Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Long Haul

I broke a friend's crochet hook the other day (don't ask, I have mad skills), and decided I was going to replace it, or die trying.  I hit up Hobby Lobby where it was originally purchased, but they were closed on Sundays.  That's another rant, though.  I then headed Joann's but couldn't find the same needle, and finally Michael's before giving up in utter despair, and buying some Tester's glue.  Problem solved.

I cannot tell a lie - part of that trip was to find me some fuzzy, velour yarn to whip up a quick little baby blanket or something.  Said friend was working with some, and it was just glorious feeling.  You know the project I'm talking like 3 skeins, get started, find it again a few months later, wondering why I never finished it, and get totally screwed because they don't make the yarn color or type any more.  I certainly DO NOT have 9/10ths of a sweater that I could fit three of myself in.  Don't be ridiculous.

While I was poking around, I found a pattern booklet with a gorgeous afghan on the front.  So I had The
Moment with myself, and I said, "Self, this thing looks gorgeous, but we never finish big projects like this any more.  Maybe we should just buy one skein of each color, and then see how it works out."  Of course, in response to being told this by my superego, I instead decided that no one was stopping me from doing anything I could so do.  I promptly dropped about $30 and bought 12 skeins of yarn (Thank you, Red Heart Super Saver!) so I was pretty much stuck finishing this project, or feeling like an ass for dropping over three hours of pay on this moment of stubbornness.

So far, I have about 6 of the 70 squares I'll need to finish this project off.  I work on it while I watch TV.  I work on it while I'm stuck on a long call at work.  I work on it while I read, if I'm feeling frisky.  It's still in the easy stages, where I'm not bored by every stitch I do.  I realized early on that I needed to start crocheting in my loose threads, or there was a huge chance I'd lose my ever-loving mind in a month or two, when I had to sew all that crap in.  I'm still a little sketchy on whether or not I'll get through all the squares (so far all of relatively equal size) and then totally peter out when I realize how stupidly much I'll be sewing together to make a whole afghan.

So here's my goal:  Start a big project.  See it through.  I'm not the best with follow through - clearly - but I feel this is an important lesson I need to learn.  We'll see in a few months if I can keep it up.  I'm optimistic, but then, who isn't at the beginning of a new project or journey?

In other crafty news, I managed to whip up a batch of facial cleanser/scrub.  It's made of freshly ground almonds, clay, glycerin, witch hazel, and essential oils.  If it didn't look so much like a paste made out of soggy ash, I'd post pictures.  I'm going to try it out tomorrow, and see how it turns out.  Maybe I'll find a way to pretty it up next round.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Middle of the Project Doldrums

 I have this issue with most of my projects, where if I let them slide for more than a few weeks, I get stuck.  I have a 3/4 done sweater, a beautiful 1/10th done lace shawl, one and 9/10ths of a pair of's terrible.

Now it's happened to me with one of my favorite creative outlets.  I discovered letterboxing a while back, and I got hooked.  What was cooler than taking my (at the time) two year old out on mini-scavenger hunts with stamps and ink?  After I got entrenched in the culture a little bit, I decided my tiny, pathetic, store bought stamp not only wasn't cutting it, it was nearly an insult to the whole art.

So I bought my first carving block and tools, and picked up a new addiction.  I carved stamps for my son and I.  I carved stamps for my sweetie.  I toyed with the idea of carving stamps and planting letterboxes, but I knew that was more than I was ready for.  More time went by, and I decided to plant a hitchhiker.  My first baby to be released in to the wild would be one that would travel from spot to spot, and wouldn't be seen by everyone in the area.  Thus far, it hasn't really been seen by anyone, but that's another story.  It's not my fault I apparently picked an unpopular letterbox to leave it in...

After that turned out quite beautifully, I started making more stamps.  My son got a box for his birthday, and a hitchhiker that started in the box.  I loved how much fun it was to put together, so I started two more.  One is the Hollybat above, as commemoration of my friend's visit to Atlanta.  The other is the symbol of my church.  But then I started working, and I let them drag on...

Now I'm in a rut with both of these carves, and I'm having a terrible time motivating myself to do the research.  For the Hollybat, I need to find a location and make the clue.  I know where I want it to go, but I'm disinclined to visit downtown in this weather, and do my research.

The Emerson stamp just needs a clue and a letter requesting permission to keep it on the property of the church.  It's also probably require me to delve in to the history of Ralph Waldo Emerson, which sounds undelightfully boring.

So my real question is, how do I get back the fire for a project I let drop?  I feel like my projects are a reflection of my real life relationships.  Once the initial excitement is done, I have a hard time finding that feeling again if I spend too much time apart from someone.  Unless I keep up with people constantly, I have very little drive to see how they are doing, and making plans to see them again.  It rather makes me feel like a bad person.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

First Project Musings

Lace-edged Handkerchief
I've done a few simple projects, but this is my first Very Big project.

In case you care about details, this project was done with a metal Susan Bates tatting shuttle with size 20 crochet thread.  The thread is from the 1950s (a gift from my grandmother, who started trying to teach me to tat last year), so I'm not sure who made it.  Instead of being done with two shuttles, I'm doing this with one shuttle and a ball.

I'm kind of uncertain as to how I feel about how it turned out.  On one hand, I'm about fifteen minutes away from completing my Very First Project.  On the other hand, I'm starting to feel comfortable enough doing this that I see flaws, which is always frustrating.

The top corner probably should have been sewn on more loosely.  The picots (peek-ohs) on the bottom arc are really just too large, and make the tatted lace stand out from the handkerchief a little more than I had wanted it to.  I felt the thread was also probably a little too bulky for this handkerchief, but I was in sort of a rush.  I had hoped to complete this for my grandmother by Christmas.  I think I finished the tatting itself before Christmas, but the sewing on is taking forever.

I actually attempted to make this 2 times previously, but my innate desire to rush through things to make glorious works of tatting meant I didn't read far enough ahead in the directions to see that I needed to fancy up the corners a bit.  On the other hand, it did give me a lot of practice keeping my tension steady, so it does look a lot cleaner than the previous attempts.

Things I Learned:

  1. Always read to the end of the directions.
  2. Using the ball and shuttle method is pretty easy, and it's very convenient to tuck your shuttle and lace in the ball when you're working, but it's a pain to untangle if the ball thread gets twisted.
  3. Keep the picots tight when you're using them to attach to something.  Airy is good, and lovely.  Spacey is a little much.
  4. I'm not very good with the clean-up work.  I'm lazy about sewing in my ends, and I despise sewing the lace on to the handkerchief.  I think there's a good life lesson in there.  Life isn't about making beautiful decorations to tack on.  You have to go through the hard, gritty work of taking those embellishments and attaching them to the rather plain everyday that is your life.  Or at least it works that way for me.  Devil's in the details and all that jazz.