I Enhanced My Stash With Yarn Vs. Zombies! Also, A New Project!

Gentle reader,

Perhaps it’s the new year, or perhaps it’s because the planets and stars have aligned, but I’m feeling so renewed lately about my knitting and crafting. The Never-Ending Sock I think had really gummed up the works a bit. It’s finished now, and I still can’t tell you why it dragged on and on. I enjoyed knitting it, I loved the pattern, I didn’t mess it up, I think my crafty mojo just took an end of year break. Who even knows? It’s clearly beyond my ken (please tell me that expression also reminds you of The Sound of Music. Yes? No?).

But, now that it’s out of the way, I’m so excited to look forward to all the new stuff I can do. And one of the first things that I’m legit actual peeing myself with excitement about is my first skein of Yarn Vs. Zombies yarn. I ordered it from Kiki late last year, I think as a birthday present for myself, but with everything going on, and my vow to at least finish the gusset of the NES (The Never-Ending Sock, not the Nintendo Entertainment System, although, I’d gladly have both), it sat on my desk in its packaging for a few weeks. Finally, I pulled it out to admire it with fresh eyes, and it’s quite possible that I squealed for no less that eighty-two hours and twelve minutes. Oh em gee, you guys, I love it!

Yarn Vs Zombies

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I Did Some Cheeky Embroidery, Y’All!

Gentle reader,

Hi-ee! It’s 2013! This is happening, it’s real! So, I’m not going to do a big New Year thing, because I’m sure your various RSS and social network feeds are already bursting with that sort of thing, and if I were to follow suit I’d be a complete fraud. For my New Year’s Eve, The Beard and I tried to order pizza but couldn’t, so we watched documentaries while we ate microwave meals. And I didn’t make any resolutions because I  acknowledge that I have no will power whatsoever. So, let me just say that I hope you had an AMAZEBALLS holiday season, and I hope that you – my dear, valued, adored, and totally loved-but-not-in-a-creepy-way-maybe-a-lil-bit-no-but-seriously-not-creepy-way readers – will stick with me for another year of craftiness and interludes, because I’ve loved sharing with you for the year passed. And with that said, we’ll move it along, because I have some finished projects to show you!

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Charity Is Fun, Y’all! Also, My Birthday.

Gentle reader,

So, it’ my birthday tomorrow (Friday). It’s not generally a thing I announce or make a big deal about. I’m such a brat about it; I leave any thought of a party or dinner or whatever to the last minute. I’m not all “I hate birthdays and I’m dead inside! I give puppies the stinkeye! Someone call the WAHHHmbulance!” or anything. I’m just all, if I manage to throw something together that’s great, if not, doesn’t matter (which is basically my default approach to socializing. I’m so bad at it!).

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Giving Is Properly Awesome: Brooklyn Tweed Kits

All images used in this post are property of Brooklyn Tweed and were taken directly from the BT website. I claim no ownership at all.

Gentle reader,

I know I promised you the story of the sock that never ends, but, I couldn’t get the pics I wanted and something turned up in my Facebook feed that made me legit actual squeal with delight, so I wanted to talk to you about that instead. The never-ending sock will follow soon, I promise.

Now, gather round close and let’s keep it all secretive and whispery, because we don’t want any of our crafty loved ones to hear or it might ruin the surprise. But, remember how I told you that I’m a TOTAL Jared Flood aka Brooklyn Tweed superfan? His patterns are basically knitting crack. Well, just in time for Christmas, Brooklyn Tweed have made available the most incredible knitting kits all done up in beautiful brown-paper-and-twine gift packs! I know, right? Your heart is beating so fast with excitement that you may as well be a terrified guinea pig at this point. Except, y’know, not terrified or dropping pooplets (that’s a portmanteau of “poop” and “pellets”, because… words), but I digress…

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The Shy Lion Returns!

Gentle, patient, beautiful readers!

It is with great excitement and relief that I sit here and write “The Shy Lion returns!”

