blog · knitting life · life

Knittering #7

So, crochet…

The skills needed to do crochet have long eluded me. I can make a simple square or perhaps scarf (if I really tried), but my tension is so TIGHT that after awhile I can no longer even get my hook through the stitches to continue working on the project.

Me + Crochet = Strangulation!

Honestly, my inability to figure out tension while crocheting is probably the reason that I gave up the hooks and went with needles instead. Of course, this also gave me the opportunity to really dig into knitting as a craft… I went from barely being able to hold my needles to knitting up wearable pieces, baby blankets and Baby Yoda!

Photo by Castorly Stock on Pexels.com

Why did I pick up the hook again?

Well, my sister (enabler that she is) gifted me with two craft magazines (one for knitting and the other for crochet) which included kind of a beginner’s project complete with yarn and little, plastic hook. I struggled for way to long trying to follow the pattern using the included hook and yarn before deciding that perhaps better quality materials were called for.

bit of a work in progress here, but I did manage to make the stitches uniform!

Purchasing better yarn DID indeed help and I used the size E 3.5mm Boye hook I had from previous crochet attempts.

However, no matter how closely I followed the pattern or how many tutorials I watched, what I was creating looked NOTHING like the picture!

…turns out that the US has different terms for crochet techniques than, say, the UK and the double crochet I was trying to make was actually a triple crochet!

Once I figured that snafu out, things seemed to progress pretty quickly. My stitches were super uniform and I was able to crochet the head in no time at all! It’s also nice that this yarn is so soft, because it meant I was looked forward to working with it. 🙂

As the project continued, I was having a surprising amount of discomfort, from bruised fingers to stiff/sore joints, so I made the decision to splurge a little and upgrade my crochet hook from a regular Boye one to an ergonomic Clover one from the Amour line… and it is amazing! Truly, from the first stitch, I was hooked! …unintentional pun, lol.

I finished little Miss Kitty here soon thereafter, working on her skirt, limbs, and accessories while watching YouTube or winding down before bed and before I knew it, she was ready for her photo shoot!

Many thanks to my sister, who was kind enough to take pictures for me, since mine always seem to be super boring and she seems to have an eye for these things, lol.

As I don’t really have a need for handmade, stuffed animals, I will be giving Miss Kitty a new home where she will (hopefully) live a long, happy life.

Of note, I live streamed my attempts to learn crochet while working on this ballet cat and one of my viewers asked if I took commissions! I’d never taken a commission before, but they were very kind, explaining that a family of three cats would make a wonderful Christmas present for their children.

Before I agreed to take the commission, I thought long and hard about the request… did I want to make money from a hobby? Or did I want to keep things chill? Ultimately, I did agree to take the commission, mostly because I think it’s a sweet idea to have matching gifts for siblings and because I would have loved getting something that someone made just for me! In fact, I have received handmade gifts and they are some of my most cherished.

Believe it or not, at the time of writing this blog post, I have the one commission for three cats (2 ballet girl cats and 1 boy cat) as well as another commission from a good friend for an elephant and an owl!

Time will only tell, but making stuffed animals might just be my niche in the crochet world, lol.


Is there some craft or hobby that eludes you?

blog · life · memphis · tennessee · travel

Travel | Dixon Gallery & Gardens

After months of staying home, except for going to work or the odd grocery trip, I decided a change was needed. I kidnapped my sister, with the promise that she’d get to enjoy tiny things, and off we went to the Dixon Gallery & Gardens!

For America
&
Maritza Dávila Journey

Inside the gallery itself were two exhibits, the first being For America and the second, Maritza Dávila Journey, by a local artist…

Diálogos, Maritza Dávila

For America was absolutely full to bursting with beautiful pieces! Featuring a hundred paintings, For America is the creation of the National Academy of Design and contains both portraits of the artists as well as representative pieces from it’s many varied members.

One of the hallmarks of the Academy is that it’s members must donate a work of art to the collection and in 1839 they began to include portraits as well. I found the self-portraits especially interesting as they sometimes were entirely normal and other times you could see a little of the artist’s particular style coming through. 🙂

Some of my favorites…

Out of all the paintings we saw, Provider by Walter Hatke was my absolute favorite. I could sit and stare at this painting for hours and never get bored of it. It feels as if you could take a step and be inside the frame, enjoying the world living therein.

