Crafty Stories

I like to tell stories through the creative arts. I may be slightly obsessed with books, movies, TV shows, yarn and fiber. Wanna hang out?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Sweater Project: Keep Moving Forward

This week as I worked on the yarn for my handspun sweater project, I was reminded of a quote from Walt Disney (as featured in one of my favorite Disney movies, "Meet the Robinsons"):

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
–Walt Disney

 I often think of this quote in terms of my business and my crafting. Sometimes things just don't work out the way we want them to, and we just have to keep going. That's what has happened with my sweater project.

I spun my first skein of yarn and I got this:

It's a really pretty skein, and I like it a lot. Unfortunately, though, after using up approximately 20% of my singles this skein was only 55 yards bulky weight. I was worried I wouldn't have enough yarn to make any kind of a sweater at that rate.

Turns out, I was right. I finished spinning all the singles and I got this:

It looks like a lot of yarn, and it is, depending on the perspective. It's about 15oz of bulky weight yarn, but it comes in at only 268 yards. Not enough for a full-sized sweater.

I was pretty bummed about that for a little while, but then I remembered that I still had this yarn in my stash:

This is 880 yards of worsted/aran yarn that I dyed myself to use for a capelet. I decided instead that I'm going to make it into a sweater. I'm planning to knit Rusted Root with this yarn.

The other yarn will still have a purpose, never fear! I think I'm going to knit Shrug This with it or maybe the smaller version of Liesl. If I don't get around to it for a while there may even be another pattern that speaks to me even more. So I'm not at all worried about it.

I'm just going to keep moving forward - you never know what fun adventures you might find when you do that! :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday Sweater Update: Handspun, Round 2

Well, I spun another set of batts for my sweater! Remember this post, when I spun the green batts? Well, now I've got some blue/purple yarn to go with the green!

I took a shot of the two colors side by side, too. I think they look nice together, don't you?

I've still got one final set of batts to add; this one will have a little bit of purple, blue and green in it. Hopefully I'll have that done within a week and then I can start the plying, hooray!!!

The Great Sweater Project is coming along nicely!!

How are your knitting and spinning projects going lately?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Zack Attack: Easy DIY Superhero Costume

Let me tell you a little story.

I am the mother of three children - my oldest son, Will, is 8; Jillian is 6 and the youngest is Zack, 2. Through the years, my older two have collected a few Halloween costumes and we keep them around as dress-up clothes. Zack, on the other hand, has only had three Halloweens total; for the first two he only wore Halloween pajamas and this past year he was Plex the Robot:

Jillian has the most dress-up clothing of all because, well, she's a girl. She likes that sort of thing. Zack also enjoys playing dress-up, but he only has the one outfit to wear that's actually his. The rest of the time, he has to borrow from his big sister, like so:

I asked my oldest son if I could cut down the arms and legs of some of his old costumes for Zack, but Will wasn't super on board with that idea, so my husband suggested I make good use of my sewing talents.

Fast forward about a month, and I started thinking of what to make. I told Zack I could give him a superhero costume, figuring a cape and a felt mask would be pretty easy to sew. If that went well I figured I could move on to a cape for a prince with a felt crown and maybe some animal or monster hats and sweatsuits.

Initially, Zack was pretty excited about the idea of being a superhero. He even told me he wanted to be a BLUE superhero (so much for the old red sheet I was planning to use for the cape, HA!), and he went around the house telling his older siblings, "Mommy's going to make me a superhero costume!"

What crafty mama could resist such enthusiasm, right?

So, today I got to work. I dug out an old blue pillowcase from the linen closet and I grabbed my collection of felt and made up a costume. I also used the mask template from the Living Locurto blog. Easy peasy! In under an hour I had this:

Voila! One DIY pillowcase superhero costume. Perfect, right?


You see, remember when I told you that Zack is two years old? Yeah, about that. He's not just two years old; he's TWO YEARS OLD. As in, he's a two-year-old. The terrible twos? Yeah, we've got that. He's fickle and argumentative and sometimes very sweet. But today, not so much on the sweet part.

Today, he doesn't LIKE his superhero costume, mommy!

Oy, vey.

Here's hoping that my older two kids will come home from school and fuss over how cool it is so he'll start liking it. Maybe then I'll be able to get a shot of him actually wearing the darn thing. But I'm not holding my breath.

I always believe that if you can learn from something then it was a worthwhile experience, at least in part.

Let's see, what did I learn from THIS project?
- It's not super hard to make costumes for your kids. I should do it more often; maybe they'd play more and zone out less.
- If I make the mask again I should cut the template twice and sew them together; after Zack pulled on it a lot the eye holes are kind of stretched out and wonky.
- Next time I get it into my head that Zack needs a cape, I'm going to give him a PLAIN pillowcase first. If he wears that he can get his own special superhero logo later on.

