Friday, August 31, 2012

Anatomy and Physiology in Alpaca and Polyester

Again, I'm guilty of blog negligence.  Part of the reason is that I'm back attending courses at a local community college.  By some miracle I was able to get into a General Human Anatomy course; mostly because the professor prides herself on being challenging, and not for those faint of heart (nyuck nyuck anatomy pun).  During lecture and lab, I confess, I found myself daydreaming about some projects I had seen that kept springing to mind.

First, there is an amazing knitted replica of the human brain.  Along with being quirky and colorful, it's also anatomically correct.  If you're interested in this creation by Karen Norberg, check out this Scientific American article.

Another favorite of mine was originally introduced to me while reading Interweave Knits Summer 2011 magazine.  Even down to the teeth, this entire skeleton was knitted by artist Ben Cuevas.  Now, I wouldn't mind studying this anatomical model.  Check out his blog if you want to know more about him or his other anatomical knits.

Curious about knitting your own digestive system?  Don't worry about it being uncharted territory; Matie Trewe has gone to the effort to write down the pattern.  Although the blog has "expired"  you can still get it via the Way Back Machine by clicking here.

The next anatomical knit is by Emily Stoneking, and I fear that she may not make it to regresty's page only due to talent.   Then again if she is featured, it will probably be in the same warm fuzzy light that was shed on a review of Ben Cuevas's work.  Her work, entitled Biology 101, has me longing to watch prosections of knitting creatures (even if he does kinda remind me of Kermit).

Friday, July 6, 2012

Welcome to California


I’ve been mulling over this blog post for weeks.  What to say, how to say it, of course how much is enough how much is too much?  Oh well, let’s just get into it.

I’m back in California!  This is comfortable in some ways; certainly familiar.  It’s about 69 degrees out this morning (around 11am); while in Illinois it’s supposedly 96 plus humidity.  Personally, I will not miss the wet heat.  Swimming to your car and weather that mimics a steam room?  Thanks, I’ll pass.

Squirrel friend in Mount Prospect does not like the heat either.
Living with Daniel was amazing and we had a really good run.  There are oodles of things I’m going to miss, but ya know, life goes on.

I do highly recommend the soul searching you can do while driving alone from the Chicago area to Southern California.  It’s sort of like the meditation you can do while knitting.  Your hands and eyes are busy, but your mind can wander to things you need to deal with.  It’s also nice to know that you have loved ones waiting for you.

After two full days of driving I ended up visiting Kevin, his mom and Sam in the Reno area.  Sort of fabulous the kind of healing you can do while getting sunburned and saddle-sore from trail rides.  Also, it was a wonderful chance to foist off some knitted items on them before continuing down to familiar territory. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Veil of Isis - Part II

Aeris's annoy-o-meter
Battle of the bips
Giving Kevin’s mom a lacy tablecloth made using thin crochet thread and the Veil of Isis pattern wasn’t happening.  I had forgotten that the table tends to feature into the epic skirmishes between Aeris (the tubby Tuxedo wearing boy) and B√ľndchen (the feline femme whose namesake is apparent in her hallway runway strut as well as when she poses reclining in a sunbeam).  These battlefield pictures were taken by Kevin recently.  In the first one you can clearly see Aeris’s “annoy-o-meter” (aka tail) swishing back and forth so fast that it is blurred.  The cold war stare-down quickly escalates into a volley of paw batting, with both attempting to “bip” the other.  From the second picture you can witness the speed of this exchange.  I imagine that they’re not only sparring for supremacy in the house, but also “bipping” and beating boredom.


Oops… Less on kitties, more on knitting; right, getting back on track.  As I progressed through the pattern, I became even more enamored with the project.  I liked the weight of the cotton thread while still being airy from the lace pattern.  For some reason I was extraordinarily pleased with it, regardless of the fact I had no idea of what to do with it once finished.  As the Veil of Isis became larger and larger I did have one point of anxiety, beads.  The pattern calls for using beads, and after seeing pictures, I agreed that it was a beautiful accent especially in this case.  It’s a shame I know next to nothing about beads.  I figured I had a while to mull things over and do research since I planned on using them only in the border.


