A hug. And maybe a nice note to say this is why it's great to have you in my life. That's pretty much all I want this year. Of course, if you want to give me beads, I'd be really okay with that too.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I'm starting to see loads of gift guides popping up all over the place. I'm doing the handmade thing this year and keeping it low key. I'm lucky that way because I have the time and supplies on hand to do little crafts for the people that I want to remember at this time of year. But if you're not crafty, this is what I recommend:
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Whoops. Forgot about this one. My Dad came to visit me for Thanksgiving (Oct 10th) and since we share the same bah-humbug gene we eschewed the traditional turkey and potatoes for a marathon afternoon scouring second-hand stores. I got a little bitter and whimpering at the Goodwill on St. Clair because I saw a lady cradling a huge bag of yarn at the cash. I felt so . . . usurped!
Anyway, I was still moping about and pouting two Goodwills later when, as they say, "Lo! and Behold!" an even better even bigger even more colourful bag of yarn was tucked behind a pillar at the Goodwill on Sherbourne! So suckit suckit suckit. Boo yah!
And as an added bonus, apparently Thanksgiving is beach weather in Toronto now. So Dad & I hit up a crowded, awful, ugly city beach, drank beer clandestinely and I sorted my yarn. Now this is something to be thankful for.
Yarn: $15 at Goodwill on Sherbourne
Friday, November 25, 2011
All the buttons mysteriously crumbled off my favourite hoodie. Maybe 'cause I wear it 9-10 times a week. Whatever. Anyway, I lost most of them on the street and I didn't have 7 matching buttons at home to fix it so I used this as a very thin, lame excuse to hit up Queen Street (aka the Mecca of bead/fabric/craft/button/ribbon/yarn stores in Toronto). But when I finally found myself standing in the button store face to face with at least 15 good possibilities for fixing my sweater, I just couldn't do it.
I felt overwhelmed. I just can't bring anything more into my house. Especially not when there is stuff at home that will work. It's weird. I'm usually not adverse to buying stuff - new, used, scrounged, whatever. Lord knows I have enough craft supplies to last me from here until the end of history . . . but I'm just in this really strange time of feeling like I need to empty out my apartment so I can move. Move to New Zealand, move to Iceland, move God knows where for a job. I just want stuff gone.
So instead of 7 new buttons I bought 4 duck buttons for my new friend Anne at work. I think she'll really like them.
Then I went home and fixed my sweater with 7 mismatched buttons from my stash.
Things will be okay: $3.80 worth of duck button
Thursday, November 17, 2011
This is where the majeek happens, kiddos. Not really. I think it's magical, but that's because research is kinda self-serving that way. This is my little carrel in the library at U of T. As you can see I have quite the contempt for bare walls.
And in case you're low on trivia about Robarts Library:
- named after a guy who committed suicide
- built in brutalist, Cold War style architecture so it looks like a godawful fort
- you have to go up nine stories before there are any books from Robarts library (the building houses several of University of Toronto's 30+ libraries)
- built to look like a swan/goose/turkey (depending on who you ask) . . . no joke . . . see here
- the thing was never meant to be open stack (i.e., someone was supposed to get your books for you), so the whole thing is so confusing there are street signs inside the building and conveyor belt tracks still showing. Seriously. You need to know local, external geography to find books in here. Sussex. St. George. Harbord.
- there is a Starbucks and a Subway inside, too, just so you neverhavetoleaveever
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Here are the things I like about my beading enterprise:
1. Buying beads
2. Receiving beads
3. Thinking about beads
4. Talking about beads
5. Organizing my beads
6. Shopping online for beads
7. Playing with beads
8. Designing things with beads
9. Making things with beads
10. Looking at the things I make with beads
Here are the things I dislike about my beading enterprise:
1. Describing them on Etsy
2. Tagging them on Etsy
3. Pricing them on Etsy
4. Anything related to Canada Post
5. But above all else, product photography really gets to me for a number of reasons. One is that Etsy crops your photos so you get weird snapshots of your photos that I haven't figured out how to plan for. I hate not seeing the whole necklace in the thumbnail around the site. Other than that the problems are mine - I'm impatient, I'm not a perfectionist, I'm a sloppy photographer, I hate posed photos, I have a 5 year old point and shoot that doesn't do well in my dark city apartment in these northern climes, I dislike editing photos, on my Flickr and Facebook I just dump the photos straight from the camera to my social networks, my necklaces are too long for a neck form and I never do a good job showing off the scale of my pieces and my photos all have a different shade of off-white background and on and on and on.
