Road Trip

I recently went on a road trip to Vancouver Island. I used to live there, so I am familiar with the beautiful scenery. But since this is a yarn blog, I want to share some experiences in regards to getting yarn on holiday.

We started out in Port Hardy. The population there is less than 4000, so I didn’t know what to expect. Some small towns have a local access to yarn, others, none whatsoever.

We went to Cafe Guido/Drift/Book Nooks,(cafeguido.com) for coffee, and I saw two women knitting, so I asked them to recommend where to buy yarn. “Ace Hardware” they replied, but they also mentioned that they mostly buy online. As well, they said “it is a good excuse for a road trip”. Amen to that!

So on Sunday morning before we were to leave, we went to the local Ace Hardware store, and lo and behold, an entire  back area for yarn and sewing notions. I only bought one skein of wool because I had decided beforehand to only buy wool so I could felt it, and I don’t really need anything else. The picture above is from Ace Hardware.

Hint: if you are going on holiday and can get to yarn stores, either have something specific in mind, or at least have an idea. It is not fun to be overwhelmed by all the beautiful yarns only to leave empty handed! My idea was to buy only wool, so I can make felted bowls. This idea focusses me to look for wool that would look nice after felting.

I also took along one project, and these photos show how much I got done. Not a lot, which means I was busy doing other activities, but I did get some yarning in.

How World Events Can Inspire

DSCF2754With all the hatred going on in the world right now, it is easy to not feel inspired. But with the recent tragedy in Orlando, it has inspired me to work with more rainbow colours. Rainbows are easy to craft in either knit or crochet. Hats, scarves, blankets, toys, you name it, it can be created using beautiful rainbow colours. I immediately ordered these yarns in wool so I can felt my knitting later.

Crafters have an obligation, almost, to create things of beauty in times of ugliness.

Spooky

I often donate my creations to charity. Our family donates to several charities that collect household items, so I will add a blanket into the bag of other things. I hope that my blanket goes to someone who needs one, but it could also be sold to raise money by a store that also helps the needy. Either way, I have to relinquish the blanket to the universe and hope that it helps to keep someone warm and cheers them up.

I know about donations because I work in a thrift store for a non-profit. So imagine my surprise when one of my donated blankets showed up there!

I don’t know what the story of the blanket is; I can only guess that it ended up being bought at a charity shop, used, then donated to our charity shop.

So now this blanket was in our shop. It was hung up and priced at $12.00 which I was pleased about. But it continued to not be sold. It was moved to the head of the rack to be seen by everyone. It got moved to the baby clothes area. I finally moved it to the linens bin. It seemed to be at least looked at there. I noticed that the price had been lowered to $5.00. Hmm. But it sold to a nice woman. I did not tell her I’d made it; I did not ask where it was going. That is $5.00 to our charity, thanks to my efforts.

That is the thing about donating to charity – you can’t have restrictions on the items. As long as you have gotten rid of them, you can no longer control who does what with them. I will continue to donate blankets and hope they find a good home.DSCF2354.JPG

Crafty New Year

DSCF2663It is a conundrum about knitting and crocheting and cooler weather. On the one hand, when it gets cooler, people want to be inside more. This, you would think, would mean more time crafting. But on the other hand, this time of year people also get very busy with shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, seeing Christmas lights, visiting etc. This actually means less time crafting.

If you work in retail, you are extremely busy and it can get very tiring.

And if you are making gifts for people for Christmas, you can get somewhat stressed by timelines and perfectionism.

After Christmas is when the sales are, including yarn. You would buy more if it was on sale before Christmas to make presents with, but no, it’s after. You may have no money left for yarn, but then again you may have gotten gift cards. Yahoo!

For the new year, it would be a good idea to shop your stash, and finish up more WIP’s. It is also a good time to do an inventory of projects. If there are things that just need a bit of finishing, get to them. If there are projects that you know you will never get to, or just don’t enjoy, you can donate the yarn to a good cause.

I just got a bunch of clear bins to sort projects into. Initially I thought I’d need big bins, but surprisingly, there are a lot of little projects, so I don’t need more big bins!

Also a good idea would be to do something for charity. In North Vancouver, there is a woman collecting hats and mittens for the Syrian refugees.

But most of all, it is time to make things just for me! A new colourful scarf, tea cozies instead of blankets, and a dog coat (maybe).

Time to make a cup of tea, settle under a cozy hand-knitted blanket and make something beautiful!

A Bad Day in the Craft Room

DSCF2641[1]It was one of those days where projects, literally, unravelled.

I have been working on a knitted blanket on huge needles, with chunky yarn. I was probably half-way through, and went to do a couple more rows when I noticed one of the edges coming undone! EEK!

There did not seem to be a way to pick up those stitches, so yes, I undid many, many rows. Luckily, it was not all the way back to the beginning. I think what happened was when I joined a new skein, it somehow came undone, and somehow, unravelled all the way up the side. I’ve never had that happen before, so I didn’t know what else to do. It was one of those moments where you wonder if it is worth it to try to fix it, or just start over. I chose to start over.

Then, just as that issue was resolved, I was looking at the beginnings of a sweater I was working on, and thought that it looked awfully large. I wanted it to be loose, but not that loose. And, I actually did a gauge swatch, so I thought I’d be good, but it still looked too huge. And I was not really liking the colour either. When I chose the colour, I was thinking in blue tones, but it has more grey marl in it, and that’s not really what I wanted. So I undid one skein’s worth of knitting. I’m going to change yarns all together and start with a colour I really love. I have to use two strands held together, and that makes it a bit more picky, but I think the colours will be beautiful.

Sewing kit versus Tool kit

Why is this called a sewing kit?

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And this called a tool box?