Delving into the odd crafting area where beading and knitting intersect was a little intimidating.  Ultimately I got the most out of the free webzine/e-zine Knitty’s article Seduced by Beads.  Sivia Harding, the author of this instructional gem, lays out the abcs of beads, sizes and what weights of yarn, as well as how to incorporate the beads.  Armed with a general idea of what to look for I ended up purchasing some *cough cough* inexpensive seed beads (size E – or 6/0) to use on my size 10 crochet thread).   I attached the beads using  a ridiculously tiny crochet needle (which looked more like a sewing needle that had a funky bump at the tip)that to my delight and surprise worked amazingly well.


Since I had worked from the center outwards binding off was a much longer process than usual.  Still while binding off, I couldn’t resist occasionally spreading out the finished areas of the Veil of Isis to admire it.  After the knitting was complete and all the ends were woven in, I gave initial blocking the good ol’ college try (I don’t have any foam boards/large cardboard).  I just pinned it out on the floor and figured that it’d be good enough considering I still have no plans for the finished project.  That being said, I’m still oddly pleased and proud of it.



Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Veil of Isis - Part I


Passing another knitting milestone, I recently finished my first major lace weight project.  People that know me can vouch that I have a hard time resisting a screaming deal.  That little quirk, coupled with my insatiable greed for yarn, led to a purchase of yet more yarn that I had no specific project in mind for.  Oh, and it wasn’t just a little bit of yarn.  This goliath ball of “Aunt Lydia’s Crochet Thread” (Jumbo I think they called it), advertises that it is over 1.5 miles long.  Now that, ladies and gents, is yarn gluttony.

After sitting in the corner for untold months it’s time had finally come.  For some reason my brain and fingers were itching to create something with it; but what?  After perusing finished projects using this yarn on Ravelry, I was struck by all the crocheted tablecloths.  Nostalgia had kicked in hardcore.  Growing up my mother had a few very special white lace tablecloths.  I have a hard time thinking about them and not having my mind immediately jump to the memories of pancakes and weekend mornings.  At that point it was just a matter of finding the right pattern.  Looking for a square pattern, and one that was knitted and not crocheted, oh yeah, and free was a bit of a tall order.  Yet lovely Ravelry came through again with their advanced search functions… have I mentioned recently how much I love Ravelry?  What a great marriage of programming and knitting/crocheting it is?  Anyway, what came up was the gorgeous pattern “Veil of Isis” by Andrea Jurgrau of Bad Cat Designs (gotta love the name).

Worked from the center outward it seemed to be a perfect combination of easy but not boring.  Well, easy after you get the idea of how the charts proceed (tip:  chart on page six was irreplaceable for understanding it).  Still, juggling my eensy weensy size 2 knitting needles and the thread wasn’t the easiest start.  I must say that the phrase “ham fisted” occurred to me at alarming frequency during the beginning rounds.  Once the project became large enough to put on circular needles and I had my “Eureka” moment about the pattern, it was a joy to work.  The audiobooks helped me eat through the rows and rows of delicate lace.


Confession:   I started out with the intention of giving the finished product to Kevin’s mother, Kathy.  She’s so colorful, welcoming, encouraging, feisty and sassy.  She also appreciates handcrafted items more than anyone else I know, which makes her a target for my endeavors in yarn.  When I’ve visited her, she’s served me a number of luscious homemade meals at this square table full of character and warmth.

While I recalled that it was square, I wasn’t sure exactly how large it was.  No worries, I was working it from the center outward.  In the meantime I asked Kevin to be my spy.  His mission was to measure the table and take a few pictures without her knowing.    Around the time the Veil of Isis was large enough to transition from double pointed needles to the circular, I received the pictures.  At that point I realized that I had overlooked not just one, but two problems.  You think I would have been smart enough to see the foreshadowing the blog name gave me.

Speaking of blogging; I'm registering with Technorati - CF9VJ66EXF93

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Can we get there from here?

I have a problem.  I've been commissioned to do a baby project for a brand new person that's scheduled to join humanity sometimes this summer... in southern California.  Knitting doesn't quite lend itself to crafting summer things as well as it does to warm winter snugglies.  Added to that is my personal inexperience with infants.  Booties are adorable, but really impractical, causing most mommies to forgo those little accessories.  Oh, and the parents are choosing to wait until the birth to find out the gender.

So, let me ask the question to any readers willing to comment; any suggestions for cool (denotative cool... not cool as in "cool beans") knit/crochet baby items? 

