Craft

Hiatus

Since it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to knit any time soon, I’m taking a short break from the blog.

It’s hard to keep up with a posting schedule when I don’t have anything new to share, and I don’t want to be boring. I’ve not been able to knit since April and see no change on the horizon. On top of that, I really miss knitting and it’s just making it worse to think about posting here while I can’t even pick up my favourite hobby.

I’m not gonna sugarcoat it; this absolutely sucks. Deep down I have a fear that this really is arthritis and I’ll have to struggle with it forever, even though I don’t think it is (but thank you, my doctor, for putting that worry in my head).

This is disappointing timing since I’m almost at 4,000 subscribers here, but I’ll cope.

Once my hands are better and I can knit again, I’ll be back. Here’s hoping it’s not too long.

If you want to follow my antics in the meantime, follow me on some form of social media. I’m most active on Twitter, and honestly my Instagram gets a bit weird when I’m in the middle of one of my existential crises and I start posting pictures of things like corners and headphones, but if that’s your thing come join me.

See you on the other side!

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Art · Inspiration

Minnie Small – artist

It’s almost ridiculous how many hours I spend watching art videos on YouTube these days. I don’t know if it’s because I can’t do any of it while my hands are out of commission, but I’m totally addicted. I find the videos calming and inspiring.

One such inspiration is Minnie Small, who has a gorgeous style and who creates calming, fascinating videos of her processes and inspiration. I watch every video she creates. I’m also supporting her on Patreon, which means I get to see real-time videos of her art, which has made me desperate to be able to paint again.

What do you think? Do you watch anything like this?

Craft

What I’m going to knit when I can

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this now, since it’s coming up on four months since I could last knit more than a row at a time (and even that I’ve stopped).

Xanadu by Kitman Figueroa
Xanadu by Kitman Figueroa. Picture belongs to the designer from their Ravelry page.

I’ve already knit one of Kitman Figueroa’s patterns and I love the way they work – they’re knit from the bottom up, and though that means casting on roughly five million stitches, it decreases fast so the last few inches are super quick.

Also, complicated lace. Also, fiddly stitches.

Of course, who knows when I’ll be able to use my hands properly again? I may end up wanting to knit something completely different.

Have any of you knit on of Kitman Figueroa’s patterns? Let me know what you think. I love their style

Nerdery

What are you reading?

Since I have a lot of non-knitting time these days, I’m trying to distract myself with reading. At the moment I’m reading the third in a series; it’s called A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. I love this series enough that I actually preordered this one, but I’m only just getting around to it now since I’ve had a backlog of reading.

I guess this is good timing since I start school in a month and won’t have time to do anything ever again.

So, folks. What are you reading? Is it any good? What do you think?

Feel free to chatter in the comments. Book discussions are the best.

KN Reads

KN Reads: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My rating: 5 out of 5

Goodreads Rating: 4.65 out of 5

Published: February 28th 2017

It’s easy to forget the human element of current events when the media (among others) do such a good job of obscuring it. Angie Thomas brings the reality of tragedy to light to an uncomfortable degree in this emotionally rich story of a girl whose friend gets shot by cops in front of her.

The best part about this story is by far the main character. Starr Carter splits her life between her poor neighbourhood and a predominantly white private school. Her constant conflict between which Starr to be in which situation leads her to keep her two lives completely separate, even when they’re beginning to collide after what happens.

Khalil and Starr are driving home from a party when they’re pulled over by cops. Unarmed and unthreatening, Khalil starts to open the door to check on Starr and the cop shoots him. His death sparks a series of protests and Starr is forced to adjust to this new role as witness even as she deals with the trauma of what she saw.

This is not a simple story. It is, as good stories should be, multifaceted. Khalil made some decisions in his life that were necessary, even if they weren’t idea. Starr struggles with her fear of the police versus her love for her uncle, who is also a cop. She feels a lot of guilt for what happened and for how she reacted to it, so she doesn’t know whether to be involved in the countermovement. At one point, she even objects to the protests on principle, knowing that her schoolmates are only joining in to skip a day of school.