So product photography is the bane of my craftacular existence, but it is so so so rewarding and happy making when one of my pieces gets adopted. And even better, I updated my photos for Potted Fuchsia (I will eventually get everything onto a white canvas background and the last shot will feature my hand holding the piece to show the scale of the beads & overall size of creation), and she promptly got featured in a treasury! Victory is mine!
Thursday, November 10, 2011
I know this is horribly dumb and stupid and small town of me, but I think I might actually be less nervous to go to the Philippines than to go to the Filippino grocery store at the end of my street. I seriously never think to go in there and the three times I've done so I just get overwhelmed by the wall of mystery sauces. I feel like a huge, white ogre or something.
But they have spaghetti sauce in bags, Erin, by the kilo.
Culture shock 100m from home: $3.99
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Since it's the winning end of Daylight Savings time today, I have an extra hour and I thought I'd do a bit of a picture-heavy tutorial. It's a funky knitting project this time around. I know, hilarious that I'm doing a knitting tutorial, but sit tight you'll see where this is going.
So, two things - I'm a crummy, crummy knitter. Sloppy, no skills. I learn stuff, then it falls out of my brain. Also, I don't buy yarn at yarn stores. I've just scored a monster heap of unlabelled, mismatched yarns of mixed pedigree from Goodwill and yardsales. So that means when it comes to knitting I have to be pretty creative in coming up with projects that only involve a straight knit stitch and that have no demands about gauge, quality or kind of yarn, or patterns.
Step One: Make a heap of a bunch of yarn that looks good together. Colour is your only consideration here. Seriously. Add your wools, your squeaky acrylics, your cottons. Add full skeins, add scraps. Whatever. (NB: I'm about half way through my project, so my heap was much bigger a few months ago)
Step Two: Sort it into rough colour groups. I've used three and that's the minimum for producing the effect seen in this project, but you could definitely go higher. There's just more to remember if you do. And I don't want to have to remember anything when I'm knitting.
Step Three: Haul out some circular needles. Long ones. Big-ish ones. Size 8, maybe. Ones that are about the size of a pen at least. (See what I mean about being a crummy knitter, now?)
Step Four: Grab without thought one ball of yarn from one colour group, and one more ball of yarn from another colour group. Say, one brown and one white to start off. Treat them as one yarn now. See here on my needles how I've just knitted with the two yarns together?
Step Five: Cast on a blanket appropriate number of stitches. NOT 400, because then it will be too wide and you'll have to hack your project all apart. Somewhere around 150-250 should be good. (See what I really mean about being a crummy knitter? Seriously. I'm hopeless).
Step Six: At the end of your casting on row, cut your two yarns and leave a good 4-5 inch tail. These tails are going to make the fringe on your blankie. Probably better to have too much than too little.
Step Seven: Put the two yarns aside. Throw them in a tote bag. Forget about them until you run out of a colour and need to fish all the whites/browns/greys back out and start again.
Step Eight: Grab two more balls of yarn, but in a different colour combination. For my three colours this means I can have brown/white, grey/white, and brown/grey. I cycle through these three options. So since, I started with brown/white when I cast on, I'll grab a grey/white this time and then brown/grey for the next row after that. Do not over think about your selection. Over the course of the blanket the yarns will likely all have a chance to meet each other!
You can see here on the left that my last row was brown/white, and underneath that, the row before was grey/white, so that means the row that I'm starting now is brown/grey. Make sense? Just keep cycling through the colour combinations available to you based one the way you separated your colours.
Step Nine: When you start your second row (and every row after that) simply leave a 4-5 inch tail and tie it to the tails left at the end of the row before that. Once you bind off you can trim all these tails to the same length or tie in double knots or something to tidy up the edges. Haven't gotten that far yet, though.
Step Ten: Knit all the way across one row.
Step Eleven: Cut your yarns, leaving 4-5 inch tail.
Step Twelve: Set aside those yarns and don't use again until you run out of that colour. When you do exhaust your supply of one colour, say greys, fish out all the greys and make your little pile again. This keeps things looking interesting, well-distributed, and not overplanned. And it prevents you from using your favourite yarns over and over again at the start of the project and not having enough to get you through.
Step Thirteen: Knit for about eight months. And you'll eventually have a fabric that looks like this!:
I like this project a lot because it's eating through so much of my mystery yarns, it's totally mindless and requires no skills other than knit stitch, tying a knot, and casting on/binding off, and the fabric that results from it is really interesting, dense, and it is very forgiving of using a totally whack combination of yarns.
Step Fourteen (Optional): Fight cat for control of the project. She's totally obsessed.