Thanks for letting me share my crafty story with you today! I hope your DIY adventures have happier endings.

Up, up, and away!!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Knitting: Remind me why we do this again?

This weekend I've been teaching my 6-year-old daughter, Jillian, how to loom knit. My awesome friend Carrie sent her a set of knitting looms; I thought it would be relatively simple for Jilly to master because she already knew how to finger knit and the steps involved in both forms of alternative knitting are pretty similar.

Yeah, about that. It seems they're not THAT similar. 

First off, I should start by saying that most of us acknowledge that it's harder to teach your own kid how to do something than it is to teach someone else or someone else's kid. That is definitely the case for Jillian and I; there are many times a week when I think that the Universe gave me this child in order to teach me patience. In addition to that little issue, Jilly's apple didn't fall too far from my frustrated tree; she has a hard time persevering with something if it's hard for her. Much like her dear mother.

So anyway, this weekend I've been hearing a lot of,

"Knitting is really frustrating/hard/tricky!"


"Finger knitting was a lot easier and faster than this!" 

and even,

"Are you going to finish that hat you're working on? Maybe I can do your project instead of mine."

As a seasoned knitter, of course I'm highly amused by these comments. Ahh, those were the days, right?

Knitting still frustrates me from time to time, of course. For the most part, though, I'm lucky to have moved beyond frustration into enjoyment of the craft. This whole situation with Jilly leaves me wondering how that happened. What made me keep on picking up those bleeping needles when they were frustrating me? What made me work through my tears, my endless array of expletives and my first several crappy projects?

One of my first knitting projects, a shawl with a lace heart pattern. What was I thinking?!?

I think, for me, it was the desire to win. I wanted to master this craft, come Hell or high water. I was going to BEAT knitting into submission or die trying. 

I don't like to lose.

I don't like to give up.

I don't like to feel stupid, like I can't do something.

So I kept going, and eventually my brain clicked and my needles clicked and now I can make pretty things.

See? I designed AND knitted this particular pretty thing. I even spun the yarn!

I want Jillian to get to this point, eventually. I'm not quite ready to teach her how to use the actual needles yet, as I've tried teaching other children around her age and it's really hard for those little hands (plus, you know, the aforementioned head-butting that happens every time I try to teach her ANYthing). I see this loom knitting as a stepping stone for her. If she can learn the steps involved, practice and hone her skills until she gets good at it, and demonstrate the patience required to finish a handful of projects then maybe she'll be ready for the challenge of traditional knitting or crocheting.

So how do I help her get over that mountain of frustration and enter the Valley of Peaceful Knitting? The Forest of Friendly FOs awaits her, I'm sure of it, but first we have to get past the anger and negativity to a place of positive happiness. I'll try teaching her that it feels good to figure something out, to finish something and to make a gift with love and your own hands. But what else is there?

This is where I need help from all of you, dear readers! What made you get beyond the initial frustration phase of learning a new skill and into the enjoyment phase? Whether it was knitting, crocheting, sewing, weaving or something else entirely, I'm sure you all experienced that initial frustration and then the eventual "Aha!" moment. How do I get Jillian to push ahead to the "Aha!" of her own experience? Leave me a comment below and let me know!

Thank you in advance for helping me help my child. I love to enable future generations of crafters! May all your crafting be frustration-free this week!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: What's Happening?

Hello, fellow fiber lovers! It's Friday, and you know what that means - Fiber Arts Friday time, yay!!!!!!

Anyway, today is sort of a random post with the things that are going on here at Storied Yarns Central and in general. :)

This week I'm knitting away on the Shinkan Zen shawl by Susan Ashcroft. I'm super close to doing the pleated section; hoping to get to that today.

Here's an in-progress shot of the shawl - sorry it can't be a better idea of the shape, but I'm in the middle of a row:

The yarn is from Mulberry Fibers; it's the Carolina Beach colorway on Superwash Basic Sock.

