Saturday, June 26, 2010

Knitfitti and Yarn Bombing

Thursday evening I stopped by the Red Purl to shoot the breeze. What I walked up to was people adorning the lampposts in front of the store with knit and crochet strips.

Apparently the owner of the store next door, 'Cross the Street Collectibles, started the project as part of the "Arts in Motion" day the town was having today (Saturday).

Amy and Mary Ann climbed aboard and two lampposts were being decorated.

Here's the post in front of 'Cross the Street:

They really got a lot of strips up!!

The post Red Purl was doing was not nearly so amply decorated, so I decided to climb aboard myself. By the time I left Saturday, we had a lot more on the pole:
The bottom strip is a big piece of pop-corn yarn in bright red. It's very fun!!

Below is a closeup of a few of the higher strips:
From the bottom:
*the pink/white and yellow/black strips were there when I got there
*the pale green was a crocheted strip I made Friday night/Saturday morning
*a strip of granny squares I stitched together Friday night. I made two of them--quickest strips ever because the granny squares were donated to me with some yarn at some point; I just had to sew them together
*the orange/pink strip was started by Mary Ann, worked on by some customers with time to kill, and finished by me so I could put it up. It was very curly on the edges (as stocking stitch likes to do), so I soaked it before sewing it on, and basically wet blocked it on the pole!
*the "right half" of the blue strip was donated to me by a girl on the sidewalk (her mother made it) as I was sewing some other strips on. It wasn't big enough, so I took some blue cotton I had with me, and added to it.
*and I crocheted the top strip from some red cotton in my bag while I was sitting around at Red Purl this morning (waiting for the appearance of some cupcakes I knew were in the back!)

There's lots of room on the pole still. If you want to knit a strip, or sew together some bits and pieces (like those gauge swatches you don't know what to do with), feel free! Make it 16-17 inches (when slightly stretched). Bring it to 2nd street and sew it on the pole.

When these poles are full, they want to do the two across the street, so there's plenty of room! Join in!

While I was making things for display on 2nd street, I went ahead a made something I've been thinking of for a long time. Amy has a beautiful knocker on her door in the shape of a hand. Well, a bare hand (or wrist) is like blasphemy to a knitter! So I knit it a little wrister out of some lovely Lorna's Laces shepherd.

Amy appreciated the item and we both had the thought that we need to make the knocker some seasonal wristers!

PS: Check out my favourite yarn bombing projects:
1. the bus
2. the phone booth

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

County Fair: What are You Putting In?

It's time to starting thinking about county fairs. Some have already started! My county fair isn't until August 2nd, but it's time to start preparing and gathering the things I want to enter. The date to turn things in is July 31st, and it's circled on my calendar!

All spring I checked the fair's website for the new premium book. This is the [virtual] book that lists all the categories (and premiums) by Section, Department, and Class. I can enter as many classes as I want, but only one item per class. One year I'm going to try to fill them all, but not this year. (Some fairs give you a special prize if you manage to enter something in each Department. That would be sweet too.)

Anyway, the premium book wasn't being updated. And then it wasn't updated. I kept checking. And then it was still the 2009 book. I kept checking. Then all the premium books except Open Class Non-Ag (ie. "Home Arts") were updated. This just wasn't fair!

Then all the premium books were updated and reformatted but the Non-Ag was inaccessible. You could click on it but it just told you that someone was editing the file and you couldn't access it. So I let it sit for a while. I mean, I believe in giving people a chance to do their job. After more than a week of "editing" when all the other premium books were fine, I made one phone call. Then it was fixed and I could access it. And all was right in my world.

I didn't notice any category changes from last year, but this year there is a "Special Award" in knitting given by judge's choice. A special award of a $25 Red Purl gift certificate! I had been gunning for my first Grand Champion Knitting Exhibit, but now I'm hoping for the gift certificate. (I'm sure Amy would rather someone who doesn't regularly go to her shop would win, but I can't say I'm hoping for the same thing. I'm just not quite that altruistic.)

