Thursday, January 26, 2012

A New Challenge

I have been knitting and crocheting for awhile.  I have made scarves, purses, hats, blankets, and other miscellaneous items.  Now I admit that some of these projects were not up to professional standards, but I think I have proved that I am getting better and my skills are advancing.  If you are doubting this please refer to my animal hats (my personal designs) and the fair isle project that I posted about last week.  I mean, come on, that is impressive.
However if you are very astute, (and I know that my readers are) you have realized that there is something is missing from my long list of projects.  I have yet to make a garment that fits and is wearable.   In my early knitting days, I tried to knit a simple shell vest, and I thought it was going well.  BUT... when I was done with it, it was the largest vest, ever.  I, seriously, don’t know how it ended up so big.   Ever since that epic fail, I have been reluctant to try again. 
Fast forward a year and a half.
I have a friend that lives in Illinois and has the cutest dog, Reilly.  He had seen some of my finish projects and was very impressed with the creativity of Yarn Fairies.  He, immediately, commissioned a piece for Reilly.  He wanted a vintage U of I sweater for Reilly.   Out of excitement and the high coming off Yarn Fairies debut weekend, I said I could do it.  No big deal! 
No big deal?  After I started to think how I was going to do this, I started to get a little worried.  I can’t make garments.  Much less, can I make garments for a pet? This would truly be my biggest challenge yet as a Yarn Fairy.  But I was up to the challenge. 
I started out with a ton of measurements, and as I went I asked for a lot more measurements.  Here is a pic of Reilly with all the measurement that I required. 

Once I had all the measurements, I picked out a pattern that kind of looked like I wanted it to.  I followed the pattern very loosely, but mainly made the sweater to fit the measurements that I had. 
I ripped it back... a lot.  I wanted it to be perfect. And after much work, I was finished.  It was the best I could do.  I must have measured that sweater a million times.   It was finally ready to be mailed.  I was so nervous about the fit.  I wanted Chris to like it.  I wanted Reilly to be comfortable in it.  So I waited all week, and bugged Chris constantly on Friday until he sent me this pic and this text!
"U are an amazing person, couldn't fit better and he likes it"
"Seriously this is amazing.  Fits perfect, easy to get on and off, couldn't be better"

I was ecstatic.  My first finished garment and it is a success.  This has served as an encouragement to try other garments.  I am thinking/brainstorming/designing a swimsuit cover-up.  I am ready for summer!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

One Down

Well, it is January 20th and I have already crossed off one thing on my resolution list.  I wanted to learn a new knitting skill, and I did.  I signed up for a knitting class just before Christmas.  I was very excited to learn that my teacher would be Steve.  Steve taught me how to make socks, and he is a really good teacher that teaches you concepts and skills rather than just teaching you how to read the pattern at hand.

Like any real class, there was homework.  It was simple homework.  It was to do a knit 2, purl 2 ribbing, and the straight knitting until the piece is ready for the Fair Isle portions.  I really enjoyed working with this yarn.  It knitted so well.  It is only sold in neutral colors, so I think it was a yarn that I would have overlooked if it had not been for the class. 

Now, here is the official definition of Fair Isle.

Fair Isle is a traditional knitting technique used to create patterns with multiple colours. It is named after Fair Isle, a tiny island in the north of Scotland, that forms part of the Shetland islands

It is knitting with two colors at one time.  During the class I learned to carry the second yarn in my right hand, while my main color was simultaneously in my left hand.  It took awhile to get the hand motions right, but I did it.

Last night was the second and final night of the class.  At as the end of class was approaching, I was anxious to finish.  I knew I was so close.  And then it happened.  I finished my first Fair Isle project. 
Now this is a picture of the backside, when you carry two yarns at the same time, it creates floats.

Are you ready for the final project with the right side facing. 
Drum Roll, please!

I am in love with this, and I am very proud of myself. 

