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These days of mine…

Are filled with crafting and creating, when I’m not futzing around online, reading or watching Netflix, but I haven’t always been a crafty soul…

In my youth I was more concerned with other things and trying to sort out yarn and needles, hooks and string or anything other than my mildly artistic doodling was overwhelming.  I groused for years that I lacked the skills to save my life if crochet or knitting were involved.  Reading, music, life in general took front stage and the attempts to craft were put in the closet of my mind.

Fast forward to my mid 20’s.  I found myself pregnant and desiring to make items for my soon to be child.  Knitting was still too complex to fuddle through, yet crochet seemed more approachable.  Success happened, soon I was creating gifts for cousins also expecting, toys, blankets and clothes for my son… Crafting was happening!  That once complex means of creating things by hand wasn’t quite so complex and distant in my life, I was thrilled and began learning as much as I could about it.  New stitches, reading patterns and charts, collecting hooks and patterns soon paved the way to my creating patterns to share with others.  I could do this, finally I was a crafty person that could make items that even my very skilled great aunt approved of!

Time slid away with crochet being my only crafting outlet until by my early 30’s I was interested in the skill of hand-spinning.  Taking a spindle or a spinning wheel and fiber and creating hand crafted yarn.  A friend of mine had learned how to do this in an art program in university, she did it often while we sat over coffee and chatted, I was enthralled by the craft and desperately wanted a spinning wheel of my own.  Another friend happened upon a spinning wheel at a local yard sale and called me about it, arranged for them to hold it until I could get there and for approximately a 1/4 of the price brand new, I had my own spinning wheel.  Within a week I was spinning as if I had been doing it for years, producing my own yarns from fiber I acquired from online groups and sources that introduced me everything from raw fleece to clean and processed fiber.  Over the years I have tried so many of them… different kinds of wool, mohair, silk, cashmere, angora, dog fur and so much more.  Thick, medium and fine yarns accumulated in my baskets, they didn’t translate to crochet as well as I hoped, so they languished, waiting for a purpose.

Within 6 months of starting my journey as a spinner, I found a particularly large set of needles and took a chance in buying them as a gift for my friend.  Instead, she used them to teach me how to knit.  These large needles and a couple of strands of thick yarn, her patience, a little trial and error and some practice doing just the knit stitch and there I was knitting!  I could do it, I could process it, it wasn’t nearly as hard as my young self had convinced me it was…  There went I with much practice, learning new stitches and new things about this craft, deciphering patterns, collecting the various types and sizes of needles.  I could now knit.  The joke was on me and I was teased about how I could now knit to save my life – LOL.  I didn’t care, I was having fun, I was exploring this new field in my skill set and having a grand time.

 

Now all these years later,  I don’t crochet as much as I once did, knitting has taken over as my craft of choice… Slippers, socks hats, mitts, scarves, cowls, shawls and even a sweater among the things I crafted on my needles in the intervening years. There is a fairly large stash of yarns hidden and tucked away in odd spots of the house to feed the habit with, sometimes I go on the odd foray to the store to buy something for a specific project, otherwise I try to stick to what already lives here.  As well, I have a fair stash of hand-spun yarns, in spite of how much I have sold or gifted to other knitters. Years of spinning have produced a lot of finished skeins of my hand-crafted yarns and I have even taken to knitting things in it for myself and others, instead of holding on to it for “something special in the future”… My future is now and the yarns are finding a use in my knitting finally.  

I have a half dozen items for myself, I’ve done several items for my daughter-in-law, a couple for my son, an item or three for friends as gifts.  Creating things by hand, even as far as creating the basic components from scratch is like therapy for me, the joy and accomplishment that comes from it is so much greater than I could have imagined all those years ago when I bemoaned my lack of skills.  Sometime it takes time, maturity and the right teachers to make it happen.  I have to say, I am plenty glad that all that and more have been a part of my life.

 

I look forward to sharing some of what I do in the future…  Hope you will enjoy taking that journey with me.

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Kaleidoscope

So I showed my friend her Cowl [that I wrote about on my Handmade Gifts post], that I had knit up for her and she was amazed at the work and all, but it turned out she really wanted something more in the line of a scarf than a cowl, so over-riding her protests, I ripped it all back to loose yarn, balled it all back up and started over with a different pattern idea.  So far she is happy with my plan and we shall move a bit more slowly to ensure she is on board with any changes or final stages before finishing it off.  I want her to be VERY happy with the final item and I don’t care how long it takes to get right, but hopefully sometime this winter so she has a chance to wear it.  😉

Mom’s vest continues to be a work in progress… The bloody thing weighs more than expected and it is a work-out hauling that thing around in my lap to get seams and ends dealt with.  Once mom had a real chance to take a look as the final pieces, she requested that the pockets be wider than they were long, please.  So they are getting ripped out and knit again so they are the right way around.  Then they need to be sewn on the vest and the whole thing washed and blocked to settle all the seams and such.  Hopefully things will be done soon so she can actually have the vest to wear.

