Something Worse Then The “M” Word?

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As a knitter and someone that loves working mainly with natural fibers, one of the scariest words that can be uttered around a yarn or hand-knit stash is the “M word” – Moth! They are well known for their love of wool, eating through fibers, leaving small holes in the fabric or spots in the yarn where it is either broken or weakened enough knitting becomes nearly impossible. Knitters have dedicated time and research into what to do if they take in acquired stash to keep their own stash clean, how to eradicate the pesky things and what to look for to make sure their stash is safe.

I have been lucky so far and have avoided having the “M word” show up in my house. And I was feeling pretty good about it. Until I found something far worse than the “M word”! It is the “S word” – Spike!!!

No, I am not talking about spikes that may catch your knitting. Yes, those cause issues, but I am referencing one Spike in particular:

Yep, that little guy there. Now, don’t let that cute face fool you! He is a cutey. He is my mom’s baby, in fact. A year ago, he was born under a hosta and abandoned by his mom because she was scared off by workers around the house. My mom and her husband picked him up and took him in. He was hand raised by them – even bottle fed. He is spunky and silly. And he has a thing for my knitting!

Our first clue was the day I brought a bag of knitting to the house when I came to visit. My mom and I walked out of the house to do something and when we came back in, a ball of my yarn was strung clear across the house, from one side to the other. It was wrapped around chair legs, under the couch and we finally found it under the bed. We laughed and thought it was hysterical.

Then it warmed up and I didn’t knit much, so I didn’t bring much to the house. But then fall hit again. My son wore his hand-knit sweater to their house and Spike would often be found dragging it off, or the sweater would be in a strange place when I finally located it. One day, at home, my son put the sweater on and I noticed a large hole in the sleeve. It covered 4 rows and 4 columns of stitches! I couldn’t figure out what my son had caught it on to cause such a large hole, but I patched it up and forgot about it.

Then I decided to wear my hand-knit sweater when we visited. I took it off and left it in a dining room chair. Suddenly, we heard a noise and my sister started laughing. Spike was attempting to drag off my thigh length wool sweater! He managed to get a sleeve under a bed before we rescued it. But, it was too late. In the cabled cuff of one of the sleeves, he managed to make a hole. In the picture below, you may notice that the hole is right at the intersection of the cables. Yea, right at the crossover.  The sweater came home with me and was put away. I have yet to deal with the hole. I’m not really sure how to deal with the hole!

Of course, I didn’t learn my lesson. I wore a hand-spun, hand-dyed, hand-knit scarf over one day. My mom walked in the dining room where the scarf had been stuffed in the sleeve of my coat and found Spike trying to drag off my scarf! He had managed to get into the coat and pull it out, even though the heavy coat was folded over and the sleeve was hidden. I walked in and he was walking down the table with the scarf in his mouth. I tried to get it away from him and he gave me a warning cry. He was determined to keep that scarf! My mom finally managed to get it away from him, but he was NOT happy about giving it up! We immediately inspected it and found a hole in the bottom. It was about then that I realized what actually caused the hole in my son’s sweater.

I have yet to mend the scarf. It is a different stitch pattern that also would prove difficult to mend. Since the damage is near the cast on edge, I am thinking of simply frogging the whole thing and starting over (one of the perks of being a knitter!) I wish I could reknit the cuff of my sweater, but that just won’t work. So, I will try to mend it and keep hand knits away from Spike!

(Oh, and in case you are not aware of it, giving cats yarn is NOT safe! I know we often see those images of a cute kitten with a ball of yarn, but cats can eat the yarn and get long strands tangled in their intestines. It can be deadly for the little ones! I have only tried knitting at my mom’s once since she got the cat. Since then, I leave my yarn at home! Don’t want to mess with my knitting or put her baby at risk!)

My Crafty Resolutions

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It is hard to believe another year has come and gone. I will admit that 2010 was a very hard year due to a family tragedy in July that has continued to affect our family, and probably will for some time. But I am determined to make 2011 a much better year. So, I decided to make a list of resolutions I want to keep this year, all with the aim of improving me or my family. I won’t list them all here since this is a craft blog and most are not craft related. However, I will mention that I do have one major crafty goal. I thought I would write more about it here.

The main goal for this year is to just craft more. I know that crafting is a wonderful stress reliever for me. It acts as an antidepressant. I love getting lost in a craft project and spending time doing the very thing I love the most. So, in order to make this year the best one yet, I know that crafting is going to be a very important component for me.

But within that goal, I have some smaller goals. Some of them I have touched on in years’ passed, and I want to either repeat them or actually do them!

My first mini-goal is to work from my stash as much as possible. With the economy, two growing kids and a growing grocery budget, I need my crafting budget to shrink if I want to make it a priority. While I know at times I will require the purchasing of some materials, I am hoping to use my stash whenever possible. I have tons of roving to spin, lots of yarn to knit with, and plenty of material for sewing. I also have a big pack of card stock suitable for paper cutting should I wish to do more of that. I do have several gift cards that I received for Christmas, so I plan to hold on to those when the stash is lacking something I need. Coupled with coupons and wise spending, I am sure I can make them go far!

Second is to try to continue to challenge myself. I need to stay challenged, at least a bit, in order to stay interested. New techniques, new crafts and new ideas will keep me challenged. I am sure there will be times when I will want to fall back on an old stand-by and that is OK, but challenging and pushing myself is one of the surest ways to find satisfaction in my crafting.

Third is branching out in my crafting. My first love is knitting with sewing a close second. I could easily spend all of my crafting time doing either of these things. But keeping things mixed up a bit is another key to beating crafting boredom. I want to keep improving my spinning. I would like to do some more needle felting. And I am just beginning to learn the art of paper cutting. Plus I have clay to play with, too! Gotta keep it interesting! Plus, my wrists and arms will thank me if I don’t spend all of my time knitting or sewing.

