my corner

This is how things are looking in my little corner spot these days…

Especially at such stressful times, it’s really important to me to have a space that feels cozy, warm, protected and organized according to my logic… It helps keep me calm.

How do you cope with stress? Does space play a role? What does your ‘comfort zone’ look like?

guest post at the mother huddle!

I know – I have completely disappeared. It wasn’t completely planned, but it’s just one of those periods when life (i.e. grad school) takes over. It hasn’t been so much the lack of time to write a post, more the lack of time to do anything else about which to then write. My knitting needles are sitting in the corner crying… But we have to make it through this, and I’ve promised them a Kim Hargreaves book for reward once it’s all over! ;) To you, I promise lots of knitting, photos, and the usual silliness… :)

In the meantime, there are many other awesome blogs to check out! And today, I have the honor of having a guest post featured on one of them! I’ve never guest-blogged anywhere before, so this is super-exciting! I finished the post a few weeks ago, after working on it here and there for about a month – I wanted it to be perfect… I hope you hop on over to The Mother Huddle and check it out!

And while you’re there, don’t forget to check out the other cool stuff the ladies of The Mother Huddle put into this world, like tutorials on how to create adorable bags from vintage hand embroidered pillowcases, how to make your own body scrubs and how to refashion your flip-flops (I HEART flip-flops!).

elephant parade

These are quiet days when it comes to blogging. Actually, they’re quiet days in general, since they mostly involve sitting on my own, reading and thinking. I guess a shorter way of saying it would be – studying, but for me the word studying is mostly connected to cramming things by heart so that I can reproduce them later (unfortunately, a large part of my education required exactly that of me). This, what I’m doing now, is understanding rather than studying. In any case, it sure is quiet! But here’s at least a little interesting stuff for you guys, I hope we may exchange it for a little bit of patience in the face of non-daily blogging. Deal? :)

A few weeks ago, the Elephant Parade was launched in London. It’s for a good cause, it’s crafty, and it’s adorable – what more could one want? Soon after spotting our first few elephants and looking into the affair, Caroline and I decided we needed to find as many as we could and take photos with all of them! Ok, the all statement was slightly modified when we found out there were 260 of them in total… But here are our first few, which we are very proud of! Hope you enjoy them, and, if you’re in the area, feel inspired to find your own… :)

Tired, but shiny, smiles and hugs to you all from us and the elephants! :)

a Sock

Is it ugly? You betcha!

Are its proportions insane? A-ha!

Has it been described as a duck’s foot? Yup!

Does it contain holes and messy stitches? More than several!

But, still, whatever anyone may say of it, one thing cannot be denied: it is a Sock.

Quick recap:

  • Toes worked out amazingly well for a first attempt (go Judy’s Magic Cast-on!).
  • I definitely need more practice with short rows: on one side my wrapped stitches were incredibly baggy and stretched out, and all over picking up the wraps was a total mess (it seems to be the bit I struggle with most when it comes to short rows).
  • Apart from that, it’s just quick knitting in the round (my favorite activity), yay! I think once I get this basic technique down, adding on more complex patterns will be pretty easy.
  • Finally, need to find a good stretchy bind-off method. I worked with a much larger needle and bound off in rib, but the edge is still stiff and non-stretchy. Not good for socks. Since I usually knit hats from the rim to the crown, I have surprizingly little experience with binding off.

I’m quite happy with this! I hope I’ll be starting my first ‘real’ sock soon… I’ll keep you posted! ;)

Hunterian

Yesterday was one of the weirdest and funnest nights I’ve had in my whole life! Have you ever thought of putting the words knitting, museum, medicine, craft and beer in the same sentence? I sure hadn’t, but since last night – I can! This week museums in London are doing one of those open-after-dark thingies with lots of events, but my friend Tamsin and I chose the one that fitted our tastes best – the Hunterian Museum, where the happenings were organized by Stitch London. I was basically just looking forward to seeing the museum and settling down among the exhibits to do some knitting surrounded by nice people. There was certainly plenty of that!

Something about seeing a line-up of knitters all busily working away always makes me smile. Almost like we’re in some hand-knitting factory. :)

The girls from Stitch London had lots of needles and colorful yarn for any newbs that wanted to give it a try! I was quite proud that my friend Giselle was one of the teachers!

