Braaains

Today’s Yarn Love Challenge prompt is “Currently Making.”  If you haven’t read my previous posts, this is the third in the series.  If you’d like to start from the beginning, here’s the link to day 1.  At the end of each post there’s a link to the next post in the series.  If you’ve read the earlier posts, but missed yesterday’s, click here to catch up!

I’ve mostly been making brains.  Perhaps you’ve heard about the March for Science scheduled for April 22?  The date was set in early February, not long after the Women’s March.  Crafters excited about the impact of the pussy hats immediately started discussing options for hats for the March for Science.  Many scientists and science lovers expressed an interest in Brain Hats.

Photo by pattern designer Alana Noritake

As even a non-knitter can probably tell, this hat is far more complicated than the brain hats.  In the March for Science Ravelry group and Brain Hats Facebook group, there’s much discussion regarding better ways to make these hats, so sufficient numbers can be made before the march.  The project breaks down into three primary tasks: (1) Creation of the skull cap, which is a straight forward and fast knit; (2) Creation of the i-cord, which isn’t difficult but is tedious and time-consuming; (3) Attaching the i-cord to the skull cap.  Since I’m lucky to have a number of local fiber friends, I e-mailed them all and asked if anyone was interested in working on this project together.

My friend Katie has knit caps.  As of last week, she’d finished 13 of them.  I’m sure she’s finished a few more since last week!  I am working on the i-cord for the brains.  To make this process easier, I procured an Embellish Knit i-cord maker (Amazon Affiliate Link).  It’s tough to find them now, even through Amazon, because they either have been or are being discontinued by the manufacturer.  I managed to scoop up three of them on clearance at my local Jo-anns.  I wind the yarn I’m working with onto a ball winder and leave it there while I crank the i-cord.

Keeping the working yarn cake on the ball winder helps in two ways.  First, the ball of yarn doesn’t hop around all over the floor while I’m working.  Second, the working yarn feeding into the Embellish Knit doesn’t get tangled with the finished i-cord coming out of the bottom of the machine.  The i-cord doesn’t just move straight down as you crank.  It tends to whip around in a circle and quickly become tangled with the working yarn unless you keep the two ends far apart.

The yarn in the picture above is Vanna’s Choice.  The Embellish Knit instructions say that you cannot use anything thicker than fingering weight in the machine.  However, after much experimentation, I found that I could use worsted weight yarns as long as they are smooth, slippery yarns.  I have to pay attention when setting up the machine and I have to move the weight up to the base of the machine after I’ve cranked about six inches of i-cord.  I also can’t crank as quickly as I would if I was using a thinner yarn.  However, it is quick enough.  Using this set up of Embellish Knit plus ball winder, I am able to crank through an entire skein of Vanna’s Choice in 45 – 60 minutes.  Each skein is probably enough brains for one hat.

A bowl of brains. The pink yarn is the practice yarn that came with the machine. The turquoise and the yellowish-green are Vanna’s Choice. The darker green is Cascade 220. The pink / gray variegated under the Cascade 220 is Debbie Bliss Sock yarn. The blue-gray variegated and the blue-variegated towards the back are a worsted weight felted singles yarn, no longer labeled with a brand name. It’s some of the first yarn I purchased back in 2006 when I started knitting again. I ordered it from Uruguay, from a place that appears to no longer be in business.

Sometime soon, we have to start attaching brains to hats.  In order to make that process easier, I purchased a styrofoam head meant for displaying wigs.


Since attaching the brains will take both hands and since it is better for the hat to be slightly stretched, I needed a way to holding the hat still and stretched while I am working.  In the previously mentioned Ravelry and Facebook groups, people have mentioned several options for stretching the hats, but many of the other methods (e.g. a balloon) still required you to hold the stretcher while simultaneously applying the brains.  Even some using the styrofoam heads found it challenging to keep the head still while working.  They make clamps designed specifically for holding these heads firmly on a surface, so I purchased one of those a the same time I bought the head.

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Close Up

It’s Yarn Love Challenge Day 2!  If you missed day 1, explaining what exactly Yarn Love Challenge is, please see yesterday’s post.  Today’s prompt is “close up.”  Over the last few years, I’ve tried to improve my ability to take close up pictures.  Close ups help us focus on details, providing a better understanding of and appreciation for finished projects.  Rather than just sharing fiber arts pictures in this post, I’ve chosen close-up pictures that represent different aspects of my life.  Collectively, these small details provide a better understanding of the ongoing project that is my life.

