the deep end

April 26, 2011 § 5 Comments

There is an arbitrary knitters` line which I have decided to cross with this new project of mine. I have always said that I knit, but I am not one of those people who knits real pieces of clothing. I was happy with the basics required for a scarf or blanket. But my craving for crafting challenges took me one step closer to this precipice with every new and more complicated project. The urge to make knitted items for my two new neices has driven me to the edge. Once I finish this inaugural baby sweater, I will have gone past the point of no return. I know it, but I can`t stop either. But that is not the most frightening part: I am proud of it! I am so close to finishing this little clothing item and I just can`t wait to do so and plunge into the depths of wool and alpaca and mohair below (and emerge triumphant!). No longer in denial, I am ready to embrace the granny comparisons as I point my hands toward the sky, and bend my knees, ready to dive into the deep end of knitting.

Periodically, as I was going through different sweater knitting stages I showed my sisters the project through skype video. It was pretty funny, I shoved the yarn in front of the camera as they made faces squinting at the picture of an unfinished sweater (that probably looked like it had been eaten up by a wild animal ) and tried to discern what the heck I was up to. “What do you think of the colour?” I wanted to know. “Uuuh, is it green?” comes a voice from my computer speakers. “No, it`s yellow…does it look green?!” then I frantically run around my apartment shutting curtains, turning lights on and off to try and get the colour to come out right oceans away. “Mmm, well, it looks green on the webcam, but I am sure it`s a nice colour” my sisters assure me. I assert that I believe it will be very cute, although Shannon and Natasha give me some stress about how baby sizes are never right after I tell them the pattern says it is for a 12 month old. Gah. Someone else might have the foresight not to try and get project approval mid-knitting, but even at 26 I still like to know that my older sisters know what I am up to and think that it is awesome. I don`t know if the youngest child ever grows out of that. The baby of the family, but a granny at heart.

So. at this point, all I have left to do is sew the little buttons on this mini cardigan and then it will be official!

I just need to find the right buttons! I wish I could take a little trip to this little shop in Vancouver that my sister found called Button Button. It`s a quaint little shop, but when all you sell is buttons, how much space do you need? If only I could go there and spend exhorbitant amounts of time looking through all the different shapes and colours to find the perfect buttons. I will just have to try my luck here in Fukui.

the knitters are coming! the knitters are coming!

April 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

tank-blankie-yarn-bombing.jpg

Sometimes, knitters feel the need to go public with their private hobby. It goes by many names, yarn storming, urban knitting, yarn bombing, knit graffiti and my personal favourite, guerilla knitting. From tree cozies to memorial mufflers, these knitters know no bounds! Though they all seem to have different motives, I think it is safe to say that it is usually done in the name of art…warm, cozy and colourful art.

Not only are people acting out on their own, but the knitters are gathering and making collectives. Some of the culprits at work have some real rock`n`roll names with no shame for punnieness (when have crafters ever shyed away from a clever play on words?).  Examples; Knitta Please, Graknitti and Micro-fiber Militia. Need I say more?

Vancouverites would be familiar with this scene:

The mermaid in Stanley Park

Reactions to this form of art-graffiti-protest are usually positive, but while checking out what other people were saying about this craft phenomenon I came across some pretty heated debates! DeputyDog.com has an article on the subject which attracted some colorful language:

Realgraf says, “this isn’t graffiti. its a joke. knitting requires little to no skill …  500 hours for the tree? why don’t you spend some time doing something worthwhile. if you had spent that much time with a can you would probably be a respectable writer.”

(I don`t know exactly what he means by being a respectable writer by spending 500 hours with a can, but I digress) These are a few of the gems from replies:

Erica softens the blow with, “Anyone that doesn’t see this as wonderful and awesome has a stick up their bum.”

Xstitcher, “Respected by who? Other morons like yourself? I’d rather be able to knit and only have the respect of my grandmother if that is the alternative.”

So true. So true.

Troll says “idiot. …  no skill to knit? can you knit? can you make something coherent out of string? …”

Well, can you?! There are about 154 comments on the article and I am pretty sure all of them are a backlash to the first comment by Mr.RealGraffiti. You better watch out, because knitters can really take this stuff personally, and they have large needles which airlines consider dangerous weapons and oh, do they know how to use them!

