Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sweater Stacking

Hello, dear readers! I hope my American friends had a fabulous Thanksgiving last week and that my international friends had a great week!

The lack of sunlight is hindering my blogging a bit because I'm not typically home when the sun is available for photos. :P I have been knitting and working on various things, though.

My in-progress knits have been unceremoniously dumped in wretched a pile next to the futon since this summer. It was really starting to wear on me, so I thought I'd do something about it. My first thought was to neatly fold the projects and stack them so that the least finished were on the bottom and the closest to finished were on top. That way, I can glance to my left, think, "Hey, this sweater just needs a neckband," and pick it up to finish it.

Turns out it works! As I was stacking the projects (sweaters, mostly), I thought those very thoughts and I finished a couple of them. I have a large order of Christmas knits, all the same item, so I know I'm going to be glancing longingly at this carefully arranged stack and wanting to knit on anything but those items from time to time. :) I'm hoping that desperation for anything else will result in lots of finished sweaters! It's ridiculous to have so many so close to being done. It's cold, dammit! Let's wear these things already!

I've had a bit of wrist pain as of late, so I've refrained from knitting, even though I don't think it is knitting-relating. It's feeling much better, so I'm going to do some housework now and then cast on a Christmas present for one of my brothers to knit when my Wednesday tv shows come on. :)

Are you making holiday gifts this year? What do you watch while you holiday-craft? If you are interested in some good company and some good holiday movie recommendations (some are wholly unrelated to any holiday, but still fabulous), pop on by the Christmas Movie KAL thread in the Very Shannon group and join us!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Different Stitches

I've been doing some sewing!  I started with a couple bags a while ago and a pouch or two before that, so I thought I'd jump right in to designing and sewing a doll dress. Best idea...? Eh....

Actually, it might have been!

I modeled it after this Cabbages & Roses dress because I figure if I can get it right in doll size maybe I'll be able to make one for myself some day instead of having to shell out $440. :S The goofy puckers in the front there are the only part that didn't come out quite right. I should have notched a corner or something. The most amazing thing is that it fits her.

It suits her. I was afraid it would look a bit...home-ec-y or something. The length helps

The next logical step, then, is to sew something for me! I've had the Washi Dress pattern for a while, but the fabric I bought is really nice and I don't want to mess it up, so I bought a Japanese sewing book and some sale Jo-Ann's Fabric flannel shirting to make an adorable, loose-fitting "practice" dress.

Admittedly, a Japanese sewing book probably isn't the best way to practice because the instructions are rather minimal (I've failed spectacularly at Japanese sewing patterns before), but I've read through them a few times and I think I've got them figured out. I have no idea how I'm going to sew top stitches 1/16" from the edge of the fabric without the machine eating it, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. :)

Right now I'm stuck at the washing the fabric and the tracing the pattern pieces stages. I'm not even close to cutting out the pieces yet! Sewing's hard, guys. So much prep. All you have to do to prep for knitting is wind a ball of yarn. :P Don't be looking for a finished dress soon is all I'm saying.

What are you guys working on? Any big crafting plans for this lazy Thanksgiving week?

Constance posted her Blog Hop post and it's fantastic, so go check it out! I suggest you follow her on Instagram or tumblr if you want to watch her work unfold. It's really beautiful. Eliza said she'd try to do a Blog Hop post too, so keep your eyes peeled!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Socks for Sock Weather

I got totally mixed up in my days last week, which resulted in a total failure of my blogging schedule, haha. So, that means my posts this week are going to be a bit mixed up too! My Friday FO on a Monday:

Summer Breeze

Pattern: Earlybird Socks by Cassandra Dominik from Knitty, Winter 2012
Yarn: Hedgehog Fibre Sock in Gust
Needles: US 1
Project Page

I would imagine just about all of my American readers witnessed some snow last week. I hate snow. It does mean, however, that I am more apt to pull on some cozy hand-knitted socks when there is white stuff on the ground threatening to freeze my toes off. I finished these guys just in time.

The yarn is amazing, as always. My favorite fabric for hand-knitted socks! As last time though, it did pill quite a bit while I was knitting, this time more so because the pattern required quite a bit more manipulation and yarn abuse. No pilling in use, though. The color is unimaginably beautiful, like the scent of flowers on the wind (hence the name, though spring maybe would have been a better choice...I had Michael Buble on the mind a bit).