As you may guess, this book is based on Black Lives Matter and the terrible shootings that have happened in recent (and not so recent) times against young black people, especially men. Angie Thomas does not back down from her message, but nor should she; we may be horrified by what happens, but how often do we think of the impact on those close to the person? Trayvon Martin may be a symbol, a face of a tragedy, but what about the human life behind it?

It always stuns me how bright and bold Young Adult books can be. Angie Thomas does a fantastic job of writing an interesting story with engaging, complex characters while still carrying a message through loud and clear.

Craft

Update on the lack-of-knitting

If you’re here regularly (hi, I love you) then you’ll know I can’t knit right now. I haven’t been able to since April or so. This is inconvenient with more than one baby on the way in my immediate family, but it is what it is.

I’ve been having massages to try to help and mostly it has helped. However, in the last few days it’s got a lot worse. It’s hard to get an appointment with my doctor (I’m switching doctors very soon because of this and other things) so I haven’t been able to get physiotherapy yet, but I definitely need it.

Anyway. It’s to the point where I can’t knit, crochet, spin, draw, write on paper, or open a damn jar. So that’s fun. My hobbies are all out of the picture except reading and watching Netflix so if you have any recommendations, let me know! I need the distraction.

I know I brought this on myself and I definitely made it worse by refusing to give up 75% of my hand-related hobbies, and I regret that now. But it’ll pass eventually and I’m being much more careful now.

Let’s hope it passes quickly; I still love looking at what everyone else is doing and it’s bringing on the knitting envy!

Craft · Knitting

Getting past the ugly for beauty’s sake

You won’t always love everything about knitting. Quite often you won’t even love the thing you’re knitting right now, even though you were super excited to get started on it. That’s okay! Learning to tolerate and embrace the less-fun things about life and knitting will help you get a handle on the best things.

Let me give you an example: last year, I designed my own shawl (which will eventually make it to the interwebs). I usually avoid long gradient yarns, which means yarns that are died in long, gradual stripes of colour, but my LYS owner got in some simply fabulous locally dyed stuff from Blue Brick yarns and I snapped some up without thinking about it.

The colours are something special. It starts a rich evening-sky blue and melts into a sea green before finishing on the colour of soft wet sand. I grew up with seaspray hitting my bedroom window, so I’m a creature of the coast. Now I live a few hundred miles from the nearest ocean.

Despite the colourway apparently being something to do with a barn (and chickens?) I see the seaside, because we all see what is most important to us.

Weymouth harbour, Dorset, UK
Weymouth harbour, Dorset, UK. I walked past this scene daily as a young adult.

I’ve lived in Canada for three years, nestled a short way outside of Toronto. I can see the lake from my window where I work, but it doesn’t move right and Lake Ontario often smells like it’s been left out in the damp too long. There are no waves, no sea spray hitting my windows, no crashing against the cliffs. The only time I get homesick is when I think of standing on the beach in my hometown, shin-deep in saltwater, toes tangled in seaweed.

Looking at this gradient, I saw everything I missed about living on the coast. An idea splashed into my mind immediately and I picked up the needles.

Knitting this shawl went in several stages. At first I forgot about the colour and focused only on the knitting, on constructing a shawl for the first time from the inside of my determined brain. It was going well, so as the wingspan grew, so did my fascination with the colours. I ogled. I prompted strangers to admire it. I loved it with all my bitter little heart.

Until I didn’t.

With only the edging to finish, I looked at the shawl, then peered at what was left of the skein. For once I had decided to knit from the centre of the ball, just to shake things up a bit. Usually I prefer the neatness that comes from knitting from the outside, though anyone who knows my chaotic tendencies may find that surprising. It meant the blue/green was in the shawl and the gold/brown was in the skein, and disappointment flooded me. How had I not noticed how drab the colours were? They didn’t pop at all! How did I see my hometown beach in this?

Disheartened but too invested to stop, I continued knitting. I ripped back a few inches because I tried to drown out the colour with a pattern too complex for the original idea. I considered stopping knitting it completely, but then as the yarn moved from bright blue to damp brown, I realised something: I liked it.