Friday, May 11, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things


The Midwest thunderstorms are nothing to sneeze at, and I can finally understand why the Von Trapp kids were bolting to Maria’s beside.  While whiskers on kittens definitely calm me, I also have a few items that didn’t quite make it into that musical number:

My ball winder – how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways… you make me cakes; and yarn cakes are far less fattening than the red velvet kind.  Since they’re center pull I don’t have to worry about balls of yarn bouncing all over the apartment.  You’ve saved me countless hours by keeping my skeins untangled and organized.  The delicate wing nut which allows you to clamp to tables of so many widths; and your rubber foot caresses and keeps surfaces pristine.

Interchangeable circular needles – Your bright colors make my heart smile.  Flexible, adaptable; oh, if only people could be more like you!  Tucked away neatly in your case, I know you’re there waiting for me, ready to morph needle size so that my hat brims remain snug and the crown comfortable.  With your end caps and extenders, you make it so easy to knit a blanket in one fell swoop, instead of panel after panel with endless joining.

My mountains of bamboo dpns - I love the way you cling to my yarn, easing my anxiety of dropping stitches.  Be it socks, gloves or finishing a hat, you tempt me to make tubes, for feet, fingers, hands and heads.  Bringing stitches back and forth, thank you for being an ever ready cable needle of just the right size.  

Row Counters – You who watch over my project, who keep me focused and sane.  I admire how you gently guide me back into place after I’ve dealt with the mundane interruptions of life.   You congratulate me on every accomplished row by singing “click”, and tempt me to finish the perpetual "one more".

Magnetic Chart Keeper – so long did I lust after you.  Finally, this December you came into my life.  The attraction I feel to you is not just because of your magnetism; though I do appreciate not having to mar my patterns with holes or marks.   Propped open you handsomely display my complicated rows in elegant simplicity.  Closed, you keep my pattern safe in my knitting bag, with my place marked and ready whenever I am ready for more. 


Thursday, April 19, 2012

We're ready! Now what?

I don't know if I can accurately describe how much courage it took yesterday for me to cut off dangling ends of yarn.  It's ridiculous, but it meant being finally done with my Hobbes project.  I've been done with the individual pieces for months now; but whenever I finished sewing on an ear I immediately looked at it, and unsatisfied, I'd rip out the stitches.  To give you an idea of how long Hobbes has been on my slab in Frankenstien-esque parts, here's a blog post from early August when we began our little journey together.

Calvin would be ashamed of me.  Probably more accurately he'd be hovering near my elbow peering over my shoulder fretting that I wasn't working quick enough.  Then again, Calvin would probably relish his Franken-Hobbes while pretending to be a Mad Scientist.  Alas, I digress.  Hobbes came together while I was visiting California last month, not surprising considering he was the only project with me.

I'm afraid that this horrific neglect will continue, and may even get worse now that the tiger's all put together.  Daniel asked me yesterday what I was going to do with him now that he was done.  Honestly, I don't know.  I no longer have space adventures, go back in time or even play my own version of Calvin ball.  The kind of magic required to spark life into my little FrankenHobbes disappeared before I was 12.  Somewhere out there, Spaceman Spiff is exploring the universe, laughing in the face of peril, and missing a side kick who can be his best friend.  Where are you Calvin?

Thanks again to Sukigirl for providing a pattern to all us Waterson fans.  Thank you for making my first amigurumi project something so memorable (and good to learn on).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lana's Waves

The original from 2009
This is long overdue.  To give you an idea of how long overdue it is, I made the first incarnation of Lana's Waves in the summer of 2009.  If you're feeling curious, you can see my original blog post here.


So, after all this time, what was the catalyst for writing down the pattern (and adding a small touch or two)?  Well, in short, it's Kate.  I'm not sure if there's a quick way of saying how we're related, but she's my cousin Lori's daughter (Lana's granddaughter).  Barely into her teens, it's still pretty obvious that salt water runs in her veins; not surprising considering how much her family loves the ocean.  Already a seasoned traveler, Kate has been to the Galapagos Islands ( you know that place that "was inspiration for Charles Darwin's Theory on Natural Selection"- from wikitravel).

