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  • What a Difference a Space Makes

    I normally post every weekday morning, but that didn't happen today.  The hour between 6 A.M. and 7 A.M. is always set aside for writing, but I was otherwise occupied today.  I'll tell you all about it very soon.

    Of course, that's assuming you're really interested in reading about my reorganization endeavors.  I hope you are, though, because I'm going to write all about it some time very soon.

  • Learn to Knook: Back Cables Left-Handed

    See those cabled gift card holders up there?  I made 'em.  I feel good about it.  They looked even better with the cards in them, and they probably would have looked fantastic if I was better at button placement and had some appropriately colored thread for the buttons.  But it was a nice little project and a more personal touch for a gift card.  The pattern can be found here, and it features front and back cables.

    I'm not sure why I thought back cables would be very different from front cables, but there you go. I read the pattern and panicked a little because I'd only practiced with front cables, but then I tried it and was almost disappointed because, oh, your held stitches are in the back.  The right side has front cables and the left side has back cables.  It's just another way to make a cable, and to make your stitches move in a different direction.  If you've already figured out front cables, then you can probably manage back cables.

    But since there's no need to struggle, here's a video to show you! 

    Video can also be watched here.

    I tell you what, any task seems so much more manageable after you watch someone else do something a few times.  The first time around, I always go between "I think I understand" and "I don't think I'll ever be able to do that."  The second time, I'm able to pay closer attention.  The third time, it mostly makes sense.  Some time after the fourth viewing, I feel like the demonstration might be something I could actually try out myself.  This applies to knitting, baby wearing, crocheting, Knooking, yoga, baby swaddling, sink repair, and anything else that isn't a hair tutorial (certain up-dos are never going to happen for me).

    I don't know that back cables will require that much preparation and video-viewing from you.  I'm assuming you'll have an easier time with it than I do, and I wouldn't call it difficult.  It's a fun little technique that makes the prettiest design.  I'm blatantly biased, but I think you should try it out after watching the video.  Maybe watch it twice.

    Happy Knooking!

    Postscript: I realize this post is full of really country-sounding expressions.  I can't think of a better way to phrase things when I'm tired.  Or, as it sounds when I'm saying, "tahred."  It's just a day for Arkansas blogging.  Sorry about that.

  • Learn to Knook: Back Cables

    More cables!  The only difference between front cables and back cables is that your held stitches are held in the front of your work for front cables, and guess where those held stitches go for back cables?  Yep.

    Simply scooting your cord to the back of your work isn't that tricky (unless you're not paying attention and just finished working a front cable.  Ahem), but it's worth going over in a video.  And so some nice person at Leisure Arts did!

    Ta da!

    Video can also be found here.

    As you can see, carefully removing the cord after a cable row probably takes more time than figuring out the cable itself!  And even that's not so bad.  It's a relatively small amount of work to have such a nice pattern in your knitting.  Knooking.  Whatever.  Since Knooking results in a knitted fabric, I think it counts as knitting.

    And cabled fabric is the prettiest fabric, I think.  I know this is probably due to the fact that I just learned how to work cables, but it really is pretty!  I like to read a blog called Knitting Confessions, and no one has ever said anything unkind about cables.  In fact, I also used to read a blog called something like Unpopular Knitting Opinions (I'm pretty sure the administrator just quit posting after people kept getting up in arms over all the unpopular knitting opinions. It's sad that people would get so weird about loom knitting), and no one had anything bad to say about cables there, either!  I know that's not proof that the whole world likes cables, but it's got to mean something when people have a chance to anonymously snark about something on the Internet and don't.

    And how could you?  You can't.  For Pete's sake, remember when that scary knitted full body suit picture was floating around the Internet a few weeks ago?  Just in case your eyeballs haven't been cursed with this horrifying work of art, here you go:

    (Source.)

    Everyone had to admit it was really well made.  Some of the people I know who shared this on Facebook even said they wished someone would make this for them.  They inevitably tried to drop hints around crocheters, so it didn't work, but hey. 

    Side note: I love when people ask for knitted items with no offer of compensation or undying gratitude--from crocheters!  Or vice versa.  I just laugh and laugh, probably because I'm mean.

    But I don't have a single snarky thing to say about cables.

    Because they're the best.

    Try them out. Come on.

    You'll love them.

    Just not on a full body suit for a giant adult.

    Please.

  • Resolutions for 2013

    Happy New Year!

    Do you have any resolutions for 2013?  I know I said I wasn't going to, but I just love lists too much. I was thinking through my plans for Year 30, and decided the list was lacking just a bit.