Over the next month or so, I'll be pulling out my projects from the last year and looking them over. Washing them; reblocking them. Making sure they meet the Class description. (You get disqualified if it doesn't. I learned the hard way.)

And will you be doing the same? If you are local to the Cass County Fair, you can enter your items; you do not have to be a Cass County resident. You need to be a resident of Cass or a neighbouring county. (That would be: Berrien, Van Buren, and St Joseph, Michigan.) Or enter your own county's fair. Our Fair gives you free passes when you enter things to exhibit, making it easy to go back and look at everyone's work. It's also the only way you can see if you won any ribbons.

Entering your own items will make the fair more fun, I assure you. And don't think it has to be knitting. There are categories for just about all handwork plus baking, canning, photography, produce/flowers, scrapbooking... Other people love to see what you've been up to--yes, even people that don't know you. And I'm sure the judges enjoy having lots of good things to pick from too.

To enter the Cass County Fair, go to their website and print a copy of the Open Class Non Ag premium book. [Hoover over Premium Book and click on 2010 Open Class Non Ag.] Look over all the categories and enter as many as you can! It's free.
You'll also want to print the Entry Form. [Hoover over Forms and click on Open Class Entry Form.]

I'm sure your county (or state) fair has a website too. Go find it. Print what you need. Let's invade our fairs with our lovely homemade stuff!

Leave a comment if you plan to enter in your local fair. I want to hear from you!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wish You Had More Time for Your Hobbies?

I often have people marvel that I can get so much knitting done while working full time, etc etc. (Remember when the county fair people didn't really believe that I had knit all those things by hand?!) My glib reply is that I don't cook or clean. They don't usually believe me, but it's mostly true. Plus I make sure I [almost] always have a portable project going to fill the times when I'm waiting, unexpectedly delayed, or you know, stopped by a train.

But this week I am taking a more serious look at how I use my time, inspired (or should I say, goaded?) by Laura VanderKam's book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and her 168 Hours Challenge. It's too late to join for prizes, but as she says, you can start a time log anytime and just keep it going for 168 hours. (That's one week, in case you hadn't figured that out yet. 7 x 24.) If you want to use her spreadsheet you can get a copy here.

And what have I been doing this week? Starting Monday morning, and until Thursday at 10pm, I have spent:
Work stuff:
27 hours at work (notice I didn't say, working ::wink:: I decided to keep it simple and just count hours at work, not to categorize the work and/or wasted time. I'm paid by the hour. I have to be there. When I'm not there, I'm not working. So I think this works.)
1.75 hours putting up siding
2.25 hours on a project I can't write about publicly, but it's very important stuff
Total: 31 hours

Routine stuff:
1 hour on keeping the time log (and adding totals, etc)
4.25 hours driving (this is under-reported, but that's how it goes)
.5 hours on errands
.25 hours volunteering
1.75 hours eating (I think this is very low; partly because I've skipped meals)
.25 hours on banking
2.25 hours on "getting ready" (showering etc)
1.5 hours at small group
.75 hours talking with Troy
3.25 hours on gardening/mowing
2 hours cleaning/organizing (way higher than normal since I'm deep cleaning the house room by room for Troy's big bday extravaganza)
1.25 hours cooking (I cooked on Wed and took a long time about it!)
20.5 hours spent sleeping (should definitely be higher)
Total: 39.5 hours

Fun stuff:
1.25 hours spent reading (one sports mag and finishing Laura's book)
2 hours spent blogging (not counting the time to write this yet!)
3.25 hours working on a photobook for Troy's big bday extravaganza
2 hours knitting (this is very low compared to normal! I think because of the hours I've put in on the photobook)
1 hour on email/FB (very underreported since I do a lot at work)
1.25 hours talking with sisters on the phone (kind of skewed since two called me this week)
.25 hours of TV plus 1 hour while I was primarily doing other stuff. (This is way way less than normal. It looks better when you keep time logs when there are no premieres or finales. Ha ha.)
1.5 hours of socializing/shopping at Red Purl
Total: 12.5 hours

Now, keeping the time log doesn't automatically make more time for you to have fun. You just use it to notice where you're losing time on things you don't want to do. (Like, say, mowing for 3+ hours a week.) Then you try to figure out how you can get rid of those things you don't like and are not particularly good at, and then use that free time to do things you do like and are good at. It can also really smack you in the face with the time you might be wasting. For me, totaling my TV hours during the regular season might really make a point about how all that time really adds up. Others may realize their commute's too long, or they spend too much time getting ready in the morning.