Ok, let's see. I'm also spinning for my big Sweater Project. So far this is what I've done:

I've still got two more sets of batts to spin, then I'm going to ply them as a 3ply, so I've got a ways to go. But progress is progress, right? :)

I'm following along with some interesting things right now so I thought I'd share those.
- There's a group on Ravelry called Fantasia; each month they select books and they make knit/crochet/weaving/spinning/dyeing projects inspired by those books. I'm really loving the idea of it! Right now, for instance, we're exploring new skills as inspired by Snoopy and the Red Baron and completing projects about friendship inspired by The Burning Bridge. It's lots of fun to see what everyone makes!
- The Sexy Knitter Group on Ravelry is voting on their next KAL from the Sexy Knitter Patterns collection. I happen to know that the prizes this time around are going to be fabulous! ;)
- I'm reading along with the Focus on Free Motion Quilting Month on Sew Inspired. I really want to learn how to free motion quilt, because so far my quilts have been limited to "stitch in the ditch," and I want to explore beyond that. These posts are all about how to use a regular sewing machine, not a long-arm, so I'm excited to practice!

Ok, I think that's about it. Head on over to Andrea's blog now and check in with the rest of the group. :)

Happy Fiber Arts Friday!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sew Awesome: A Skirt for a Knitter

Hello! Today is a day to show off my recent sewing project.

My dad got me a gift certificate to a quilt shop for Christmas, and with it I purchased 1.5 yards of this Do Ewe Knit knitting-inspired fabric by Timeless Treasures.

I went browsing on the Internet and found this awesome skirt tutorial by Ruffles and Roses.

Then I read the pattern and chickened out about the zipper, so I perused her blog a little bit more and found this super simple skirt tutorial. I went with that one.

Here's my finished skirt:

It's possible I had a little fun with the photo shoot, LOL. I figured it'd be good for my profile pages. ;)

Here's some more fun I had with my photo editing program:

I'm a work of art. Hahahahahahahahaha!

Anyway, this type of skirt couldn't be easier. Sew a tube, hem it, add a channel at the top, thread in some elastic and BOOM. Skirt.

As I think of it, I wish I would've gone with the more difficult skirt, as I think I would have liked it better (more fitted = more flattering). But that's okay; I'm planning to try that with an old bed sheet I have lying around here. Maybe I'll be able to report on that progress next week.

What about you? Have you been sewing anything lately? Leave me a comment and let me know about it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Last Day to Join the Sweater-Along!

It's January 10, and that means it's the last day to purchase a Sweater-Along package in the Storied Yarns shop!

I am unlikely to be giving away free yarn and fiber any time in the near future, so you should seriously get in on this deal while you can. ;)

Here are your options:
- 4 skeins of yarn for the price of 3
- 5 skeins of yarn for the price of 4
- 16oz of fiber for the price of 12oz
- 20oz of fiber for the price of 16oz

There are several people knitting and crocheting along with us. If you don't want to buy new yarn or fiber right now, that's okay, too! Come and knit or crochet along using any yarn you choose. Visit the Storied Yarns Ravelry Group to lend support, advice and cheering to the people knitting sweaters and of course post progress on your own sweater project!

Stay tuned for more fun on the blog this week. I'll be sewing a knitting skirt (are you confused yet? LOL), taking some progress photos of my own sweater project (right now still in the spinning phase) and updating you on the shawl I'm knitting right now.

I'd love to hear what your knitting projects and goals are for the month, too! Leave me a comment below. :)

Thanks for visiting!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Free Knitting Pattern: Dragonrider Cuff or Bookmark

Hi everyone, and Happy Thursday!

Today I have a gift for you - it's a simple little knitted item that won't take much of your time to complete. Make one for yourself so you have a pretty new accessory (for your wrist or your favorite book) to start the New Year on a positive note.

This free knitting pattern is a great way to use up left-over skeins of sock yarn, sample-sized skeins you might get in your orders from awesome fiber artists, or the small skeins you receive in the Phat Fiber box.

So, without further ado, I present to you:

The Dragonrider Bracelet/Bookmark
by Jessica Cook

Sample bracelet knit in Storied Yarns "Dragonriders of Pern" colorway.
Materials Needed:
- 15 yards of fingering weight yarn
- Size US 1 knitting needles (I used two DPNs)
- Embroidery needle for weaving in ends/connecting the bracelet
- Iron or water/blocking pins/blocking mat
- Optional: Starch for the bookmark

Abbreviations Used:
(THANK YOU to the anonymous commenter; I totally forgot to put these in!)
CO - Cast On
K - Knit
P - Purl
YO - Yarn Over
DD - Double Decrease (Slip two stitches together knitwise; knit one; pass two slipped stitches over this one.)

CO 13.

Knit 4 rows.

Row 5 and ALL odd rows) K2, P9, K2
6) K2, YO, K3, DD, K3, YO, K2
8) K2, K1, YO, K2, DD, K2, YO, K1, K2
10) K2, K2, YO, K1, DD, K1, YO, K2, K2
12) K2, K3, YO, DD, YO, K3, K2

Repeat rows 5-12 until you’re about out of yarn or it is long enough to stretch around your wrist. I did it until I had about 9 “scales.”