Provider, Walter Hatke

Bonsai: Majestic Miniatures

So, my sister goes absolutely bonkers over tiny things and bonsai has been a longtime interest of mine, as well, which made this next exhibit perfect for the both of us! Lol, I once tried to grow my own bonsai, but when that venture failed, I decided to enjoy the trees that others have cultivated…

The Gardens

Taking the time to walk around and enjoy the actual gardens at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens is worth every minute! The gardens are so beautiful and well-kept that people of all ages can enjoy walking through them without worrying about tripping over a stray root or fallen branch. You can enjoy the shaded areas or sit on the lawn and eat a picnic lunch, if you prefer (we saw a small family doing so).

My favorite thing about the Gardens is how peaceful it all is. Intellectually, I know we’re still in the middle of town with two major streets on either side, but the Dixon feels as if it’s a world apart.


What about you? Have you visited anyplace interesting lately?

blog · knitting life · life

A Quiz About Gifting

With the holiday season right around the corner, it seems appropriate that NothingButKnit has shared a quiz about gifting… She always has the most interesting quizzes and, since it had been awhile since I did one, I thought it a perfect fit.

Now, let’s get to answering these questions!

1. Do you gift your handmade items?

I do! Most of the items I make are gifts, from the finger-less gloves I made for my sister (that she’s only just now getting to use) to the stuffed Baby Yoda’s (that continue to be mailed out) to a sweater for my mom (that I will finish even if it’s the death of me!) and the micro-preemie socks that I knit and donate… lots of gifts indeed!

In fact, I think there is only one item that I knit for myself, lol.

2. Do you have limits around who you gift to or what you gift?

Limits? Not really, now that I think about it. If someone asks if I can make something I’ve never tried before, I look at it as an opportunity to learn a new pattern, stitch, or skill.

3. What type of things do you like to make and gift?

I love to make micro-preemie socks and can have a pair finished and ready to go in just an afternoon! These are donated to a local NICU in fishbowl-sized batches, since a fishbowl was all I had to store them in, lol.

4. Have you received handmade items?

My mother used to crochet us hats and scarves and mittens and I wish that I still had some of those, but they would be too small for me to wear nowadays. Oh! And her oldest sister, my aunt, gifted me with a crocheted blanket that I use year-round.

5. Have you ever asked for a gift back?

I do not, mostly because the people that I gift items to already know about and want the item being made for them.

6. Do you gift handmade items for holidays?

Not as a general rule, but if something is finished close to the holidays then I will gift it.


Now, before you do anything else, may I suggest checking out NothingButKnit’s post and reading all of the fun and interesting answers she and others have shared!

blog · knitting life · life

Knitting In the Wild

knitting socks on break at work

Over the last few months, I’ve had a number of projects that one might consider ‘knitting in the wild’ or knitting in a public space. I remember hearing once that there was some kind of stigma about knitting or crocheting in public, but I have not personally experienced this.

Most of the time, when I’m working on something while in public, I’ll catch the odd interested glance from an adult or the awestruck stare from a child or teen. They all appear to think my chosen form of craft is pretty darn cool!

Knitting in public has been a great conversation starter with strangers in the airport, the park, a parking lot, the grocery store and more! People just really want to know what you’re making and they all seem to think it’s magic.

I’ll let you in on a secret… knitting IS, in fact, magic. 😉

One of the first difficult projects I attempted was a stuffed facehugger from the Alien movies that I was knitting up as a gift for a friend. I cast on while on a flight to Pittsburgh in 2019 and worked on it a little as I had spare time during the trip. Turns out that as soon as you finish knitting up the body, you need to stuff it! And I had no stuffing.

After scouring a number of gift shops in the terminal, I came across a stuffed pumpkin in a candy store that was in the discount bin because it had gotten chocolate spilled on him. Poor thing! And his story was only going to get worse… I purchased that cute little pumpkin and then immediately tore him open to get to the stuffing inside!

I’ve since used up all his stuffing, but I turned him inside out and sent him through the wash so that I keep using him as a handy stuffing container when I’m knitting out and about. 😀

Since the day I started carrying my knitting with me, I’ve worked on a number of different projects, but I’ve discovered that the easiest things to knit in public are socks and washcloths. They knit up pretty quickly and aren’t too complicated, if I need to pause mid-project, and they are small enough to tote around.

Do you knit in public?
What’s your favorite project to take with you?

blog · college life · ireland · life · study abroad · travel

Travel | Ireland: Day 8

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Before our tour of Kilkenny Castle, we were able to visit a street market and some of the shops along the road.

During this walk, we stopped at a crepe stand that was owned and run by a Frenchman. He had owned his own restaurant in South France. While talking with him and the other customers, it was hard not to notice the lyrical similarities of the French and Irish accents. Both speak quickly, but the French seemed more clipped and quicker than the Irish. This is not, of course, to say that the Irish aren’t quick speakers!

