Wednesday, November 28, 2012

No Turkey Duties? Try Knitting a Snoflinga...or Four

This Thanksgiving we decided to make a quick trip to Southern California to see my folks, and my youngest daughter was able to join us. (Sadly, my eldest daughter had to work—while I often rhapsodize about the joys of having adult children, it's not always so great when they have those adult responsibilities!) Still, we managed to have a lovely time, enjoying the weather (we ate Thanksgiving dinner al fresco), the company, a few walks along the ocean, and poking about in the tide pools on Thanksgiving day.

Snoflinga in Rowan Lima
And I was a knitting maniac. Between the flight delays and flights themselves, there was lots of time sitting around. And though I was first sad when my dad said we'd go out for Thanksgiving dinner, I ended up thoroughly enjoying not doing any dishes or fretting over side dishes being done at the same time as the turkey. My dad and daughter made two pies and that was the extent of Turkey Day meal prep.

The Bean trains in pie-making with the master baker—Popsie
Below are a few photos of the weekend, including the hats. The pattern is Jenny Gordy's Snoflinga (available here). It's super fun to knit because it's easy, but not boring. There are enough elements of change (including bobbles, which I simply love) to keep it interesting. I think the hat is most effective in a simple yarn, so that the lovely details show up, but I'm a sucker for variegation. I do wish my knitting was a little more even, though. Despite knitting gauge swatches for most of the hats, they vary tremendously in size. One's too big even for my big head, and that's after popping it in the dryer for a bit. Well, at least they're not as enormous as previous knitting debacles.

Message to our missing family member
Snoflinga in Cascade Eco Duo
Sea anemone courtesy of Rebecca
Snoflinga in Malabrigo Rios
Father-daughter team catch some Thanksgiving rays
Mother-daughter team check out the tide pools
Snoflinga in Malabrigo Twist
The 'rents anticipating their Thanksgiving feast

Monday, November 19, 2012

Back to School: The Pleasures and Purposes of Taking Craft Classes

The newspaper pattern we created to make a-line skirts
 I am one of those people who can't resist things. I cut out myriad recipes, planning to try luscious-sounding new foods; I get intrigued by threads of conversation that lead to story ideas and want to follow through and write them all; and of course, I'm a sucker for every new crafting idea that comes my way. As someone who writes about artists and designers, that's a heck of a lot of ideas.

Granny square class
For me, taking classes is one of the best ways to give in to my multi-crafting urge. I can buy books and materials, but actually sitting down and committing a several-hour block of time to use them is hard. There is something about paying for a class and putting it on my calendar that gives me permission to devote the time to trying something new.

South African embroidery in progress
In the past couple of months I've taken two classes taught by Alisa at Home Ec—one sewing a skirt (from a pattern we learned to make ourselves!) and another on crocheting a granny square (something I'd done in college, but not since). Also at Home Ec I took a class on South African embroidery (taught by Catherine Redford), and knitting a hat (taught by Jenny Gordy). I've done all these things previously in one form or another, but in each class I was reminded of what I enjoyed about that particular craft and I learned something new (last week in my hat class Jenny taught us a cool way to join stitches while knitting on circular needles). I get to handle new materials and use some old ones (I'd bought the fabric for my skirt at a Quilt Market six months ago, but wasn't quite sure what to do with it.)

Jenny Gordy (Wiksten) hat with bobbles
So here are photos from my classes—I finished the skirt the same afternoon I started it, but the other projects aren't yet finished. Those resulting UFOs are probably one of the biggest problems with taking classes. I sometimes question whether flitting from craft-to-craft is wise—after all, I have at least five unfinished quilt projects in my sewing room just waiting for me to devote time and attention to them. But I tell myself that some day these skills will all be waiting for me, as will the time to use them.

Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. readers! Hope you find some time to sit and stitch this coming weekend.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Yarn Bombing in Iowa

 Sunday was the culmination of a several-month event spearheaded by the Downtown Association in Iowa City. The idea was to organize a yarn bombing of downtown trees as a public art project and way to involve the community.

It was a whopping success—the first 97 trees were quickly snapped up by knitting volunteers, and Home Ec Workshop, which coordinated the yarn kits, pulled together more tree measurements and yarn with the help of other downtown businesses. The assignment was to knit a five-foot piece from the "approved" yarns (purchased by the Downtown Assn. and an anonymous donor). I misunderstood and thought I needed to try and get my yarn to go as far as it could, so I opted for simple stockinette and some stripes, but boy, oh, boy, was my tree plain compared to many. There were cables and bobbles and embroidery and myriad stitches and imagery knitting in—a spider, hearts, leaves. The results are amazing and here are a few of them.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Monica Lee's Smart Creative Women

Just a quick post to let you know about a web TV show worth watching. It's Monica Lee's Smart Creative Women. I met Monica at Quilt Market a year ago, after I'd attended her Schoolhouse session on social media marketing. It was one of the most useful sessions I'd been to and when I saw her on the Market floor I stopped to let her know.

Turns out Monica is delightful to chat with and you can see that when you watch her show—she's funny, loves to laugh, and is truly herself. I first watched the show when UPPERCASE's Janine VanGool was a guest and have since found myself regularly tuning back in. Most recently I turned on my computer, got out my knitting, and watched her two-part interview with Amy Butler. There was a lot of honesty and interesting stuff going on between Monica and Amy in those sessions. Monica's enthusiasm seems to bring out the humanity of her interviewees, even those I think of as industry icons (she gets amazing guests—I especially loved the Jenny Doh session). So check out Smart Creative Women! (I'm not getting anything for saying this—Monica doesn't know I've posted it. I just think it's a worthwhile, inspiring, and refreshing show and you might think so too.)