For more of knitting`s seedy underbelly, here is the site of the two who started it in little old Vancouver, Canada: yarnbombing.com.

what is wrong with me?!

April 19, 2011 § 4 Comments

Swiftly after posting a bunch of new and fun crafting projects (having nothing to do with yarn), I started knitting a sweater. What is wrong with me?!

Knitting is addictive. I can`t watch a TV show without it, I knit during my lunch break and find myself prying the needles out of my own hands to keep myself from starting a new row, “just one more, just one more!”. I may have a problem.

There are several factors figuring in the reasons why I am in such a state. One is that I just recently recieved a super awesome INTERCHANGEABLE, CIRCULAR KNITTING NEEDLE SET! Say that five times fast. For my birthday, my friends went all out to give me this most coveted item and now that I have it, I must knit! I must knit until I go cross-eyed, my fingers start bleeding and my shoulders begin curling in…if I`m not careful we may have a Rumplestiltskin situation on our hands (But how excellent would it be to knit hay into gold?! Rock on).

Secondly, I am moving soon. After living inJapanfor what will be two years this summer, I am heading back to the true north strong and free. I have no intentions of packing the mounds of yarn I have accumulated and mailing it back toCanada, so I am trying to knit as much as possible before we must be parted. This has also inspired some more creative projects (and subsequently, some very creative messups).

This toque is made of three different yarns: two leftover from the Lucky Clover Baby Blanket and one full skein I bought on a whim because it was on sale. It has served me well during the cold mornings and evenings this spring.Me wearing the toque and…

Gaspard trying it on for size (or is that Lisa, I don`t know which is which).

Thirdly, I am certain that there is one more very rational explanation for this little problem of mine, because all good things come in threes. Alas, it escapes me.

I haven`t started knitting up tree clothing yet, but there is something inspiring about it. Isn`t there?

christmas is here again, stand up and cheer again…

January 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

I know, I know, Christmas is over, right?!

Okay, so it’s a New Year and I am doing my best to keep up with my homework. The string around my finger seems to be working, and I am ready to provide you with yet another crafty update! Yet, this one is special, it is actually a post I started putting together around Christmas but never was able to finish and now that I can, I am reluctant to highlight all the Christmas stuff and press delete…so I am including it. It is just a little paragraph about Christmas baking, so I hope you don’t mind! (If you do, then just skip the next paragraph)

The Christmas carnage has yet to be subdued. Not only have I been crafting, I have been baking! Baking is my second love after crafting, maybe because it is similar in many respects. If I am not diligent with my timing I will burn a dozen cookies: if I am not diligent with my glue gun I will burn fingers. Both very painful events. Shortbread and gingerbread were among the Christmas cookies I laboured over for hours. Giving me plenty of time to mull over the use of the word `bread` in both those cookie names and wonder as to how exactly such a discrepancy was made.

I have decided to finally take the time and deliver on my promise to post some DIY related project pages. The first will be for the eco headbands made from unwanted neck-ties. Call it a New Year gift from me to you. If you are interested in making the leap to making crafts for yourself, then you will be interested in something as simple and fashionable as this.

The DIY will be posted under the projects category for now until I accumulate enough to warrant making a DIY category. Here is the link.

Christmas means carnage!

November 16, 2010 § 3 Comments

It`s only a month until my favourite holiday of the year and crafting is in full swing!

Inspired by a recycled Christmas tree craft sent to me from my friend Martha Stewart, I began crafting multiple trees for a charity auction. The auction is in just a few days and I only finished painting them with glue and dusting them with glitter last night. I committed to auctioning off a Christmas craft grab-bag and because of this my apartment has descended into chaos from my frantic late night crafting to finish everything in time. In Japanese, “giri giri” would describe my situation quite well: looks like I am going to make it by the skin of my teeth.

The auction project is not the only culprit in the disaster zone that is my apartment. I also have various `break from the auction project projects` strewn throughout my small living space. And it`s not like I have a lot of room to go around. As I was doing some finishing touches on Christmas cards I was stenciling I looked up at the chaos and the words of a duck named Ferdinand came to mind: “Christmas means carnage!” Anyone familiar with the movie of talking farm animals called Babe, will remember the scene when Ferdinand has a melt down, because he knows the truth about Christmas dinner. I didn`t have a melt down exactly, but as I looked around at my apartment I thought carnage was an excellent word to describe my current situation.

