Category Archives: not knitting

Re-Arranging

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?

How do you have your craft supplies organized?

More Painting

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?

By the Numbers

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!

Have you ever done a paint-by-numbers?

And now for something *COMPLETELY* different

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)?

Dying to try something new

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.

Have you tried any new crafts lately?

Should it stay or should it go?

OK, so.

First, a positive thing: I’ve managed to make a lot of headway on my crochet sweater this week! Something that I haven’t been able to do in… a while. I’ve finished one sleeve and almost finished the second. All that’s left is a few more inches of Right Sleeve, a cuff, and a neck.

Then, a negative thing: I have literally no idea if I like this sweater. Like, at all. Even a little bit. It’s wild. I go back and forth on it hour by hour, minute by minute. One second I think, “Wow! This is a cute, trendy style with a silhouette that I haven’t tried before! I love how it looks! And the bobbles?! So kitschy and cute!” And then literally the next I think “Ugh! Why would I even think that something like this would look good on me? And bobbles? Honestly, what was even going through my head when I picked up my yarn?”

It’s a real rollercoaster up in here.

So, I’m going to let you guys help me decide: Do I like this sweater, or is it immediately going in the Goodwill pile for someone better at clothes than me? Do I need to wear it with something other than jeans? Am I going to have to think about *gasp* fashion? Is it just the wrong size for me? Would I have to re-crochet it to make it fit better?

(Also, posing/taking pictures of myself is wildly difficult, so sorry for the… underwhelming photos.)

I think I’m at least going to have to raise or lower the cuffs- right now they’re somewhere between 3/4-length and full-length, which is not the most flattering on me. Right now I’m leaning toward shorter…

And I’m definitely going to add on the neckband before I make any rash decisions. I feel like that’s going to really change how this sweater sits.

But it really is anybody’s guess if this sweater is going to make it into my sweater rotation.

Keep your fingers crossed, and let me know what you think!

Slow and Steady(ish)

I know I keep saying “Wow! Crochet is so fast!” And it is. But that’s only when I actually sit down and do it.

Which is why, even though crochet is super fast, compared to knitting, I’ve only gotten… about an inch and a half more put on my sweater since the last time I talked to you about it… weeks ago.

It’s a combination of things. I’ve been super busy with the kids (the big one is being very Four and need lots of help with big feelings, and the little one has decided that 5:00 is a great time to get up in the morning). I’ve got a new project in the works with Knit Picks that I can’t talk to you about… yet. And, when I actually have a little time to myself I’m more likely to sit down and want to scroll on my phone than actually do work (even if it’s fun “work”).

All that’s to say, when I do work on it, this sweater is going quick. I just haven’t been actually working on it. Fingers crossed something will change soon and I’ll get a little more bandwidth to finish it up… I’m so close!

Do you have any projects wasting away in your to-be-knit pile?

Spring Cleaning

I like to keep a pretty tidy house. I do laundry every week. I keep the sink more or less free of dirty dishes. Most of my kids’ toys are stashed in bins. I’m no Martha Stewart, but I try to stay fairly clean.

To that end, I say I thoroughly hand-wash all my knitwear at least once a year. And that I wash the sweaters in heavy rotation more frequently than that.

But, if I’m honest, I’m not even close to that.

In fact, I just sat down the other day and tried to remember the last time I did a thorough cleanout of my sweaters. And I couldn’t remember.

Certainly before my baby was born (1+ year ago). And definitely before Covid hit (2 years ago). Maybe after my big kid was born (4 years ago)? But you could tell me that it was even before that.

Whenever it was, one thing is clear. My sweaters are gross and I need to wash them.

So, I hopped online and bought the biggest bottle of wool wash I could find and went to town. The basement has smelled like grapefruit soap and damp wool for weeks and the dehumidifier is working overtime. My pile of clean sweaters is growing and my pile of “to be washed” is shrinking.

Anyway. This is a reminder that you should probably wash your sweaters.

(Unless you’re a functional grownup who already remembers to do laundry.)

When is the last time you laundered your knits?

A tale of two (one) sweater(s)

I’m of two minds about this sweater. But what’s new?

First, I’m excited about how fast it’s going, which isn’t usually the case at this point in the process. Most of the time when I’m three-quarters of the way in, I’m very frustrated and not seeing much progress. I’m just not used to how fast crochet is. I had a 2-hour Zoom meeting last night, and managed to get through 4 repeats- almost 6 inches of sweater! (I know it doesn’t look like I’m going that fast compared to last week, but that’s mostly because I bought myself a paint-by-number kit that’s taking up most of my attention. I have no regrets.) And, I even like the way the fabric is turning out. I think it’s going to be cute- I love the bobbles (even if they’re a pain to make).

However, I’m real skeptical that this is going to be a cute sweater. It’s just so… rectangular. To be fair, it is a style that I’m not too familiar with (drop shoulder, cropped, oversized sweaters aren’t usually my bag), so maybe this is how it’s supposed to look. Maybe it’ll turn out amazing after I seam it up and put it on, and I’ll never want to take it off. But right now I don’t have a lot of faith in the finished sweater.

Either way, I guess I’ll just keep trucking along and trust the process. I like the finished picture in the pattern- fingers crossed that it turns out that cute!

When’s the last time you were skeptical of a pattern halfway through?

Like the wind!

I’ve been cruising along with my crocheted sweater, and it’s been fun getting to stretch out of my yarn-crafting comfort zone.

I’ve noticed a few things:

  1. I do not like making bobbles, but I do like how they look. (In fact, I made an executive decision to halve the number of bobbles on each bobble-row. It’s a decision I stand behind.) To be fair, a crocheted bobble is much less of a pain than a knitted bobble. So at least there’s that.
  2. Crochet uses different muscles than knitting. I could knit for hours and hours with no discomfort, but my forearms start talking to me after only a little bit of crochet. I don’t think there’s anything wrong, just my body getting used to something new.
  3. Y’all, I forgot how fast crochet goes! Between kids not sleeping and, you know… general life stuff, I haven’t been getting my usual sit-down-and-do-hand-work-time, and still, I’m almost done with the front of this sweater. It’s amazing how fast it’s going!
  4. Crochet patterns are wild! Or maybe it’s just this one. I’m so used to super-precise knitting patterns where every stitch and increase are accounted for, while this pattern is more of a loose “recipe.” It’s kind of fun to try such a different pattern!

I’m really enjoying this project, and can’t wait to wear the finished project!

Have you tried anything new (or new-ish) lately?