Thursday, March 17, 2016

Weather and Knitting and Crocheting

I don't know what your weather has been doing.  I know what my weather is supposed to be doing.  I know what it has NOT been doing.

Beginning of March is supposed to be cold.  I should be wearing long pants and sweaters with a coat still when I go out.  This March in the beginning, I have had the windows open most days and nights.  We had to close the windows and put on the air conditioning to get the heat gone on a day when there was no breeze to cool the house below 80*.  This March I have worn shorts and still been warmer than I liked.  We have had more rain and wind than usual and less snow.

All this to say, there have been days when I felt too hot to knit or crochet.  I know, I know.  It even happens to me.  But then I took a look at what was in my hands, wool, fuzzy acrylic, alpaca, heavy and thick yarns.  I have swapped out for thinner and smoother yarns like cotton and smooth acrylic.  The acrylic does hurt my hands, but it is what is required for the charities I support.  Wool felts after all.  Cottons aren't that warm in winter.  I'm not sending alpaca, llama, silk, or linen to the charities either as they are both expensive or not wanted by the charities for whatever reason.

It may or may not be a good thing that I have so many WIPS going.  I put away the things with no deadlines that are too warm to work with and pull out the cooler projects or horror of all horrors, start something new.  I have also been reading or listening to audio books.  I can't wait to be able to write reviews of what I've been reading.  There have been so many great books.

I may have also ordered some that I needed.  Sadly, I don't have a local bookstore any longer.  Waldenbooks was the last chain bookstore in my town.  A nonchain bookstore opened for all of 6 months two years ago.  They now operate only at Christmas.  I have had to go to Amazon, ebay, and paper back swap  for books I'm trying to find.  There may be other places, but these are usually one stop shopping for me.  The paper back swap site is next to free at this point but you have to wait, sometimes longer than you want.  There are trade offs to every thing.

Monday, March 14, 2016

New Calendars!

New class schedules!  New class pictures.  The pictures allow you to meet the technique to be sure this is what you want to learn.  The pictures are swatches, not finished projects.

Now for the calendars.  I'm giving April thru August.

As always, classes are $20 for 2 hours for adults, $15 for the hour and a half for children.  Kids classes will be in the library Saturday morning.  Adult classes can be in my home, in the library, or in the event of a single person, your own home.  Groups are welcome.  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

New Techniques

My knitting guild, Lebanon Valley Knit 2-Gether, recently had a retreat.  It included workshops on intentional felting, wet and needle.  Candie Falger was the teacher.  She's really great at what she does.  She knows a lot about sheep wool and breeds of sheep.  The guild is on Facebook here.  Perhaps you have done some unintentional felting in the past.  I know I have.  I have also done intentional felting in my washing machine.  That process makes a big mess.

I have discovered 2 things about me and felting.  They amount to the same thing.  The wet felting and subsequent fulling process is great for getting aggression out.  The rougher you are the tighter the fibers get.  Needle felting and I don't get along well because I'm too rough or to be nicer about it, I have too much aggression for doing it well.  I managed to break a bunch of needles and quit before I broke more.

Our learning for the day was to make a piece of felt such as the Bedouin use for their tents as well as the history of the sheep breed that provides the wool for this.  This was the wet felting workshop.  It was fun

Our afternoon workshop was about needle felting.  We had made coasters in January that we needed to needle felt for decorative purposes.  We also used roving and a piece of felt to practice forming a flat badge shape.  Candie gave a demonstration during the day about 3 dimensional needle felting.  She was making dryer balls.  I have not made these or used them before.  The pros I have seen online are

  1. You no longer need to use fabric softener
  2. wool dryer balls hasten the drying time
  3. it lessens the need to iron (not something I do a lot of to begin with)
  4. this is something you can do with wool yarn that has been a feast for moths
The cons I have seen online are
  1. the wool leaves fuzz on the clothes
  2. it wrinkles clothes
  3. they make your clothes smell sheepy
Have any of you readers used them?  What are your experiences?  Thoughts?  I'd be very interested to hear.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Needles and hooks

Recently in an attempt to put away a mess from the Christmas rush, I decided to inventory my needles and hooks as they got put away.  I have been known to purchase needles or hooks for no definite reason at the time of purchase.  I have been known to purchase needles and hooks for the ride home from the yarn shop so I can get a jump start on whatever project I have in mind.  In this last instance, I'm not driving.  I have been known to purchase the needed hook or needle because I don't have it (a less and less likely scenario as the inventory grows) or because it is in use with another project or i can't find it.  I have discovered also that I don't have any of those square needles or hooks or any shape other than round.  I'm not sure I want them.  I'm not sure I want to even try them.  I like round.

I'm not anywhere near done with this.  I have not counted the tools in projects.  I have not even counted all the ones put away as they belong.  It does come to my mind though that I have a wide range of tools in a wide range of materials.  There is the wide assortment of anodized aluminum, some plastics, a smaller number of bamboo and woods. I even have a could of antique bone or ivory.  I don't use those.

