Friday, January 23, 2015

Playing With Yarn

Despite the ongoing struggle with this infection, I've managed to get a little crafting done.

Of course, we have that cool compress from this entry, which I'll be making use of shortly.

I've also had to restart the blanket I had been working on, because I'd somehow managed to lose a fair number of stitches on the original. I'm pretty sure I'd just missed part of the pattern.

Anyway, I've gotten a fair amount of it finished. I think I'll probably need to pick up more yarn before it's done, though.

Please forgive the messy desk. Once I sat down and draped a blanket over my legs, this little guy decided to curl up on my foot.

As people owned by cats everywhere knows, it's illegal to move a curled up ball of cuteness unless absolutely necessary. Anyway, he's keeping that one foot warm. Wonder if he'd move if I tried nudging my other foot underneath him.

I'd also put together a simple shark tooth necklace commission, but had managed to forget about getting a picture before shipping it out. Ah well.

That said, I am still open for commissions, and will remain so until mid-April. You can find the info here.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Crafting: More Than Making Pretty Things

Since I started teaching myself how to knit, crochet and do assorted other crafty things, I've learned about more than making things with my hands.

I've learned that while intent is the seed from which great things are grown, it's nothing without being nourished with action.

I've learned that seemly simple thing are more complex, when you take the time to learn how to create them. That act of learning how to create has given me a deeper appreciation of the people and things that surround me, and a new respect for master crafters.

Perhaps most importantly, I've learned that if you're not brave enough to take a chance on trying something new, you miss out on a massive range of experiences.

Crafting is about so much more than just making pretty things. Sure, that's a part of it, but it's also about enriching our individual lives through getting a different grip on how the world around us works.

What have you learned from your creative endeavors?


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Waiting for Summer

Tired of grey days, so I'll just share some of my favorite summer pictures. (All from a 2011 trip up to the Lake Superior area.)




(I've also added this link to Oh My Heartsie Girl and Create With Joy.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How to Crochet a Reusable Cool Compress

Ready for the fridge.
When you're hit with the nasty sinus problems that come with cold/flu season, few things feel better than a nice cool compress on the eyes. It helps with swelling and might help bring a low grade fever down a bit.

Since I'm struggling with just that right now, I thought it was time to use up some extra yarn, flax seed and dried herbs to crochet myself a nice, reusable compress.

Materials
  • size US 7.5/3.75 mm crochet hook
  • extra bulky yarn (left over from a couple of other projects)
  • Flax seeds
  • Dried chamomile
If I decide to make another one of these, I'll probably end up using a lighter weight yarn, but the extra bulky worked pretty well. The idea is to use a hook/yarn combination that produces a tight enough knit to keep the stuffing from coming out.

You can also use rice instead of flax seed, and different herbs. I just used chamomile because of its anti-inflammatory properties and its soothing aroma.

Pattern
You can change this pattern for bigger or smaller compresses. For tips on crochet, check out my crochet basics master page.

Chain 18 stitches

Step 1: Single stitch into front and back rows. Place the marker when you get to where you started.

This sets up the bottom of the pouch.

Step 2: Single stitch into each stitch in the round until the pouch is around 6.5 to 7 inches long. If you'd like a shoulder/neck compress, make the pouch longer. Once it's long enough, keep the yarn intact, but either weave in loose ends or turn it right side out.

You'll have a pouch something like this.
Step 3: Fill the pouch about halfway full with rice/flax seed and dried herbs.


Step 4: Either sew or crochet the remaining edge closed. Since I didn't feel like hunting a yarn needle down, I crocheted it shut.


Now, you can either put your little satchel in the freezer or fridge until it's nice and chilled or just lie down and set it over your eyes. I personally find just the gentle pressure helps sooth minor headaches for some reason. The yarn should hold enough chill to take care of a little swelling that causes sinus headaches, too.

If you use iron safe yarn, you may be able to heat it a little for a warm compress, but I'd use caution when trying that.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wordless...Thursday?