    My goals for Year 30 are:
    -make mittens
    -knit a sweater for myself
    -make a quilt
    -make something to enter in the Arkansas State Fair
    -learn to read charts
    -knit a shawl from a pattern
    -make socks

    Those are fun goals and I'm looking forward to them.  Working from a chart makes me nervous, but I've tried it a few times and being bad at it is getting old.  But there's always room for improvement, and isn't that what resolutions are meant to be?  My birthday goals are goals--mostly skills I want to learn and means to ends I want (I want a sweater!  Badly!).  But my resolutions are attempts at self-improvement.  My list for that is short.  Not because I think I'm clearly awesome (I do, though, because I am), but because I can only stand so much change.

    Big 2013 Resolution #1
    Knit through at least half of my stash.

    This was what it looked like in October.  It's grown since then.

     I had some impulse buys in 2012, and I had some projects that just didn't work out.  Some of it is small amounts that need to go into granny squares, and some of it could really be something fantastic.  I have some great yarn!  I'd really like to do something with it before I go out buying anything else.  Sometimes, though, it's just easier to go out and buy a new skein or two for a pattern than to hope I have enough stash yarn left, or to even find the stash yarn.  Speaking of which....

    Big 2013 Resolution #2:
    Get organized.

    Specifically, get organized with crafting supplies.  Because this is what my craft corner looks like now.

    Realest blog post ever.  This is what things looked like this morning.

    When my daughter was learning to crawl, we took a playpen and unfolded it across one wall of our living room.  It was a pretty genius move, but it also led to me just dropping things behind The Wall and losing them forever.  There's also a basket of fabric and a little hutch with scrapbooking supplies that I just can't bring myself to show you.  Anyway, if I can bring order to even a portion of that chaos, I'd be a much happier camper.  My little girl is older now, and understands that she can't touch certain things of mine (or she seems to, anyway.  Fingers crossed!) and so it's probably safer now to have things out in the open.  And if I use up half of my yarn, it will certainly be easier to contain it!

    So those are my big resolutions for 2013.  They can be summed up with "Don't get drowned in yarn."  I should be fine, and even if I'm not, there are worse problems to have than too much yarn. 

    Still, I'd like to have a much less embarrassing picture to show you of my corner.

    What are your resolutions?  Any big projects you want to tackle?  New techniques you want to learn?  Horrible trashy craft corners you need to whip into shape?  Let me know in the comments!

    And have a happy 2013!

  • Learn to Knook: Front Cables Left-Handed

    Good morning!  Are you safe?  Are you warm? Do you have power?

    Arkansas is still a bit of a mess and I'm at home. I'm writing this post later in the morning than I normally would, and I'm doing it while watching my daughter play with my phone.  She's covered in gingerbread and I'm trying not to think about what's happening to my keyboard because it's entertaining her far more thoroughly than my BBC drama on DVD is.  I don't know why toddlers can't appreciate Masterpiece Mystery.

    But enough about me.  If you're a left-handed person at home on this blustery day, ready to learn how to Knook some front cables, then here you go:

    Oh cables.  You're so pretty.  I like cables on the Knook because there's not an extra needle and none of the stitches can get away from you.  I was knitting a few cabled things last week and I'd be so focused on the cable needle that I wouldn't even notice that the stitches on one of my main needles had slipped right off.  I was surprised every single time. It was a little pitiful.  But I've liked what I did on the Knook so far.

    That's yesterday's picture because I haven't done much more than that.  I just like it when posts have pictures.  Speaking of which, here's another completed dishcloth.

    It's the Sunny pattern from Dishcloths Made with the Knook.  I used a H/8 Knook and Sugarn' Cream cotton yarn in Sage Green.  I liked that pattern a lot.  Either I'm finding patterns I like more, or I'm finally getting the hang of using a Knook.  It's probably a combination of the two, but I'm happy either way. 

    I hope you're also having fun trying out more Knook things.

    Happy Knooking!

  • Learn to Knook: Front Cables

    It's cable time!  Yay cables!  They're fancy!  They're twisty!  They're really not that tricky!

    See?

    Video can also be viewed here.

    The nice thing about making cables on the Knook is that you don't need a cable hook, and you don't have to worry about your other stitches falling off the needles on the left-hand needle.  Or at least I don't.  This might not be something most knitters don't have to worry about.  Anyway,  everything's safe on your cord, and Knooking cables aren't too complicated at all.

    I've been trying it myself today:

    I know it's not super visible, and my snow day pajama pants are probably detracting from the project, but there you have it!  Knooked cables!

    If you're eager to try out cables on a real project, remember that you can Knook any knitted pattern.  Or you can try the book, Urban Hats Made with the Knook

    The hat on the cover has cables and everything!  Super cute.

