Quick & Easy Art – Initials

I’ve had some frames lying around that had Christmas pictures in them, but they needed art I could display the rest of the year. After spending so much money on home improvements already this year, I wanted to do something low rent. Suddenly I realized how simple that could be.

The best part of this art was that I already had all the materials on hand, so I could just whip it altogether in an hour!

Materials:

  • picture frame(s)
  • scrapbook paper the size of your frame/mat
  • glue stick
  • cardstock (mine was white)
  • maneuverable scissors

Step 1:

Find a font you want your desired initials to be in. I picked Euphoria off of FontSquirrel (there are lots of free font sites but it’s my favourite), and did up a document. Initially, I picked page a page size the same size as my mat so that I could see how big the letter would be, then I put it all back to a regular page and rearranged spacing until all the letters fit on one page (save the trees!).

Step 2:

Print it out and cut out the letters, carefully.

Step 3:

Put glue on the back of the letters (carefully, again, we don’t want to tear the paper) and stick them onto the scrapbook paper. (You will probably want to test placement first!) Let dry.

Step 4:

Once it’s dry, stick that sucker in a frame and put it proudly on your wall. Like so.

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I’m so proud of this art that I’m going to share one more picture, but this time with fancy schmancy camera effects.

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The hidden, final step was putting them on the wall. This had to be done with measuring tape to get them properly spaced on the wall, which in itself is no mean feat. Once upon a time, I just put things up by instinct and eye-balling it. But then I moved in with my partner and I learned that that is not a tolerable way to put things up. As a result, usually I make him do the putting up these days, because I don’t want to be bothered with all the hassle (or the complaining afterwards if I just did it my way). However, I’ve found that it’s important, every once in awhile, to prove that yes, in fact, I can do all those things that I usually let him do.

And now it’s proven in pictures and published on the internet 😉

Book Review: The Knowledgeable Knitter

Image courtesy of amazon.com

  • Author: Margaret Radcliffe
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC
  • Publish Date: Sept 23, 2014
  • 296 Pages

When I stumbled upon a book that promised to tell to me the whys to knitting, I couldn’t resist. I love to know how and why things work the way they do.

A full quarter of the The Knowledgeable Knitter is just talking about pre-planning a project, so it would be an understatement to say that the book strongly advocates it. This is including (but not limited to) doing multiple swatches, to an extent that I am entirely unfamiliar with. On the other hand, I can clearly see the benefits to doing enough testing to know that something as complicated as a sweater will turn out perfectly in the end. I bet I would relate to this more if I’d ever attempted a larger project, like a sweater.

Margaret has put so much useful knowledge and suggestions into this book. Simple things like, many people purl with different tightness than they knit, so that stitches knit in the round might not match a straight stockinette stitch. Or that needles that are the same size might not actually be the same size when it comes down to it.

From the quarter of the book that I have read, I feel pretty confident that this book keeps its promise. It is a valuable resource in a knitter’s arsenal. I use the term resource deliberately, because it’s so information heavy that it’s just not something I can pick up and read for hours at a time. That is the only downside to this book I have found.

This book is definitely geared towards someone taking on a sweater (or similar) project. There are multiple sections that help with the issue of fit, and since I (like most people) have a unique body type, I can see that coming in very handy. I even have some yarn in my collection I’ve had earmarked for a sweater for a long time. Maybe now I’ll get to it? If I do, I think I’ll want this book in my bookshelf first.

Rating: 4.5/5

Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation for this post. I did receive a free preview copy for review from netgalley, which will expire and force me to buy the book for myself!

My First Sweater

Recently, my close friend had a baby. She’s the first of my close friends to do so, and it’s kind of rocked the boat in my world. But that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about a sweater.

I knitted my very first sweater. And it turned out! I only frogged the same section 2.5 times (the half was a very awkward undoing of only the patterned areas and redoing, one by one…awful). And I only had one major breakdown moment, right around the 2nd frog, when I had trouble picking up the stitches again…there were tears, I won’t lie.

But it was worth it.

Several months and some minor tears later…

A sweater was born!

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(And a baby, for whom the sweater was intended.)

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(In case you were wondering, the baby came first, but only because she had 4 months head start by the time I got going.)

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I am extremely proud of this “little” project! I think it turned out nearly perfectly, and although I can see the flaws in it, I pretend they don’t exist.

And the best news is that it’s big enough that hopefully the baby won’t grow into it until the weather cools down. Making it actually useful, not just pretty.

Win!

The Gauge Monster

It was nearly love at first sight. I saw that pattern and knew deep in my soul that I wanted–no, needed–to make it. The FoxxyLady Shawl is everything I ever wanted in a shawl: it is big, but not too heavy, patterned, but not too much, and embracingly long, but without monotony.

Then I found the yarn: a little fair trade number that reminds me of vanilla bean ice cream. I tried to look at other yarn–there was even a perfectly timed knitpicks sale.

No other patterns or yarn compared. I returned to look at them day after day, yearning for them.

So I took the dive, spent the money and revelled in the beauty of my new purchases, eagerly awaiting the day I could cast on.

Until I decided to do a gauge swatch. My second swatched project ever. Except this time the measurements didn’t work, even after going down a needle size. It was taller than it was wide.

I’ve read up and it seems that there’s not much I can do at this point, unless I was using wool and could block to a specific size. At this point, I may as well just pick a size and run with it–at least until I can see how the first part of the pattern looks.

