28 January 2009

The long awaited fiber update! (The WIP Edition)

So, I've had a major case of fiber-craft ADD lately. The past few weeks I haven't really been able to do anything but start projects! I've got several things on the needles at the moment, which, though not a bad thing, is starting to clutter up what little spare space I do have.

First, a Winter set for myself. In the end it will consist of the Calorimetry that is pictured on the needles above; the Bristol Neck Warmer which can be seen, sans buttons, below; and lastly, a pair of wrist warmers, the pattern for which is still undecided. All I do know, is that they will be wrist warmers (No fingers, just one big hole in the top), and not fingerless gloves (with the little half-fingers). Why? Well, first of all, I doubt I have the skills to do the little half-fingers yet, and secondly, for some reason I always look homeless when I wear fingerless gloves. This is something I noticed recently, and frankly it puzzles me. I see other people wearing them all the time, and I think they look totally fine in them! But somehow, I put them on, and they simply don't work on me. I think it may be my hair... But anyway.

Also on the needles is a Quickie Cowl in Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick. It was supposed to be a gift for my mother's birthday, since her main gift was stuck somewhere in the vortex that is the US Postal Service and I wanted to have something to hand her with her card. Unfortunately, that did not come off as planned. I started it the afternoon of her birthday, hoping to have it done by the time we gave her her gifts and went out to dinner. Things were looking good. Very good. Within two hours, I had gotten far enough into it, that all I really had left was to bind off and seam it together.


Then I took a closer look. Turns out that I botched the lace pattern so badly for the first six or seven rows that it really wasn't even passable as an intended design feature. Frustrated, I threw my needles across the room (not a good idea, since they were bamboo. It's a wonder they didn't break), got in my car, and quick went and bought a bouquet of flowers for her. I have since frogged the thing and started over, with the hope of finishing it tonight, five or so days after her birthday.

The last fibery development, fortunately for my WIP storage space, is not a WIP. It is instead the first step into Sock knitting. Something I NEVER thought I would do, simply because I'm a white sweat sock kind of girl. However, I've been seeing so many amazing socks, made of amazing yarns, and amazing patterns on some other craft blogs lately (many of which I found through the Ravelry Group Lesser Known Skeins... check it out, there's a lot of great blogs on there!), that I simply couldn't help myself.

So, home I came with a few sets of DPNs and some sock yarn. When I'll dive into my first pair, I still don't know. What pattern I will use, I still don't know. But, having the materials around to look at certianly makes the probability more likely that it will happen.


P.S. - Next Update: The one project I managed to finish!

20 January 2009

WOW! What an emotional rollercoaster!

Today, as I sat quietly, soundless in the midst of a group of students I never thought was capable of such silence, I watched as the new President took his oaths. There was an amazing stillness about those minutes, a breathless quality, as if the whole world, in that moment, just stopped.

I've been substitute teaching at my former high school in place of a friend and former teacher who is out on maternity leave for a while now, and though the music rooms are very much separated from the rest of the school, there's always this vague sense of hustle and bustle about the school, even when the room is empty. Usually, you know that outside the small cluster of classrooms there are over a thousand students running around, doodling in class, slamming lockers, maybe even (gasp!) learning a bunch of things. You can just sense the activity, even if none of it is happening anywhere near you. But today… Today was different. When we stopped our class activities and all settled in to watch the Inauguration Ceremonies, that vague sense of activity just… evaporated. You could just feel not only the whole school, but what felt like the whole nation no matter who they supported in the election, watching along with us, just as silent and intent on what was happening down in Washington. It felt almost as if the world was holding its breath, and on more than one occasion, I caught myself holding my own.

I must admit, that I'm still a bit in disbelief. I've been glued to the news all night, just to remind myself that, "Yes, this is real." "This really did happen." It feels so odd to feel optimistic about our country again, and all night I've been swinging from total awe to almost giddy over this new feeling.

However, at the same time, I can't help but remember all the hatred and ill-will that reared its ugly head over the course of the last few months of the campaign. Much as my faith in the future of this country is restoring itself, I do feel like the process of getting to this point has eroded my faith in humanity. All I have to do is remember the names I have been called, merely for walking down the street (silently, minding my own business, might I add) with an "OBAMA '08" tee-shirt on, the names sometimes coming out of the mouths of people I thought knew better than to believe such things. "Baby killer" (as if my hobby is slaughtering infants over the weekend…). "Socialist." "Muslim" (to which I replied, "Yea, and so what if I am? Last time I checked, that's not a crime"). "Reverse-racist" (WTF?). My personal favorite thing I had shouted at me, winning my ignorance award was, "Go home you dirty liberal! It's not my fault you're poor!" I even had one kind old lady accuse me of having 6 abortions on my own, that I almost certainly didn't remember because I was probably too drunk, being the terrible liberal elitist college student that I am (and that's just about a direct quote, AND she definitely wasn't joking). All that hatred, over a tee-shirt. There's something very wrong with that. All the assumptions, all the lies that people were so eager to latch on to without doing any research of their own at all… It worries me.

