always up for a nerdy challenge, I considered the best way to install the hydrogen emission spectrum on a small dog collar.

I thought of several options for putting an emission spectrum on a collar, including fabric paint and machine sewing, but eventually settled on using embroidery floss. The floss would make the lines stand out more than simply sewing back and forth over the collar and I won't have to worry about the pup ingesting paint. The hardest part was actually picking colors of floss to match the emission lines!

Part of the reason my friend asked me to do this project was because I'm anal-retentive detail-oriented about spectra being correct. I had to calculate the scale of the collar in nanometers per inch and then where, in inches, this would place each of the lines. It isn't perfect, but it's pretty darn close.

For each line, I used 3 strands of floss and went over the line 1 to 3 times, depending on its relative spectral intensity. Hopefully this embroidery stands up to the exuberance of a puppy.

I'm really happy with how this project turned out and I hope my friend (and his dog) also like it. It was an interesting challenge and a different project from the ones I normally craft.