And we sure were in an, to say the least, unusual setting for knitting!

Very soon after we arrived, though, I realized there wouldn’t be too much time for knitting! Why? Because there were a ton of free workshops with enthusiastic teaching volunteers! I was keen on one or two, but in the end I did most of them, because it was hard to pass by a group engaged in one of the activities and not think Ooooooh that looks like so much fun, I wanna do it too!

First I tried my hand at spinning, which I had never done before.

I don’t have a desire to spin my own yarn in general (it seems that most knitters develop it as they get more advanced, but for now I can’t be bothered), but the process was quite a mystery to me, so my aim was primarily to demystify it… I love demystification! :)

We were allowed to take home what we ended up with, though I can’t say that was a lot for me! The wool kept breaking up and ending up either overspun or too thick. Still, I came away with this little blob of, um I guess you would be allowed to call it – yarn?

After the lesson was over, I walked around to find Tamsin, who had been taking a card-making class at the same time. As I arrived, she was still very much engrossed in it.

And when she showed me what she was making, I had one of those oooooh moments, so I decided to snatch up the free seat next to her and make one of my own!

The atmosphere was very much school-workshop-y. So lovely to be able to do it without feeling silly at the age of, well, not 9 years old!

My butterfly ended up all lopsided and sort of looking like a scientific specimen, but I kind of like that! :)

After we finished our cards, I walked around a bit to see some more of the museum and what else people were doing. The weaving class was crowded, and there were plenty of men trying their hand at it!

They were surrounded by some interesting paintings.

I’m guessing this one has something to do with evolution – it was too crowded for me to be able to study it more carefully…

The Hunterian is, after all, a medical museum, but there seems to be a good deal of craftiness involved in some of the exhibits, like the handsewn skelleton cape and the inner organs model. That must be such a fun thing for kids visiting!

Finally, the time came for our suturing workshop. Yes, you read correctly – suturing.

We were taught by real-life surgeons, and the lady who was teaching us was so lovely – if I ever needed a surgeon to stitch me up, I would want it to be her! I asked her if she was still in the 14-hour-shifts stage, and she said yes with a smile, but even after that and two hours of teaching amateurs, she was still cheerful, smiling and incredibly patient.

I sure hope she doesn’t drink beer while she’s doing her real-life work, though… I was definitely not being the best surgeon in the world, I seemed to be more concerned with siping my beer and taking silly photos of myself with my ‘patient’. :D

In the half hour we had, I did manage to give it three ok-looking stitches, though. If you look closely you might be able to see them (hint – the thread is blue).

After this, Tamsin and I found a quiet bit of floor and settled down exhaustedly to do some knitting, finally… We soon started dropping our stitches in the most unusual of ways, and realized that there had been too much of excitement and of bubbly to lead to any good knitting… We headed home satisfied and happy. I wish there were more nights like this one!

I hope you have a weird and crafty weekend! :)

p.s. If you wanna see the photos in better resolution, you can find them on my Flickr here.

happy photos

A few days ago, I received an email that made me very happy. A lot of my knitting is for gifts, and lately, since I’ve been living away from home (and since the number of my friends strewn across different corners of the globe has increased), I’ve been putting many of those knitted gifts in the mail, hoping they will survive their long journeys, come out at the other end unharmed, and be loved and worn wherever they end up. And I’m told they are. I’m thanked profusely. I’m made to smile. But rarely, rarely do I ever get photos. Until the other day.

Remember the blue Floyd sweater from a while ago? It went to Mateo, who was born in February in Costa Rica. It’s still too big on him, but his Mum says he enjoys the sweater a lot and always falls peacefully asleep when she puts it on. Hehe, if I could make this a magic ingredient of all my baby sweaters, I’m sure I could make a fortune… ;)

Mateo’s Mum kindly allowed me to share these photos with you, and even sent me extra ones to make sure I get good shots! Now that in my book is one amazing new Mum! I hope you like the photos – they’ve sure kept a huge smile on my face for the last few days… :)

Isn’t this boy the most adorable little thing you’ve seen? And there he is, in MY sweater! Don’t wanna sound arrogant, but this must be my proudest knit ever… :)

hello sock

Dear friends, I present to you one beginning of a sock with a serious case of gigantism.