I think the really hard part comes after you've made some changes to your schedule or habits: actually using the time for good and worthwhile things you want to do. For setting and reaching goals. And constantly asking yourself, "Is this the best use of my time right now?"

I'm not sure what I'll learn by keeping and studying this time log (that's why I'm doing it, right?) but I certainly appreciate Laura's points about doing what you think is important and not what you think is expected of you.

So if you come to visit, please notice the hand knits...not the too-tall grass and weeds!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

June Quilt Day: Not Really Quilting

The second Sunday of June was coming on and I was thinking of what to do for my quilt day. I toyed with getting very ambitious and working on my crossed canoes quilt. But I couldn't do it. One, I couldn't quite summon up the energy it would take to gather materials, clear a space, and prepare the quilt for quilting. Not yet.

The other thing was that I still have these tablecloths for church hanging over my head (still not done from the Spring to Finish list) and I couldn't feel good about any other sewing until I got them finished and outta here! So I worked on the current one and got it finished. Three done, one to go!

I dropped it off at church this evening, and went ahead and took some pics so you could see what I've been talking about.

The first ones done were the two for the rectangle tables. I had a generous friend help with that and we worked at the church for an afternoon. We almost got them done and just had to do a little more sewing at home.
You can see that it fits rather well, hangs low and sports some lovely box pleats. I planned the design and cut all the pieces as my friend--we'll call her "Amy"--started sewing them together. The farther we got, the more confused she got. But she just sewed one seam at a time, and it all worked out.

Later that day, however, Amy delighted in asking all her family how many pieces of fabric it takes to make a tablecloth. They all answered, "One. Throw it over the table." And she would answer, "No! I know someone who used thirteen!" like this was a punchline to a great joke! Well, come on, is that really fair to me?

One piece of cloth would cover the table, but you would constantly be futzing with it to get it even and to keep it in place. If you want a nice table covering for presentation, you need something more than a cloth thrown over the table. Or, at least, that is my opinion.

So I worked this pattern out. It has fancy flowers and swirls on top to make it beautiful:

It has a subtle stripe on the sides to keep it from being too fru-fru:

And box pleats that not only make it more interesting, but make it easier to throw over the table, too:
The flower fabric inside the box pleat is just a little mmm mmm.

The rectangle tablecloths turned out great; they fit the tables well, and just need a good pressing.

The round tablecloth I finished sports four box pleats:

It does not fit quite as well. The top is just a touch small, and that is going to annoy me. (But not enough to redo it, I'm afraid.) I will be sure to make the second one a little larger.

The requirements for these table coverings were that they had to be formal enough for art and music receptions, neutral in colour, and easy to wash/care for. (I thought the poly content would make them need less ironing, but apparently I was wrong on that.) Besides the wrinkling thing, I hope that they fulfill the requirements.

One more to go...

PS: David, the round one is folded on top of the other two, in case you need it. You're welcome...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Beyond Plarn

Any guess what this is?

About half the people who've seen it have known right off the bat: it's VHS tape.

I've been wanting a new lunch bag, so I started knitting with an old movie no one had ever watched (and never was going to watch!).

One old movie and a garbage bag lining plus some creative work yielded this result:
Now I'm thinking it's too nice for a lunch bag and may claim it as a purse. Decisions...decisions...

First step in making the purse was to take apart the cassette tape to get at the video tape.

