Monday, September 26, 2011

Knitting Corn, An Embarrassingly Involved Pursuit


There isn't really much to explain... it's knit corn on the cob. It took me more time than I care to think about to come up with a "corn" stitch pattern I was happy with. I'm sharing the pattern in case you too feel the overwhelming urge to take up such an immensely important task.



Ty (the) Cob

Materials


Yarn

Main Color (MC) - Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted (100% Peruvian Highland Wool, 110 yds/50g ball) in Semolina, 15g

Contrasting Color (CC) - Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted (100% Peruvian Highland Wool, 110 yds/50g ball) in Cloud, You will only need a miniscule amount of this color; a couple of yards should be sufficient.

Gauge

The finished fabric needs to be dense enough to hold stuffing. Finding a yarn and needle combination that produces a good, sturdy fabric is more important, in this project, than measured gauge.

Needles

1 set US 7 (4.50 mm) double point needles

Notions

yarn or tapestry needle
stuffing (fiber fill, yarn scraps, unwanted roving, cat hair, plastic bags...)
washing machine, boiling water, or some other means of fulling the finished item if desired

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gifts to Give

I love giving gifts. I love it far more than I do receiving gifts, and I am never not searching for the perfect gift, the perfect idea. Unfortunately, my memory is not what I like to think it is, and I don't keep good notes, so I often come up with multiple ideas for the same recipient. I would love to be one of those people who gives gift for no reason, just because the item reminded them of the person, or because they were thinking of them. But, I don't think such gifts would be well received by the people in my life, and it would just make for awkward exchange.

Since spontaneous gift-giving is not my thing, I plan and plot all year for the Christmas season. The middle of August is when my brain kicks into overdrive. This year, I have decided to make everything myself. I don't know that the items will be well received, but they will be made, and given, with love. While I plan gifts all year, I often have to settle for something less than ideal, and sometimes miss the mark. At the very least, I hope everyone will realize that I have been thinking about them.

This does put me on a bit of a tight deadline. All but one gift will be knit, so my needles have been in overdrive, and Ravelry has become my most visited website, with the possible exception of Netflix. So far, I am a bit over halfway through a Girasole blanket, have finished one Phenomenon mitten in a thoroughly impractical yarn, have started a hat to go with the Phenomenon mittens in the same problematic yarn, and have finished part of an Elf Shoe (slipper).



When my KnitPicks order arrives (to be followed shortly by a WEBS order), I will likely cast on a couple more projects, because I get bored, and my hands get sore when I use the same needles for too long. All of the projects I'm currently working on are on size 10.5 needles, in fact, I pulled the needles from the hat to work the slipper. I have to take too many breaks to rest my hands. I'm hoping having different sized needles in my hands will allow me to work longer. I'll keep my sore little stubs that pass for fingers crossed that it works.

On top of all of the gift items, I am working on a pattern or two, though I think they may be on hold until the new year, especially since Mika (the cat) pulled my pattern notes onto the floor (though that was likely the work of one of the striped kitties) and peed on it (I witnessed this part, so I know it was him). You can see from the picture above that the cats have been immensely helpful and are happy to share their greatest gift, the gift of cat hair. In fact, as I type, Jasper is sleeping inside the cocoon made by a still-on-the-needles Girasole, so that only a bit of gently rising and falling orange fluff is visible in the opening.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Not A Closer

I haven't had much to post about lately, because I've been working on a couple of ideas. I've started several posts, but I'm having a difficult time finishing things. It's a bit like the phenomenon knitters call "start-itis". I have so many things I want to do, that I just can't focus on one of them and see it through to the end before diving into something new. So, I am working on several projects all at once, which makes for poor blogging, I'm afraid, but, it keeps me interested.

I have a recipe and a tutorial I hope to get up soon, but I need to test them again, and it's been too hot to cook, and the tutorial is for something I use regularly, but don't need to remake yet. So, those are on hold. I've also been playing with nail polish a lot recently, and am trying to figure out how to turn that into a little business. The legal jargon is bogging me down. And, I've been experimenting with henna on surfaces that aren't me.