I didn’t have the needle size I needed, but I was really itching to start! So I decided to use an old sock yarn that I have unravelled several times, not worry about gauge and sizing, and simply do one trial sock. So there we go, toe section successfully completed, and turned out quite well, if I may say so myself! Thank you, topperarnold, for recommending Judy’s Magic Cast-On – after a few minutes struggling with the conceptualization, it became the easiest thing in the world and made starting the toes fun and simple!

Have a great week, everyone, and stay tuned for more updates on the Giant Sock. ;)

look what the postman brought…

Well, I have to tell you – discussions here have really inspired me to challenge my own boundaries and try what has long been on my wishlist! So, without further ado…

After checking out many books, this one seemed most atuned to my preferred style of learning. And had the best looking photography, which is always a bonus! ;) I would like to offer a little recommendation here – recently I’ve been doing all my online book purchasing from The Book Depository, a UK-based company with free worldwide shipping. Um, let me make sure you got that: FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING! They are very professional and fast, and lately, whenever I try to do the math, they always come up on top. With Amazon, even if I go for the cheapest second-hand option, it’s still more expensive when the shipping costs are added. There isn’t that big of a difference now when I’m living in the UK, but when I go back home it will certainly make a huge difference not to have to pay overseas shipping prices (they can be harsh!). But even here, The Book Depository wins out. And they seem to have a proper collection of books. In other words, they have had every single knitting book I’ve checked for, and that to me is the proper test… ;)

I think this book and I are going to get along well. I experimented a bit yesterday with cast-on methods, and I do have to admit they were a bit complicated. But I like a good challenge! Today I’m getting some better-suited needles and I’m guessing you’ll be reading a lot about socks in the upcoming period…

I also made a more formal commitment, to make sure I don’t back down. I promised a friend a pair of handknit socks for her birthday! I’m aiming for these… What do you think? ;)

buttony!

Buttons have been on my mind a lot these days. I’m still in search of the perfect buttons to match the February Baby Sweater – I bought some the other day but when I started sewing them on realized they were too small (my friend and I had obviously overdone it in our attempts to find small buttons, because the buttonholes really seemed tiny). It’s ok, I’ll just have to use them for something else.

In this process, we also visited two lovely button shops. One run by two elderly gentlemen who turn the button business into a very dignified thing indeed (The Button Queen), I almost felt like I wasn’t dressed nice enough to be in there (but they were very nice, and really had a wonderful selection – I think I might need to go back for some buttonsies). The second we stumbled on by accident and fell in love, both of us: Cloth House. Go look at the website, there’s a flash video showing their two stores, though it only communicates part of their amazingness. This is your heaven for the coolest fabrics, ribbons and buttons. I want to live there!

All this got me thinking about my own tiny button collection, so I thought I’d show you my crown jewels. None of them have a purpose yet, because I’m saving them for that perfect project that will just call their names… Here they are, basking in the sun…

These I got from my Mum’s button collection. I seem to even vaguely remember the piece of clothing they used to belong to, and I just love the color. I’m saving these for something extremely special indeed. I love that you can see signs of wear and tear on them.

I got these at a very cool little craft store here in London. I first got four of them, and when I went back recently I realized they had four more, so I snapped them up. One day, I’ll make a cardigan, and these babies will be waiting for it… ;) I love the deep dark red.

I bought these for the first thing I ever made with buttons – a hat which can be unbuttoned (no purpose to it, and it actually quite annoyed me). But I still liked the buttons I used! I have these three left over and I’m sure they’ll find a garment to suit them some day.

Another set from my Mum’s treasurebox. These are so lady-like, they’re definitely going on something for me, I couldn’t bear to give them away.

These are the ones I bought for the baby sweater: 6 smaller ones for the sweater and 2 bigger ones for the slippers I made to match – and they’re all too small. My friend said they reminded her of childhood – I know what she meant!

And finally, I bought these for no purpose, because they just charmed me! They’re like little candies, or fresh fruit, they scream summer and happy and young and cheerful! Since I’ve bought them, four have gone to match my orange handwarmers (I’m wearing them at the moment), and they are a perfect match – they always make me happy! Luckily, there’s plenty of more to go around and I’m looking forward to adorning many things with them…

Well there you go. Quite a modest collection, but I’m happy with it for now! I have a big enough problem with my yarn stash, don’t need another ‘habit’ for now… ;)