Fourth, I want to craft more for me. I have sock yarn, a new sock knitting book and new sock knitting needles and I need socks! I need more in the drawer! So I need to spend more time working on things I need and want. I have beautiful handspun that I need to become more creative with and create something for myself. I have some gorgeous fabric I want to use to make myself something. I can always create for others, but creating for me is something I do very little of.

Fifth, have fun! I don’t want to spend any of my crafting time doing something I don’t enjoy. I want to have fun creating!

And finally, blog more! I need to get better at blogging. It will prompt me to keep creating and documenting what I am doing. I don’t know if I will ever blog more than once or twice a week at most, but even once a week will make me feel more accomplished. Even if I write them all in one or two days and schedule them, having a blog post weekly will make me feel better.

So, there you have it! My main goal and my mini-goals! For some reason, I think this is one resolution I don’t think I will have much trouble keeping!

Quietly Crafting

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During the summer, I hit a lull in the crafting. The office where I sew is hot. It is too warm to have my hands in fiber or yarn for knitting and spinning. We stay busy during the day and I am exhausted by the evening when I normally do my crafting.

I don’t have pictures to share just yet – they will be coming, I promise. But I have been quietly crafting and things are starting to kick into gear as the weather is taking a premature turn into fall. With cooling temperatures, I find myself wanting to craft and create much more.

Tonight I finally finished up some sewing and mending that has been clogging up my sewing table. I bought fabric for PJ pants for the kids and t-shirts to applique to match and finally got them completed. Both kids are wearing a set tonight and I will snap a picture of them tomorrow morning, if I can wrangle them together long enough! I completed two pairs for each. My daughter got Disney Princesses and kitty cats and my son got Thomas The Train and dogs. Both are very happy kids! I made them out of lightweight cotton prints from JoAnn’s and used short sleeved shirts to wear in the air conditioned house in the summer and into fall.

I also did some mending. I am considering setting up a mending basket, actually, although we don’t have mending often. I do like mending clothing, though. Sewing a button on my husband’s dress shirt makes me feel good to have done something for him. And closing up a hole in the underarm of his favorite t-shirt also feels good because it saves the shirt from being thrown away. I am not yet ready to consider mending store-bought socks, but if we ever have holes in hand-knitted, I wouldn’t be too upset to mend those too!

I have been completing some knitting. I finished a pair of socks for me, a pair for my son and mittens for him, also. I have completed one mitten for my daughter, but I am not taking a bit of a break from knitting with the sock yarn on size 1 needles since my hands and elbow are starting to bother me. So, I moved to the opposite end of the spectrum and picked up some chunky yarn I handspun and dyed and I am knitting a “My So-Called Scarf”. I am hoping I have enough yarn for it to be long enough, but I love it so far!

I have some things I still need to work on sitting around the house. I have promised the kids I would make them aprons and I need to get them finished. I have an old shirt of mine I want to play around with to make into an art smock for my daughter. She starts kindergarten on the 27th! But beyond that, I am planning for fall and Christmas finally. I have plans for a sweater for my mom and handmade dolls for the kids for Christmas. And I still need to get yarn to make their fall sweaters. My daughter wants pink and my son wants orange – both choices were rather predictable!

So stay tuned! I promise to get some pictures soon. I am still kicking myself for not taking ANY pictures of the items I made for my cousin’s baby shower. I stenciled several onesies with animals, hand stitched a stuffed giraffe and made her two bibs from flannel and denim. I will see if she can snap pictures for me, perhaps, to share with the blog.

I shall return!

Hand stitching

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I remember back to when I was first learning to sew. I would make skirts and shirts for my Barbies with scraps of fabric and needle and thread. I realize now I was lucky to have a mom that did some sewing because she had the tools I needed to take those first few tentative steps into sewing. She also had a Singer sewing machine in a cabinet that she bought in the early 70’s with her own money (my sister still has that machine and the cabinet, too) but I didn’t use it until I was much more comfortable with sewing.

Eventually I moved on to sewing machines and making more complex items. I would occassionally hand sew something, but usually hated doing so. It was efficient, neat or easy compared to the sewing machine. I tried to avoid hand sewing as much as possible, unless it was to sew on a button.

This winter, I received a gorgeous new sewing machine – a Singer 7470 Confidence. It was a HUGE upgrade over my old machine that could only sew straight or zigzag stitches. My dear husband bought it for me as a Mother’s Day/Birthday/Christmas gift and I LOVE it! I used it for a ton of stuff, wanting to turn it on nearly every day. It was so easy to thread, so smooth and quiet and so fast, too.

But something strange happened around the time I got my machine. I made a shirt for my brother and one of the very last steps was doing some hand stitching on the collar to close it up. It required tiny little stitches that needed to end up being invisible. And through those little tiny stitches, I found a love for hand stitching. I have since moved on to sewing plushies or softies and other items that don’t require such intricate stitching, but I still love it.

See, I think hand sewing is a lot like knitting. It is rythmical. The push then pull of the needle and thread through the material, the repetitive motion, the tiny stitches and the slow but sure progress that comes with hand sewing are so satisfying to me.  I find myself addicted to sitting down with a piece of fabric or two and a needle and thread and sewing away. So much so that I have even taken a hiatus from knitting for a few weeks now! I never thought I would see the day something took over my time knitting!

So, if you see more hand stitching for a time, that would be why. I still have lots of knitting projects planned and my sewing machine has not been neglected. In fact, I just finished a second fabric basket on the machine. I just need to hand stitch up the turning hole and it will be complete and ready for blogging. So, bear with me as I indulge my current hand stitching fascination.