Then I knit a large rectangle of mesh. Not having a pair of super-large needles, I just wrapped the tape around my needle twice while knitting each stitch. Then when I came back to knit them, I knit one loop and let the second one drop. This is an easy way to fake a large needle. (Stitch size is related only to loop size.)

It was also a way to make the tape slide over the needles a little easier. The tape stuck to the needles like crazy. It wasn't pleasant. And while I'm complaining I'll add that the tape was very noisy! Crinkling and squeaking. I couldn't knit while watching TV! Ha ha, but somehow I made it through:
Once it was knit, I slip stitched down each side with a crochet hook to make it the right shape. Project Stats
: 22 May '10
Finished: 09 Jun '10
Pattern: I made it up!
Materials: one reel VHS tape, one purple garbage bag, $0
It was very amusing at this stage because it would stretch every which way and not hold any particular shape.

The next question was what to line it with. I've been thinking quite a while about doing some plastic fusing and yesterday decided to try it out. My mother-in-law sent me a couple of big garbage bags that were a beautiful colour of purple. It would set off the black beautifully.

First step was to cut off the bottom and fold it into thirds.
This gave me six layers which I thought was a good thickness to try, and also gave me the right width for the pieces I would need for the purse.

To protect my iron, I laid the plastic between two layers of an old poster. (Parchment paper works too, but I didn't have any.)
And then ironed away. Not too hot, keep the iron moving. Flip it over and do it on the other side:
Eventually you have a sheet of fused plastic. My sheet did not come out as smooth as some I've seen in pictures. Apparently it depends on the plastic composition (which varies widely in plastic bags) but I was pretty content with how it came out.
The plastic shrank quite a bit. (No surprise.) It was no longer wide enough for my original measurements, but turned out to still be wide enough for what I needed. Nice when that works out!

So then I cut out the pieces that I needed. One large rectangle for the front, back and bottom (all in one), and two pieces for the sides. Sew it together, remembering to use your teflon foot because it won't stick to the plastic:

Then cut out narrow strips and sew them on for handles.
The plastic turned out to be perfect for folding into shape. I pressed two creases to shape the bottom, and pressed the seams so it formed a nice "box" with handles to fit into my VHS bag.
Slip it inside and finish by sewing around the top edge.

The finished bag has a great shape
and looks pretty sweet!

I can't wait for the next project that absolutely must have some fused plastic!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Shawl: Half Finished but All Broken In

This past weekend I witnessed my niece's lovely wedding. This gave me an opportunity to wear my Belinda shawl. Even half-done, it performed just fine: looked great and kept me warm.

The big question to wear it? Flipping it over one shoulder
didn't work too well as it wouldn't stay up, and isn't substantial enough to hold a clip, pin, or broach. (Plus it covers up my lovely necklace this way.)

I considered pinning it behind me
so that it would give both horizontal and vertical stripes, in their turns. But this was a little constrictive.

Of course wearing it like this:
wouldn't keep me warm at all. (And my arms tire quickly.)

In the end, I just pulled it over my shoulders and let it hang how it wanted to hang.
Here I'm pulling it to show off the stripes, but you get the idea, I'm sure.

The wrap blocked beautifully; it was nice and flat and the perfect size. The mohair was so soft, light, and warm. (It was quite a breezy day so I was very grateful for that.)

It didn't get quite the "wow" response you might expect. (Or I might expect. I'm impressed by it...why isn't everybody?! hee hee) A couple people commented, but not a lot. I'm thinking there were a couple reasons:
1. It was a big, busy day and people had other things to worry about. Guess wasn't about me; and that's ok--not my wedding.
2. I'm not sure it's obvious to many that the stripes are not made in the usual way. My one sister (who does knit) even assumed the rows were perpendicular to how they actually are. If she can make that mistake, lots of people can. Or...
3. I had already completely bowled them all over showing off my Whistler sweater, new purse, and purple mohair lace T that they were unable to be impressed any more. Knitting Admiration Overload. Yeah, that must be it.

And to think, I still have to knit the other layer. That might really set the heads spinning.

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...