The new one for Kate
Man, impressing a teen is hard enough; but one a passport stamp like that?  Forget about it!  Or so I thought.  Imagine my surprise, my glee when she emailed saying "I was at her house one day and noticed the quilt/blanket you knitted her. I fell in love with it. My mom told me that you were trying to earn money."  Damn, not only was she impressed, she was impressed enough for a commission!  So, while making this project for Kate, I took the time to write it down so that others can make it if they wish.  Anyway, here's the pattern for Lana's Waves (pdf format, thank you google docs).  Please email me at daniaerickson@gmail.com if you have any questions or find mistakes in the pattern.


* All rights to the design and pattern "Lana's Waves" are protected by copyright.  Dania Erickson 2012.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Something this warm and fuzzy only comes around once every leap year... or maybe light year (or maybe I'm full of it)

Daniel has an interesting sense of humor.  He loves shows where the characters are ordinary Joes, but with some really odd personal quirk (you know, just like real life).  Watch how these seemingly normal ridiculous people behave with each other and for him hilarity ensues.  Examples?  He likes watching The Office, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock (ok, the characters there are more exaggerated), Modern Family, and now recently Bored to Death.

A recurring character on Bored to Death is Louis Green, played by John Hodgman; and it's him that I want to talk about, not the stars of the show (Jason Schwartzman, Zack Galifianakas, or Ted Danson).  One evening, while watching Bored to Death, and Hodgman's character walked on screen, Daniel paused it and asked me if I had ever seen the Ted Talk that Hodgman did.  Sidenote:  Ted Talks are amazing and inspiring; they achieve their goal of spreading ideas that deserve far more promotion than something like Jersey Shore gets.  Anyway, if you have a little over 16 and a half minutes, it's well worth your time.  Expect some laughs, a discussion of aliens and love.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Earning a living

I've started and deleted this post at least five times.  I'd like to talk about what I'm doing to try to gain some financial self sufficiency, but in reading what I've written it just seems to sound whiny or like I'm coming to the reader hat in hand.  With the intent of being matter of fact or maybe with a dose of humor, here goes:

Sooooooo, I've recently added some goodies to my blog here.  While it's all well and good to offer knitting services; it might not be the savviest move to offer them on a knitting blog.  Heh, most of the people visiting here can make it for themselves, right?  I'm still getting commissions from friends and family (... I have no idea what I'd do without you guys and the warm fuzzies you give); but the term "market saturation" seems to come up (also, I have the hardest time trying to quote prices... even at $3.00 per hour + material costs, I feel like I'm asking too much).  What to do...what to do...  Adapt or die?  Diversify?

Also I've started working on my Amazon Associate's store.  Basically if you purchase something through amazon that I've linked, in theory there is a teeny tiny percentage that they think of as commission.  Were considering getting a book anyway?  If nothing else, if you like some of the books I've put up; you may enjoy some of my other recommendations.

Alright, I officially feel like a sell out.  Sorry folks.  On that note, let me enchant and horrify you with the following (particularly effective if you grew up in the 80's):

Oh, one last thing... if you go to Black Acre Brewing Co.'s site and say that you're NOT 21, you'll get directed to a full screen version of the above video.   

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cheescake and Contortionists - surprisingly good together

Celebrating Valentine's Day on the 14th is completely overrated.  Think about it:  the crowds, the waiting, all couples wanting to do the same "special occasion" at the same time?  Nuts to that!  Instead, my boyfriend and I spoil ourselves by having two Valentine's Days.  The going out portion, that the majority of people set aside for the 14th was what we did last night.  Dinner and a show, sounds anticlimactic, but it was wonderful!  First we went to the Cheesecake Factory and dined our way through a generous gift card from my mother (Thanks ma!).  After dinner we shared a slice of their raspberry lemon cheesecake.  Amazing.  Utterly wonderful.  I gasped and my toes curled while we shared it (I do apologize to the other diners if this made them feel uncomfortable).  So, I found a picture of this amazing creation, but it looks like the "before" picture on an advertisement.  What we were presented with was the delictible dessert, but it had raspberry sauce over the top and pooled on the sides, and topped with an obscene amount of whipped cream.  Can I point out how rare a thing it is to find something that looks far better when it's put in front of you instead of the picture representation?  Kudos Cheescake Factory, well done.