Fiber

Since this is primarily a fiber blog, I am starting with the fiber pictures!

First, one of my favorite projects and pictures: a close up of the lace border on the Raindrops on Roses Shawl.

Next, one of the first close-up pictures I ever took of a fiber project.  It’s a humble garter-stitch dishcloth and I hoped to take a picture that made it look like more fun than that!  I tried to make it look like ocean waves and added the octopi charms both because of the ocean theme and because I love octopi so much.

This is the lace edging on the first project I ever knit from my own homespun yarn.  I was (and am) so proud to be able to knit from yarn spun by my own hands!

I have been obsessed with cables ever since I knit a cabled baby blanket as my second-ever knitting project.  (The baby I knit that blanket for just got married this week and is expecting his first child).  When I knit the Sand Tracks scarf, I became obsessed with the combination of cables and seed stitch.

Rainbows make me happy, and this Redfish Dyeworks 20/2 Spun Silk gradient is no exception.  I love this picture because it captures all the skeins in the gradient and because there’s something perfect about the way the circle draws my eye around and around and around the rainbow.

The Gotland / Teeswater fleece pictured here is one of the first fleeces I purchased (at SAFF 2016) to process by hand.  This picture is of the raw fleece and I love all the different colors in the fleece.  I took this picture just before I washed it.  I have yet to comb or spin it.

 

Tiger

I take a ridiculous number of pictures of our cat, Tiger.  He’s so photogenic.  He’s also ridiculously cuddly.  Sometimes he’s so cute and happy with cuddles that I don’t want to disturb him, but I’m also bored.  I almost always have my phone with me, so I whip it out and take pictures of him.  Of course, I take many close ups of his face.

But I am also rather obsessed with taking pictures of his paws.

 

And the way his tail wraps around his body and curls up beside his hip is one of the most precious things in the world.

Life

My husband grew up in Toms River, NJ.  Toms River is right about in the middle of the New Jersey coastline, separated by the intracoastal from Seaside Heights and Seaside Park, NJ.  He grew up going to the Seaside beach constantly.  His grandmother and an aunt each lived a couple blocks from the beach where the boardwalk was.  Superstorm Sandy destroyed much of the boardwalk.  If you watched any of the coverage of that storm, you might remember a picture of a roller coaster in the ocean.  That was the Seaside boardwalk where my husband grew up.  After Sandy, the boardwalk was rebuilt in record time, and the businesses lining it reopened for the following summer season.  That fall, one year after Sandy, an electrical short started a fire that burned six blocks of the newly-rebuilt boardwalk (this article says 3 blocks, but it was really 3 blocks in Seaside Heights plus 3 blocks in Seaside Park for a total of six blocks).  Fire trucks came from all over the state to fight that fire.  In the end, they were only able to put it out by bulldozing out part of the new boardwalk to create a fire break.

Three months after the fire, we were in New Jersey for Christmas, so we went down to the boardwalk to view the devastation.  The picture before is a charred piece of wood, about 4 inches long, embedded in the sand near where the fire started.

Birds

My father is a birdwatcher; I’ve been birdwatching with him since I was 6 months old, in a backpack on his back.  Last year, we attended the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.  One of the tours we took was a bird banding tour.  The guide was a licensed bird bander.  We accompanied him to the location where he bands and helped him to capture three birds for banding.  He applied a band to each bird, weighed them, measured their wings, beaks, and leg bones, then released them.  This is a Bachman’s Sparrow, an uncommon species which is in decline due to habitat loss.

 

In the vendor area of the festival, was a booth operated by a bird rescue.  They brought several of their education birds — birds that will never be able to released back to the wild due the extent of injury — and you could have a picture taken with the bird of your choice.  I picked the Golden Eagle because I am a Ravenclaw and the Eagle is the emblem of our House.  Note that I am not holding this bird.  Only licensed handlers are able to do that.  The eagle is sitting on the gloved hand of the handler and I am standing beside her.  The picture is taken from a clever angle, making it seem that I’m closer than I actually am!

In the Yard

Several years ago, I got lenses for my iPhone camera.  I didn’t know such a thing was possible until I was traveling on business and a colleague had them for her phone.  I was so excited, I bought myself a set.  I especially loved the macro lens.