And so, I took the time to document the carnage on your behalf. My sister says she wishes she could be crafty like me, but Shannon, after you see these photos you may have second thoughts.

This is what used to be my couch and is now the cloth origami brooch project area (anyone got a better name?). You can see that what I require for this small creation is cloth, an iron, lots of fabric starch and origami instructions of course. I am worried that this craft will eventually involve a more literal carnage if I am not careful, but so far no fingers have been ironed.

What used to be my coffee table. This is where the recycled Christmas tree magic happens…well actually the folding happened in numerous other places, but the trees all congregated here afterwards. These are made from monotonous folding of individual pages of old magazines, much like the one in the foreground. Later these will get messier.

On top of my kutatsu blanket just off center is the scarf I am working on. I am striping with a yarn that changes colour and it has proven to be quite addictive to see the colours evolve.

These felted balls are what is going to be my new niece’s mobile. I plan on attaching them via yarn to the top of the mobile after the auction project is finished and just in time for her first Christmas! The balls are loads of fun to make.

I used to eat here. This is my kitchen table all decked out for Christmas card making. Rilakumma is supervising.

It is a set of five. Very simple, but festive I think. The stenciling was done with a doily. And the letters were done with my nifty new box of letter and number stamps!

I got a little carried away and started stamping on the back of the cards too.

In a few days I will post some pics of the finished project for the auction. In the mean time, it’s back to crafting! And my day job.

Head hugger, tree hugger

November 9, 2010 § 2 Comments

Anyone who knows me well, knows I love second-hand shopping. I believe this hobby of mine began at a very young age. Growing up as the youngest of four children, I lived off of hand-me-downs and was always waiting for that day when I would inherit coveted items from my sister`s closets. I also had a young play-mate who`s mother took us garage sale shopping on Saturdays and who first introduced me to the joys of bargain shopping at a place called Mary House. Once a month, Mary House opened it`s doors and with a garbage bag in hand we waited our turn to scavenge the boxes of clothes in the basement while fighting off old ladies with a strong sense of ownership. There was no opportunity to try clothes on, just one turn through the boxes and then a payment of five dollars would get you out the door with a garbage bag full of goodies. Being still quite young and small, I remember hurling myself into the bottom of waist-high boxes to find that one overlooked item and occasionally getting some stranger`s cast offs in the face. It was all part of the chase for a bargain which, being nurtured at such a young age, is still with me today. Of course, now I find myself searching through more organized collections of clothes and in a more civilized manner. But I still feel that little thrill of finding an item for more than half the original price and…admittedly, I still get a little possesive when I see someone eyeing what I am hoping to purchase.

“So what is all this hugging got to do with second-hand shopping?” you ask. Well, one day, while purusing my local thrift store, I came across some pretty neck ties. Normally I would never venture into the men`s section of thrifting, but these ties were hanging right across from the ladies` scarfs and I had an idea; a crafty idea. Why should these ties live such a purposeless life, hanging there on the shelf, surrounded by the smell of unwashed clothing? So, I rescued these neck ties. I brought them home, washed them and made them into headbands of various shapes and sizes.

Let the tree-huggers of the universe rejoice! Another way to put those skills of reducing, reusing and recycling to good use. Elementary school brain washing is finally making fashionable sense.

My friend who helped model these re-purposed items, said of the wrap-around variation, “It`s like a hug for your head!”. This coming from a girl who consistently finds headbands uncomfortable, now that is something. In the projects pages I will be devoting more posts to headbands (some new, some old) and I hope to eventually get a DIY together for the head-huggers themselves. In the meantime, you can admire some new handiwork in the gallery pages of the site. Here`s peek.

Cat saga finale!

November 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

I finished the second cat hat just in time for our costume party last weekend! Phew! At the last minute I also realized that we needed tails to be legit and so I took an old pair of nylons, stuffed each leg with cotton batting and voila! We had some very nice cat tails for the party.

Here are some pictures of the complete costumes with face paint and all. If you haven’t been following the previous posts about how these hats were made, feel free to check out any of the giant cat saga episodes. Now for the moment you have all been waiting for…

Lindsay makes a fine feline. Most of the humans were impressed with the costumes, we did make a few children cry. Something about a giant cat just didn’t seem right to them, I guess. We didn’t do anything. We promise.

After all that mischief, it was time for a cat nap.

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