11 December 2008

December is always so busy...

Well, one day into my new job, and already a snow day. The past week or so has been so hectic and crazy, and this slight respite has been nice so far. Slept in until ten or so, stayed in bed studying for my huge final tonight until one, got up, puttered around for a while, and now here I am, wrapped in a blanket at my kitchen table, enjoying my cheese danish and nursing my coffee. I feel like a slug, but a refreshed slug, so it's okay... Sort of.

To be fair about it, after the past few weeks, I did need the extra sleep. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself so I don't feel so useless. I've had concert after concert, all but one requiring knowledge of very difficult literature, including Stravinsky, Tavner, and Menotti. And, it hasn't all been vocal stuff, which for me comes the easiest of all the musical things I do. I've also been celloing and french-horning in these concerts as well. In between performances, I've had my last two papers, one which I finished to great success and a decent grade on both the paper and the presentation, and the other which is still in progress, due by Monday.


Remember how I mentioned that I was looking forward to getting all those library books off my kitchen table? Well, as soon as I was able to remove them, new books just took their place, the only thing changing being the topic (from the Korean War to China around the turn of the century), and the addition of Christmas decorations to the few free spots left. Also, as if I'm not busy enough with out it, I have started a new job, which is going to be forty or so days of absolute madness (amazingly fun madness, but madness none the less).

Given the circumstances, I'm surprised that I was able to get so much done on the crafty front recently.


First up was this Polka Dotted Crochet Stocking, the pattern which I snagged from Ravelry. If you aren't a ravelry member, you can grab the pattern here (it's in the bar on the side under Christmas Patterns). It was a fairly quick and easy pattern: just simple hexagons in the round, a skill I have mastered after spending so much time on my (still unfinished) flower afghan.

I did run into some problems while I was piecing the whole thing together, since there is no piecing schematic. There's only a picture and the instructions to "follow it" even though it only shows the stocking from one side. So that made it a little more difficult than it should have been. Eventually I was able to figure it all out, the only place that was a big problem was the toe, as you can see from the bump on the top of the foot part.

However, the rest of the pattern was so quick and easy that that little snag has not stopped me from giving it another shot. I'm halfway through my next one, and after a good deal of pondering and sketching, I think I have solved the toe issue. If it works, I'm going to try and draw up a piecing guide to add onto the ravelry page.


In addition to the two stockings, I've also finished the basket weave scarf I had been working on (no photos, since the colors don't want to cooperate with my camera in the scarce winter light), and started three new ones. The first, which is pictured below is in Moda Dea's Tweedle Dee in Cinnamon Twist. The pattern is the My So Called Scarf, which I got a link to ages ago from the old Yarnstorm blog (the new one is here). Progress on this one is rather slow going... the pattern is very tough on my wrists, and when combined with all the celloing I've been doing lately, my poor tendons simply can't handle more than 5 or six rows at a time. I've upped needle sizes several times now, and it just doesn't seem to help. So, I've just accepted the fact that it simply won't be finished by Christmas, and will probably end up as an addition to my own obscenely large scarf collection. I just wish I had chosen a colorway which looked better on me.


In addition to the My So Called Scarf, I've also begun two others, the Athenian Scarf in Vanna's Choice Sapphire, and the One Row Handspun Scarf, which I am not doing in handspun yarn, but rather Tweedle Dee in Indigo Run.

I aim to have these two done as Christmas gifts, but I suppose we will see. Once this final is over, and this paper is handed in, I suppose I will have all the time in the world to sit on the couch in front of the Christmas tree and finish them after work, so it seems likely, in theory anyway.

Speaking of the final and the paper, I should probably return to studying. So, I'll leave you now with a preview of our Christmas decorations, which I hope to share tomorrow as part of Photo Friday. We take our Christmas decorating pretty seriously here, so hopefully my photography will do it justice.


-l.c.

01 December 2008

Prototyping

After a weekend full of holiday goodness, including the successful creation of Pumpkin Pies from scratch using the innards of those pumpkins I butchered around Halloween, I have begun other projects. While a full report on the pumpkin pie experience will arrive eventually (likely when I make them again, since my camera died half way through this last time), I have since dived head first back into life, pre-Christmas. With that comes the very last of my academic pressures: One paper presentation, and one last paper to write; the frenzy of holiday shopping/creating; and in the midst of it all, I'm set to begin a new temporary job soon for about two months.

As far as the holiday creating goes, I've begun working on my very first original pattern. Not the most complicated thing, admittedly... just a coffee cup cozy that I hope to use as an "eco-friendly stocking stuffer". But simplicity aside, this is a big step for me towards my identity as a skilled crocheter. I've never designed a pattern before that I planned to perfect and, hopefully, share with others.


My first prototype came out alright. Not exactly what I was aiming for. It looks cute, but it was too bulky, and I need to tweak the seaming mechanism, possibly by creating it in the round next time instead of as one flat piece to be seamed together later. The flat piece thing did make the embroidery a lot easier. However, the embroidery itself is a problem too.


Again, it looks super cute. However, the inside? A bloody, bulky mess. Not sure what to do about that... I'm thinking the embroidery is going to have to be axed and I'll have to embellish it some other way.



Back to the drawing board, I suppose!

-l.c.