The Beach Shawl - Knitter Nerd
A small blurry representation of the colour. The blue makes it pop.

I didn’t (and still don’t) like the gold/brown colour on its own. It’s boring and not at all a shade that would appeal to me outside of a big dollop of mustard. Or cheese. Or actual wet sand on Weymouth beach (softest ever, true facts).

Yet when I held the shawl up, blocked and ready to go, I was glad that I continued. Though the colour itself was unremarkable, the finished piece made me happier than I had been with a creation in a long while. I loved the completed shawl, even if I didn’t love the brown. After all, the individual colours are not the point.

Life is like that too, have you noticed? Sometimes you’re going through such a great time, ambling along with bits of your life falling into a neat little pattern that’s leading you just where you want to be, and then you’ll step in a big fat pile of dog poop and your day is ruined. It’s easy, in situations like that, to forget the overarching gradient of the day/week/millennium and focus only on that one stripe of colour.

Suddenly, a day that had been shining with bright, beautiful colours becomes invisible, taken over by that one brown smear.

The Weymouth Shawl - Knitter Nerd
Image of the shawl blocking. I have not touched it since. Whoops.

This is an unfortunate glitch in the human brain. Spoilers for both life and gradient yarns: nothing is forever. You will clean your shoe and move on from that steaming shitpile, and you will knit past the colour you hate. Don’t stop. If you stop, you’re stuck in that poop for good, and you’ve wasted your day. Would you stop knitting a pair of self-striping socks because you don’t like the individual stripes alone?

What I’m saying here, minus the gratuitous poop comments, is that sometimes you’ve got to ignore the terrible stench on your shoe.

Wait, no. That’s not at all what I’m saying.

I’m saying that if you keep knitting past that colour you don’t love, you’ll end up with a project you do. And even if you don’t, you’ve still completed something with talent and meaning, and your life is richer in experience if not in shawls. Keep knitting past the mustard smear. It’s worth it.

This is a small chunk of something I’ve been writing for a while outside of my blog. I’ve never posted any of it anywhere, so I’d really appreciate hearing what you folks think. Do you want to see longer, more in-depth posts about craft, especially how it relates to self-development and activism? Let me know!

Craft · Needle felting

9 adorable needle-felted animals

Fibre is the best. It is the most of all the funs. It is GREAT.

I still can’t knit, but that’s okay. I also can’t felt today, but that’s okay too! There is the interwebs which is full of pictures of things other people have made. Sure, it’s making me want to go do all the things, but I’ll store that inspiration away for another day and get excited.

Since I don’t have any new creations to share, I thought I’d show you folks some of the fun things I’ve seen around. If you haven’t seen what I needle-felted the other day for my partner, go take a look at a fuzzy narwhal.

I’ve tried to credit these, but they’re from Pinterest so no guarantees on the reliability. If you know something’s miscredited, lemme know and I’ll be sure to switch it up.

Cute raccoon felted toy
Maggie the Raccoon: Needle felted animal sculpture by The Woolen Wagon
Yorkie felted cutie thing
OOAK Realistic Miniature Yorkie
Needle felted baby seal, awww
Baby seal miniature on Etsy
Chinchilla, I think?
CUTE THING!
Sea otter adorable needle-felting
From here
The cutest of needle-felted sloths
The cutest of sloths
Cute needle-felted fox.
Cute fox! From here.
Fluffy needle-felted cat.
Fluffy needle-felted cat.
TINY RACCOONS. AAH.
TINY RACCOONS. AAH.

 

Craft · Weaving

The world’s first computer program?

On Saturday, we went to the Science Centre in Toronto to celebrate our anniversary. It was full of children and I could have done without watching that video on childbirth, but all in all it was a good time. I especially enjoyed the Imax in the dome theatre. Intimidating but a lot of fun.

One interesting thing I thought I’d share is this picture of a Jacquard loom in one of the displays. I don’t know much about weaving, so it was interesting to see a bit of history to it.

Jacquard Loom at Toronto Science Centre.
Jacquard Loom at Toronto Science Centre.