Now, I'm certainly not one of those people who thinks that my P.O.V. is the only right one. I have always been aware, and frankly GLAD, that people have differing opinions. I love hearing other people's views, and, unlike many, I do listen. Sometimes hearing some one's differing opinion helps shape and change my own. I LOVE discourse. I like to think I have a fairly open mind, and I have many many friends who are very conservative for their own reasons, and I'm totally cool with that. On the things we know we're never going to agree on, we agree to disagree, and on the things that are up for debate, we do just that. It's a mutual learning environment. But when people are so quick to jump to rancor, with no logic or facts to back up their arguments when challenged, and nothing but a tee-shirt as the catalyst… that simply worries me.

So I guess, in a rather rambling and 'round about way, what I'm trying to do here is wish President Obama luck. He's got my support, and I hope, in time, that his actions will lead the rest of the country to understand why. He's certainly got his work cut out for him. I know I'll be saying a little prayer for him tonight, and I hope that, even those who didn't support him and don't necessarily think he's the best for the job, will do the same.

In more uplifting news, I have gotten some crafting done, so you'll see that soon. In fact, as soon as my cold goes away enough for me to rig up my little make shift photo shoots.

Oh, and also, for about two hours, there was much fun had in our house over what CNN had at the bottom of their screen. Enough ball jokes to last us for years to come, I would think.


13 January 2009

Two Foxes and a Mink in a Box

Well, it's been an interesting week here at Lunaticraft. It's been draining to the max, yet I don't feel as if I've accomplished anything. At all. Nothing. Zip. Null.

Well, I've done a lot of eating. And I did finally get the feather and fan scarf off the needles, and I also cast on the neck warmer portion of a winter set I'm knitting in Vanna's Choice: Rose. Oh! And I also picked up more yarn... the very last thing I need, but never the less. JoAnn's had Vanna's Choice for two bucks a skein! Now, how could I possibly pass that up? So I came home with six new skeins in total, and I think I may go back for more. Might as well stock up while I can!

Oh, and speaking of things I have acquired, check out what I inherited from the bottom of my mom's closet:

They were my Great Grandmother's. The two big guys are foxes, and I think the little dude is a mink. The foxes are a little worse for wear, being 90 years old and all. Fox #2 is in better condition than Fox #1, as Fox #1 is missing two paws and half his tail. The mink, while a little fragile, is in great condition considering its age, and still totally wearable.

Not that I would though, for multiple reasons. First of all, the PETA chapter in our area is fairly active, and wouldn't hesitate to throw baking powder all over me (they seem to have figured out that the red paint thing was actually counter-intuitive, since most people in the area who own fur have it insured, so the coat would get ruined, and they'd just get a new one with the insurance money, effectively killing another animal. The baking soda merely needs a cleaning). I'm not willing to wear a piece of family history out just to have someone throw stuff at me. Secondly, they haven't been well taken care of over the years, so they're not in the best condition. Thirdly, I'm not a big fan of fur myself. These are just different, because they are family heirlooms (Although, though I'd never buy one myself, I will admit that it's kind of cool that I can say, "Why yes, I do have a mink!).

The last, and frankly most important reason, is that... they stink. They stink like fur that's been sitting in a closet for 30 years. Because they have. The little dude doesn't smell so bad, but the two foxes simply reek.

And so, I'm reaching out into the blogosphere for advice: HOW DO I MAKE THEM NOT SMELL? I currently have the mink in his box, and the two foxes in sealed plastic bags to prevent them from stinking up my room. Is there some way I can get these little guys refurbished? Send them off to some fursmith (I'm pretty sure I just made up an occupation) to get an overhaul?

I don't know the history of the two little guys, because unfortunately, my Great Grandmother had them long before my Grandmother (her daughter-in-law) ever met her, and nobody ever asked, as far as I know. I like to think that they were gifts from my Great Grandfather for their wedding, or before he left for the war, where he ended up dying in the Battle of the Bulge. I like to think they have meaning to them. Their little glass eyes tell me they do. Cloudy and knowing, like they're in on some amazing secret that I can't even begin to fathom.

In other news, the Christmas decorations have begun to come down. This time of year always fills me with a slight sense of remorse. I'll miss you, light up Christmas trees, icicle lights, and gaudy ornaments. Until next year...


08 January 2009

Merry Russian Christmas!!

I should have had these photos up for the 25th, but I dropped the ball. However, I'm Russian Orthodox, and half my family hasn't switched to the new calender yet, so here I am, wishing you a Merry Russian Christmas!

- Lunaticraft

05 January 2009

An FO and yet another scarf in progress...

Well, I finished my One Row Scarf. Well, I shouldn't say mine, since it is intended to be a post-Christmas gift for someone (I hope they like it!). It was a quick, easy knit. The repetitive nature of the pattern really had a wonderfully meditative quality to it, making it the perfect project to be working on as I cuddled on the couch in front of the Christmas tree and reflected on the season.

Not much else crafty happened after Christmas hit. The Athenian Scarf I had hoped to finish as a gift didn't end up happening. I did manage to finish the second polka dot stocking in time for it to be a gift, but silly me forgot to take photos before I gave it away. I did manage to figure out the toe, and when I make my third one of these, I'll take pictures as I piece so whoever else wants them can have a piecing reference.