The pattern was also pretty amazing. It's memorable in it's simple repetitiveness, but I did find that I couldn't muster the stamina to work on it for very long. It's not exactly mindless and there was some stress in nearly dropping stitches a few times that I could have lived without (which could be avoided with a cable needle, but I am a rebel). The smocking of the pattern does make it a touch tight to pull the leg over your heel, but they fit great. OH AND THE HEEL! It's a flipping toe-up flap that is genious! It starts under your heel and continues up the back, so your heel is protected from all the important angles! I'm going to start doing this on all my toe-up socks.

All in all, great yarn, great pattern great socks. :) I redid the bind-off after these pics so they no longer cut off circulation to my feet. Forgive my marked up legs. My skin has an amazing memory for my pj pants (especially when I'd been lounging in them all day ;]).

I promised to alert you to my Blog Hop choices. Lindsay posted hers already and keep an eye out for Constance's. I still have one invite out, but I will let you know when that pans out one way or the other. I know she's pretty busy right now.

Got any socks going? Dreaming of any in particular?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Blog Hop

Sorry I sort of fell off the map last week. This fall has been a busy one, though I don't have much to show for it. :P

I was invited by Ine over at a picture book mind to take part in a blog hop. Thank you so much of thinking of me, Ine! So... here goes!

1. What am I working on?

Knitting, as ever, but I thought maybe I'd let you know a couple other things I'm doing, too. Knitting first: I just cast on this pair of socks in perhaps my favorite Hedgehog Fibres colorway I've been fortunate enough to get my hands on so far (which has been too few!). It is called Windbreaker and I'm pairing it with the dyer's own pattern Vestigial. I'm also still working on a sparkly green Grace. Just needs sleeves (like all my other wips ;))!

I'm also working on a couple of art projects. One is repainting my doll again (this is the third and final time--for a while--I pray), this time painting her whole body instead of just her hands and face. The other art project is one that's entirely in my head at the moment, but I intend to storyboard it soon. It will be a graphic rendition of The Decemberists' album The Hazards of Love. Every time I listen to it (which is often), I have vivid images of the characters and settings that I feel I should start putting on paper pretty soon. It will likely be a looooong term project since I've already been thinking about it since the album was released a couple years ago, but I think it will be fun.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I don't know if this question is answerable concerning my knitting. I tend to pick bold colors, but many other knitters do too, so I don't know if that makes it different. It's interesting to think about knitting as a genre. There are definitely designers whose designs I can pick out instantly, but I don't know how we can differentiate between those who knit others' designs besides the color palette each knitter gravitates too or her chosen alterations. I'm sure there are distinguishing markers, I just haven't sat down to think about it....

My art is a little easier to make out as my own. Granted, I haven't done it for nearly a decade, but I assume my style hasn't changed much. :) I prefer to work in pencils and I strive for super-realism. That doesn't necessarily differentiate me from other super-realist pencil artists, but I tend to have a very light hand, which does make me a bit different, I think. In the last couple of years before I set the art aside, I really took to working in pen. This helped a bit with my light hand so it didn't get too lost. My goal is to return to that with The Hazards of Love project, though I might sacrifice the super-realism.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

This is an easy one. I've always been an imaginative person. I daydream and I'm easily distracted. I get hung up on images or ideas and want to explore them. I knit because it keeps me grounded. I listen better with knitting in my hands and I can focus on what I need to focus on--like lectures or puzzling through my dissertation--without tumbling into a passing thought. I used to doodle extensively as an undergrad. My notes contain more art than substance. :) Art and the doll give me the chance to exercise my imagination. I need to do it more often now that the stress of grad school (finishing it, specifically) is piling on. It's so nice to not think about all the stressful stuff 24/7 and to create something that won't be criticized or graded or otherwise evaluated. I leave school at school and think about what color my new doll's eyes should be or how the Fairy Queen will look: like a person or a tree?

4. How does my writing/illustration/creative process work?

I don't know how much of a process it is, but it's true for knitting and for drawing: I plan for ages and ages, then finally, one day, sit down and start on it. Knitting I work on endlessly, ripping back for mistakes or measuring for alterations. The art is pretty much the same, except I have to work on it in spurts. I typically focus on one area at a time until it's perfect. Super-realism takes it out of me, so I can't stare at it too long or work on it as vigorously as the knitting. I actually have a lot of unfinished or really weird-looking works because I just never found the time to finish them (see above). In the end, I either like it or I don't and I move on to the next thing, having enjoyed the process thoroughly, if not always the end product (if there is one).

Because I've been busy the last couple of weeks, I'm behind in inviting the three bloggers I have in mind, so I'll have to update this post and alert you next post when I've asked them and they've participated. This has been an interesting brain exercise, so I encourage you to take the questions to your own blog whether invited or not and let me know you've posted so I can learn about your creative process.