The jacquard loom was invented in 1801 and became a precursor to computer programing, of all things! It used punch cards to create a design in the woven fabric, and those punch cards have been used ever since. When I think about how one simple invention can grow like that did, it blows my mind. It also makes me proud as a fibre artist to be part of such an interesting history.

Anyway, I thought I’d share that little bit of knowledge (that no doubt is well-known to everyone but me!). If you’d like to know more, here’s a video for you.

Craft · Needle felting

Needle-felted narwhal? Why not.

So here’s the thing: my partner and I have been together for seven years as of today. I know, I know. Seven years, we’re old, etc. We’ve actually known one another since I was 16 and that was nearly 14 years ago, but let’s not think about that.

Hey, I just noticed we’ve been together half of the time we’ve known one another now. That’s pretty cool.

When we met I was still living with my mum, though shortly after we started talking I moved in with my dad. It was a terrible time all round; I was badly bullied at school and unaware (at the time) that I was struggling with what would turn out to be OCD. Having someone like my partner come into my life was pretty cool since we had so much in common and spoke every day that we could.

Of course, it took us seven years to get together, but that’s what you get when you live thousands of miles apart. Now we live in the same country – the same apartment, no less! – and we are happy.

To celebrate we went to the Science Centre in Toronto and then went out for dinner. We also bought 6 books at Indigo, because why not celebrate with stories about human-eating spiders? Today, our actual anniversary, we haven’t done much. MacDonalds all day breakfast and a wander around some furniture stores before an impressive storm pushed us home.

20170626_144703

(Thunder rumbled by as I uploaded this picture. It has a sense of drama.)

As most of you will know, knitting is something currently beyond my abilities. Despite lots of massage, stretching, and anti-inflammatory creams, I cannot wield knitting needles yet. That’s okay. There are other fun things to do. (I know, I know. It’s a hard life.)

Since 7 years together is either copper or wool, I figured my decision was easy. I bought WAY too much roving and got to work on a needle-felted narwhal.

Now, there’s logic here; my partner is big on narwhals. As I type she is drinking out of a narwhal mug, in fact! For Valentines this year, she drew me a picture of a raccoon (me) and a narwhal (her) hanging out. It’s a thing. Don’t judge us for being awesome, dude.

It turns out needle-felting is even more fun when done flat rather in a 3D shape. It’s like painting but with fluff. Yay.

I started out with a mix of blues, including some greeny silk I had laying around the place, with some white bits for added depth. This took far too long considering how simple it looks now that it’s done.

20170625_111412

Next, I added some seaweed. I had a small clump of green/brown/bronze fibre that I think might be alpaca, but don’t quote me on that. It’s been in my drawer for roughly 516 years. I’m not even sure where it came from, but I do know it’s been there since before I moved back to England that one time.

This was a lot of fun to do. 10/10 would stab with barbed needles again.

20170625_130249

Once that part was done, I started on the narwhal! EXCITING TIMES. I build up a bubble of white and fashioned it into a vague sort of whale shape, mostly hoping for the best rather than actually knowing what I’m doing. It turned out alright though.

Narwhals are blue, you know. As is water. Fortunately, I had a bunch of shades around because apparently I own more roving than I ever thought I would.

The horn was the most fun part. I made a white cone by just felting it a bit between my hands, then wound a small piece of black fluff, I mean roving, around it. Then I stabbed it a whole bunch until it was felting into place.

(Descriptions like that are why I shouldn’t write ‘how to’ articles.)

At this point I realised everything would kind of fade into itself, so I did a thing. I made that black fluffy twirl go all around the edges of the whale. I’m really pleased I did it; it gave it depth and makes it really stand out from the rest of the picture.

I mean, it literally stands out because it’s a bump, but that’s not the point.

It gives it a cartoonish air which is fun and defines it a lot more. I was really pleased with how it turned out, and my partner seems to like it. She’s put it up above her small forest she has on her table.

Here’s the finished image, before I made it pretty on a wooden frame:

20170625_181030

I’ll be coming back to this medium for sure. It’s a lot of fun and I have a dozen ideas already.

Who among you folks has tried this before? If you have any links, I’d love to see your creations!