Since I spoke to you last, I have packed up a house, moved to an apartment, unpacked, and endured a few weeks without internet! I’m so far behind on my podcasts and blogs that it makes my heart heavy, but the silver lining to that is the excitement to see what everyone has been up to since then. Hurray!

I do hope I haven’t lost too many of you, and those who’re reading this, old and new, thank you so much! I’m so excited to be able to share with you again. If you’re new to The Shy Lion, I do hope that you’ll join the Facebook group, and that you will share your projects, craft questions and general chitter-chatter both there and in the comments below. I do loves the commentses, I do, I do! Feel free to send me suggestions for posts and projects or crochet-y questions.

Can I just say, that moving is properly not fun. Especially if you’re like me and have some hoarding issues. Oy. So. Much. Stuff. I threw out so much stuff, sent so much stuff to charity, and yet I still have a buttload of stuff. I’m certainly not under the illusion that moving is fun or easy for anyone, but my life literally stops for months when I move. It’s so overwhelming. I’m still walking around boxes and piles of half-unpacked things. But, I could not stay away from y’all any longer!

Now that the dust is settling, I can get back into my crafty routines. I have been knitting and crocheting, but it’s been very scattered, and has not had the attention I usually dedicate to it. Which is lame, but things are back on track.

Probably my most exciting news is that I’ve written a pattern to share with y’all! I crocheted a pig last year and wrote the pattern as I made it. Alas, the pig was stolen! Can you believe it? It was commissioned for a publicity event, and afterwards, someone pinched it right out of the display! They even had to cut the fishing line that suspended it. So rude! But, that’s the good thing about patterns, you can always make more. I’m halfway through a new one, but my super fantastic friend, Kate (who blogs here), did a test-crochet of the pattern for me! Here’s the piggy she made.

There are a few things to iron out before I release that pattern. I expect that it will be available on Ravelry and perhaps my Etsy store. I’ll sort those details out as well. I’ll probably also do a bit of a giveaway. A-woo! Excitement plus!

Well, that’s all for today, but I have some properly neat stuff coming up, so watch this space! Missed your fantastic faces!

What have YOU been up to? Let’s have a catch-up in the comments, peeps!

Of Make-Believe, Paper Boats, Dorothy and The Seasons.

Gentle reader,

Down here in the southern hemisphere, spring is upon us. Now, Melbourne notoriously hasn’t quite made her mind up about it and a few sunny days will quickly be ousted by blustery breezes and a mild nip in the air and vice versa. Which is perfectly fine by me because, as a ginger, my relationship with spring is a love and hate affair. I enjoy the crisp days and fresh breezes, and I completely adore the blossoming of gardens and the trees returning to green, resplendent in their leafery (heh). But, it also means that summer is next up to bat, and I HATE summer. It’s sweaty and icky and gross, and whenever I leave the house I can practically hear the sun saying “Good day, Raynie! How about some skin cancer today? No?” and my fair, freckle-tanned skin feels like it’s been slapped nastily all over. I hate, hate, HATE it! But, it’s only three months of the year, and I accept that while I delight in the chilly austerity of winter many are cussing the season under their billowy, misty breaths. It’s only fair.

I think perhaps I enjoyed spring a lot more as a wee bairn, because spring meant one thing to me: adventure. As soon as I could start smelling the jasmine begin to flower along the back fence, I knew follies were afoot. On the sunny days, I’d jump a few fences into Mrs. Gardner’s massive, forest-like property. She was a wonderful old lady with the most apropos name ever because she gardened like a BOSS. The beds and terraces around her house were the most beautiful, chaotic-yet-ordered gardens you’ve ever seen. But, at the back, it was all wild and wonderful, and my cousins and I were allowed to play in there to our hearts’ content.

In the overgrown foliage, we found an old, sealed well and leading along an embankment the bushes had grown into a tunnel. This just made the most perfect place to play! Can you imagine? We could hide and climb, and we could pretend it was anything we wanted. My cousins were more boisterous and exuberant and prone to real-world imaginings like army bunkers, forts and hideouts, while my more fanciful mind would turn it into a hidden world, a secret passage or a spaceship.