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I’ve always thought that the names of these items denigrates the value of a sewing kit. How come a screwdriver is a tool, but a sewing needle is a notion?

I think that the contents of a sewing kit are equivalent to a tool box.

The definition of tool  is “an implement especially one held in the hand, as a hammer, saw or file, for performing or facilitating mechanical operations”.

Or “Any implement of manual operation”.

Or “Anything used as a means of accomplishing a task or purpose|.

You use the tools to do work. You may be fixing something or making something.

I understand that one container needs to be sturdier if its going to  be thrown into the back of a truck, and that heavier tools will be put into it. But still, I think a tool kit can be anything you need to assist in accomplishing something, and needles, pins, thread, and scissors all qualify as such.

Those never-to-be-completed Projects

I had put away in my attic some unfinished projects (puffy yarn pillow, child’s purse) with the intention of getting to them at some point. But the cats had other ideas and conveniently peed on them. I say conveniently, because they are teaching me about taking care of my yarn and my unfinished projects.

As much as it saddens me, I have had to throw out several skeins of yarn because of cat pee. I worry that even if I washed it, some other cat could still smell the scent and decide to mark its territory. I would not want that to happen to someone who needed a blanket.

The lesson? Never leave precious yarn on the floor, or in a bag where a cat could crawl in and create a cozy litter box.

It does irritate me. I have to then go out an replace the yarn. It isn’t expensive, but if it happened enough it would add up. And it might be the skein I need to finish the project.

As for those items in the attic, they obviously didn’t mean that much to me, or I would have finished them and donated them. The puffy yarn pillow was cast on and bound off too tightly, so it didn’t lay flat, so it would not have made a good pillow anyway. And since that yarn seems to be not a popular as it once was, I don’t feel obligated to show examples of it.

There was a good blog in Love Knitting about how good it sometimes feels to rip out (frog) a project that doesn’t work out as it should. That is a good option if the project is not living up to your expectations. But peed upon? It is not worth it to me to try to salvage it. Out with it. Sadly, but good riddance.

Some projects just don’t work out. You know it as you work on it. It’s a struggle; you can’t stand the sight of it; it causes you grief.

Your options? Rip it out and use the yarn for something else. Throw it out, even if unfinished. Donate it – sometimes I’ve found needlecraft projects in thrift stores that have been started by someone who didn’t want to finish it. As long as you have all the yarn required, maybe you can tackle and finish it.

Handwork is meant to be pleasurable and stress-free. There is no need to ‘suffer’ with a project that you hate.

And be careful where you leave your project (especially if you love it and you live with critters).

To Err is human, to fix, devine

DSCF2611Mistakes in your projects are inevitable. If you make a mistake in your yarncraft, you may have to fix it. At other times, you may choose to fix it, and at others, choose to ignore it.

There are some errors which you must fix, such as when you are doing a project on circular needles that calls for you to join it after the first row i.e. a hat. If you accidentally twist that first row, your project will not lie flat, and wearing a hat with a twist in it would be mighty uncomfortable. Therefore, you must undo your work to back to first row, make sure it is not twisted, and re-join and carry on.

Another type of error you must fix is a dropped stitch. If you are working a pattern, such as a lace, your count will be off, so you will soon notice this and have to fix it. It may mean undoing several stitches, but to get yourself back on track it is worth the time. If you count at the end of every row, and your number is off,  you only have to figure out where you went wrong on that one row. The same goes for crocheting. If you make a mistake in your shells, for example, they won’t lie properly on top of one another and it will look off-kilter.

The next type of error is one you can choose to fix or not. This would be something like a twisted stitch or a skipped stitch. If it doesn’t affect the look of the row, and if it doesn’t bother you, then let it go.

Some people are perfectionists, and knowing that a stitch is wrong, it will bug them to the point that it drives them crazy. They simple cannot live with that imperfection. In that case, it is better to fix it, no matter how much effort it takes, so that they have peace of mind.

Also, you have to take into consideration where this project is going. If it is for yourself, and every time you wear that scarf, and you remember that flaw, it is better to fix it. On the other hand, if you are donating it to a person who is more interested in warmth than perfection, then let it go.

As well, if you are being paid to make a professional looking item, you want it to be close to perfection as possible.

“The Amish people intentionally sew at least one error into their beautiful quilts…Their thinking is nothing made by a human being should be perfect”.

After all, this is a hand-made item, so it will never be as perfect as a machine made item. But, you don’t want it to look like it was hand-made by someone who didn’t care how it looked either.

Knitting Books – both old and new

1980 Knitting Book
1980 Knitting Book

I recently purchased this book for 1 cent (plus shipping). You may ask:. Why would you buy a book published in 1980, when the patterns are so out of date?

I realized that I have many beginner crochet books with techniques in them, but not a lot of beginner knit books. I have plenty of knitting pattern books, but there is not a lot of “how-to”s in them. I have the Sunset book for crochet, which is well-worn and frequently used, so I thought the equivalent in knitting would be just as useful. And all for 1 penny!

The patterns are pretty groovy, to say the least, but it does have good illustrations for basic techniques.

My favourite book of all time is the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework, and I refer to this quite often. Its only drawback is that because it also contains information on embroidery, quilting, macramé, rug-making, lacework, needlepoint and applique, it is quite heavy to carry around.

I’m still getting used to the Sunset Knitting book – hope it becomes as well-worn as my crochet one.

On oldie, but a goodie.

Felting Needs Water

I want to do some felting of wool projects in the washing machine. However, with the water restrictions in place, I can’t really justify using all that water for some little balls. It will just have to wait until the rains come. Even then, I should be washing other things along with the cloth bag with a couple of projects in it. I rarely use hot water for laundry, but it seems necessary to felt.