One thing is completely crossed off my New Year’s Resolution list.  I have been going to gym this week.  And Kacee is coming by tomorrow to help me starting organizing my master closet.  (Pray for her.)  So I am making progress on most things on my list.  However, the nail biting is not getting any better.  But, hey, I am not wonder woman!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Destiny of a Yarn

Now I am going to share a secret that only yarn artists know.  It will seem strange and ridiculous to regular people, and so this is my attempt to explain it to you.  There are two kinds of yarn. 
1.      On sale yarn
2.      Special yarn

On Sale Yarn is just as it sounds, it is yarn that you pick up at a good price.  You know that you will always need pink yarn to do a little girl hat. Neutral colors are a must have, for you always need them at weirdest times.  It is the colors that you know that you are going to need.  It is your basic stash.  Nothing really special, but the yarn still has a purpose.  But the purpose is more predictable, more ordinary.

Special yarn is different.  Special yarn is a yarn that we just had to have, a yarn that just caught our eye from across the room.  Special yarn could also be a gift from someone. I know that this makes it sound like special yarn has to be expensive, but it doesn’t.  I have fell in love with a $4 skein of yarn from Michaels and I have fell in love with wool that costs $12 a skein from my Local Yarn Shop.  My love of yarn knows no price range.   Special yarns not only have a purpose, but a destiny.    I have many special yarns, but this post is about one in particular.

I visited NYC in March for work, but due to scheduling I did not have time to visit the official Lion Brand Studio.  But when I went back in November, I planned my flights so I would have time to stop by . Here is pic that I took from this article about how the Lion Brand store got its start.

Now I know what you are thinking.  Don’t they sell Lion Brand Yarn everywhere?  Well, yes they do.  However, there are some yarns that are only available at the store in New York or online.  And yes, I could have ordered this yarn online, but it is not the same.

That day in NYC was a rainy dreary day, so when I picked out the yarn that I wanted.  I went with a color that kind of mark the color of the day, but was super soft.    I bought a dark grey baby alpaca yarn, and I love it.

Now since November, I have been busy with Yarn Fairies and Christmas presents, so I have not had time to take out this yarn.  But it is a new year, and my in progress projects are reaching their final stages.  My homework for my knitting class is done.  And it is time for me to think about this yarn.  I have 3 skeins, and I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with it.  I knew from the start, that I wanted to make something for myself with this yarn, something that I would wear and love.   I thought about a scarf, but that didn’t seem right.  I couldn’t find the right pattern.    Then I decided that I had plenty of scarves, some of which I never wear.   Then I came across this pattern.  I have always wanted one of these drapey vests, but I think that they are too expensive in the store.   I am very excited about this pattern.  I think this is the destiny for my Baby Alpaca yarn from NYC.

I have a dog sweater to wrapup, and my knitting class tomorrow night.  But I will be casting on for this very soon, and I am very excited about it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Round 1 - DING!

I got a sewing machine for Christmas.  I really really wanted one.  I have been browsing Pinterest, seeing all of these old clothing up cycled into new trendy summery clothes.  And I thought to myself, I can do this, all I need is a sewing machine.  I have already got the old t-shirts!  (It seems like everything on Pinterest can be made from an old t-shirt.)   Well, I have my sewing machine, the old t-shirts, and lots of inspiration.  But there is one little step that I forgot, I don’t know how to work a sewing machine. 
But that is small stuff, if I can learn to knit; crochet, and weave, then I most certainly can learn to sew.  So here is a recollection of the first round with my sewing machine. 
I took it out of the box, and just looked at it for a moment.  I just have a feeling that I am about to create some magnificent pieces with this machine.  Then, I decided to get this baby running.  After a short hour, I finally had the machine threaded.  I would like to mention that I took time to read most of the instructions.  And finally I was ready to sew.  Or so I thought.  I started and I ended up with a huge jumble of thread.  I didn’t take a picture of it, because I was embarrassed.  I am a Modern Homemaker.  I should be able to maneuver this tricky machine.
I turned many knobs back and forth, and tried again.  Big jumbled knot of thread. 
Third time of adjusting knobs and a little praying, and it worked. Kind of.  Here is me working very hard at making some cat curtains for the litter box. 