    I hope you're staying warm and safe and entertaining yourself with some Christmas yarn.  Talk to you tomorrow.  Happy Knooking!

  • Last-Minute Gift Ideas from Everyday Life at Leisure Arts

    There's only 5 days left until Christmas!

    I know lots of you are trying to finish up Christmas gifts--or,  um, trying to start them.

    How do I know?  Aside from knowing because we all do this and I still have 3 projects that I need to cast on myself (whoa!), I can also tell because of Blogger's Stats counter.

    Some of the most-read posts this week include some pretty quick and just plain pretty projects that I thought I'd bring straight to you in case you weren't one of those Googlers (let's pretend that's a word) looking for some last-minute project ideas.

    First is the post about Bulky Crocheted Scarves.  Whenever I have time constraints, in addition to looking for projects tagged with terms like "quick" or "gift," I also look for words like "one skein" or "bulky."  Big yarn = big stitches.  See?

    From the Bulky Scarves post.

    This chunky scarf uses about 200 yards of super bulky yarn, and looks so cozy.  I love how bulky yarn projects feel right up against your face when it's windy, and that little touch of lace at the ends keeps the project from looking slapped together.  Anyone with crochet experience could definitely churn this out in a little while and make someone very happy.

    Next is the duct taped hat (?!?!).  I did not see that coming, I have to say.  I know Leisure Arts has books on duct tape projects, but this post on duct taping a hat really surprised me.

    See?  Duct-taped hat.

    This seems like a really fun and quick project, and you won't have to worry about your recipient getting the same thing from someone else. 

    Another way to go about doing this, especially if your intended giftee is also a maker, would be to buy a hat and several rolls of tape, and include them with a link to the post (if not one of the books!).  There's no telling what someone could do!  I would almost attempt this for one of my sisters, but her head is so large that hats are hard to find for her.  She'll probably get sad about it all over again once she reads this post.  Sorry.  Let's talk about something else!  Like how to present your.... presents.

    This post on handmade gift bags is looking pretty popular.  I can see why!

    Ugh, what if the bags were green and the flowers were still red and the buttons were brown?  It would be so Christmasy no one would be able to handle it!  Or red bags with white flowers!  Or blue and silver!  I'll stop now, but I'm still thinking it and I'm sure you are too.

    My go-to method of wrapping is to cut up brown paper grocery bags and then tie them up with twine.  It looks rustic and disguises the fact that I'm terrible at wrapping presents.  Fabric gift bags would be much more sustainable (I always have scraps) and infinitely more attractive.  I absolutely love this.

    I hope you enjoyed seeing these great ideas, I hope they helped, and I really hope you're making great progress on your holiday gift crafting!

  • Be Nice to Yourself

    I tried to think of some insightful-sounding title, but that's really all I've got--you should be nice to yourself.  It's really easy to get overwhelmed and stressed this time of year because there are end-of-the-year work things, Christmas gatherings, possibly graduations, extra cooking, extra shopping, extra traffic, and a list of things you have to do and an even longer list of things you want to make before the almighty 25th gets here. 

    (Or the 21st, if you're one of those end-of-the-world types.  But if you are, you're probably not that concerned about your holiday presents.  Good for you!)

    So be nice to yourself!  You're doing the best you can with what you've got.  I know it's incredibly distressing when you truly want to make something and time just won't let you.

    Those adorable crocheted owl ornaments I wanted to give to family and friends with Christmas cards?  Not happening. 

    In fact, Christmas cards?  Not happening until this weekend.  I'm behind this year.

    And you know my goal of Knooking something as simple as a dishcloth?  KILLING ME.

    I had intended to make a bundle of dishcloths for my mom's birthday (last week), and then I would knit her a shawl for Christmas.  Colorful dishcloths with interesting patterns seemed like a great birthday present, and a shawl seemed like a more thoughtful and holiday-appropriate project because it would take a little more time.  Right? 

    Wrong.

    Here's the thing.  This washcloth:

    took almost as long to make as this shawl:

    There are a bunch of reasons for this, the most obvious being that I am a knitter.  I've been doing it forever, and I'm comfortable with it and my hands know what to do.  That shawl doesn't really have a pattern, because I was a little too tired for patterns last week.  So I modified a version of another pattern, and just knitted in stockinette stitch.  I increased one stitch at each end of all the right-side rows.  I basically knitted a giant triangle.