Leaf and tendril from the grape vines.  We’ve since pulled them out because they were growing up against the house, destroying the paint and the window screens.  Plus the neighborhood birds ate all the baby grapes while they were still green so we never got any ourselves.

A cherry tomato, still on the vine.

Lichen on the trunk of a crepe myrtle.

A crab spider on its web.

 

Click here to read Yarn Love Challenge, Day 3: Currently Making.

 

 

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(Re)Introductions

For the month of February, Ravelry developers Mary Heather and Christina introduced an Instagram challenge called the Love Yarn Challenge.  I’m not on Instagram, so didn’t learn about the challenge until halfway through the month.  When I found out about it, I thought I’d play along on my blog, but right around that time, my blog got hacked and it took a little time to fix that problem.  On the theory of better late than never, I decided to do the challenge in March.  If you haven’t seen the challenge yet, here’s the themes for each day:


Obviously, February has only 28 days while March has 31, so there’s no challenge prompts for the last 3 days of March.  This month, I’m attending the Florida Tropical Weavers Guild and then going to London with my husband to celebrate our anniversary.  I’ll post about those adventures on the last 3 days of March, so you’ll get a blog post every day this month!

Most of the people who read this blog know me irl or have been reading for a while.  For you, the ‘introduction’ in this post is to the idea of the yarn love challenge!  If you’re new to the blog, please check out the About Us section and the first ever post on this blog to start learning more about me.

Where Do We Go From Here?

When I started this blog back in 2014, I was numb.  The preceding 3 years were emotionally and physically exhausting.  I felt drained and untethered.  I identified with Season 6 Buffy:

I started writing this blog because I needed something positive and productive to do.  The blog was the first step in recovering and reconnecting with myself.  This is an ongoing journey, but I have traveled well along the path over the last 3 years.  It has been a time of growth and rejuvenation.  Many of you reading this blog have been part of that and I am so grateful to you.

I do not usually have a word of the year, but for 2017, a word floated up for me in December: Finish.  This word continues to sit with me.  I’m working with it in the sense of completion.  The craziness of 2011-13 and the numbness that followed meant that many routine things didn’t get done in my life and now there’s a pile of things, many little but a few big ones too, waiting for my attention.  I’ve been working slowly through the pile.  Since that’s been taking my time and attention, I’ve done less fiber work and less blogging.  However, I miss both the fiber and the blog.  I am taking on this Yarn Love Challenge because I hope that it will jumpstart my love for both and help me focus more attention on them.

Click here to read Yarn Love Challenge Day 2: Close-Ups.

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Crafting CPH

“Why would you spend $25 on yarn to knit a pair of socks when you can buy a dozen pairs at Walmart for maybe $10?”  Every crafter I know has been asked some variant of this question.  Usually the crafter stumbles through a response, defending the reasons she or he chooses to work with fiber. […]

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The Yarn Spinner

Last year, I wrote a post about how much I love A Craftsman’s Legacy.  Season 3 of the show started last week and I have loved the first two episodes.  Episode 2 of Season 3 features Maple Smith (Ravelry) of North Star Alpacas (Etsy) in Ithaca, Michigan.  Maple gave host Eric Gorges dyeing, spinning, and […]

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On the Road

When last I wrote, Tiger was about to start radiation therapy. I expected the weeks of radiation to be difficult for all involved, and for things to get easier after. While the radiation was challenging, Tiger came through with flying colors and I thought the hard part was behind us. I was wrong. Tiger caught […]

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Another Day, Another Waiting Room

One of my favorite things about fiber work is how you can always find something to work on that fits your current circumstances.  Have lots of time and mental space?  You can learn a new craft or take on a complicated project like colorwork or complex lace.  Just need something mindless?  You can crank out […]

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Ponce Inlet 2016

Over the Martin Luther King, Junior weekend, five friends and I stayed in a condo right on the beach in Ponce Inlet, Florida.  Another friend joined us just for the day on Saturday.  It was glorious.  We knit, we crocheted, we spun, we wove, we blocked, we discussed dyeing, we watched Marvel movies, we talked, […]

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How Many Projects?

I’m taking a time out from packing to write a quick post.  Last November, I registered attend PlyAway, a spinning conference hosted by PLY Magazine.  My friend Lorelle was planning to go too, but by the time registration came around, she knew she wouldn’t be able to attend.  “I’d love to go to fiber events […]

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