Friday, December 10, 2010

The perils of knitting far, far too much

I should have known it was going to get ugly - up there you can see Hat #5 and Hat #6, both of which I knitted in one day. Apparently, there's only so much knitting the human body was expected to do, and I have been exceeding my quota. :) I've had a doozy of a backache last night and today, but.... at least I have hats to show for it. :)

Hat #7, or my first beret

There is my first beret, knit from a pattern suggested by my sweet friend Julia (p.s. Ramona, here's the pattern). I was doing a great job until close to the very end, when juggling the stitch markers got really hairy. So a few slipped off, and I suppose it's not perfect, but I still very much like my first beret.

I finished The Vampire Diaries, season 4 of Lost, and I'm halfway through Dead Like Me, which is quirky, bizarre, and fun. Yes, I know I'm late to the party on all of these, but I consider the past few months to be catch-up on all the TV I've never watched. :) Any suggestions for more fun, quirky shows to add to my queue? (P.s. Molly I'm already a fan of True Blood and Glee! :)

Oh, but the back is really killing me! Have any of you knitters had any similar knitting injuries? Suggestions on how to treat / avoid them? Yes, I know the most obvious answer is: stop knitting, but I'm hoping there are other coping methods. :)

I really love all the knitting comments you've been leaving!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hats, hats, hats

You know what? Making hats is really addictive. They don't take up that much yarn - with a simple pattern (like the one I chose) you can just knit and knit and knit without even looking down very much. They're portable, easy for me to truck around town, and there's always the added hilarity of onlookers trying to figure out what I am knitting. I had a great conversation with a very hungover homeless dude yesterday who was marveling at how fast I knit. If I see this guy again, all he has to do is ask me one more time about my knitting and I'm giving him a hat. Because that's what happens when you ask questions about my knitting. :)

Oh, so the turquoise striped hat was Hat #4, and there below is Hat #3:

My personal favorite and the one I plan to keep for myself. :) I used this great Alpaca yarn for Hat #3 and #4 - it's kind of spongy and springy and squooshy. Yes, I'm liking all of those adjectives in reference to a hat. :)

Here is Hat #2, and my other favorite:

I added a few more stitches on this one, because my stitches are pretty tight. I used a really nice merino wool that I found at Kid N Ewe:

It's so soft and totally non-scratchy, and it feels so nice to work with. Anyhow, that hat now lives with my best friend and her husband, and since it looks cute on both of them, I should probably make her another hat so she'll stop stealing it from him. :)

I'm using my knitting as an excuse to catch up on bad television - I knitted my way through Season 4 of Dexter, Season 3 of Lost (I made the mistake of getting my mom ADDICTED to that show), and I'm halfway through Season 1 of The Vampire Diaries which is way campy. I'm always irritated by shows that make teenage characters wear too much makeup (yeah I'm just glossing right over the teenage promiscuity, drugs, and drinking - it's THE MAKEUP that bothers me :) Seriously - I get so irritated when characters roll out of bed wearing a pound of makeup, and have perfect hair. I know teen shows are no place to seek verisimilitude, but still. :)

Aside from that, I'm enjoying the brief bits of cold that settle into south Texas in the fall. One morning I'll wake to mid-40's and wind, and it will almost feel like NYC. :) Thanksgiving was cheerily chilly, because there's nothing more lame than a hot, humid Thanksgiving. But I love how the sun and the heat are never far - there are never those days like the kind you get in NY, when you feel so, so, cold, and it seems like you'll never be warm again. In San Antonio, all you have to do is wait a few days.

I pulled out my novel, and I'm starting to gingerly add to it. How about all of you? Has the holiday funk hit you yet or are you keeping busy?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Knitting the hat

modeling the new hat

So here's my first hat! I did a lot of griping and cursing when switching from the circular needles to the double-pointed needles at the end, but I muddled through it ok:

top view

I was rather stunned to look down at my hat and see it looked, sort of ok! I was so sure I was going to mess things up. Because, ugh - the stitch markers kept slipping off, I kept cursing and combing the carpet for them, etc. etc. Anyone have advice on working with slippery stitch markers and double-pointed needles? I also tried tying little bits of yarn, but those slipped, too. :(

the back

So, the back of the hat is what I'm least happy with - at some point the stripes stopped lining up correctly - not sure how that happened, by the way.