    I enjoy Knooking.  I really and truly do.  I think it's fantastic and weirdly creative, and I do want to try more with it--especially more small in-the-round projects.  But it's new to me.  It feels weird because I know how to crochet and knit (even though I hold the needle wrong in both of those things, and I'm most comfortable holding my Knook wrong as well.  Sad but true) and Knooking is like both of those things, except that it's not. My hands are telling me how to do one thing, and the pattern books tell me to do another, and my brain is trying to figure out how to make it work.

    So after I made ONE dishcloth in a week and a half, I realized I was going to need to switch the projects.  And so I knitted up a shawl (after a few mess-ups and unravelings) in about 5 days.  This was with some getting up early and staying up late, but it was still faster than Knooking. 

    Part of me wants to act like I'm a big dang deal for knitting a triangle in a few days.  The more logical part of me knows that I'd better try to keep someone from feeling like crap just because they're not immediately amazing at trying some new skill.  Because I think that's what gets most people.  They try crocheting and because they can't immediately make doilies, they think they're bad at it and never touch it again.  Or they pick up knitting, and their stitches are uneven and they just don't feel as intuitive as their friends look (key word there.  Not "as intuitive as their friends are") when they knit and so they think they suck and they quit.  Which is so sad! 

    I think yarncrafting is fun.  I think handmade items are beautiful.  Knitting at the end of the day makes me happier than just about any other activity.  It falls right after giving my daughter a bath, and getting a shoulder rub.  I love it.  Some people might not.  For some people, it's stressful.  It's not fun, it's not interesting, and it's not something they want to do.  And that's fine!  But I'd rather someone try and decide s/he doesn't like it than try and hate it because s/he's not immediately great at it.

    All of that is easy to forget when you're worn out.  And I've been really worn out.  It happens.  I knew I wouldn't be planning to give many Knooked gifts this year because it's still a very new thing for me, but I thought I'd at least be able to handle a few dishcloths.  But I wasn't, and it irritated me.  But then I finished the shawl (late, which really irritated me because I didn't change plans in time to give it to my mom on her real birthday) and my mom loved it.

    My mom is truly one of my favorite people to make things for.  She freaked out over the shawl.  I showed her two ways to wear it and we immediately discussed washing instructions.  She primped in front of my bathroom mirror, styling and re-styling it.  She tried wearing it under her coat and over her coat and started naming off shirts she could wear it with and, finally, she took a phone pic of herself and sent it to my sisters before 8 o'clock in the morning because she had to show it off.  It was super ridiculous and it really made my day.

    (Also, my mom is that nice lady who comments on several of my posts.  You may have already guessed this, but she's incredibly supportive.)

    It was nice to have a reminder that I'm awesome.  I'm just not awesome at Knooking--yet.  I know that sounds a bit vain, but if I'm not nice to myself then I get discouraged.  When I get discouraged, I don't make as many things.  When I don't make as many things, I'm not as happy as I am when I do.  And on and on and on.  Since it's so easy to get stressed and discouraged right now, I figured at least some of y'all needed the pick-me-up as  much as I do.

    So: You're awesome.  You're doing your best and you're trying new things and you're super impressive at stuff.  You are, really and truly, awesome.  You're just maybe not-awesome at that new thing you're doing. 

    Yet.

    Give yourself time, be nice to yourself, and get back to it.  Have a great weekend, awesome person.  Good luck with those skills of yours.  I bet they're awesome.  

  • Learn to Knook: K2TOG Left-Handed

    Hi there, left-handed Knookers!  Ready to learn some decrease techniques?  I really hope so, because that's what I'm going to be talking for the next few tutorials.

    Decreasing your stitches helps you shape your project, provide pretty edges to patterns, and means you can make adorable baby hats.  Remember when I talked about those?  Baby hats are the cutest baby accessories, right after those tiny little socks.  Actually, it might be a tie.  I'm going to meet at least half a dozen brand new babies next year, so I'll do some serious research and get back to you on that.  Regardless of what I find, I think everyone knows that baby hats are precious and hats in general are awesome.  Especially at this time of year.

    Are you super eager to learn about how to decrease stitches for hats or booties or whatever using the K2TOG technique?  Then here you go!

    Video can also be found here.

    See how simple that was?  Knitting two stitches together is a simple and straightforward way to decrease the number of stitches you have in your project.

    In other news, my lofty endeavor to Knook every dishcloth in Dishcloths Made with the Knook is still going pretty well.  See?

    This is the Textured pattern.  I used an I/9 Knook and some kind of Sugarn' Cream cotton yarn.  I lost the label, and I don't know what colorway this is. 

    Four dishcloths down, six to go!  I'm having fun learning about how to Knook.

    I hope you are, too.

  • Knook Giveaway! This is Exciting!

    http://www.leisurearts.com/knook-beginner-set-for-medium-weight-yarn.html

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