K last 4 rows, bind off.

Finishing options:
1)Block gently to stretch out the lace pattern and reduce curling. Tie extra yarn to the top like a tassel and use it as a bookmark. To make it stiff and sturdy, dip the bookmark in liquid starch and then block it.
2) Block gently to stretch out the lace pattern and reduce curling. Sew two short ends together and slip it on your wrist like a wide bracelet/cuff.
3) Fold under the sides of the bracelet so the scales show on top. Sew the two short ends together with folds secured so it will wear like a thicker, narrower bracelet. (This was sort of an accidental discovery on my part but I kinda like it.)

Remember, our Sweater-Along is about to begin! Visit the Storied Yarns Ravelry group for all the details, or purchase your Sweater Kit in the Storied Yarns Shop!

I hope you enjoy this pattern, and have a very Happy Thursday!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year, New Sweater, New Skill(s)!

Hello all!

I hope you had a wonderful New Year! Mine was tame, which is just how I like it.

Lots of bloggers are writing posts about resolutions and goals. I'll leave that to them. For today I just have ONE goal I'm thinking about, and that is:

In 2012 I will knit myself a sweater!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whew. Okay. I'm glad we got that settled.

Ok, so this year I'm knitting a sweater. I'm going to spin the yarn for it, so I don't want to spend too much time obsessing over potential patterns, because I will become very disappointed if the yarn I spin isn't enough to make one of those sweaters.

However, I do have plenty of sweaters I've been ogling, so I thought I'd give them a shout-out here in this post. Maybe one of them will be just the thing you needed to see in order to commit to your OWN sweater-knitting goal this year!

First up, let me just say that I would knit virtually ANY sweater designed by Wendy Bernard. I love her designs! In particular I've had Somewhat Cowl (a lovely, drapey-necked short sleeved, fitted option) and Something Red (a cute, smallish cardigan) in my queue for quite some time. I think I would do well with either of these patterns for my sweater because it's going to be a very colorful yarn, so having a simple stitch pattern in the sweater will help the yarn steal the show. However, both of these use fairly thin yarns so I probably won't be able to spin that weight out of a 3ply yarn from batts. Ugh.

Since my yarn will likely be bulky, I love Jane Richmond's Cozy Bolero. Honestly, though it's called a bolero, it counts as a sweater in my book (Give me a little break, will you? It's my first sweater!). I love pretty much all of Jane Richmond's patterns, too, so if I'm very lucky my yardage and gauge will work out for me to knit at least one of them. I figure at the very least I'll have enough yarn to knit Bazan, right?!?

If I have a lot of yardage, I really like the structure and comfortable style of Grown-Up Hoodie by fellow Phat Fiber Artist Kira Dulaney. That project would also give me a chance to practice with cables, YAY for new skills! I also really love the style of the Military Cardigan by Jessika Ava; I'm hoping that the double-breasted style of it might also help me hide those extra pounds that I haven't managed to shed yet this year, LOL! She also has an awesome faux cardigan pattern - yay for not bunching open around "the girls," huzzah!

In case I don't get much yardage, I really like the Vine Lace Vest pattern (which, again, is more of a sweater than a vest in my book). It has a pretty lace pattern and would be good for most of our seasons down here in the South. I also like $5 in Paris, because it's simple and I can probably knit it shorter if need be in case I don't get a lot of yardage.

My final pattern option, for now at least, is Abalone. I really love the interesting structure of this open cardigan; I think of it like knitting a shawl that will actually stay on and keep your shoulders warm! Plus, it was designed for handspun and I'm going to KNIT with handspun, so it very well could be Sweater Kismet for me!

I hope you'll follow along with me on my sweater knitting adventures this month. I plan to start spinning the yarn very soon, so I'll keep you updated with my progress on that and then of course final pattern selection and actual knitting.

The lovely fiber that will eventually be a sweater. And it's all MINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;)

Would YOU like to knit a sweater with me? Visit my Ravelry Group to find a whole bunch of knitters who will be knitting AND crocheting sweaters of all shapes and sizes; newbies and veterans alike!

Don't have the yarn for a sweater? I can help you with that:
- 4 skeins of yarn
- 5 skeins of yarn
- 1 pound of roving/top
- 20 oz of roving top
Each of these options comes with FREE yarn or fiber with the purchase! Who can pass up on a deal like that?!?

I'm going to keep the sweater-along going for a while, but the option to purchase your sweater yarn or fiber from me ends on January 10th. That's ONE WEEK from today. So get shopping! You deserve something nice for yourself this year!