Friday, June 25, 2010

What Is Your Style?

I am the type of person that likes things that are different. Not weird different but something that you would not ordinarily see. My style is what I see. I say that because it is a mixture. I love to know what the latest fashions are but I don't go by what is in fashion totally. If something is not in fashion and I like it, guess what, I am going to wear it. As long as it can blend into the now.

I just love this rug that looks like a big doily. This is a pattern out of the February 2009 Crochet World magazine. And when I finished it, I wanted to make one for every room in different colors, but I didn't. I also love this shawl Panda Silk DK Fan Shawl from Crystal Palace Yarns, a free pattern. I thought at first glance that it was crochet, but it is knitted and worked up similar to mitered squares. I haven't started this, but I will by this week.

I am a lover of artwork. I used to go to all kinds of museums throughout the year. One year I visited 79 museums in different states. That was a fun year, but crazy. When it comes to artwork I lean towards the master artist of contemporary art. But then I surprise myself when I find something out of my ordinary style of artwork that I fall in love with. I ask myself why and I can't figure it out. For example, I love the Surrealist artist Salvador Dali's melting clock and I don't know why. I am intrigued and I just get a kick out of it. He was out there with his art and very ex centric, but that melting clock is so interesting to me.

And then there is Picasso. I look at his art and I say what was he thinking. And then I find myself liking a piece here and there of his artwork. It is so strange sometimes what connects with us. But I still am not convinced that the big black dot in the middle of a red background is art.

But then I have to return to the calmness of Monet and the beautiful colors used in the traditional way. I have my favorite artist. A few of them are: John Singer Sargent, Edomia Lewis, Jacob Lawrence, Frank Sabatino, Jr., George Seagle (sculpture), Dox Thrash, Max Weber, Paul Cezanne, Alfred Stevens, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet to name a few.

I remember a tour I took at Isabella Gardner Stewart Museum in Boston. One painting in particular was depicting this play staged in ancient Egyptian time period. Well, after that tour I knew so much about that painting that I had to keep staring at it to recap what was said. I wasn't the only one that was doing that.

But that is another reason why I stress taking a class. Just as the tour expands your thinking of an art piece, a needle arts class expands your knowledge for improving your projects so much more.

I just admire the skill and creativity of people. I love to see what people use in their artwork and what they come up with at the end. It's like the chair that is shaped like a hand. Who would have thought that it would sell for such a large amount of money? But someone was creative and bold enough to put it out there.

I think of all the creativity in the needle arts. All the new stitches and patterns that took hours of thinking time, sketching, sampling, and creating the end garment just for our enjoyment. I like paying attention to detail.

When I go to a museum the first thing I do is ask if they have a tour. If you've never taken a tour at a museum I would highly recommend it. You get so much more out of the artwork and what is skipped during the tour you can go back after the tour. It enriches your visit so much more. And as I said, I like detail, the tour brings out the details and the background of the artist and their work.

I get that same feeling with my knitting and crochet. That is why I love Vogue Knitting International Magazine because of the detail in the garments and what new techniques and stitches you can learn. But even in the simplest knitting or crochet pattern you can find some wonderful new things to learn. So look for those treasures of learning and expand your enjoyment more for the needle arts. And I cannot stress it enough to de-stress and have fun!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Update on UFO Projects

Well how are my UFO's coming along?

I finished the sleeves on the brown tweed sweater. I have to block the pieces and start putting it together, and then do the front band and there is a collar.

I am working on finishing the sleeves for the orange sweater. After the sleeves I have the front band to do. I don't think I will have enough for the belt but it doesn't matter because I have enough belts that I could use with this.

I am adding another UFO. I thought since I am on a roll with going through the unfinished, I would add another one every week for the next several weeks to continue the momentum. This is called Short Top. I made it about an inch and a half longer. I have a skirt pattern with a higher waist that would go great with this. So I will sew that up later. It came from the Vogue Knitting Designer Knits book. I really love the Vogue Knitting collection of books and magazines.

From the picture and color of the top you can't see that there are long cables worked across. I loved the simplicity of this top with raglan sleeves. I am making it out of wool that I got from the Stitches East Convention a few years back. Again, it takes time to figure out what you want to make out of certain yarns. But either you figure it out or it goes bye bye into someone's stash.

