Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer 2012 Craft-Up

For the past three summers I've been one of those lucky people that can choose to take the summer off. At the end of every summer I hear myself repeat the same pattern: I vow to never do it again, to work 'round the clock, year 'round, and then by the end of the school year I am ready to crap out on my bed and not get out for a month. I hear this, mind you -- I hear herstory repeat itself, repeatedly. Let this be the record that whenever I call someone out on not following through for something they said they'd do, I am creating a double standard and am a lying hypocrite.

What is it that's so draining about the work I do? Don't others endure emotional turmoil in dealing with [people who act like] kids, familial drama, and uncertain employed future? I'm sure there are other things out there I could be forced to do all year round that promise verbal abuse and psychological manipulation than asking me to stay after work for a few hours a couple of days a week to update an online gradebook, or plan classes, or meet with parents. That's stuff I'm more than happy to do, because it's for the children and it's for their future.

But right now I don't wish to discuss children, or their respective futures; that's not what I wanted to discuss in this blog post. I wanted to talk about ME, and MY endeavors, and MY future, and what I can do with my own magnificence.

2012 Summer Craft-a-Thon
WARNING: Obscene amounts of craft jargon follow!

Project #1: Long-term UFO (unfinished object) -- socks from Vogue Knitting magazine
I started these puppies with yarn I'd obtained from Stitches West 2010, and only knit one of the socks. For two years I only had one of these bad boys to show off my sock skills to others. That's the problem with knitting socks, and the only problem as far as I can see --
PROS -- transportable (can take on BART, road trips, etc.), knit up fast, and thousands of patterns are available for free on the whirled-white-web.
CONS -- you gotta make two of 'em, bro.

See what I mean?

Project #2: "Shetland Shorty" -- or, as I prefer to call it, my Boob Warmer. From knitty.com
My dirty pillows will thank me for YEARS TO COME!
The only caveat about this project -- and, I must admit, about most projects I knit or crochet -- was the gauge. I know I should make a swatch before I proceed with the damn thing, but my ego won't allow it. So I knit BoobWarmer v1.0 and it was too small (cinched at the arms), and had to unravel the whole thing. Luckily the body of the pattern consists mostly of a [k2tog, yo twice] repeat so the only challenging part was making the hem edge around the neck and arms, and the danged 3-needle bindoff that, for some reason, makes total sense in my mind but the message gets lost traveling down to my delicate knit fingers.

Project #3: "Tappan Zee." I hadn't ever made a top-down cardigan, and I had this awesome wool yarn from WEBS, so I decided to try it out. Also from knitty.com
I always say that it was more than coincidence that my sister and mother collected buttons, and I knit. Seriously, though, I am very grateful because instead of just being bitter and up to my ears in buttons, I can actually use them for something, and something functional at that! 

The only thing I would change about this pattern is the number of stitches needed to bind off to make the sleeves. They are comfortable, for now, but if I ever wanted to She-Hulk it up there would be problems and something might give (like the stitch tension). But the color is wonderful and can go with lots of stuff and I can't wait to wear it in layers this fall/winter.

Project #4: Baby Blanket (original)
A friend of mine had recently taken up crocheting and watching her hook away gave me inspiration. Also a couple of other friends were expecting, so the stars seemed to align and I wasn't going to ignore them.

The body of the blanket was created using a Crossed Cluster stitch on even rows, which is kind of like a crocheted cable stitch and bobble stitch combined. Odd rows were half-double crochet (instead of the single crochet the pattern called for).

The hat was crocheted in the round, inspired by a pattern in the crochet Stitch 'n' Bitch installment, The Happy Hooker. It's a great book and I constantly refer to it for project and pattern ideas.

Project #4.5: Scrabble sweater swatch (original swatch, not original pattern)
This was an idea I'd been tossing around for the last two and a half years, or as long as I've been playing Scrabble. I still stare at the board trying to mentally move the tiles around to increase my score. Then one day I decided it was time I'd stopped daydreaming aloud to my boyfriend about knitting a Scrabble-inspired sweater and just start the process. Of course, there's still more to be done, like taking measurements, deciding the hem of the sweater, if it will be set-in sleeves, "seamless," or raglan style (my vote is for seamless but things could change). 

The yarn used for the swatch comes from KnitPicks.com Shine Sport (Pima cotton and Modal). 

Just last night I learned a new stitch from Knitting Daily, and spent about three hours practicing and designing a half-sleeve pullover to knit for the fall.

Project #5: Sewn neck-warmer (original) -- While picking up some scrap fabric from an upcycled shirt I'd bought last year in Albuquerque, I came across a circular strip of fabric I'd cut off from the hem (it was too long) and, using an invisible stitch, created a tubular neck-warmer.
I refuse to call this sucker a scarf.
I really need to toot my own horn here and say that all this was created and worn within the span of a couple of months. On a deeper level, it's gotten me to think about my personal potential as a crafter and reflect on all the growing I've done since I taught myself to knit ten years ago. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth it to take the moral high-ground and tell people I'm all about self-betterment, teaching myself to do new things, and trying something different even if it comes out wrong. Answer: it is.