Is My Knitting Mojo Back!?

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Gentle reader,

I don’t know about you, but I go through these awful, restless phases where I find it difficult to even do and enjoy the stuff I love. Sometimes it’s just me being a dumb poop, and sometimes it’s because of other things going on in my life. Sometimes it doesn’t bother me, depending on what the thing is; like, with video games it doesn’t bother me because I generally don’t feel productive when I play video games, as much as I love them. So, if I go through a phase where I just can’t sit still long enough to spend an hour or two beating in zombie faces, then I’m not gonna be too mad about it.

But then there are some things that I feel are VITAL to my entire existence and when I go through phases in which these things don’t come easily to me, I go balls-to-the-wall, flat out crazy.

When I lose my knitting and crochet mojo, I’m basically a miserable shell of a human, and I just managed to break a spell where I knitted maybe twice in four or five weeks, and those two times were pathetic so they basically don’t count.

Prior to my crafty dry spell, I had started the Copenhagen Hat by Rachel Brown because a) I was legit actual obsessed with it and wanted to make it NAO, and b) I really wanted to tackle some fair isle and show it that it’s not the boss of me. I figured this hat would be the perfect way to jump in – two colors, traditional star pattern, nothing too small and fiddly so I have plenty of space to manage my tension. And, bonus, I could learn an i-cord cast-on while I was at it. YES. WINNING TIMES.

And then, my mojo decided to forsake me.

I’d gotten my i-cord cast-on finished – which took me FOREVER, but, I had made steady progress – and then… it just kind of stopped.

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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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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!

 

 

 

 

 

Spock Hat. Dunzo. Classes. I Haz ‘Em.

Gentle reader,

Are you peeps ready for some SRS BSNS!? (that’s excited text speak for ‘serious business’)

The Spock Hat is finished and photographed! Y’all should give your thanks to The Beard, because he’s been sick and he was on his way to work, but I pulled him outside and made him model it for me before I’d let him leave. “Enough’s enough!” I said to myself. “This needed to be done, like, months ago!”.

And so, I present you with an earflap beanie of the Spock variety. BLAM!

Also, get a load of The Beard’s beard! That’s impressive.

To do the ear detailing, I just did a surface slip stitch in a darker yarn. It turned out pretty well, I think.

“Live long and prosper.”

So Vulcan, so chic.

Well, that’s that done! Finally! I had intended to write the pattern as I made it, but at some point I realized I’d stopped making notes and it was all over. Oh well.

In some housekeeping news, I’ve added a section for my class dates! So, if you’re in la Bourne du Mel (that’s Frenchie for ‘Melbourne’) you can totally come sit with me and I’ll show you how to crochet! Fun times!

Just clicketty-clack in the handy-dandy nav bar, and you can sign yourself up for some crafty education. Hurray!

What’s the nerdiest thing you’ve ever crafted!? Bonus points for posting pics on the Facebook page! ^_~

 

Of Oz, Clogs and Linocut Prints!

Gentle reader,

When I finished high school in Australia, I went on student exchange to the US to do the last half of senior year all over again. Glutton for punishment, right? ^_~ Not really, it was the best thing I’ve ever done in my whole entire life, and I met some of the most awesome peeps ever. And, I also got to learn how to do linocut prints! I wish for the life of me I could remember my art teacher’s name, she was so amazing, and I feel like a jerk that I can’t remember. But, that class was so amazing, and I learned more about art and craft in the six months than I did in the two years I took art at my Australian school.

Anyway, recently my super lovely friend, Amy (who blogs at Mildly Crafty, so you should give her some love!), gave me a whole bunch of linocut bits and bobs – all stored in a delightful old cardboard suitcase – and a book about different DIY printing processes. I already had some linocut stuff, but I hadn’t touched it in years so this got me all fired up about linocut all over again!

Amy’s Awesome Gifties.

I didn’t use the clean, new blocks that Amy gave me, because I wanted to save those for when I was more practiced, so I used some lino scraps I already had. The fabric paint didn’t work very well on my lino – it balled up and didn’t print very well – so I used the regular block ink that I already had. I can’t wait to do some fabric printing though!

My first carving went straight into the bin because I’d forgotten to mirror the letters so they printed the right way, but after that I did a Wizard of Oz print which came out really well! I was very happy with that one. Beginner’s luck. The next one I did was of the clogs. It’s somewhat of a tradition for bloggers to take pictures of their feet, I guess, which I’ve always thought was quite funny and cute. A bunch of the lovely ladies whose blogs and Instagrams I follow seem to love their clogs, so I asked GourmetGirlfriend if I could use one of her Instagrams as a reference and carved a tribute to bloggers who clog. ^_~

It’s slow going, but super satisfying!

I’m still finding the best amount of ink to use. The first time, I used to too much, and tried watering it down a little. I got the best prints from thicker ink though, and having a lot of ink had some trade-offs. I got better prints, and more prints from one application, but I also got more waste prints at the beginning from the ink squishing around the edges too much. So, the second time I used less ink, and got good prints, but not quite as good, and only one or two prints per application. I need to find the happy medium.

The roller is called a brayer. The more you know!

I did prints on brown paper and some canvas cartridge. I think I liked the brown paper best. I have lots of love for brown paper… brown paper bags, brown paper parcels, ah! I love it all! So, I was really happy with my brown paper prints. I found that I liked the Oz design a lot more when the print wasn’t completely even, and the paper showed through in places with the ink. But, for the Clogs one, I liked it more when the print was very crisp and even.

No Place Like Home, and Clog Lovin’

The canvas was more of a mixed bag. I think it was just a little too textured, and the Clogs design went right up to the edge so it was tricky to line up. I think I’d like to try printing on some other textured materials that aren’t quite as rough, like watercolor paper or something. I still liked them! Just not quite as much.

Click your Silver Clogs three times… (or Ruby Clogs for the movie peeps).

All in all, I’m properly happy with the carvings, but I still have some experimenting to do with the printing process. They’re definitely not Etsy-ready, but hopefully soon. Experimenting is the fun part, so I’m well keen to get on with it!

Meanwhile, I should have a finished sock to show you soon! ^_^

What other kinds of designs would you like to see? Have you done any printing before?

Toto-Phone: Finished!

Gentle reader,

You peeps and my pals on FB seem to have gone properly mental over my Totoro cross-stitch phone case! Y’all are crazy! And completely sweet, and I heart you all. So, not to disappoint, I’ve worked as fast as I can, and, now, I present to you my Toto-phone!

Mmm, shall I do a Cat-Bus one next?

I’m pretty happy with it. The case itself is a great, snug fit for my iPhone and I was glad to get rid of the stretchy, loose silicone one. The design itself turned out in the end; I did have to make a few slight changes to my original chart, but I’m pleased with him now. I will do up the chart and post it in case anyone is interested in doing their own cross-stich Totoro. ^_~

To recap, if you want to do your own cross-stich iPhone case, you can get yours online here or here, or you can buy them in store at Morris & Sons (Sydney and Melbourne).

If you could do one, what design would you go for? And if you actually do do one, you MUST share it with me! I’ll pretty much love you forever!