It’s starting to get a bit cooler, and I’m starting to feel the itch to pull out my yarn again. But I’m not going to push it yet. The last thing I want to do is get myself burned out on knitting. Which seems a wild thing to be worried about after 20 years of near-daily knitting. But, here we are…
Anyway, I haven’t been too creative lately. Life’s been wild- the big kid is back to school (Pre-K), which has been a wild transition- mostly good, but just a lot of getting used to, and weirdly less time for “me time.”
But one thing I have been able to do (that’s kind of craft-adjacent), is rearrange our craft area.
I didn’t plan to blog about it, so I forgot to take a “before” picture, but trust me when I say this is an improvement. I had my yarn in a half-broken dresser I got from Buy Nothing a few years ago. The kids’ art supplies on an avocado-green cart that I literally pulled off a street corner about a decade ago. And the books were on their own bookshelf, which was nice enough but fairly tip-y and probably not safe to have in a house with an almost-2-year-old who likes to climb.
Anyway, I got 3 big shelf/cabinet combos from Ikea that my 4-year-old helped me put together, and spent a couple evenings organizing everything in bins. And it looks great!
Now I just have to figure out how to get rid of this eyesore… Anyone in Seattle interested in a broken dresser?
Back when I was a kid (and especially in High School), I loved drawing. I filled sketch books, and art class was always my favorite. But between one thing and another, I haven’t drawn in a real way in years. Maybe decades? Sure, I sketch out sweater ideas, and I can draw a really good garbage truck for my kids, but that’s about it these days.
It felt like too much work to just… go and draw without any guidance (I do love homework). So, I went looking for an online class and found this one hosted by Laura McKendry (a freelance illustrator).
And… it’s SO FUN! I can’t recommend it enough. It’s super low-stress. It’s open-ended enough that you can essentially use it to paint whatever you want, but with enough structure that you can kind of just follow along without worrying too much.
I’m about halfway through the class, and while I’ve done all of her assignments, I’ve also come up with my own art in ways I haven’t done in forever.
(It’s also been decades since I showed anyone my art, so eek!)
I’ve been playing with watercolors and ink pens and just generally taking the time to actually sit down and carefully draw, instead of just scribbling out something and getting frustrated because it’s not perfect on the first try. It’s been a really refreshing change of pace to try something that’s so outside my (current) comfort zone.
Have you ever picked up an old favorite art project/activity?
The first thing I did on what I’m calling my “Knitting Sabbatical” is finish up a project that I’ve been neglecting for a while. I started it in February, and was very excited to get going. I zoomed through the first 75% in a couple weeks. The next 20% felt like it took forever. And the last 5 seemed impossible to finish (AKA, I put it up on a shelf and didn’t touch it for 3 months). Sounds familiar, right?
But instead of getting stuck on Sleeve Island while working on a sweater, this time I broke out some paints and did the biggest paint-by-number kit that I’ve ever seen.
I decided to try it because my Instagram feed had been showing me paint-by-number ads for what felt like weeks, and I’m nothing if not a sucker for a good ad. (Or a bad one, for that matter. I’m pretty suggestable.)
However, I didn’t buy any of the ones from the ads, instead getting one at random from Target. Because… who knows? It was much bigger, and much more detailed than I expected. I don’t know if there were any spaces bigger than my thumbnail.
It was actually really fun, and that last 5% really wasn’t bad- it took me maybe two hours once I sat down to work on it. It’s the perfect on-the-couch-watching-documentaries-or-listeneing-to-audio-books activity. (…And I’m officially 75 years old.)
Now I just have to find a place to hang it up. If only we had a cabin in the woods, it would be perfect!
I’ll be honest. In case you haven’t picked up on it from my less-than-enthusiatic posts of late, I’ve been feeling kind of burnt out about knitting. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s been crazy hot around here for the last few months. Maybe it’s because I’m wildly busy and exhausted from taking care of my kids (the bigger one has stopped napping, and refuses to fall asleep before 9 at night, severely cutting into my knitting time). And maybe it’s just because I’ve knit essentially every day for the last 20+ years and just need a break.
So, instead of powering through (which is my usual mode of dealing with stress), I’m going to actually pay attention to what my brain’s telling me and actually take a break.
That’s right. For the month of September, my knitting blog is a no-knitting-zone. I’m going to be breaking out my sewing machine, my paints, and who knows what else. It’s going to be fun! (And maybe embarrassing… I haven’t done a lot of “art” since high school. It’ll be interesting to see what I come up with.
So join me on this knitting-free adventure!
What have you been doing lately (that’s not knitting)?
You guys. I can’t believe it. I actually finished it! I finished the kid’s sweater! After three whole months, I finally actually factually finished it. That’s right. It took me three months to finish a sweater for a 4-year-old.
And when you think about it that way, two weeks to put buttons on is nothing!
I found this amazing set of pinkish-maroon-y buttons, that went perfectly with the red yarn without being too matchy-matchy. They came from my Grandma’s old button collection, and are probably from the 70’s (according to a bit of light Googling).
I sewed those buggers on and blocked the thing! The ends are in, the buttons are on, it’s all really and truly finished. Thank goodness. I didn’t think this sweater was ever going to be done.
Of course, it’s approximately one bazillion degrees out now, so the kid won’t touch the sweater with a ten-foot pole, much less put it on for a final photoshoot. But, hey, we can’t have everything, can we? So, instead, I’ll style it by laying it on my unswept floor with a bunch of our ever-present Brio trains. (Seriously. They’re always out.)
I’m off to drink a celebratory LaCroix (it’s too hot for anything else right now), and think about what my next project should be.