You could often find bits of pottery and small glass bottles upturned from the dirt around the well, and a neighborhood urban legend held that a whole house was buried in the embankment behind the well. This captivated me and I would often set up little “archaeological digs” and bring my kid-sized set of garden tools to see what I could dig up. I would turn each treasure over and over in my hands and wonder how old it was, and who may have used it when the fragments were still whole.

Spring also brought the rain in my hometown. I’ve always loved the rain. One of my earliest memories was of being completely obsessed with the movie, Return To Oz (I still am!). Well, in it, Dorothy escapes a mental hospital (!) during a storm and, floating on a broken chicken coop, she is washed away to Oz. I think I’ve always loved the rain, storms and miserable weather because my inner four year old hopes I’ll be washed away to Oz too.

Often when a storm would finish, I would make little origami paper boats and rush out to the gutters of my street which would be gushing with water. I would launch the boats into the stream at the top of the hill and follow them all the way to the bottom and watch them plunge over the edge of the cement and into the storm drain. Then, inside my head, I would imagine myself onto the decks of my little paper boats, navigating their way through subterranean wonders, both man-made and, of course, supernatural.

It’s so easy to lose those silly childlike ways of approaching things. Spring doesn’t spell adventure to me as effortlessly as it used to, but there are still hints of it. Even now, when I smell jasmine, my step quickens and my stomach gets butterflies and Kate Bush starts singing in my head: “I just know that something good is going to happen!” (To be fair, when is Kate Bush not singing in my head?).

Perhaps we have to work at wonder when we’re a bit older, but I don’t think it’s ever too late to have some imaginary adventures or a bit of a play and make-believe. I want to approach this spring with some excitement and silliness, instead of disdainfully steeling myself for the oppressive blah-ness of summer. Next time it rains, perhaps I will make a paper boat and send it for its maiden voyage along my street’s gutter (but, I shall stop it before the drain. It didn’t occur to me then that it was kind of littering! What a silly-billy).

What fond memories do you have of spring? (Or fall, for you northern hemispherians!). Will you join me and try to have an extra spirit of playfulness this year? 

Of Giraffes, Cats, Lovely Friends And Stashes

Gentle reader,

If you’re a friend of The Shy Lion on le Book du Face (that’s Frenchie for Facebook), you might have seen sneak peeks of some of the things I have to share with you today. But first I want to espouse the virtues of excellent friends and stash organization, both as separate entities and as a confluence of goodness.

My friend Kate (who blogs here) is properly awesome. She met me when I had just started knitting. I was so self-conscious of my knitting that at Stitch’n’Bitch, I would set up a barrier of books so no-one could watch me plod along and fumble about. Ever since then, she’s been a voice of encouragement and an all round lovely friend, and now, thanks in part to her, I consider myself somewhat of a “proper knitter”. Ooh la la!

In recent times – last weekend to be exact – she’s given me the gift of organization. You see, when I discovered Ravelry, my stash was already out of control, but how I longed to have my stash all photographed and cataloged in my Rav Notebook. I attempted a few times, but let me tell you, that mess was legit cray-to-the-azy! It was so overwhelming! I’d recently done some thinning out and I decided it was now or never.

Now, Kate is the kind of person who records how many kilometers of yarn she’s knitted up each year, and weighs her partial skeins on kitchen scales. Who better than her to whip my burgeoning, undocumented cache of yarn? So, she came over to my house this weekend passed and we did a stash blitz! Now, if you go to my Ravelry profile, you’ll see the picture of organized deliciousness! I still have my partial skeins to add, but that’s a synch compared to this massive start. Thanks, Kate! You’re properly awesome!

I made this little critter a while ago with the yarn left over from Robert’s bedsocks. I tried something different with the face and used mercerized thread for whiskers. I think it turned out pretty well! My new friend Kellie seemed to think so too, because she snapped it up before I even had a chance to list it on Etsy (which is why the pictures aren’t super great; I had to snap it quickly on my phone at the Crafternoon S’n’B).

