Monday, January 27, 2014

a portion shared

(photos by me, of my room) 

 "It sounded like a welcome already overshadowed with the coming farewell.  As in all sweetest music, a tinge of sadness was in every note.  Nor do we know how much of the pleasures even of life we owe to the intermingled sorrows.  Joy cannot unfold the deepest truths, although deepest truth must be the deepest joy.  Cometh white-robed Sorrow, stooping and wan, and flingeth wide doors she may not enter.  Almost we linger with Sorrow for very love."

"A kind of love to the cheerful little stream arose in my heart.  It was born in the desert; but it seemed to say to itself, "I will flow, and sing, and love my banks, till I make my desert a paradise." "

Both from Phantastes, by George McDonald.  A queer, and deeply beautiful book.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Handmade Christmas Gift Number 2

 Mittens and hats!  We are trying to stay warm here people!  Though, funny enough, it's been an unusually mild winter for central Alaska.  And I am not complaining.  I hope it stays this way.  But it's still cold, and mittens and hats are vital, so this lovely sister of mine got a new hat for her birthday and some mittens to match for Christmas.
Since the hat was a late birthday present she got to choose the pattern and yarn that she wanted.  Her choice (much to my joy) was the pattern Scrollwork from Brooklyn Tweed Wool People Vol. 4.  It was my first time using a Brooklyn Tweed pattern, and it was just as good as I'd hoped it would be.  I've loved their patterns and colors and styling from afar for a very long time, so it was (geekily) surreal when I actually got to purchase a pattern! (gasp!  Oh my goodness, just to stress how silly this is, the pattern cost a whopping $6.50, I don't know why, but for some reason I let things become something I "always wanted to do" and yet never just come out and do it, even though it would be easy, so easy, and fun.  Maybe it carries over from being the child who saved her Halloween candy for months.)   I wanted to use their yarn too, but my sister didn't like the idea of tweed yarn (crazy!) so we went to the yarn shop together and I let her pick out whatever she wanted.  Which was Cascade 220 (worsted) in Iris.
 It turned out pretty good I think!
Next up are the mittens, which my sister did not get to pick out the pattern for, because these were a surprise.  And a successful one at that!  I used the same yarn and a pattern from a book I already had, Boutique Knits.  It was a good project that came together quickly (thankfully) and neatly.  
 Usually I stay away from patterns that have lots detailed finishing work.  It's curious to me when I read other knitter's comments or posts on knitting blogs and ravelry, because it seems like there are two categories that we get placed in, those hate finishing on projects and those who love/don't mind it.  I don't know if I really fall into either.  I've come to realize that it really just depends on the type of finishing it is and how out of the way you have to go to avoid it.

For example: I don't mind seaming, in fact I actually enjoy getting to sit down and sew all the pieces together.  And when it comes to a seamless raglan top down sweater, I really hate knitting the sleeves.  The rows are short and the dang thing just gets more and more twisted the longer you knit, so you have to wrestle the whole sweater around and around every five minutes or so.

But, I don't ever want to have to sew on a button band, or knit something fair isle flat.  I do not enjoy felting at all (my poor hops-a-lot slippers still are not finished because I just do NOT want to felt the ears.  Gah, writing it out makes me think I should just do it.  I should, I really should.) and even though I don't mind it, kitchener stitch is something I put off.  I think it's just the fact that I have to track down my tapestry needle.
So all that to say, I feel like I fall smack in the middle of the two parties.  I'm probably not the only one either.

Now the point of this was to say that for all of the little finishing things these mittens required, they weren't as bad as I thought they would be.  The leather cost about twice as much as I thought it would, and I still had to tea dye it.  But it worked.  And I already had the buttons, so that worked too, and really it just all came together for a nice, professional looking pair of mittens.
 This will be the last of the present posts for a while.  The other gift I made was blouse for my other sister, but it's a bit too cold outside and dark inside for modeling.  So it might not be until spring.  There will be more project posts soon though because last weekend I finally got some sweaters photographed!  Hooray!

Hope you are all having a lovely week! Drink lots of tea and read good books and stay warm, okay?  I'll be back soon.

Love, Clara

Monday, January 13, 2014

Handmade Christmas Gift Number 1 (plus 4 steps to finishing said gifts on time)

  I always decide about two weeks before Christmas that I want to make everyone presents.  It takes me this long because I'm usually recovering from the same bad planning of the year before when I either don't finish any of them, or I stay up long into the night of Christmas Eve and manage to complete half (maybe).   So I write off making presents, saying I never finish them, and I'm just horrible at planning, and making projects under pressure ruins the fun of creating, etc.  And this year was much the same as years past... EXCEPT (pause for effect) I finished them!  All of them!  And with a day to spare.  I shocked myself, I really did.  I think this success can be attributed to a few different things.

1. I started three weeks before Christmas instead of two. :) See, planning ahead really pays off.

2. I didn't try to make everyone presents.  I stuck with just three people and bought presents for the rest.  Maybe someday I'll work up to crafting for everyone, but I think for now it's best to finish a few than start a bunch and end up giving half finished projects.*
3. I only made things I was excited about making and excited about giving.  It was such a good motivation this year!  It's kind of obvious to give something that you're excited to give, but it helped so much that they were also presents I really enjoyed making.  It just has not worked in the past to say "Oh, I'm going to sew my brother a shirt," when I hate matching plaids and am terrified of button holes.  Which leads into number four...

4.  I did not try out any new techniques!  Stick with what you know.  Stick with what you know.  Stick with what you know!  I got this right this year.  The blouse I sewed for my sister was from a pattern I'd already made before (that didn't need button holes).  This hat that I made for my cousin, and the mittens I knit for my sister both had very clear instructions, and contained nothing that I hadn't tried before.   
And so, hopefully, following these four (supposedly easy) steps, I will hopefully always be met with this much success in the future!  And maybe you will too, if you feel like adopting them, but no pressure.

These photos are of the hat that I made for my cousin.  It was a by-product of knitting like a crazy lady for three days straight while watching Netflix till I thought my head would implode.  (I don't have Netflix at home, but my sister was house sitting, so we, naturally, overdosed on New Girl, Sherlock, and Once Upon a Time)

I would highly recommend the pattern I used, Crenellated Hat, the end result was very professional.  And it's free too!  Here's my project page for it on Ravelry, which doesn't say much, but it links to the yarn I used.

Happy Monday!

Love, Clara

*disclaimer;  there is nothing wrong with giving half finished projects.  I just have this problem where I don't end up finishing them.  Ever.  Which is awful.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year!
Read More. Waste Less.  Love More.  Resent Less.  Write More.  Doubt Less.  Give More.  Laugh More.
Worry Less.  Create More.  Enjoy More.  Compare Less.  Appreciate More.  Hope More.  Live More.
I'm doing it positive and safe.
Hello there, it's been a long little while, a very very busy while.  I hope your Christmases were lovely and full of joy and laughter and love.  And hopefully good food, and company and soft warmth throughout. 
And here's to more good food the rest of the year!  Mostly I'm saying that because I love my new cookbook so much and I needed a lead-in to tell you about it.  It's wonderful!  It's funny!  It's fully of lots and lots of delicious recipes!  I have currently made two recipes, chocolate-chip brioche pretzels and red wine velvet cake and they were really good.

The brioche was my favorite, it was so good it's probably my favorite thing I've ever baked.  And I want to make it again, soon.  Maybe Friday.  I hope to be back soon!  
Love, Clara