A tiny sample of my henna experimentation.
This photo was taken just after I removed the paste, they have oxidized nicely.


I haven't forgotten about this blog, I just haven't had anything interesting to contribute. Hopefully, I will get over my start-itis soon.  

Friday, July 8, 2011

Happy (Belated) Birthday Jasper

Yesterday, we celebrated Jasper's 2nd Birthday. I can't believe he's been with me for nearly 2 years. In some ways it feels like we've been together for an eternity, but also like he has grown from a squirmy little kitten, with a short little tail, into a beautiful and energetic cat, with a ton of personality, in no time.

I intended to post this yesterday, but my internet connection went kaput. I couldn't even get Safari to work on my iPhone! So, this is a slightly late tribute to my little orange boy.


DSC_1025

Happy birthday, Jasper Gaius

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Fourth

I have been ill, and haven't been around much, but I wanted to wish everyone in the US a happy Independence Day; and for those not in the US, a happy Monday.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Small Dream



My latest obsession (besides Murder, She Wrote) is with the idea of building my own tiny, mobile home. Tumbleweed Tiny House Company sells plans for, and finished models of, itty bitty houses. They are really, properly miniature, not the pseudo small homes in small space decorating magazines, but abodes that measure in at under 100 square feet. They aren't all that small, but the models built to fit on a trailer are all under 180 square feet, and mobility is what got my attention. Well, that and the idea of building my own home.

I want to build my own Fencl (pictured). It isn't the largest trailer ready model based strictly on square footage, but it has a sleeping loft that doesn't count in those figures that adds an extra 100 square feet of "non-habitable" space. Not only am I short, but I don't sleep standing up, or hanging upside down, so a sleeping space with a short ceiling is perfectly habitable as far as I'm concerned.

(linked site has automatic sound)
I've lived most of my life in a poorly designed house that is in the 1,000 square foot range, and my first apartment was an even more poorly laid-out 400 (ish) square foot space. As I alluded to, I've spent too much time and money looking through magazines and websites, and watching television shows styled as idea centers for people living in small spaces, only to realize that what they consider a small space, is at least twice the size of my home. Oh, and they also seem to think that living in a small space means inhabitant has loads of cash to spend on space saving crap. I doubt this is very often the case. Usually, people live in a small space because of financial limitations.

But, I digress. What I really wanted to talk about is my realization that I really need a mobile home. Not a mobile home, mobile home, but a truly mobile home. Something like an Airstream, a camping trailer, or  a hand-built Fencl; a home I could move at a moment's notice, and park anywhere with an RV hookup. Tumbleweed reeled me right in with the mention of being able to live at national parks. As much as I love Ken Burns, with his non-hipster, hipster hair, I need to see the national parks in person.

Currently, I'm in a no rent/no mortgage living situation, but that will have to change in order for me to finish school. I hate renting. Due to unfortunate life experience, I have a constant fear of people randomly walking into my apartment (as my former landlords and their staff were prone to do). That fear that can become almost crippling for me. I would much rather live in a tiny house on wheels that I owned, than a large, rented apartment. Plus, I know I couldn't afford a place to live, and travel money. A house that doubles as a hotel could bring my tourist dream into a more reasonable price range. And, wouldn't a tiny house make a fantastic studio, if I had a bigger place to live?

Maybe it would be cheaper and easier to buy an Airstream or other travel trailer, but I think they are made to hold as many people as possible, for short trips. Building a tiny home from scratch would allow me to customize it to my needs. It's all just hypothetical, for now, as I have absolutely no money. Some day, I hope to be able to say that I live in a 130 square foot house on wheels, that I built with my own hands. Until then, I'll dream my little dream.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Just Press Pause

Mika, my mom's cat who is currently living with me, was just diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure. I've been trying to get him on a schedule, and to get over my fear of sticking him with a needle. I hope to get into some routine soon. For now, I'm spending a great deal of time researching cat food. It's terribly exciting.