This is Miranda the Giraffe! She’s a new experiment for me; I’ve never made something with four legs where I’ve made the legs and body seamlessly. She turned out pretty well, I think! The yarn was some Naturally Yoshie which was on sale at Clegs, so I picked up a few balls. It’s a wool/acrylic blend, and is really quite lovely for an inexpensive yarn. I like the mix of colors. Miranda is in the Etsy store now, so you can totally buy her and squish her and love her all for yourself!

How have some of your lovely friends helped you get over a massive crafty rut? 

Knit-Worthiness – or – Bedsocks For Buddies!

Gentle reader,

Within knitting circles, there’s a term you might hear thrown about: knit-worthy. Something I’m sure all crafters can relate to is the outside, non-crafty world not always understanding or appreciating just how much time, effort and thoughtfulness goes into the handmade treasures we make. Regardless of your skill or talent, if you sat down and made something, the product of that has an intrinsic joy and sincerity that store-bought things just don’t have. When a knitter refers to someone as being “knit-worthy” they’re essentially saying that this person gets it. Y’know? If you knit something for this person, they’d understand that you haven’t just given them a garment but rather you’ve taken your time, your thought, your love and the skills and knowledge you’ve accumulated since you first picked up a pair of needles (or hook, or loom, or paintbrush, or glue gun) and you’ve wrapped all this up in a little parcel just for them, and that this is a special bond between friends. Because, sadly, not everyone – no matter how much you love them or they love you – is knit-worthy.

Well, I’m super lucky because I have lots of knit-worthy people in my life. Some of them are by my side every day, like The Beard. Some of them I get to see every week, like my knitting friends. And some of them I don’t get to see very often at all, like my bestie Panda, or my dear friends Robert and Alfio.

Robert and Alf are those special kinds of friends that you can not see for ages and ages, and then when you do, rather than having grown further apart, it’s all the more exciting  to see them. And, because they’re such lovely, decent humans, and because Alf asked ever so nicely, I knit them a pair of bed socks each, and I just managed to scrape them in for winter.  They took a bunch of pictures for me too, so all the credit for these snaps go to them.

 

Enough of the mooshy stuff and down to bidniss! Here are Alf’s socks, which I’ve mentioned before on here. They’re made from Noro Kogarashi yarn which is rather luxurious. It’s 51% silk. Yumz. The pattern I used was Thuja by Bobby Ziegler which you can get for free from Knitty.com here. I really enjoyed the pattern. The combination of the yarn and the pattern soften the impact of the moss-stitch rib, but it gives enough interest while letting those lovely colors and squishy wispy bits take the spotlight. I was very pleased.

 

For Robert’s sock, I used Creative Fibers Hand Dyed yarn which is DIVINE. I loved it so much. You get it in a giant yummy hank and it smells delicious, though I’m not sure if that was the fiber or the dyes. The colors have to be seen in person because it’s nearly impossible to get an accurate idea of the colors from photographs. For the pattern, I took a risk and just made it up. I wanted to try doing an afterthought heel, and I think it turned out pretty neat.

 

Robert and Alf seem pretty happy with their socks, and I think they were pretty excited to get a parcel in the mail. I mean, who doesn’t? I love getting parcels.

I’ve said before that I’m not a huge fan of knitting socks and it was a long haul for me to finish both of these. Luckily, there were bed socks, so I got to use a heavier weight of yarn, but let me just tell you that Alf’s foot is massive and these socks felt like they were going to go on forever. But, I feel like I’ve reached a personal milestone now. I, Raynor the Shy Lion, can knit socks if I so choose.  Heel flap or afterthought heels. Hurrah! But, most of all, I love thinking of my two dear friends having toasty warm feet in the colder months. And that makes me properly happy.

Who are some of your favorite knit-worthy (or craft-worthy) peeps? Sharezies!