And now, as is my tradition, after taking approximately one million years to finish my kid’s sweater, I now want to do something completely different.
So I’m not even getting out my yarn. (Well, mostly… I did use a little yarn, but still.)
My Instagram feed has been full of people doing natural dying, lately. Not sure if natural dying is suddenly trendy, or if I just follow enough homesteading, gardening, and sewing accounts that the algorithm has decided that dying my own fabric is the next logical step. Not that I’m mad. Sometimes the algorithm works.
So, my big hesitation about dying my own fabric/yarn is that:
1. I don’t want to ruin any pots or have to go buy specific ‘dye pots.’
2. I wanted this project to be something that my kids can help with. I’m more than happy to make a mess, but I’d rather they not mess with any nasty chemicals.
I looked around, and found a tutorial for Botanical Bundle Dying and it fit all the criteria that I had: I didn’t need to buy anything else, my kids could help, and it looked “relatively” simple. (I realize “relatively” is a relative word in dying.)
We got our materials together: some scrap muslin, my husband’s old brew kettle from when he made his own beer, a whole bunch of pennies, most of the vinegar in the house and a whole mess of flowers and greenery from the yard.
We followed the tutorial pretty closely, using the “pot as mordant” technique (basically just boiling the fabric in water with a big handful of pennies. Supposedly the copper from the pennies interacts with the fabric and makes the dye more colorfast.)
We let it cool overnight, then soaked the fabric in a 1:4 dilution of vinegar in water for an hour. Meanwhile we walked through the yard picking basically anything that seemed interesting (cosmos, marigolds, purple kale, roses, rose leaves, arugula that had gone to seed, fuchsia flowers…) and threw them in the leftover mordant water.
Once the hour was up, we laid out the fabric and carefully sandwiched the flowers in a “pattern” (the kid tossed them in handfuls at the fabric and I spread them out), and carefully folded/rolled them up.
Then the rolled-up fabric steamed in the brew kettle for a couple hours, before being left to sit overnight. (It ended up having a very particular (and not particularly nice) smell.)
The next day it was time for the big reveal, and… voila la!
So, kinda fun! I learned a lot. The marigolds and the purple cosmos came out the best. I think the black splotches were either from the fuchsias or the nasturtiums, but it was kind of hard to tell. After all that steaming, the more delicate flowers almost dissolved. The kale and arugula didn’t show up even a little bit (and steamed kale is gross). The rose petals fully dissolved and didn’t dye the fabric at all, but the leaves left a very faint trace.
I ironed the fabric to “set” the pattern, and then, since I was curious to see what would happen, I threw it into the washer to see how colorfast it was. Answer: not colorfast at all. A little of the cosmos pink stayed, and maybe a hint of the marigold yellow, but for all intents and purposes, the color all washed away.
While this was kind of a bust (or at least I didn’t get beautifully dyed fabric at the end), I learned a lot, and it was a fun activity to do with the little ones. I guess I’m going to have to try it again- and this time, I think I’ll do a little bit more research.
After all that complaining about how long the kid’s sweater was taking, it turns out that all I really needed was about 2 hours and a couple episodes of Drag Race and…. Fanfare, please!
It’s done! I finished up the ribbing, bound off and even wove in the ends!
The sleeves are ridiculously long on the kid, but fit well enough when I roll up the cuffs, and the body is long, but not looong. I think (hope) that they’ll get a year or two’s use out of it (and I have plenty of extra red yarn, so I can always make the body longer as the kid gets taller). Although, at the rate they’re growing, it’s going to be too small for them by the time I finish typing out this post. Kids, am I right?
Now, just to get it blocked out and add the buttons. That certainly can’t take longer than actually knitting up the sweater. Right?… Right?
I guess my days of banging out a sweater in a weekend are behind me (at least until my kids can fend for themselves for more than five minutes at a time, anyway). I’ve been working on this ding dang sweater for more than two months at this point. And it’s a kid’s sweater!!
I mean, sure, I’m busy. The big kid has decided not to nap any more, and the little one has decided that it’s hilarious to take my ball of yarn and try to run around the house with it, so I’m relegated to knitting only after bedtime. And yes, it’s been hotter than the blazes over here, so I haven’t wanted to knit. AND, sure, I’ve been doing some design work that’s been using up what little knitting time I have. AND, of course, I accidentally picked a size that won’t fit my kid for about 3 more years… it could practically fit a (small) grownup!
But still. I’m ready for this project to be done.
At least it’s turning out cute. I’ve just got an inch or two left of the hem, a bunch of ends to weave in, and buttons to add. It’s practically finished!
Ha. (Let’s see how many more weeks it’ll take for me to finish up. Taking bets now!)
What’s the slowest you’ve done a project? Did it ever get finished?
It’s a super simple stocking, knit in the round, with a short-row heel and an all-over knit-and-purl texture. I really like this stocking- it’s classic, simple, and would be beautiful in just about any color and would compliment just about any Christmas décor theme.
So, I went back and forth for a while about what color to get to finish off the kid’s sweater. And, while I was leaning toward the nice light green, or a neutral oatmeal/gray, they were adamant that they wanted RED.
I managed to talk them down from RED red, to this nice shade of “Black Cherry.” Not necessarily what I would have picked, but, hey, it’s not my sweater.
It took a while for the yarn to show up, so I haven’t gotten far, but I’ll be honest, I like it more than I thought I would. I figured the red + green would look so Christmassy, that I wouldn’t like it, but I’ve surprised myself that I don’t hate it.
(Would I have preferred not running out of green yarn to begin with? Yes. Would I have picked another color if it had been up to me? Yes. But, such is life with a preschooler.)
What new color combinations have you tried recently?