Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Texas Floods and Knitting Delights

It's raining down here in Texas! And I mean like "40 days and 40 nights" raining, like "Texas Floods" raining, like "when will it ever stop fracking raining" raining. I've been putting off several progress photos, and therefore several blog posts in hopes that I'd be able to take the pictures in natural light. They're so much nicer that way. But I can't get outside with the camera because it never stops raining for longer than 2 minutes. I guess in some ways the rain is good, lake levels are back where they should be, and it's no longer considered a drought. On the other hand, all this rain is from disturbances in the Gulf of Mexico which means an early start to the hurricane season, and that, my friends, is global warming.

I don't wish to be a kill-joy and bring y'all down with talk of our depleted ozone, instead, if y'all will bear with the artificial lighting, I've got photos to share and I'll put off the progress reports no longer.

First up, as I mentioned in yesterday's post I attended a workshop at the LYS over the weekend. I did some stash building during said workshop with the intent of pushing my color boundaries. I started by picking out this skein of Kollage Dreamy, not a colorway I would usually pick, but I loved it. Then I added to the stash, and ended up with this little bundle of love. It will become a shawl someday. There's some 2nd Time Cotton in there, some Habu, some Wick, and some Cotton Twist.

At my Tuesday afternoon knitting group I had a small "tada!". I've completed the back of Sizzle. It sits on stitch holders waiting for the front. I'm just two rows into the front, but soon damn it, soon...Did I mention I love, love, love the seed stitch at the hem? Well, I do. I also love the Berroco Cotton Twist I'm knitting it with.

Also there is slow but sure progress on the Branching Out Lace Scarf from Knitty. I'm working it in a Lace weight Merino from Fearless Fibers.

And finally as I think I stated earlier, when I get tired of the lace pattern and the sweater, I experiment with the make-it-up-as-you-go lariats. Mostly I'm doing this with that Habu I got a few weeks back. I love the textures of these yarns.

So there you have the progress photos, the on-needles shots, the whips revealed. Proof positive that I really do knit. If it ever stops raining I will be able to take some photos out in the natural light, I may even knit outside, wearing SPF 50 of course, for fear of that depleted ozone...

And one last thing, there's an easy-to-enter contest going on over at Skeins Her Way, when you enter tell her Right Out Loud Sent you, I want that Suri Merino. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I attended a workshop on design this past Sunday at the LYS. Mostly it was organized as an open discussion with a few creativity exercises thrown in for good measure. I enjoy workshops like this, I think it's good for people, including myself, to share their ideas with others. I always find it rather enlightening to hear what inspires others. I came away from the workshop with several ideas rolling around in my head.

Idea number one - The importance of making each project you do your own. Whether you are making changes to a pattern, or embellishing an old sweater, everything you do creatively should be stamped with your own personal sense of style. We all have a personality that's unique, we are all, by default, individuals. Your personality should shine through in all your projects. If you do what you love, and what just feels right to you, your sense of style will show.

Idea number two - I came away from the workshop with a renewed belief that we all have a creative muscle, and like any other muscle it needs regular exercise to stay in shape. This exercise can come from any number of activities. Sometimes the activity may be a workshop like this one, the opportunity to share with others and hear and see what inspires and motivates them to continue to create. Sometimes this activity is small, your time is limited for whatever reason. No matter if you have hours to spend, or moments on a given day, the important thing is to exercise your creativity. Do something creative everyday.

Idea number three - Experiment! Embellish! Improvise! These three ingredients are essential. In my humble opinion they are the cornerstones that any creative endeavor is built on. Challenge yourself to try something new, or to work with colors you don't usually gravitate towards. Change what's already there. Think outside the box. Make stuff up as you go along. The important thing is to push your own boundaries creatively. Experiment, Embellish, Improvise!

Here are just a few of the projects to try we came up with during the workshop. Many of them are things I feel inspired to do myself, maybe some of them will get your creative juices flowing as well.
  • Change the next pattern you're going to knit to make it your own. Add stripes to a plain sweater pattern, or a few rows of lace work to a shawl, or a section of ribbing at the waist of a tank.
  • Take all the buttons off a store bought sweater and replace them with vintage buttons that are really special.
  • Needle felt into an old pair of jeans to give them a whole new look.
  • Add some lace to the cuffs of an old sweater, or some vintage trim to the hem of an old skirt.
  • Make and sew an applique on a plain old tee-shirt.
The important thing to remember is to give all of your creative endeavors that little extra something, to put part of yourself into each idea so that your personality shines through and everything you create will be uniquely your own.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Long Time No Blog