Working on my UFO's gives me the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. But I have to admit that I did start and finished a rug that is crocheted. I love the pattern. It is a big doily. Check it out on my flickr.

So have you taken out any UFO to work through?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What's More Important Than Working On My Crafts?

Could there be something that is more important? Well, yes there is. It is my health, because without my health I could not do my crafts to the large extent that I do them. It amazes me sometimes when I think that I love getting my hands into different crafts, but there is a true disconnect when it comes to me and cooking. I have started walking again for exercise, but I really don't like cooking. I have been struggling with this my whole life and will continue to struggle with it. I guess one main reason is that I am single and it is a little hard to cook only for one person. So I would rather sew, knit, crochet, bead and anything else I come up with instead of cooking.

We are so fortunate these days to be in such an informational world. Just a click of the button and poof recipes and videos are there for us to follow step by step to make a meal. You can look up meals from any country (I know you might have a problem getting the required ingredients, but the recipes are there). There is the library that is packed with cookbooks, for those without a computer. The variety and ideas are endless. And there is the cooking channel that can get you so excited about your next meal; well not if I have to cook it. I just love to see other people express their passion, excitement, and drive to do what they love. I just wish I had some of that, for cooking of course.

Believe it or not, I love to eat. I've always said I don't eat to live but live to eat. That is one thing I miss about the money situation is going to different cultural restaurants trying the different ethnic dishes.

I'm just glad that there is more on healthy eating buzzing around. Because of all the health issues increasing at younger ages, it shows that we need to consider making small changes daily or weekly to give us a big return.

I have to say that I changed my thinking. I had a habit of doing well and then I would stop. But then I had to wait until the beginning of the month or the beginning of the week to get back on board. Now I have that "now" attitude. I know myself how I am that I will stop from time to time. When I am ready to get back on track then I start thinking what I can do today or the next day to continue. I use to say I have to start again. No, that just makes you feel bad about stopping. Now I say I need to continue where I left off to keep growing and improving my healthy living.

So what can you do to work on eating healthier, exercising more, keeping the brain functioning clearer, and living life more to the full? Start today and you won't regret it. Embrace any small change you can make. We have to keep reworking our healthy regiment to make it better. This in turn will keep our energy up so that we could continue to enjoy and do more with our hobbies and our lives.

Ok, I got it now. It is not all about the needle arts. It is about enjoying our crafts as we also tackle life's challenges. It's about splitting our time between our needle arts and life (in this instance a healthy lifestyle), but using the needle arts as a stress reliever and fun. Does that sound right? So as I press on and conquer, you do the same.

Quote: "He who enjoys good health is rich, though he knows it not." Italian Proverb

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Where Else To Find Help With Your Projects

I was making this baby blanket and the pattern was more as an example of doing crochet cables. I went by the pattern because I was not going to give it to anyone; I just wanted to do the cabling. I love knit cables, but I am not a fan of crochet cables. Just a personal choice. So I wanted to make this small blanket. After I was finished, I looked at it and something was missing. It needed something extra to finish it. I know an edging. So I started looking in books for an edging that I thought would fit. That is the one thing that could take time is looking for that something extra, in this case an edging that would go with my project.

I had happened to take a book from the library on just that - edgings, called "Crochet Border Designs". I love this book. It has such a variety to choose from. This book I will purchase.

One of my treasure spots are libraries. Given the bad situation brewing with the cutting of funds for libraries, I thought this post would be appropriate to talk about how much libraries mean to me. I am fortunate that were I live we are connected to 28 member libraries. What fun! That means that I can borrow from any and all of those libraries. And that is not only books but DVD's, CD's, and magazines on knit and crochet.

Because of the popularity of knitting, the selection of books has expanded. The library where I started the knit group has so many craft books they almost don't have room to put them. They will have to do a shift of books on the shelves just to accommodate them. It is so exciting to go to the knit group and one of the librarians will tell me that they have new books in.

I chose which books to do a project or two from and which ones I just gotta have for my personal library. I am the type that I need to see the book before I buy it. So with the majority of the books in my personal library I either borrowed from the library, saw at a friends house, or at a book store before I purchased them.

I have really enjoyed Vogue International Knitting. These are their earlier issues of magazines and they combined them in a book form. Yes, there are so many new patterns out, but don't forget about the treasures from previous pattern finds.