It's been a rough couple of weeks. Monday, I was diagnosed with shingles after six days of pain, and yesterday, the rash had finally cleared up enough to allow kitties some lap time again.

You wouldn't believe how happy this guy is about that.

Unfortunately, this illness and the drowsiness the antiviral meds I'm on, has put a huge cramp in my creative aspirations this week. As for now? I think another nap is in order.

What have you lovely people been up to?


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Knitting Basics - The Knit Stitch

Once you learn how to cast on, the next step in learning how to knit is the basic stitch: the fittingly named knit stitch.

Step one
Once you've finished casting on your first row, insert the needle you'll be knitting on to under the last stitch of the row. When you insert it, make sure it's behind the other needle within the stitch, as pictured below.


Step Two 
There are two ways of doing the second step. You can either wrap the long tail of yarn around the outside of the needle, or just tuck it into the inside side.

When I'm at the end of a row, I prefer to wrap it around, like so:

 I've found that wrapping it like this seems to provide a little more flexibility in the final stitch, and makes it easier to bring it through the existing stitch.

When I'm working on the stitches towards the middle of the row, though, I prefer tucking it between the needles, like so:

Since I use my left hand to manipulate the long tail of yarn, this is just faster for me. Some people find handling the yarn still attached to the ball with their right hand easier, so it really just comes down to a matter of preference.

Don't be afraid to experiment. So long as the stitches stay on the needles, and you can knit comfortably, there's no wrong way of holding the needles.

Step 3 
Pull the new stitch through. This is where finding the right tension to work with comes in. If you've cast on your first set of stitches on too tightly, it may be too hard to pull the new stitch through. If they were cast on too loosely, you risk the stitches falling off the needle.

I personally had trouble with making my stitches too tight, when I first started. With practice, you'll find the right tension for you.

Step 4
All that's left is to let the old stitch drop from the needle. Congrats on your first knit stitch!

This type of stitch is used in almost all knitting patterns. It's abbreviation is the letter K, and almost always followed by a number. That number signifies how many knit stitches are needed in that row.

I've noticed that there are two different ways of knitting multiple rows.

One common technique is to turn your work every time you finish a row, which means you're only knitting in one direction. When you use just the knit stitch in this way, you'll be left with what's called the garter stitch. (I've written more about that here.)

This is a very warm type of fabric, and rather stretchy. That's what the blanket I'm currently working on is bordered with.

I personally prefer to keep the right side of my work facing me as I knit. I get confused when I turn the project I'm working on, especially if I'm working on a pattern. This may take a little bit more ambidexterity, but I find it easier to keep my place when I do it.

When you use only the knit stitch, you'll be left with something called the stockinette stitch.

This stitch is flatter, and as you can sort of tell in the picture, more likely to curl up than the garter stitch. This one is commonly used in things like sweaters and socks. It does stretch, but it's not quite as stretchy as the garter stitch.

To get the smooth edges with this technique, I slide the last stitch of each row onto the other needle without knitting into it. I've found that if you knit that one, you'll be left with a lumpy edge.

This is what it looks like when you skip the last stitch and knit it on the next row.
With a little practice, this basic stitch will eventually become second nature. Fortunately, you can make anything from simple scarves to pot holders.

For more how to knit articles, feel free to check out my master page on knitting basics.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Craft Commissions Are Now Open!

In light of some pending expenses, I've decided to open up for a few commissions! Here's what I'm offering.


Small plush animals (TMNT, cats, rabbits) for $10 each + shipping/handling

I'll open 10 slots for this one:
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Custom afghan for $100 each + shipping/handling

5 slots open for this (they take a while to knit, but I'm willing to open more slots up if demand calls for them).
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Hand-wrapped shark tooth necklaces on hemp cords (black, brown or tan) for $10 each + shipping/handling

8 slots, since I have 8 shark teeth available
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I'm US based, but I can ship overseas. Payment is via PayPal. If interested, please contact via e-mail at snowshine42@hotmail.com with the subject line "Commission Please".

I'm open to chatting about other types of crafts, too, so if you have an idea, don't be afraid to ask about it.