Oh, and HA HA:
did I mention my first hat is wonky?

Luckily, I have a knit/crochet expert who lives nearby, so I will ask her what I did wrong. But, overall, I'm pretty happy with my wonky first hat!

Any advice on my hat or hats in general? Patterns you like?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bring on the knitting

red and gray stripey scarf

It's official, I've become a knitting fiend. Although I guess that's not a huge surprise, as I tend to obsess over whatever hobby I occupy myself with. I've squirreled away an embarrassing amount of yarn in my room, but I am actually knitting with it as well! I promise!

See, up there - that was my first skinny scarf, knit up while on the city bus to and from my new volunteer job. I LOVE how much heckling I get when I knit in public - I've been asked if I have grandchildren, if I am aware that only grannies knit, or if I am sane. As I'm all kinds of sarcastic, I specialize in comebacks. To the drunk guy on the bus who made the granny comment, I said, "Your grandma was once young and hot, too, you know." Judging from the disgusted expression on his face, I gave him a mental image that would haunt him for the rest of his days. That's what you get, drunk guy! I love, love, love sassy drunk people on the bus. :)

Anyway, that stripey scarf was simple, just knit one row, purl one row, on and on until the end. That's called - eh - stockinette stitch? Hey, go easy on me, hardcore knitters, I am just a beginner. :) But that curls up on the edges, so I used some internet advice and steam-blocked it by sticking it under a wet pillowcase and ironing. Some red fluff from the yarn did transfer over to the gray parts, but overall it looks pretty good. Still curls, but about half as much.

So, I loved that gray yarn so much, I started another one, this time with a purplish yarn stripe:

I'm almost finished with that one, because in between, I decided to knit a hat! I'll show you some pictures of that soon - it's finished, but wonky. But hey, it was my first hat, knitted without any supervision.

Oh, and my apologies to anyone clicking through my Flickr stream, you'll also notice I photographed my entire yarn stash:

Yes, I know there's no excuse for this type of behavior, but of course I did it to put on Ravelry. By the way, knitting is a real hit at the bars! Drunk people love to stare at knitting. :) Sadly, I am not even kidding. :)

What's the weirdest place you guys have knitted? Do you guys get heckled when you knit? What are your comebacks? Is there anywhere you wouldn't knit? :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Knitting Weather

doing the knitting

For those of you who've been following my stream / dull blog forever, you'll know I learned to knit years ago, when I first moved to New York. I knit a couple of things, just a scarf here and there, but a mild bout of carpal tunnel one winter scared me off of it completely.

But, since I moved back to Texas, and the weather has cooled down (translation: for those of you who don't live in South Texas - temperatures have dropped from over 100 to mid-80's) and I picked up knitting again in a fit of funk and boredom:

Progress on the patchwork blanket

My goal is a patchwork blanket like the one on the cover of Readymade:

Ahem, getting there, has been a rather funny experience, of course. I chose a whole slew of different yarns at the Hobby Lobby, but my favorite was I Love This Yarn, which is so fluffy and cuddly. By the way, to view that link, I think you have to be logged in to, which, yeah, I joined. It's such a cool page, that gives you links to all the projects peeps have used the yarn for. It's right up my methodical, excessively categorized alley. :)

little scarf so far

In between working on patches for the blanket, I knit up a small skinny scarf for my cousin. I used I Love This Yarn in that bright pinkish color and Vanna's Choice (ha ha - can't look at that label without giggling) in purple. It's probably got mistakes and I didn't block it because I, 1) didn't want to and 2) liked the look of it as is.

There's something so restful about knitting that is difficult to describe. It would seem like it's the most boring task on earth, to make your hands repeat the same stitches, over and over again. But you enter into a quiet rhythm, and when you're used to it, can knit almost without looking.

I love knitting and watching TV, something I can't really do while embroidering. When I have stuff on my mind, thoughts I can't work through, things I'm worried about or mad about or meh about, knitting gives my hands and brain a purpose and just calms me.

What about you guys? Any knitters reading here? :)

And now, for the most depressing song on earth. No, I'm just kidding, it's really not - but I hesitate to tell people it's one of my favorite songs recently because it um, sounds so dark. :) It's by an artist a friend in New York turned me on to - I don't listen to a ton of country but she's the kind of country I really really enjoy...

