Every year people try to write a complete novel in November, of the 430 thousand people who entered last year 40 thousand managed to write a 50,000 word novel. Knitters have a slightly version of it called NaKniSweMo, knit a 50,000 stitch or more sweater in one month.
Now I had no plans to do this at all because a) I have to write a 20,000 word thesis b) I have to do the research involved to write said thesis. In other words I am already struggling under the weight of my previous commitments. However, I am also wasting time in many little ways. I know this because I am a self confessed data nerd. I track my time and habits and I know that there are lots of minutes lost to facebook, instagram, sudoko (yes this is a big problem for me) and lots of stuff I can do without. It has also been my experience that the better structured my time and days are the more productive I am. So instead of taking things off my plate, I just spooned myself a huge serving of knitting.
I did the math, without any lengthening to the sleeves or body of the sweater, it needs 70 thousand stitches. I am also starting a week late. Again, crazy person here.
Anyway. I am knitting Pavement by Veera Valimaki in Cascade Heritage Silk in black.
If you are interested in joining check out the Ravelry Group. There is still enough time if you think like me, if not then maybe next year? Next year I hope to be writing a novel. I would have done that too, but I am already writing something else anyway that is just as exciting 🙂
I am not a huge fan of school breaks, especially when I have coursework due and when I am suffering from a major dental problem. Today is the last day of my daughter’s spring break, technically speaking of course, because there is still two more days of weekend. We went to the beach, I tried to work a little on my essays, I took her to the indoor climbing place and we did yoga at the park.
Overall it was OK.This is perhaps the first break that she has had that I didn’t feel like a nervous wreck. I think it is because she is older and no longer needs constant entertaining or supervision. She reads books on her own, does a little arts and crafts and watches a show or two or plays some video games. Apart from an abscessed molar, I think everything was fun actually.
I finished my Airflow Cardigan.
I am working on a super bulky blanket for my daugter
I cast on a washcloth today while I was sitting at the dentist’s waiting room and got all of this knit up.
I also enjoyed spending a morning at the beach. I am enjoying this book, it is not light or easy reading, but the concepts are interesting.
Playing tourist was fun, visiting the Kuwait towers always reminds me of my childhood.
I am glad it is over so I can get back to my routine and finish the things I need to do.
I am the master of procrastination. I really shouldn’t be here or doing this right now. Well I should be “here” as in physically sitting at my computer, and doing “this” as in writing stuff too. But not here on the blog and not this post. I have 4 majorly large essays and reports due mid April. I am saying mid-April because that makes it feel far away in the future than it really is. Being a full time grad student while being a full time mom, wife, chauffeur, cleaner and lots of the other things I do in life is a constant struggle between doing the things I should be doing and doing the things I want to be doing and artfully pretending I forgot about the things that are too exhausting or bore me out of my brains (I am looking at you housework). I also realized the last time I was here was in October. That is a lot of months. In that time I did tons of stuff, including write a ton of essays, travel to Egypt for Christmas break, knit lots, read lots more and generally be my awesome wonderful and totally busy self. I also had a birthday in November and for the first time in my life felt that I genuinely liked myself for who I was and didn’t want to change or improve a single thing, yes I want to lose weight, but that is cosmetic, and almost like me wishing I had different bone structure.
I am going to try to sum up some of the highlights of the past few months
I knit my favorite hat
I had my entire needle set (circulars and DPNs) EVERYTHING confiscated at the airport
I rediscovered Egypt, went on a Nile cruise from Aswan to Luxor and loved it.
I knit a baby sweater
I started a sock yarn blanket (again!)
I discovered a new author and book series. I can’t wait for the next one
I crocheted a tiny bunny
And here I am writing essays
And from now on I am signing off the same way I see my daughter off to school every morning.
Be curious, be kind.
I have been trying to find a way to keep my pens with my notebook. I purchased a pen loop from Midori but it turned out to be too small for my pens, I tried making my own but you can only fit one pen in it.
And then one day I was surfing Pinterest and saw something similar to this, I never pinned it so I can’t remember where it was from but I decided to make it. I have made a similar thing before but with fabric and elastic not just elastic.
It is so simple. Just cut a piece of elastic that can go around your notebook and extra for pens. Seal the edges using a lighter, so they don’t fray, then sew it in place. I am not 100% happy with the cleanliness of the sewing, but I am pretty sure I am going to make another one and try different ways of doing it.
I can totally explain my lack of posting in the last few months. I was in Egypt for the summer and before that it was Ramadan and I had assignments that were due and all of that. There was practically very little making or doing.
We played tourists this summer. We took our daughter to see the pyramids, the museum and a Nile boat ride at night.
They are even more magical at night.
The only thing I worked on was this cardigan, in my defense I cast this in June, knit to the sleeve section then ripped it all back because I wasn’t feeling happy with where it was going. I really need to up my game on this so I can start knitting my own stuff.