This brings to mind a knit picks podcast of some time ago about materials for tools and how they feel in the hand.  Some people use only what has a good hand feel.  People with arthritis prefer wood because it is warm.  This is the consensus I have seen online and heard from various sources.  It also brings to mind a knitting daily show I saw recently (since Christmas) and how different materials react with yarns.  Some materials will shorten the height of stitches.  Some will widen the stitches but keep a proper height.  Some will lengthen height but cause width to shrink.  So depending on how perfect you want your stitches to be and what feels good in your hand, you have a huge choice of tool all available from local big box craft stores, thrift stores and from local sources.

My stash of tools has come from four main sources:  local thrift stores (love this better than yard sales as I don't have to stop and get out for no reason every few blocks.  plus I get to support a charity of my choice), big box craft stores (I have a JoAnn's, Michaels and Hobby Lobby in my town with an A.C, Moore within an hour from home), and from people at my church.  Because I'm part of the crafty ministries there, I get the calls saying mom died and she had this stuff, do you want it?  I always say yes.  (you can see how the stash of tools and yarn grows with that kind of response.) And fourth?  Ebay.  I have been known to pick up a lot of needles or hooks to get a few sizes I don't have.  This also means I get a bunch of sizes I already have.  I don't do this often.  You can see why.

Friday, March 4, 2016

How do you choose colors for your projects?

When I get a chance, I think about colors.  I know that sounds odd.  But stay with me.  Color affects our mood.  Color affects our appearance.  Color can remind us of events or people.

Usually the colors we pick to wear are colors that we feel enhance our appearance.  This is not always true.  I like the color yellow a lot.  I especially like the bright lemon peel yellow.  I can't wear yellow.  It makes me look terrible.  I can wear some pastel yellows.  I can't wear the dark yellow ochre types.  Yellow makes me feel happy and cheerful.

Most of the bright colors make me feel happy. Bright colors remind me of happy times, holidays, circuses, carnivals.  A good many of the colors when made dark are also colors that make me feel good.  I can wear some of them like dark green, purple, plum, maroon and some browns.  These dark colors remind me of my two favorite seasons, autumn and winter.  Pastels remind me of baby wear.  I love babies.   A good many pastel colors look nice on me.  But I am not crazy about wearing them.  I feel washed out in them.  This is not necessarily true but it is what I feel.

I know these things because I "had my colors done" in high school and because I have lived long enough with the same man to know if I ask a question, I'll get his honest answer.  The getting colors done was something popular in the 80s.  Basically we held swatches of solid colors near our faces and decided what looked good and what made us look sickly, clown ish, or just plain ugly.  I turned out to favor autumn tones.  Some of these colors really don't do me any favors as I said above in their pure tone.  However if the color leans to the blue or red sides, I can wear them.  I can wear purples but not pure blue.  This also changes with hair color.  Normally my hair is a medium ash brown, leaning in the last few years to a decided grey.  I dyed it recently to auburn.  This changes the colors I can wear slightly.  I still favor autumn colors but more greens and purples and less to the blues.  I still can't do bright yellows though.

I've also discovered that my eyes perceive color differently than your eyes.  So I might be able to say yes to a color with the opinion it looks great but it might not quite work for others who try to help me with color choices. It's even harder to pick colors for other people who are far away; I'm thinking of loved ones who are in another state or country.

It has been noted by Vickie Howell on Knitting Daily that even though you don't wear certain colors well, you can still wear them.  Wear a scarf or shawl in a coordinating or complementary color that does work for you next to your face.  All will be well.  I catch this show whenever I can and remember seeing this at some point.

So How do you choose colors for your projects??  Drop a note.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Keeping Your Mind Alert and Active

Let's be perfectly honest with each other.  Knitting and crocheting consist of a relatively few stitches.  For knitting, it's knit or purl with an increase or decrease occasionally thrown in for interest or shaping.  For crocheting, it's almost nothing more than how many times you wrap yarn around the hook before putting it into the fabric you are creating.  Yes, this boils it down to beyond simple.  But it is essentially true.  Does your mind drift from what you are doing?  Does the rhythm of what you are doing lull you into a hypnotic state just before your hands still and your eyes fall closed?  Mine do.  It's one of the reasons I love complicated patterns.  They keep me active and involved in what I'm doing.  However, I keep a garter stitch dishcloth handy to bedside for the times I can't quiet my mind to sleep.

This post though is how do you keep alert and active in what you are doing when you are working on either a deadline with some really simple work or are trying to get a large project done "because I'm so close".  I tried to watch some television, but that either engrosses me in the plot and I forget my work in my hands.  Or it bores me to sleep.  I have tried music.  I have tried podcasts.  I have tried audio books.  I have tried caffeine in various forms.  I have tried some adult beverages.  If there is a person who wants to talk nearby, I talk.  This last doesn't always work.  Either no one is home except the dog or cat or the other person doesn't want to talk because they are doing something.

So I ask, what do you use to keep alert?  Music, podcasts, and audio books do help.  I like the big band from the 30's sound, country, early rock.  I like history, gardening or knitting/crocheting podcasts and audio books.  I've been listening to the History Chicks back catalog recently.  They run the gamut of time and have included a few imaginary women in their line up.  I like the Gardeners Question Time podcast from BBC Radio 4.  Their question and answer style from various locations in the UK appeal to me.  I find that even if I know the plant suggestions won't work for my location, I do learn new things.  You can see by the side bar that my favorite knitting and crocheting podcasts are listed.