As for the day after New Years, I decided that a fresh year demanded a fresh project, so I cast on the Feather and Fan Scarf. I think it's high time I broke free from the basic k2 p2 rib or other such variations of that. I think I'm getting good enough with those two sticks to try something a little more complicated than that. Though I know in my heart I'll always be a better crocheter than a knitter, I started out determined and with high hopes.

I had the greatest color of Paton's Divine stashed away, so I decided to use that, and I cast on 20 stitches on size 11 needles. Despite my new discovery of non-acrylic yarn, there are just some acrylics I'm always going to love (e.g. Vanna's Choice, and Caron Simply Soft...), and Paton's Divine is one of them. It's the only fuzzy mohair-esque yarn that does not make me itch like a dog with fleas, and the result is always so fluffy and soft. I thought it would be a great choice for this particular pattern, as it's not so fuzzy that the pattern won't be visible, but it's just fuzzy enough so that the lace pattern won't mean sacrificed warmth.

So far, I'm about a foot and a half into the scarf, and I'm quite pleased with how it's turning out. My yarn choice seems to be accomplishing exactly what I wanted it too, and I'm knitting up the lace pattern quickly and efficiently. It's a great pattern for a beginner knitter like me to cut their teeth on. I was also originally intending for this to be a post-Christmas gift, however, I think I'm loving it so much, I may have to just keep it for myself. It would be perfect for my next trip into NYC. And I have a great pair of flat booties to match too...


02 January 2009

An open letter to my bank account...

Dear Bank Account,

I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

I have discovered the wonders that are non-acrylic yarns. And bamboo needles. And LYS experiences even when they consume gas at an alarming rate due to the drive.

So, in addition to all the acrylics I buy when they're on sale at Michael's or Joann's, you will now be depleted by much more high quality products as well. And they probably won't be on sale.

On the bright side, you can look at it this way: Maybe now that I'm buying higher end yarns, my expensive designer purse habit will gradually come to an end.

(But I doubt it.)



01 January 2009

The year-end wrap up and yet another list of goals...

Happy New Year, everyone!

I hope 2008 was a good year for everyone, and that 2009 will be even better.

Being the start of the new year and all, I feel it's time for my annual year-end wrap up and my new list of goals and resolutions.

So, lets start with what went down in 2008.

  • Graduated. That's a biggie.

  • Went to the Met to see the Last Emperor.

  • Bought my first car.

  • Had an awesome summer with awesome people.

  • My recital went swimmingly. Performed Mozart, Menotti, Barber, Dvorak, and Puccini, with a bunch in between.

  • Had tons of performance opportunities, not just on voice, but in orchestras and bands as well, which is always fun. Over the past few years, I have been very rarely able to indulge my other musical "talents" (my French Horn skills may not classify as "talent" per se… more like "sheer perseverance"). So 2008 was a nice change for that.

  • Started grad school, and did well in my first semester.

  • Had a few different jobs, and enjoyed every one of them.

  • On the crafty front, I didn't even come close to 50 projects in 2008. That was a total bust of a resolution. Maybe this year though.

  • Also, on the blog front, I didn't end up getting around to most of the grand ideas I had planned for this year.

  • So, to sum it all up, even though 2008 was not the best year for crafting (or blogging for that matter), it's still been a really wonderful year, full of personal growth, change, and accomplishment. So, my personal grade for 2008: A-.

    So, now that that's over with, what's ahead in 2009?

    Well, now that I'm settled, with much more stability on the horizon for the coming year (hopefully, anyway), I feel a bit more confident about being able to accomplish any goals I set for this year. But still, I'm going to try to keep them realistic, and attainable, and really try my best.

    So, once more, here we go:

    Lunaticraft's 2009 New Years Resolutions and Goals

  • Draw, every day.

  • Take one photograph every day, and photographs of craft projects do not count. The goal is to eventually create kind of a year long autobiography in photos. I will be posting them, once a week, on Dev. Art, and some may wind up here via photo Fridays.

  • Get rid of my little muffin top, and tone up my arms. Generally get into better shape for health reasons.

  • Run a race for charity.

  • Stop spending so much money at Starbucks and similar places.

  • Read more, and write more. On a related note, update this blog more frequently.

  • Stay even more on top of school work.

  • Have more fun. Do more things. Go out more. Make more friends.

  • Learn to figure skate.

  • Volunteer somewhere fairly regularly.

  • Keep on top of the clutter.

  • Finish the hexagon afghan.

  • Start saving for a DSLR.

  • And last, but not least, worry less and be more positive.

  • Short, sweet and attainable (even the figure skating… my uncle plays hockey and has connections at the local ice rink). Well, I think they are anyway.

    Oh, and on a rather unrelated note, Christmas photos are coming, I promise. The end of the year got a little out of hand on me, so I never got around to it. However, we're Russian Orthodox, and half the family still celebrates Russian Christmas, so it's not over yet! Technically, I'm not late with those... haha. They'll be up by the 7th for sure.

    Well, with that, I'm going to go finish watching the Penn State/USC game and get some drawing done.

    Happy New Year everyone!