Next we went on to see Cirque Du Soleil's production, Quidam.  Just as you'd suspect, it's beautiful with breathtaking feats; and like all of Cirque Du Soleil's shows, there is a vague storyline.  The touch of narrative is mostly in the form of a few characters that sort of act as the on stage audience; but by far most of the sensations you feel comes from the music.  Silly one moment, dramatic the next; the only thing that you can count on from the music is that it adds this indispensable element of emotion to these athletic feats.  When you're watching the shows live, it's almost like you're invested in them; experiencing them.  Oh, dear lord I sound pretentious.

The Clown Character
Favorite part of the show?  Ok, don't hate me for it, but the panto mime.  Now it's not some guy trying to get out of a glass box or juggling invisible balls.  The guy doing these skits in the show pulls people out from the audience on stage with him.  In the beginning of his first skit, he's obviously getting ready for a date.   A lovely romantic evening with an unsuspecting young woman from the audience.  In playing along and trying to understand from his motions what he wants her to do, she invariable makes some comical mistakes.  In the mime's second act, he's a director and pulls four people from the audience.  One to be the leading man, one for the leading lady, one to be the scorned lover, and of course, that one guy that comes along with the clapboard... since doing it in one take would leave far less room for hilarity.  Disclaimer:  While this was my favorite act, perhaps due to it's presence, Quidam might not be best suited to children.  I read some of the negative reviews on Cirque Du Soleil's site and audience members were less than thrilled at the subtle drug references and sexual innuendos; you know, the things I found hilarious.

Now, the favorite part of the evening?  Having my best friend/boyfriend with me.  Daniel's an amazing guy, and I'm delighted to have my second Valentine's day with him (heh, last year we celebrated in World of Warcraft... since we hadn't even met yet).  It's great to be making memories with him, and I'm looking forward to the 14th where we can have our own private Valentine's day, maybe just a picnic on the floor of the apartment (it's rather chilly here in Chicago).

Interested in the show?  The links below are to the dvd and soundtrack of Quidam.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wanted: Good Books

Lately as I've been knitting I've been busy reading, or rather listening.  My hands are busy, and I find comfort in the repetitive motions of looping the yarn over needles.  But due to my recent blues I haven't been feeling up for knitting that I'd term challenging, whether it's attention to the pattern or if it's learning a new technique.  The only problem is boredom and the obnoxious depressing thoughts that run away with my train of thoughts at those times.  At a certain point you stop feeling like you're a monk in a zen-like experience and begin to catch yourself in a slack jawed drooling imitation of a machine.

For a while I would watch *cough cough listen cough cough* to Netflix.  Note:  Action movies are horrible to knit to, most of the plot is visually conveyed, and thus not the best choice for me to click my needles to (although when it's really tense I typically knit faster in anxiety).  Most of the time things like Law and Order fit the bill pretty well; but sitting in front of a computer all day isn't very good for soaking up some sunshine and getting vitamin D.

This lead me to the local library where I ventured up to the information desk and inquired about audio books.  An enthusiastic librarian showed me the shelves of CDs filled, and then hurriedly showed me something new that they had been experimenting with.  Proudly she opened up something that looked like a VHS tape case that contained a mini MP3 player with an audio book on it.  They're self contained books, all you need are headphones (and if you don't have your own you can get some from the front desk too).  It saves your place when you pause it, and with it being so light you can take it anywhere.

Using these cute little MP3 audiobooks, I've knit my way through Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen, The Hypnotist: A Novel by Lars Kepler,The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger, and The Last Child by John Hart.  I'm looking forward to adding a few more titles to this list. Oh, and considering I'm working on knitting a blanket, I might get those audiobooks under my belt sooner than I would expect.  That being said, I'm usually not sure of what I'm checking out from the library, other than it's usually fiction and a mystery.  Any recommendations?  Pretty please leave a comment with the title!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Perfectly good enough

At least it's done.  This is the idea I should focus on considering that I'm a perfectionist.  I suppose being a perfectionist might be a good thing if I had more motivation; but, as it stands now, if I don't think I can do something perfectly, I won't even try.  Now, this is absolutely no way to live a life.  That being said, being any different seems to be just this side of impossible.  What can I say?  When I try to do something, "good enough" I usually end up feeling like a failure.  Like the Frondly Yours pattern.  People have been kind enough to correct me on the number of errors I made while writing the pattern.  Stitches left entirely unmentioned, or given the wrong number for repeats.  I wasn't sure about publishing it when I did, and probably should have waited until I completed it once more; but I had been sitting on it for months, shouldn't it have been at least good enough by now if not perfect?