Naturally, when I did try to post something, Blogger was down. Now that it's up and running, I don't seem to have much to say. I'm incredibly overwhelmed. But, as I said, I hope to get into a routine soon, which includes blogging.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Stupid Simple DIY - Applying Henna to Short Hair

If you prefer the tips without the explanatory babble, click Read More and scroll to the bottom. 


I'm not an expert on henna by any stretch, but I have applied it to my hair enough times to have come up with a pretty good system. I dabble in mehndi, but that's a post for another day. There is a lot of great information available on henna and how to get the most out of it on your hair, most if it at Henna for Hair. But, I keep my hair short, Jean Seberg short, and there isn't a lot of information (at least, not that I could find) on applying henna to short hair. So, through a bit of trial and error, this is the method I've come up with.

For starters, I've found it's best to henna hair just before cutting it. There are too reasons for this. First, the shorter the hair, the more apparent the roots; so if you don't feel like a day of hair maintenance, dye first and you won't have to walk around with obvious roots. Second, longer hair holds the henna in place. Henna is the consistency of mud, you don't want a mudslide down your face and neck. Just like trees, grass, and other plants prevent mudslides down a hill, hair prevents a mudslide on your head. This is also the reason you will want to mix your henna a bit thicker than the stirred up yogurt consistency that is normally recommended. Something a bit thinner than mashed potatoes works well when applied to my dry hair.

Keeping the mix simple works best, just henna, water, and lemon juice (lime juice and chamomile tea work in a pinch). Henna for Hair has an entire page devoted to the different things people mix into their henna, but adding terps is a bad idea, especially if you have short hair. Terps, or terpenes, are what you add to henna to get a better stain on the skin, but they have no effect on staining the hair.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stupid Simple DIY-Treat Tubes for Cats and Small Animals

I picked this trick up when I was a zoo intern. We would save toilet paper and paper towel tubes to use as enrichment for the smaller, usually domesticated, animals (rabbit, chinchilla, opossum, etc.), and I've adapted it for use with my cats. I also use these to hold everything from scrap embroidery floss to cotton swabs. It's so stupidly simple you can probably follow along just by the pictures, or with brief directions, but we all learn differently, so I'm going visual and verbal (well, textual?... that sounds a little, um...). Also, my nail polish is fantastic, and I wanted to show it off.

Start with an empty toilet paper roll, or cut down a paper towel, wrapping paper, aluminum foil, etc. roll.

(click to enlarge to properly take in my nail polish)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Craft in America - An Overly In-Depth Review

I've now watched all five episodes (the sixth episode premieres May 24) of Craft in America, and can weigh in with a more complete analysis. The easiest way to do this is to break it down by episode.

Episode I. Memory

This episode centers on the traditions of crafting, and the way those traditions are handed down and carried on. This focus is rather broad, and a bit stretched in some cases, but the general concept is evident. Because of the focus on tradition, it is also very much about family and heritage.

The featured artists include Gary Knox Bennett, a furniture maker; Pat Courtney Gold, a basket maker specializing in work inspired by traditional Wasco Indian designs; Mary Jackson, a basket maker specializing in sweetgrass baskets, Tom Joyce, a blacksmith; and Sam Maloof, the late, woodworking legend. Both basket makers were compelling as they discussed the relationship between their culture and their craft, but watching Mary Jackson work with her daughter and granddaughter, and hearing the insight into the tradition from her little granddaughter was a highlight. While I enjoyed seeing and hearing Sam Maloof, my favorite part of this episode was Tom Joyce. The man had me ready to scrounge up some iron and build a fire in the back yard.

The only disappointing part of this episode was the arrogance of Gary Knox Bennett, but even that wasn't all that bad, and provided a contrast to the understated nature of the other artists. He didn't even muster enough over-confidence to make me dislike him. His work is bold, and I appreciate that he has a personality to match it.