Here is the front of my work.  It is very plain, but I think it is okay for a third try.  And is a ton of improvement of the big jumbled knot of thread.

Here is the back of my work.  Something is still not right.  I have done some internet research, and my top thread tension might be too tight.    If you are a sewing expert and you are reading this and laughing, please tell me if you know what is wrong. 

Here is my finished product.  All that work, and I am not even sure if Daphne likes it.  Cats are so fickle.

I think some sewing classes are in my future. 
So Round 1 – I say it’s a draw between me and my sewing machine.  It looked like she had the upper hand for awhile, but I showed her she could be tamed.  Or that I will learn to tame her.
P.S.  This post makes me think I should name my sewing machine.  Hmmm.... I will name her Myrna.
P.S.S.  Myrna, I am coming for you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Years Resolutions and Reflections Recap

I love New Years.  It is a time for reflection over the previous year, and anticipation for the upcoming year.   So I thought, I would do a little reflecting and planning for the upcoming year. 
Some pretty great things happened to me this year.
1.      We moved to a new apartment.
2.      Started attending a home church.
3.      I completed my CPCU designation.
4.      One of my best friends got married.
5.      We went to Vegas twice!
6.      I moved over to a window cube at work.
7.      Yarn Fairies is beginning to get off the ground.
8.      Established some great friends.
9.      Celebrated our first anniversary!
10.   Alabama had an awesome season, with a chance at #14!
11.   Had an awesome New Years Eve in Dallas!

I am sure that more stuff happened in 2012, but these are the broad strokes.  It has been a pretty great year.  As you all know, New Years is the time to making resolutions for the upcoming year, and I have made some for 2012.  But I thought that I would take a moment and report progress on my resolutions for 2011.

2011 Resolutions (or at least the two that I can remember)
1.      To Read More - My goal was to read 36 books this year.  I am happy to report that I read 42 books this year.  This was achievable because Justin got me a Kindle for Valentine’s Day.  Now, to be absolutely honest, I was supposed to read classics and best sellers, with a small amount or smut or fun reading mixed in.  But I would say it ended up more like half and half. 
2.      To Be More Organized – Now I would say that I have made some improvement in this area, but I realize that I still have a lot more improving to do.  But New Year’s resolutions are supposed to be permanent changes, and permanent changes take time. 

This time next year, I will look back at this blog post, and have to answer to them.  Since they will actually be written down and published.  Eeek, that is a lot of pressure on me to complete my resolutions.

2012 Resolutions
1.      To stop biting my nails AGAIN- This has been a constant New Year’s Resolution for me, all except for last year.  I had stopped biting my nails for a year and a half, but I am sad to report that I have started again. 
2.      To learn new knitting techniques - I want to learn how to knit Fair Isle.  (Fair Isle is stranded color knitting, so it is knitting with two different colors at the same time.)  I have already gotten a head start on this, and I am signed up for a class in January.  I also want to make a sweater. I have selected a pattern already, and know the yarn that I want to use.  Maybe I will start on this in February.
3.      To figure out a direction for Yarn Fairies - What do I want Yarn Fairies to become?  I know I want to continue to make stuff for people and have booths in the fall, but I also want time to develop new skills and do some charity knitting. So it is about striking that balance.
4.      To be more organized – I am continuing on my life changing journey to organization.
5.      To learn to sew -  I have a new sewing machine, now how to use it?
6.      To be healthier – I know, everyone in the country has listed this as a resolution.  But while I do want to shape up, I just want to eat better and exercise more often.  I want to keep better care of myself.
7.      To say yes - I found this quote on pinterest, and the more I thought about it, the more it struck a cord with me.  The saying was, “Say yes, unless you have sound reasons to say no”   This is about taking opportunities, chances, and really living your life to the fullest. 
I think seven is enough.  Happy New Year, friends.  Good luck with your resolutions!