I want it to work, dagnabbit! The longer it takes for me to find the correct method to get it to look right, the longer it takes me to finish it. I want this shawl so badly!

Why won’t it work?

Did you ever have a project that wouldn’t gauge? Any ideas on how I can fix it?

My Art Project – Completed!

I finally completed my “art project“. It started with some old (cheap) drawers that weren’t needed anymore, and some calendar pictures that I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of. I glued the calendar picture to the bottom of the drawer and then covered it with a gel medium mixed with some blue paint. Then I mod podged black tissue paper on the sides of the drawer, and applied a hard coat on top.

Four weeks later, the hard coat has (in theory) cured. It’s been a long and hard journey, but I think the end result is worth it:

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I love the rustic effect of the tissue paper combined with the brush stroke effect of the gel-paint combination. Almost lets me get away with saying I painted them myself (other than the lying that that would require, that is).

My main disappointment is that the “hard coat” of Mod Podge doesn’t seem to be particularly hard in this climate. The drawers are current stacked on top of each other and they keep sticking together..which tends to pull of some of the glue when I separate them. I think I probably would’ve been better off using the outdoor Mod Podge instead.

The only other disappointment is that I ran out of paint just close enough to the end of the last drawer that I couldn’t justify buying more, so it looks a bit patchier than the other 3. I’m not going to tell you which it is though, just in case no one else can tell.

Overall, though, I’m pretty pleased with myself for coming up with the idea and following through with it–and that the end result is something worth keeping!

Materials upcycled: old drawers, old calendar.

Materials purchased: paint, gel medium, mod podge glossy, mod podge hard coat, a paintbrush and 2 sponge applicators (I unwisely let the glue dry on the first one).

Have you ever taken the leap to upcycle something instead of getting rid of it?

Everything I Thought I Knew Was Wrong

I have been knitting for a fairly long time. I learned initially when I was about 12, then put it down shortly afterwards for another 6 years. Since I picked it up again, other than a year or two break for my previously mentioned health issues, I have been knitting more or less the same things.

Lots and lots of scarves. A few fingerless gloves. And when both of those got boring, I started going gaga over patterns from mochimochi land. Especially the tiny penguins.

But certain things stayed the same. I cast on and off the same way. I had two ways of doing knit stitches: the “lazy” way (the purl stitch’s mirror), and the “proper” way (straight up next to the other needle).

More recently, mostly due to a friend of mine starting to knit and far exceeding my scope of projects in a very short period of time, I started trying some new things. I learned the long tail cast-on, which is not only a looser cast on, but it’s also fun to do! On my honeymoon (yes, I knit on my honeymoon), I learned to hold the yarn Continental style instead of English style. I LOVE Continental style because it’s faster and much less hard on my hands.

Just this past week, I did my very first swatch (don’t judge me!). During the 28 stitches by 38 row process, I got bored of doing my “proper” knit stitches, and started doing some “lazy” knit stitches.

I discovered something horrifying.

All these years, I’d been knitting wrong.

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My “lazy” stitch, is actually the better way to do it. The “proper” stitch, makes the knit stitches uneven in comparison to the purl stitches when doing a stockinette stitch. But the “lazy” stitch makes everything nice and even. I guess it makes sense, since it’s the purl stitch’s mirror and all. And it doesn’t seem to make a difference which style I do when I’m knitting everything (although mixing doesn’t seem to be a good idea).

I cannot express how much this shook my world. It was one of the pillars of my knitting knowledge. One of those things that was just fact. Now, that pillar has crumbled and in its wake has left me to knit all “lazy” stitches. Which…is actually kind of awesome.

What’s something you always took for granted as a fact and then one day found out was actually quite wrong?

Book Review: Knit Your Own Zoo

When I saw “Knit Your Own Zoo” on Netgalley, I was pretty excited. I love animals, and I also love knitting miniature versions of them!

Image from Amazon.com

  • Authors: Sally Muir and Joanna Osbourne
  • Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers
  • Publish Date: February 11, 2014
  • 176 Pages

There are a lot of great things about this book. For one, I love the detail in the shape of each of the animals. Even from the cover picture, you can see that each of the animals has a huge amount of detail in the curves of its body, legs and head. Another thing I am impressed by is the use of pipecleaners to give shape and bendability to the limbs.

The variety of animals is also quite wonderful. There’s penguins and pandas and giraffes and seals…And before each pattern begins, there’s a few fun facts about each of the animals, which I think is a very nice touch.

All of the animals are knitted straight and then seamed together. For me, this is a sad point, because if I have to seam things, it will take me years to get around to finishing it. I admit, though, that you just can’t get the same detailing (especially some of that colour work!) if you are knitting in the round, so my laziness is entirely my loss.

I think the book might have been better if the animals were sorted by difficulty, or at least had a difficulty rating for each one. Some of the patterns are definitely harder than others, and I found that many of the animals had a lot of stitch shorthands I didn’t recognize, which was a bit overwhelming at first. However, one look at the stitch key in the back of the book assured me the mysterious stitches, in fact, were not too difficult.

My favourite animals were the Panda and the Penguin, although there were a lot of others in there I would be tempted to make as well. Is there enough awesomeness in this book to get me over my aversion to seaming? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t buy it for someone with less of an aversion!

Overall, I give it a 3.5/5.