Hope you enjoy it and that you don't think it's the most depressing song on earth, or that I'm weird for loving it! ;) And that you don't think I want to die. ;)

How are all of you? I feel like I've been here so infrequently lately, sorry about that! :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Wedding Photobooth

So, I did the wedding photobooth last weekend, and I had a blast. (More or less, how I did it.) I was a bit worried that people might not get silly with the props, and goofy and fun was what I was going for. But people really got into it, and had all the fun I hoped they'd have. Weddings are SO serious, and it provided a much needed break from all the "let's dress up and look perfect" pressure. :)

This was one of the first pics of the night, and right about when I knew it was going to be awesome. :)

I made that little chalkboard up there, by the way - I used a pretty cakeboard, then cut out a rectangle and taped a chalkboard behind it...

There were so many great pics, it's hard to pick just one fave...

Look at these handsome guys!


Yeah, that's awesome:

I thought this cute couple looked gorgeous:

In between pics, my helpers and the flowergirl thoroughly entertained themselves:

Do you see this? Sweetness.

Flowergirl mugshot (totally her idea, by the way) :)
flower girl


I adored this cute couple, too:

The bride:
the bride

The groom:
the groom

And here were my gorgeous helpers:
my sweet helpers

All in all, it was hands-down, the best time I've ever had at a wedding. I didn't have a second to mope or cry (I'm a big bawler at weddings) and now I have all of these amazing pics to remember it by. I'd do it again in a second. Hope you enjoy these, too! :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Experiments with props and scripts

dork glasses

I thought I'd share the fruits of my recent ridiculous labors with props. Who knew those Groucho glasses could look so classy? But I guess that Groucho was a classy man...

No, seriously, the cool scripts I used in Gimp really helped with these photos. They do wonders with crap flash-lighting (you know, the way flash photos make people look scary and undead?) I'm super-impressed with all of these scripts, and I'll definitely be using all of them.

dorky props

Want the Gimp scripts? I got them here:

I tweaked most of these to get those nice bright reds, this one is probably my fave:
silliness with sunglasses

I know you guys asked me about a billion years ago for scripts you can use in Gimp, these are the coolest ones I've found, hope you enjoy! :)

Oh, and thanks for all the encouragement and helpful ideas on the booth! I just might take the plunge and bring a printer, but only if I can recruit a helper to man the camera. I think I have my process down, after lots of trial runs, and can do it pretty quickly... In any case, please keep the photobooth ideas coming - I really appreciate it!!! :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Filmstrips and photo booths


So, here's what's been occupying my thoughts night and day for the past week or so... I'm planning a photobooth for my best friend's wedding! I got the idea from a few different sites, but rather than fork out for a real photobooth, I'm going to re-create the effect on my own, using a camera, my computer, and a printer.

I purchased about 2 1/2 yards of that crazy floral print fabric you see behind me. In actuality, it's a rather demure, almost dull charcoal-looking gray and off-white:
the backdrop

Just goes to show how much a flash can change the look of a fabric! I still think I'd like this fabric a lot more if it had a red background, but I couldn't find a red-patterned fabric I liked.


In the background are a few little crafty projects I'll show you close-ups of later - large initials on red fabric, a little red heart applique in a tiny white oval frame and in the rectangular frame (which you can't make out at all) is XOXO in red on black. Looks like I'll have to re-stitch that one in a better color, probably white or pink... And, yeah, that's a Twilight calendar. It's an inside joke. Or, maybe I just like Edward. Moving on...

How I'm Gonna Do It...
So, my plan is to set up the fabric backdrop with a camera on a tripod. I'll set my camera to fire 4 times, and just press the button (or get a cute kid to do it for me). Then, I'll download the images to my computer, and edit them to create that cool filmstrip-effect. I have oodles of dumb props like sunglasses, hats, Twilight calendars, etc.

My main quandary: should I take my printer with me? It, um, weighs 33 pounds. I'd love to be able to print the little filmstrips and give them out as favors to the wedding guests. But in between taking photos, downloading them, editing them, and printing them, maybe I'll be too pressed for time? Oh, and I'm also standing in the wedding. Yeah, that too. ;)

Maybe I should just create a slideshow for the bride and groom as I edit the photos, and print them later? Either way, I plan to give everyone a link to the photos so they can print them out on their own...