I went out Thursday to a regular appointment and got stuck in the snow 5 times. The first 3 times I managed to wiggle and work my way out of the jam, but the last two times were just beyond me and the chair.  The 4th jam up was near where son works, so I made a call to ask him if he might get of work out long enough to help me, he asked me were I was and then all I heard him say was he was on his way and a click.  I can’t begin to tell y’all how bloody much I love that boy of mine!!!  While waiting for son to come rescue me, three older teen boys, immigrants from some African country, suddenly came up and started to work on getting me free from the snow.  They spoke English, but didn’t stop to ask if I needed help, they just stepped in and helped, suddenly I was free and moving on my own again.  I thanked them and they took off to get back to what they were doing, all I could think was how grateful I was for their help.  Thinking to get to the corner where things looked clear and meet up with son, I got not 100 yards down that same sidewalk and I was jammed again!  All this snow that looked packed down was, in reality, really loose in some areas and this kept causing my wheels to get jammed.  Good thing son was on his way, by then I am really tired, sore and running out of energy.  Son arrives, gets me broken loose once more and delivers me to my appointment.  From then on I take only the roads and the cars can crawl behind me for all I care.  Don’t like it, shovel your damn sidewalks properly!!  My last 2 jam-ups happened on sidewalks belonging to the Big Mall’s property, which they sort of cleared enough for able-bodies people to manage to get through… buggers!

Speaking of clearing up the snow, son was attempting to dig me out from the pile the snowplow left in my parking spot and the walkway in front of it, when the plow tried to bury him in yet another load of the white shit it was clearing off of the parking lot in my co-op.  I had to go out and have word with the operator and tell him that I didn’t care what anyone told him, this area had been maxed out for the dumping of snow and he was now blocking wheelchair access.  My son was having to dig me out so I could get out, not just for any daily access, but in case of an emergency and I didn’t give a damn where else he put the bloody snow, as long as he didn’t put anymore of it there.  Now with the plus temps we have been getting the past few days, the snow has melted off some, but I will still be ripping the snow removal guys a new one if they pile snow up next me like that again.

I have had fun cooking lately… I made Gramma Ladybug’s recipe for homemade Hot & Sour soup and tried making green onion pancakes from a recipe I found on the internet for supper Friday night.  The soup was easy, but the pancakes didn’t quite work out as I had hoped.  They were good and edible, but didn’t have the flakiness they are supposed to have.  Then last night I used some online inspiration and my kitchen-witch powers and whipped up a meal of Curried Pasta and Asian Flair Pork Burgers with Ginger Caramelized Onions that was all my own in the end.  Got smart and wrote things down ASAP so I have my recipes available to make these yummy dishes again [I might share the recipes if anyone is actually interested].  The kids were super thrilled with both meals and happily ate well both nights. *wink*

All this activity has pushed me physically, so of course I am sore and hurting, but some meds and my stubborn attitude are keeping my going.  Working at little bits every day gets things done, whether it is cooking, knitting, working with my fibre, spinning, cleaning or tidying up, I try to do at least one thing that I can count as an accomplishment… even if it is just getting out of bed that day!

Hey, I can now count this blog as something else I’ve done today… I’m doing good…

Handmade gifts for 2013 Holidays

Just a quick post to share…

I had a very good year for making handmade gifts in 2013.

A friend has opened up her studio one day a week and I have been doing some neat stuff there that ended up being good enough to offer up as gifts.  In fact I had at least two people as for certain pieces if I was in a mood to give them up.  So after hunting down some nice frames and spending an afternoon doing the work, they were added to my pile of gifts that were ready to go.

For mom

For mom

For Son

For Son

For BFF #1

For BFF #1

For BFF #2

For BFF #2

I found a sweet set of figurines that seemed to be perfect for my brother, except for the ghastly colour they were painted.  Kind of a crap brown with a few badly placed spots of cream that were meant to be highlights.  I spent the money [it was through a hospital gift shop, the money goes to fund the hospital] and decided to do a new paint job on them.  I forgot to take a before photo, but here is how they turned out.

bro's buddha's

bro’s Buddha’s

Next came the knitted goods…  I meant to try and get it all done, but I was down to the wire on Son’s socks to the point were I forgot to snap a photo, but they got wrapped and packed in time for gift giving on the big day.  Here are some of the other things I did get done, a cowl and a pair of hand-spun, hand-knit, lined mitts for d-i-l.  You will just have to imagine the socks in your head… tube style, green cuffs, purple foot… what can I say, the kids love funky socks!

k's cowl

k’s cowl

k's mitts

k’s mitts

[EDIT – Son stopped by for a few minutes to grab some stuff before heading back out and happened to be wearing his hand-knit socks so I grabbed a quick photo of them in situ to add here]

Son's Socks

So that left the items in which only some of the parts were done and some were still in progress, the house vest for my mom [which BFF #1 was helping with] and a hand-spun, hand-knit mobious cowl for BFF #1.   The Vest for mom still needs to be seamed and finished, but the cowl is done except for the sewing in of the yarn ends… looks pretty nice though, the trim has fur from her poodle who died a couple of years back spun into the yarn, so it’s a lovely memory piece for her too.

BFF #1's cowl

BFF #1’s cowl

I will have to take a photo and share the vest when it is finally done, but I hope you have enjoyed my handmade gift gallery from  the 2013 holidays.