Episode II. Landscape

Episode two is all about the impact of place, time, and culture on art and artisans. The featured artists include Jan Yager, a Philadelphia based artist and mixed media jeweler; Kit Carson, an Arizona based artist and jeweler; David Gurney, a painter and potter; George Nakashima, another late, woodworking (furniture making) legend; Mira Nakashima-Yarnall, a furniture maker following her father's lead; Richard Notkin, a ceramic artist with a political bent; and the artisans who contributed to the Timberline Lodge, including those working on its restoration.

Jan Yager's mission to create only from inspiration in her immediate vicinity is fascinating. Using "city flotsam," she creates compelling and thought provoking pieces as well as those inspired by the weeds growing nearby. I was also intrigued by the soft spoken potter, David Gurney, and his bold work. All of these artists seemed not only highly influenced by their surroundings, but to be of the speak softly, create loudly persuasion. I like that; I like them. Plus, Kit Carson wears a neckerchief throughout his interview, so bonus points for adorableness.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Craft in America

I've only just started watching the series, but Craft in America is a fascinating account of the handmade community by the artisans who comprise it. For me, the allure of handmade objects is the visceral dichotomy they present; makers/artists/craftspeople communicate in a primal, non-verbal language, relaying complexity and insight that is difficult to convey with the limited lexicon of modern languages. Still, it is a very powerful thing indeed, to listen to an artist talking about her work, while watching her create it. Seeing a bit of scrap metal, a weed from a city field, a lump of clay, blades of grass, or any number of raw materials turned into something useful or beautiful, or both, is a visual reminder of the creativity alive in the human mind. And that, I think, is the ultimate appeal of handmade objects.

The artisans featured are all successful, and some of them are incredibly pretentious, but the overall feel is that of the craft community: full of clashing personalities and styles, but also full of creativity, acceptance, and history. I highly recommend you add Craft in America to your Netflix queue, order the DVDs, watch for episodes on your local PBS station, or view them online at PBS.org. If you are drawn to crafters or crafts of any variety, I think you will enjoy this peek into the creative spirit.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Beautiful Boy

'Jasper Gaius, Fancy Pants' by floofball

I have a cat named Jasper Gaius, his pants are fancy, and sometimes matted.


$30.00

$45.00

$5.59

$55.00

$4.95

$200.00

$15.00

$18.00

$36.00

$40.00

$17.00

$35.00

$14.00

$65.00

$3.50

$20.00




Jasper Gaius, the inspiration






Craft in Action

See that beehive piƱata,

The one Pepino the Spectacled Bear is chewing up to get to the yummy honey inside?


I made that.
(click to enlarge)


Happy Earth Day, may you celebrate it every day.

(photos taken at the Oglebay Good Zoo)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Felt Tea Bag Tutorial

As promised, here is my version of a felt tea bag.



Materials
*white felt
*green felt
*white six strand embroidery floss
*needle
*scissors






Start with a rectangle of white felt about twice the width and slightly over twice the length you want the finished tea bag. (Mine is a bit squat, because I was trying to get the most out of a sheet of felt.) Stitch the longer sides together using a whip stitch. These stitches won't be seen, so no need to be terribly careful.


Flatten the tube you've just created so that the stitched edge runs down the middle.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Treasured Places

'A Tail of Two Cities' by floofball

A story of two places, a seaside resort town, and a country village, as told by the animals who call each home.

For the non-team challenge http://treasurychallengenonteam.blogspot.com/


$21.99

$12.00

$15.00

$45.00

$575.00

$20.00

$50.00

$4.00

$28.00

$3.95

$82.00

$75.00

$10.00

$32.00

$15.00

$5.00
Treasury tool by Red Row Studio.


This is my first Non-team Challenge Entry, I've been terrified of screwing up, as there are thirty million rules. Even if it is wrong, I like it (especially the terrible pun in the title)!