Please hop on over to Ine's post here to read her answers. She's an incredibly talented artist and knitter (though only a beginner! I can't believe it!).

Friday, October 31, 2014

Told You it was a Quick Hat

I promised you a hat and this time I'm delivering on my blog promise. :)


Pattern: Stovetop from Road Trip by tincanknits
Yarn: Swans Island Natural Colors Merino Worsted in Teal
Needles: US 6 & 8

I knit this hat in 2 days! It was easy and fun, something I haven't had in a knitting project for at least a month, haha. I had the amazing luck of winning the ebook during Very Shannon's Summer Sweater KAL (during which I managed to finish zero sweaters :P). There are a lot of really fantastic patterns in the book. This one looked like it would provide me with instant gratification and I was not disappointed.

I could have made it a size larger, I suppose, but I don't think I'll have to worry about it falling off my head at the size it is now. I do wish it were a touch longer because I love my hats super slouchy, but it's cute. The yarn is an odd skein that didn't match the dye lot of the three others I used to make Jules recently. It really did a number on my fingers. They were so blue from the dye that they looked bruised! For as soft as Swans Island is, I'm not sure I love it enough to put up with the blues bleeding on me that much again (this was the third go-'round). It rinses out in a snap and I haven't noticed it leaving any other traces around since the wash, so it's fine now, I hope.

Happy Halloween! John's been comping for the last couple weeks, so we haven't carved our pumpkins (yet). We're hoping for a chill night getting those pumpkins carved while watching a (not scary:P) movie. :) I dressed up because my students insisted. I don't have any costumes, so I improvised:

I'm a ghost! I guess. :) John said maybe the ghost from The Ring, but he thought I was stretching it. I was, haha. Have a great weekend! See you Monday!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I started a hat on Monday. I feel like I haven't started anything new for ever, but I think it was just last week I started a pair of socks. Really, I haven't finished anything in forever. The hat is going quickly enough that it should be done by the end of the week. I like small projects!

A couple of pictures of the hat and socks (that aren't much larger than they were last week :S):

And that's all I've got for you today. I scheduled too much for class tomorrow and didn't get started on prepping it soon enough, so I've got a lot of lesson planning to do tonight! Hat for you Friday? Deal. Or, if time magically slows down (I know it will, but not before Friday ;)), maybe I'll finally get John in his smashing new cabled sweater. :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Waxing Philosophical About Scary Movies

This is a type of post I've never ventured, but I'd love to know what you think about the subject. My aunt and I love scary movies, so we saw two this weekend while I was visiting family. We thought that neither of them was scary (we are very difficult to scare), but they weren't bad. We disagreed about which was the better movie, but couldn't quite put our finger on what we thought was good and bad about each of them.

The REAL Annabelle-Google Image
After the second movie, I turned on the tv and happened to catch the tail end of a special on Turner Classic Movies with Stephen King, in which he discussed his own experiences of movies based on his books and general trends and feelings towards scary movies these days. He touched on what I think bothers my aunt and I most about modern scary movies. He talked about how gore changed horror. We became too reliant on it--and now on jump scares--to terrify us.

The special effects of horror (and other genres of) movies take over and the stories themselves take a less important role. The really good horror movies are the ones that have a great story and some Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project. Great movies! Paranormal Activity does rely heavily on jump scares, but the effects really support the story instead of the other way around.
element of the unknown. Those movies where you never see the monster or ghost or you have no idea how to stop whatever is terrorizing the people on the screen are the really great movies. Think about the low-fi movies like

The Blair Witch Project-Google Image
The original Evil Dead still frightens me, despite its awful, awful effects. The story is just phenomenal. I can't bring myself to watch the new one (though I did catch the last terrible few minutes of it last week) because I know the story just doesn't exist in it anymore.

Bruce Campbell from Evil Dead-Google Image
Horror movies are too quick to resolve themselves these days and they're usually terribly predictable. I can't understand why people don't like them. My aunt is the only person who will watch a horror movie with me. They aren't scary! They aren't even substantial in the plot department! I want to be scared. It's a healthy emotion that I need to draw out every once in a while but I can't usually find anything to do that for me, so I'm on a constant search. So I'm curious: if you don't watch horror movies, why not? If you do, why do you watch them?

P.S. If you are like me and seek the thrill of a good scare but can't find it in movies, read some books! Stephen King's older works are delightfully frightening (though long) and there are many other scary books out there like House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, which I could only read in broad daylight. Any other scary book suggestions?