Then there's the other side of the coin.  This week I've been over watching Daniel's sisters.  Remember the heirloom blanket I was asked to mend from my post 'Out with the Old'?  Well, I found the pattern; and if you're interested in making one like it, it's available for free on Paton's website, though you do have to register with their site.  Anyway, after much hemming and hawing, and a bit of swatching, I got out some matching yarn and gave it a go.  It was surprising how little that hole actually took.  I had to recreate a few stitches and one popcorn with the new yarn, but it was mostly just figuring out what stitch came from what row.  Don't get me wrong, it's not like the end result is flawless, far from it; but unless you're looking for it, the mending isn't blatantly apparent.  Despite my perfectionist streak, I'm actually kind of happy with the way it turned out.  It's not gorgeous, but this time I'm more than satisfied with good enough.
 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Frondly Yours, now Charted territory

Remember how I mentioned my nervousness on publishing the "Frondly Yours" pattern?  Everytime I looked at  the long lines of knitting abbreviations I felt my anxiety steadily increase.  It's rather silly, but I like this pattern and want it to be accessible to anyone that wants to try it.  I imagine that for knitters that are more visually inclined, this chart method will be easier.  Click here for a link to the pdf version of "Frondly Yours Lace Chart".  Want the longer version that's written out instead of charted?  It's still available here.

Oh, now would be a good time for me to publicly acknowledge that my boyfriend is all sorts of wonderful.  Why you ask?  Geez, put down those knitting needles and I'll tell you!  Well, although it looked like Wingdings, dear Daniel downloaded the knitting font and set it up for me.  I loved the point at which he turned to me and asked hesitantly, "do these symbols mean anything to you?"  Oh, if you're curious, we ended up using Aire River Knitting Font, which we selected after looking at some of the other options mentioned in this knitty article.

As always, if you find a mistake, please please email me at daniaerickson@gmail.com. (updated 1/17/12 at 12:10 pst)

**All rights to the design and pattern "Frondly Yours" are protected by copyright. Dania Erickson 2012.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Frondly Yours

People that know me shouldn't be surprised the pun.  Yes, it's groan worthy, and I'm almost sorry.  Still, the look of pained resignation and anguish from my boyfriend when I suggested the name really decided it for me.

I confess that this time I'm really having mixed feelings about publishing this.  I've been tinkering with it since October, when I realized how completely impractical "Secretive Storms" was for Southern California.  I've knitted it up four times already, making subtle adjustments.  For some reason I'm having a huge case of the blogger's version of stage fright; so I'm hoping you'll be as understanding as parents at a toddler's ballet recital.

Click here for a link to a pdf of the pattern: Frondly Yours*.  I hope you enjoy making and wearing this hat that can be somewhere between a beanie and a beret.  As with my other patterns that I offer for free, please do not directly repost the pattern.  I ask instead that you link people to this blog post; watching the number of page views increase is one of the biggest warm fuzzies I have.  And if you like the pattern, cough cough... it wouldn't hurt my feelings at all if you clicked on a link; unfortunately, it's one of my only sources of income these days.  Also, if you find any issues with the pattern, please email me at daniaerickson@gmail.com and I'll fix it.  

If you're wondering about the lovely model in the pictures, it's my dear friend Lexi.  She was kind enough not only to let me use her as my mannequin, but also let me use her faboo camera.  Did I mention she was sweet enough not to compare the pictures she would have taken (she has the most amazing eye), with the ones I did get.

*All rights to the design and pattern "Frondly Yours" are protected by copyright.  Dania Erickson 2012.  Updated at 11:45 am pst on 1/19/12.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Out with the Old?


Since it's timely I almost feel the obligation to post something about New Year's resolutions; especially since those that follow the Mayan calendar suspect that this might be my last opportunity to do so.  This is usually the time of year when people start fresh; and along with organizing priorities it's not unusual to resolve to get more organized in a tangible sense.  Time to clean up your life as well as your living space.  So, a number of people throw out old clothes, papers, broken items along with their old calendars.  But what about those things we keep?