It really was a fun discussion/chat about food and life in different areas of the world.

Experiencing Kilkenny Castle was just as eclectic as the building itself.

The architecture of Kilkenny Castle, an eclectic mix of medieval and Victorian styles, has been described as beautiful by some. There are others who see it as a hideous hodgepodge.

I thought the castle was quite grand and rather enjoyed the transition from ancient times in the medieval lower levels to the more modern Victorian bedrooms on the upper floors.

It is truly remarkable that this property remained in the Butler family for so long. It must have been a drawn-out decision to sell the house to the people of Kilkenny. My own family does not have even an iota of the history of the Butler family, but even the mere thought of letting a family home go is a difficult one.

Some of the most memorable things that I heard on this tour are as follows:

Many a good match was made at a wake.

This was in reference to the social events that wakes were. A time to celebrate the lives of loved ones now gone.

Save face. / Don’t lose face. / Mind your beeswax.

Were all sayings that were meant as a warning. These all referred to the wax that people used to wear beneath their makeup. This wax could melt if too close to the fire, so the use of pole screens came into being.

I like this.

My professor wrote in response.

A good journal, Michelle – full of observations that will help you remember your trip for years to come.

There were times I thought a little more attention, specifically to language, might have been good, but I did enjoy reading this.

And I certainly enjoyed your company on this trip!

Journal grade: 190/200

Professor Doug Branch
blog · work life

Blog | Emoji Horoscopes

Before I started in my current library position, I worked for a hospital in their pediatric unit for about two and half years…

We have this device at the hospital that I work at called a Voelté phone, which is basically an older iPhone that comes preloaded with a secure messaging and phone system from the Voelté company.  Nurses are required to carry this phone at all times while on the clock and, let me tell you, it can sometimes be REALLY annoying for them to have another thing to keep track of during their shift.

On my floor, the Unit Coordinators are responsible for handing out these phones and, in an attempt to make it a little bit more fun for the nurses, I have started to give each person their own unique emoji…

An “emoji horoscope” if you will.

Here are just a few of the emojis that I have given out:

  • 👾 – Lindsey is a hip, gamer girl. A cool chick.
  • 💥 – Sarah H is a firecracker, dedicated mom, and fun-to-hang-out-with kinda girl.
  • 🥂 – Shannon B is the life of the party!
  • 👶 – Taylor is mom to one super amazing little boy, who she loves to pieces.
  • 🥋 – Kayla is very sweet, but also super strong. She knows all kinds of martial arts.
  • 🍭 – Laura is just a sweety!
  • 👩‍👧‍👦 – Allison is many things, but loving mother of two is her heart.
  • 🧜‍♀️ – Staci is one unique chick.
  • 👸🏼 – Montee is super classy and smart.
  • 🍔 – Ashley is the Cheeseburger to my Bacon and Eggs for half price.

Share your favorite emoji in a comment below
and I’ll respond in emoji too!

blog · college life · ireland · study abroad · travel

Travel | Ireland: Day 7

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Visiting the Rock of Cashel was the most entertaining tip due to the following story that a local girl told me…

As Sarah tells the tale, a boy her age was banned from the Rock. At the age of seven, he had climbed the Rock (a pastime of local children) so many times and heard the tour guides so much that he’d memorized the tour! He was banned for giving tours to visitors and has not been allowed back on the Rock since. 🙂

When we came down from the Rock, we visited a lovely (and eclectic) little store where I was able to purchase an Irish-made sweater.

Before we left Cashel, we stopped in at Rossa’s Pottery. The owner and the store’s namesake, Rossa, was lovely and took the time to look up and explain the meaning of a Celtic song for us.

Dúlamán is a song about the various types of seaweed found along Ireland’s coasts. The Irish have longed used this resource for medicinal purposes as well as for relaxation. Dúlamán takes all that the Irish feel for seaweed and beautifully creates a sort of poetic love song…

Dúlamán na binne buí, dúlamán Gaelach
Dúlamán na farraige, b’fhearr a bhí in Éirinn

Tá ceann buí óir ar an dúlamán gaelach
Tá dhá chluais mhaol ar an dúlamán maorach

Bróga breaca dubha ar an dúlamán gaelach
Tá bearéad agus triús ar an dúlamán maorach

“Submerged seaweed canopy” by Julius A. Ellrich is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Seaweed from the yellow cliff, Irish seaweed
Seaweed from the ocean, the best in all of Ireland

There is a yellow gold head on the Gaelic seaweed
There are two blunt ears on the stately seaweed

The Irish seaweed has beautiful black shoes
The stately seaweed has a beret and trousers

Very cool!

my professor
blog · knitting life · life

Knittering #5 | First Adult Socks

NothingButKnit’s shared one of her sock projects in her Sock It To Me Monday post and they looked so good that I knew I had to attempt adult-sized socks… again.