What do you guys think? Have any ideas on how I should do this? I know you guys are all really, really creative... Anyone done a DIY photobooth before and have some words of wisdom for me? I'd really appreciate it! :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Texas wanderings

I've been relatively productive, but still haven't posted much, I know. I'm used to having internet at my disposal 24 hours a day, so that I can procrastinate and putter and still get a lot of stuff posted. Now I have internet 1-2 hours a day, and only if I make a concerted effort to drive or walk somewhere to get it. Then, trying to cram all my thoughts into that small space is daunting. Inevitably, I forget about 90% of what I was hoping to do.

I'm enjoying my wandering and free time very, very much. These pics were taken in one of my favorite parks by the river. To those of you who don't know San Antonio very well, the cute little part of the river you know as the Riverwalk is entirely man-made. But this is the real San Antonio river, and there's a feeling you get from the trees, the reflection, the leaves, that is entirely different, entirely ancient...

I remember so many times in my youth, in high school, feeling so altered, so angsty - you remember that feeling? Like you're in a hurry for all of life to happen at once - like you know life is just around the bend, and you're enduring this awful spell of waiting for it to happen. In any case, whenever I felt this way, I would take long walks by myself, anywhere I could hear the wind moving through the trees - I would feel myself become completely silent, until I could hear my pulse in my ears. Only this would calm me. Maybe it was the feeling of life in all the living things around me?

Being finally away from the roar of New York and the constant presence of thousands upon thousands of people, I feel awed by this quiet. How did I live so long in a place so unmatched to my personality? Or, maybe - I learned to view the people around me much the same way I once viewed trees and leaves and nature. Quiet presences that reminded me that life continues.


Well, I promise to do a post soon on something crafty! I've been cranking out little projects here and there, scrawling drawings in my sketchbook - ideas for my best friend's wedding. Yes, my best friend is getting married. I'm really glad to be here for that.

Well, until next time, here's a sketch I did of a sculpture at a museum with my mom. I've been the drill sergeant of drawing for her, and I drew this while waiting for her to finish a sketch.

Hope all is well for all of you! What have you been working on?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Redecorating my old room

old school quilts and pink walls

So, I haven't lived at home in awhile. Ok, more than awhile. Let's try 15 years? Right after I graduated high school, I packed my bags and moved a whopping 45 minutes away. Still, I never moved home again - until, well, now.

When I was in high school I painted my walls cobalt blue and covered them with black and white photos, posters and drawings.

I returned home to find baby pink walls and golden framed flowers:
framed flowers

Framed Precious Moments cross-stitches:
yeah, the walls are really this pink

Lace curtains that let in surprisingly very little light:
curtains before

In addition to pink walls, the carpet is this light spearmint-y / sage green color:
messy corner before

Eeep. How was I going to find stuff to match all of this? I stared at the pink walls unhappily, thinking that if I changed that, I might be inspired - but I had no clue what might combine with that spearmint green carpet.

Finally, I made a detour to Target and just bought a bunch of stuff I loved: a bright reddish-pink quilt, shams, sheets, and a purplish throw rug. I didn't care if it didn't match.

I got everything on sale, but there was a sheer white curtain with flocked dots I really wanted. I just didn't want to pay 20 dollars a pop for them (20 x 3 = way too much for me).

So I bought 3 sheer white curtains for 5.99 each, and cut polka dots out of an old white pillowcase instead:
placing polka dots

Sewing the circles was a cinch - I used white embroidery floss (2 strands) and a simple straight stitch, nothing fancy at all:
sewing polka dots

I also hung the top portion of a birthday banner I made last year for a bit of extra happiness:
banner + curtain

I hung big paper lanterns I brought back from New York:
bed + curtain + lanterns
Doesn't the new curtain let in so much more light?

Next, I got on a garland kick. I cut small circles out of an old turquoise t-shirt and strung them on white perle cotton:
stringing circles

I made flowers by squishing a bunch of circles together:
making a flower

Or, just simple strings:

Then I hung them wherever I wanted some extra color:
recycled frames
That lovely lady on the right is of course my mom. On the left is an old knitting magazine I picked up in Cape May.

Finally, I added some more paper lanterns and my own embroidery and painting to this little corner:
lantern corner

And there we go, here is my new abode (for now):
I prefer the unmade bed

Isn't it crazy the difference a bedspread, sheets, and a curtain make? All the crazy colors look good together and make me very happy. It's feeling much more like home now...