I have been taking a yoga class. I used to just carry my mat into class but, hey, if you can make a yoga bag, you make a yoga bag. I used this tutorial as a jumping point. I had this read pleather that has some texture to it, but it is still soft and supple enough to be easy to sew. The handles were also in my stash. Even the red and white striped lining fabric, the elastic and the magnetic snaps were all available at home. I lined my bag because, I don’t like seeing raw edges in a bag. I used a normal sewing machine needle and a teflon foot. It probably took an hour and a half from start to finish.
After successfully sewing the yoga bag, I wanted to experiment some more with faux leather. This is actually more bronzish in real life but it is much thicker and tougher than the red stuff. The bag size is perfect for my every day stuff; wallet, keys, sunglasses and my iPad. I also add the key thingy so I can clip my keys into it instead of having to fish for them in my bag.
Last but definitely not least, I read Nimona. It is a great graphic novel by Noelle Stevenson, you can read the first three chapters online and the book is available as a Kindle book. She writes a beautiful story of a young woman, who is strong, multidimensional and vulnerable but without the stereotypical fluff. Definitely worth a look at.
I have been doing a lot of thinking. I think a lot. All the time. Sometimes I think about lots of things, sometimes I obsess about the same things over and over. This blog was one of those obsessive thoughts for the last couple of weeks. I love blogging. As much as I would like to think I blog for others to read (which I totally do) I also blog for myself. I love sharing the things I care about (unless it is french fries, I don’t like sharing my food). I love crafting, but I also love lots of other stuff. Over the years I have changed, but my interests and the things I have enjoyed doing have more or less stayed the same. When I was ten, I loved reading, comic books, making stuff, solving puzzles and listening to the radio. I am 33 and I am still a bookdragon (because bookwork is so meek), love comic books, love puzzles, all kinds of crafts interest me and I am a huge podcast geek.
I am also passionate about other things. I am currently a grad student, working on a Masters degree in Psychology. I have very strong feelings about women’s issues all over the world, but mostly in the Middle East. I am a foodie, I love good food and I love baking and cooking. I love art, looking at it, learning about its history and trying to create it myself. I love traveling, seeing the world and learning about different cultures. I love photography and stationary. I have a huge collection of fountain pens and will probably buy more.
I feel that for the longest time, I was boxed in by my own self, tried to compartmentalize my interests into neat little boxes. I tried keeping the different facets of my identity separate, without realizing I was the one limiting my interests. I used to think that I went through several identity crisis growing up, but now I realize my identity was quite clear, it was expressing it that was always the biggest hurdle.
It is time to try new things and love them and talk about them. If you read this blog for the knitting, I hope you stick around and invite me into your world too.
“This is so pretty, it looks like something you bought at the store”
Who hasn’t heard this before? Good, you all have. Non crafters seem to regard this as the highest compliment they can give you, because of course we want our beautifully handcrafted items that took countless hours to make, probably cost more in supplies than the store bought version and needed more skill to make to be compared to a beanie from China. I thought I might list the things that make an item really pop out as a uniquely handmade item made with love and care. So whether you will gift an item or keep it for yourself, make sure it is handmade, not just something you made at home.
First of all a handmade item has details that are special. The buttons were chosen to perfectly match the fabric, a bow here to add a special touch or even a secret message was embroidered in the lining. Whatever it is, always make sure you add the details that are unique to you. If you are sewing make sure you press and choose contrasting or matching thread. When I was making my dolls, I would add some blush on the cheeks, it just added that little touch of detail they needed. I also think that the materials you use are part of the details. Know when to use the acrylic yarn (they do have their uses) and when to use the fancy posh yarns. Look at other pictures for inspiration, check out pinterest, take your time, you are already investing time and effort into this project so give it the extra planning time it needs to turn out wonderful.
Yes, your stitches need to be consistent. Yes, your quality needs to be consistent. There is a difference between consistency and machine made identical. No two items you ever make will be exactly identical, but they should be consistent.
Yes, you must weave in your ends and block your FO, unless of course it is a softie. If you sew but don’t properly hem an item it just looks cheap. I used to ignore the pressing until I realized it really made the difference from something that looked I made it in the kitchen blender and something that was wearable and actually pretty. The finishing also makes an item withstand the use and abuse it will see. If you don’t properly weave in your ends, they will come out and you might end up with an unraveled sweater, not exactly something you want to happen.
Finally, be proud of yourself. If you made something for yourself, use it, display it and wear it with pride. Show it off, you deserve it. If you are gifting it then let the recipient know that this was a labor of love. Many people assume it is cheaper to just make something. We know that is not true. A skein of sock yarn averages 20$, I am sure you can buy more socks for the same amount. It also takes a couple of weeks to knit a pair, again, time you could have spent doing other things.
You made something beautiful and unique, you learned the skill needed to do so and you used up your free time to do it. Be proud.