I’ve been trying to knit my sister a pair of socks for nearly a year now, but I just can’t seem to get the patter to jive in my brain. It’s the Toe Up Socks pattern by Haalu and… I just can’t knit them. Maybe it’s the pattern, maybe it’s the yarn I bought, but it’s definitely been relegated to the unfinished projects bin.

Now, the Slip-It Simple Socks on the other hand have been an absolute breeze! They are knit cuff down, like my Micro-Preemie socks, and it’s easy to get into a rhythm when working on them. I knit these socks mostly while doing other things, like being in meetings or watching movies/television.

This pattern is SO easy to follow!

As for the yarn? Well, it’s a vacation yarn, which is to say that I purchased a skein of this amazingly soft, light grey yarn while on a trip back home to Wisconsin. It was really easy to work with and only occasionally did I have trouble with the strands wanting to unwind themselves (is that the right term?).

Sock number one…


Sock number two…


And, here we have the completed pair. Apologies for the subpar picture of them, I have not been able to find a sock blocker that I like… it’s on my list. 😀

One completed pair of socks, ready to be gifted to whoever’s feet fit them… Cinderella style!


Supplies:

Pattern: Slip It Simple Sock by Christine Long Derks
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Heritage Sock Yarn in a discontinued color 5697. This yarn was purchased at the Brownstone Centre in Bayfield, WI in November 2019.
Needles: Loops & Threads Size 1 – 7″ double points & Signature Needle Arts Size 1 – 9″ circular needles

blog · college life · ireland · life · study abroad · travel

Travel | Ireland: Day 6

Tuesday, May 17

Honestly? I didn’t pay much attention at all to the trip from Dublin to Thurles.

My fingers itched for the comfort of knitting and feel of soft, smooth yarn. I don’t recall much of the drive beyond the murmur of students and faculty.

Once we’d settled into our rooms, people started exploring the small Thurles community. And what is the heart of the community? A library that is also a gathering place!

In Ireland, checking out yer books!

Library cards are entirely free to both residents of Ireland AND to foreigners! Identification is not required to register for an account, a thing almost unheard of in the United States.

My instructor commented… “So glad you did this!”

After I’d signed up for my account and browsed the collection, I talked with the librarian, Loraine.

She told me that they were moving to a new integrated library system that would be country-wide. We discussed electronic collections and discovered that we used the same system, OverDrive. Loraine and I continued talking and I learned an entirely surprising thing!

The Thurles Library system, in fact the entire system, does not have a Friends of the Library group. Libraries in Ireland are supported solely by the government! In the states, we have nonprofit groups that raise funds for programs, furniture, and more!

After exploring more of the city, my little group returned to the library for a music program…

The tribute to Kris Kristofferson was an absolute pleasure to take part in. Many community members were in attendance, all ages enjoying the music, often clapping (sometimes singing) along with the performers.

During the performance, I took a moment inside the library. While there I talked with a library associate who asked about Memphis, my work, and the music we could hear from the next room. I told him about youth services and the duties the job entailed… He offered me a job!

My Professor commented, “Nice!” to my job offer, lol.

blog · knitting life · life

Knittering #4 | National Craft Month

I learned this year that March is National Craft Month, which I think is pretty cool. Started back in 1994 to encourage people to learn new crafts and get back into crafting as a hobby, National Craft Month can be celebrated in any way that you like!

I chose to celebrate by knitting. Yes, yes, I know you’re surprised to hear that, lol, but here are the projects that I worked on for #NationalCraftMonth

One franken-micro-sock, because I ran out of one yarn and finished with another. I really loved working with the grey yarn and might need to see if I can buy another skein or two. 😛

Baby blanket, completed, blocked and delivered to recipient.

Washcloths, as part of a mystery knit-along on Facebook. I ended up making four of them, the pattern was so easy and relaxing!

Knit a pair of socks for my mother, my first adult-sized socks, and turns out I made them too small. Guess that guarantees that I’ll get to work on at least one more pair, lol.

I’ve actually got an entire post coming, dedicated to my first venture into sock knitting, so keep an eye out for that!

Finished some finger-less gloves for my sister. She picked out the yarn and, of course, it was full of purples!