The patterns in Vogue International Knitting are beautiful and I have expanded my skills by knitting the different projects I've chosen. I know that you might be saying, Vogue Knitting, that must be all advanced patterns, but no they are not. There are those that are easy with just a touch of a technique that you might not have tried before or a different stitch pattern. So don't rule it out because it is Vogue.

I heard on the news one guy say that he didn't see the benefit of libraries because of everything you need can be found online. Well, I can tell that he is not a knitter or crocheter. As I stated above, I love to get the different books that have patterns and techniques that I am looking for. There is so much that the library carries that the Internet does not have nor will not have.

Because of the economy the libraries are being visited more often. But because of budget cuts the libraries are starting to suffer. They are starting to close on certain days and in this area the program that would pick the books up for you from different has been stopped. Now you have to physically go to that library and pick up the books yourself. That means you can't take the books back to your local library for them to return the books, but you must return the books back to the library that you borrowed them from yourself. I'm glad that I took full advantage of this program. I will miss that convenience. We need to support our libraries in any way we can to keep them open and the cuts minimal.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June Is UFO Month

I'm a goal setter. I set goals for the year and try to work towards accomplishing as much as the year will allow. I get excited about goals and it helps me to keep on track of daily tasks, working towards the big picture.

I also have goals for my knitting, crochet, and beading projects. I set goals to learn new things such as techniques or stitch patterns I don't know or I want to know. I love learning and expanding my knowledge. This in turn helps me keep my students engaged when I teach classes.

I also set monthly goals. So for the month of June I want to work on the UFO's - unfinished objects (a term adopted in knitting). And if you haven't knitted or crocheted for a while then you have one, two, or several UFO's. Ok I admit that I am in the several categories. So who's counting?

How do UFO's get born? Well, in my case they are born by seeing something else I would like to make or something new I want to learn. Or it could be a pattern that isn't clear and I need time to get in the mood to work my brain through it so I put it aside. I tell myself that I will get back to my UFO. But time has a way of slipping by, and by the way, I am not on a time clock.

But for the month of June it is time to get back, see what is what, where I am at, what I need to do, and most of all finish what I started. So here I go opening up the bags, storage bins and looking on the shelf for those UFO's that got a little pushed aside. I'm excited to see the end results.

How do I keep up with all my UFO's? That's where my trusty pad comes in with a page or two for each project. I have one pad designated for my projects. I mark down important information for each project, like the pattern name and where I stopped. I keep track of my rows and any extra notes I need to remember.

I brake down my projects, especially when it comes to the UFO's. Since I have several, I will only take out a few at a time. Well, I took out four for this week. I like to only work on one project for 1 hour at a time. You have to think about how much time you have to work on your project(s). I don't get bored and it's like a game I play between me and my projects on how much I get done. I am not on a clock but as I said, it keeps me focused on getting it done and keeping my excitement up (the excitement can go down when you are looking at a project that has been sitting for a while and now you are trying to return to it). I also never have hand problems (joint pain) because I switch from project to project.

I'm going to post my UFO's and you think about what UFO's you have. Mine are knitting, crochet and beading. You might have other crafts you need to get back to finishing. Let's get started.

My first UFO is a Cosmopolitan Cardigan free pattern from VogueKnitting. The yarn is called Kabuto by Noro and it is a blend of wool, silk, alpaca and cashmere. I have finished the fronts and the back. I am working on the sleeves and I need to make the front button bands.

The second UFO is a semi-fitted cardigan jacket from a VogueKnitting magazine. The yarn is called Sepura by Stahl Wolle. It is a blend of silk and virgin wool. I've completed the fronts and the back. I am working on the sleeves and I need to make the belt and button band.

The third UFO is an eyeglass case from a VogueKnitting magazine. The yarn is called Prudence by Knitability 100% Merino Wool. I don't have too many more rows to do and since I am working on the front and back at the same time this makes it faster. I will finish the front piece and continue the back piece so that it will extend to include the flap. I won't be using it for an eyeglass case, but it will come in handy for something. I just thought it was so nice.

And the last UFO that is near the finishing line is a vest from the Creative Knitting magazine called Fantastic Faux-Fur Vest. The yarn I used is Boa by Bernat 100% Polyester and Dive by Blilx 68% Acrylic/32% Wool.

So what's on your finishing line list of projects? And what do you plan to do about them? Curious minds want to know. Share a comment or two about your goals to complete your UFOs.