This year I spent the last day of 2011 with my boyfriend and his family.  About an hour before the ball dropped, Daniel's stepmother, Judy, was doing her Wonder Woman-esque feat of managing sleeping arrangements.  Before you think I'm exaggerating, I should probably mention that a number of relatives were in town, bringing the total of butts needing beds to a delicate 15.  Not surprisingly, this was an opportunity to  find throw blankets that aren't used on a regular basis.

One such blanket was a wedding gift when Daniel's father and Judy got married.  This lovely antique white afghan was lovingly crocheted by hand, with fringe and bobbles.  This blanket had been in the family long enough to predate the addition of their two girls, as well a number of pets.  One member of the family, Buster, an Australian Shepard, wanted to make his impression on this heirloom.  Buster busted a hole about the size of a snout in the wedding afghan.  Fortunately it wasn't torn asunder; just a little too loved on.

And now back to New Year's eve.  As we sat around alternately gaping and giggling at Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper, Judy came down with the wedding afghan.  She knows about my addiction; that I knit and crochet and figured it never hurts to ask.  Knowing that washing would have helped unravel what Buster had begun, she refrained from doing so.  After studying the pertinent area, my mind unhindered by liquid holiday cheer, I told her I thought I might be able to fix it.  I hope I can actually deliver!

I love that I've been given an opportunity to mend something special.  In our society of disposable goods, it seems wonderfully fulfilling to fix something instead of chucking it out and getting a new one.  The lines from Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World keeps coming back:


"But old clothes are beastly," continued the untiring whisper. "We always throw away old clothes. Ending is better than mending, ending is better than mending, ending is better …".


"Ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches; the more stitches …"


Eerily prophetic, considering it was first published in 1932.  Despite the dismal similarities between the world of 2012 and the dystopian future Huxley presented; I'm grateful that it's not completely the case.  I'm finding personal riches in stitches, and I'm certainly not ending my mending.  The thought of heirlooms still being used and loved warms me more than this afghan ever could.  So for me it's in with the old and new; old heirloom new stitches and a new lease on life for this piece of family history.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why it's practically here!

For some reason my brain seems to discount the days actually passing starting sometime in the first week of December right up until the 20th or so.  I don't know why but the urgency of gathering gifts to give doesn't seem to register until it is practically too late.  Now, last minute Holiday shopping can be stressful enough, but last minute Holiday crafting?  A sure fire way to get ulcers (which actually might be a good combatant for the ever threatening holiday weight gain).

It's also pretty interesting to note the reactions to handmade gifts.  To some people it is extra special since you put so much of yourself into the item... in fact, probably too much (I always seem to find I've knitted a strand or  two of my hair into things).  Other people seem disappointed while at the same time acutely aware that it should be considered extra special since you made it.  For all those crafters out there who are giving lovingly handmade items, I hope that whoever receives them is as grateful as my boyfriend is.  

When we first started dating, I told Daniel about my knitting obsession.  Now, I can't remember if I offered to knit him something, or if he asked for it; but I do recall being shocked at how the thing that mattered most to him was that I made it for him.  Now, that might seem like a no brainer, but honestly, I thought whatever "it" would be and the functionality would be more important.  Or the color!  Or how soft it was.  Anyway, not wanting to put anymore pressure on him or myself by making him something complicated and time consuming, we decided on a simple scarf.  Again I was taken aback, someone who actually wore scarves?  Coming from a lifetime in Southern California this was an extremely exotic notion (outside of West Hollywood).   When I went came to visit him last March, we made a trip to the local Michael's to pick out some yarn.  He chose some soft charcoal colored yarn in a bulky color.  A few days later as I waited... and waited... and WAITED for my plane to leave (and take me back home to Southern California), I started work on his scarf.

Having limited access to my knitting supplies, I worked out a simple pattern that I could remember and do despite having forgotten my row counter.  The result ended up being what I call the Fiver Scarf.  What  I really love about it is how much Daniel seems to appreciate it.  Since the cold weather started, every time he goes to put on his pea coat, he knots the Fiver scarf around his neck.  Once when I exclaimed over how wonderful he was to wear it, he simply said to me "I like it... besides, my girlfriend made it for me".  This man bears it like a badge of honor instead of a hiding it like he would with an unsightly blemish.  If you want to make one of your own click here.