It feels like it's been ages since I've had a new entry here on the blog. It has in fact been over a week. I had a house full of visitors from Minneapolis. My sister, my niece, and the three little people were here for just over a week. I'm not usually one for having house guests, in fact the last time members of my family visited I put them a hotel. It's not that I don't love them, I do, I just don't like house guests. Incidentally, I also dislike being a house guest. This time a hotel just wasn't feasible, so they stayed in my little house. Despite that, I was able to enjoy the time with them very much, we played, we ate ice cream, we hit some thrift stores, and in general had a great time. But I just couldn't get anything else like blogging, done.

Until yesterday it was almost a week since I'd done any knitting also. Unheard of I know, but I had a minor injury. I was hanging out in the yard doing a little yard work with the mutts. The mutts were having a fast and furious game of chase and headed in my direction. I could see what was going to happen next, but I couldn't do a thing to stop it. Little Layla deeked just at the last possible second, and Big Mike barreled right into me. I fell, heard my shoulder make several strange popping sounds, felt an amazing amount of pain, yelled out, tried to lift my hanging arm, heard several different strange popping sounds, felt a little less pain, and pulled myself together. The dogs had stopped to stare. My sister says she heard or read somewhere recently that orthopedic surgeons are seeing as many rotator cuff injuries from knitters as they are from athletes. I wondered how many they see from knitters with very large, very fast, and not at all graceful dogs named Mike. After a week the shoulder still aches, and I still can't hook my own bra, but as of yesterday knitting was possible again. Thank goodness!

In celebration I went to my Tuesday afternoon sit and knit at the LYS. I had missed last week, because of the bum wing, and the house full of guests. Only this week I didn't knit. Instead I learned some basic crochet techniques. I've been doing a lot of free-form, make-it-up- as-you-go-along knitting lately. Mostly it's taking the form of skinny scarves, lariats, necklets, and necklaces. They're nice little diversions from the progress I'm making on "Sizzle" and the Branching Out Lace Scarf. When I get tired of following the patterns, I make a lariat. I wanted to be able to mix it up a bit with some crochet. And so yesterday I learned how to make baubles, and loops, and few other basics that will allow me to improvise with a crochet hook.

I also added to the stash, just a little. I've been absolutely fascinated with Habu Textiles Yarns lately. I fondle them, and smell them every time I'm at the LYS. I love , love, love the textures, and the amazing earthy colors. They were the perfect thing for me to continue to improvise with. I promise to post photos of the finished objects soon. I should be posting progress photos of Sizzle and the Lace soon also, I'm a mere few rows from having the back complete on Sizzle, and more than half done with the lace. Now that the shoulder is allowing knitting again, and the house is deplete of guests, it should be soon.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Swag, Shwag, and Spiff

I love words. I especially love discovering words that are new to me. So this Saturday after I was at an Adoption Day with Blue Dog Rescue the group I volunteer with, and I was given a tee-shirt left over from their Run for the Rovers 5k Race. When I got home The Boyfriend says, " get a lot of "spiff' on this gig". New word! I say "spiff, what's spiff?". He says "you know, giveaways, promo items, ..." or something to that general effect, and I say " mean swag." The Boyfriend had not heard the word "swag" used like this before.

So later that same evening The Boyfriend and I are having diner at the Brazilian restaurant with a friend, a smart, fashionista with a blog. So I ask said friend, "what do you know about spiff and swag?". Her answer was something along the lines of "...never heard of spiff, swag is the thing you drape over your curtains, I think you mean shwag."

Not being one to leave this kind of thing alone, I got on dictionary dot com and here's what I found: No such word as "Shwag" or "Schwag". "Swag" refers to booty, loot, prizes, giveaways, and promotional items. "Spiff" is very specific slang referring to promotional items given to sales persons by manufacturers in exchange for selling their goods.

Turns out I got swag.

On the knitty front ... I've been playing with the idea of I-cords. I've been making lariats, necklets, and necklaces. (yup, more words). They're fun, they're fast, and easy to wear. They all start as I-cords, and then I go from there. Some have areas of flat knit, which adds a pretty subtle but lovely detail. Some I throw in some decreases and increase to the flat knit. This can be stuffed with wool roving and sewn shut making nifty beads, others are left open resembling a piece of shell pasta. I've been adding fringe, and buttons, and I'm not done yet.