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Archive for the 'Knitting' Category

Love Is: Security

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
By Twistie

I grew up reading the adventures of Linus VanPelt and his friends in Peanuts. Actually, I lived in the same town Peanuts creator Charles Schulz lived in, visited his ice rink, and eventually grew up to sell him books at two different bookstores conveniently located close to said ice rink.

But that part is neither here nor there.

What is here and now and the whole point of this blog entry is Project Linus.

Some of you may have already heard of this wonderful organization, others not. But I urge you all to check out their website and get involved.

You see, Project Linus does just what one might expect: provide security blankets to children. The children range in age from infants to teens, and the reasons range from illness to disaster victims to homelessness and abuse. This is about helping children in crisis with something that tells them someone cares and wishes them well.

The project will only accept blankets made by hand from smoke-free environments and free of strongly scented detergents. They must also be free of easily swallowed (and thus choked upon) decorations such as buttons. But from there, it’s a free for all. Pick your size, your materials, your techniques, and do your best work.

If you are not in a position to make a blanket, the project will also happily accept donations of money and materials, too. And if you know a child in need, the website will direct you to the chapter to contact for help.

We all need a little security in life. Children facing chemotherapy or recovering from abuse need it even more.

By Knook Or By Crook

Monday, September 10th, 2012
By Twistie

There’s a really cool perk to being a professional blogger: every once in a blue moon, someone sends you stuff to review. Well, that happened to me a few weeks ago when I was sent a Knook Beginner Kit to review.

For those who haven’t heard of them, Knooks look like crochet hooks only with a hole drilled low on the handle. You see the brightly colored cords that come with the kit? You thread one of those through the hole, and then use the Knook to knit with the single hook.

I was intrigued by the concept right away. Then I read what some others had to say about working with Knooks, either the commercial ones I was waiting for or homemade versions. The most frequent comment on the difference between knitting with Knooks and knitting with needles is that the tension tends to be looser on the Knooks. Since my biggest problem with knitting back in the day was keeping the tension loose enough, I figured I might have found something that will work well for me.

On receipt of the Knook set, well, I was further impressed. The instruction manual has both right and left handed instructions side by side from casting on to finishing. That made it easy. I didn’t need to either rework the instructions in my brain or use my hands in ways that are uncomfortable for me. I just had to look and see which side had which instructions and ignore the one for the rest of the populace.

Another cool thing about Knooking is that Leisure Arts has produced and posted quite a few instructional videos on YouTube. So if reading the words and looking at the static photographs isn’t getting the concept across for you, well, you can watch film. Again, both right and left handed instructions are readily available.

And yes, I do find that I’m knitting more loosely than I did when I tried needles. Since that was my huge bugaboo, well, I think I’ve found my way of knitting. It’s also going to be nice to have a craft I can take and play with on the road. Bobbin lace is bulky for cars and needle felting in a car on a bumpy road could lead to serious injury, after all.

Obviously this isn’t a product for the experienced knitter, per se. Some  might find it a fun alternate way of doing things, but I think the target audience is a little different. It seems a handy way for crochet enthusiasts to try out knitting, and, as I say, it’s great for those of us whose biggest problem knitting the traditional way was one of too firm tension.

All in all, though, it’s good clean fun for the whole family, and I’m halfway through a pretty winter scarf in variegated thread that’s making me feel both happy and accomplished.

Oh, and if you want to try it out, it certainly isn’t going to break the bank! You can get the precise same kit I was sent from Amazon for just $6.23 ($9.95 retail) or a bigger bells and whistles kit for working with bulkier threads for just $19.95. In addition to Knooks, guide threads, and the instructional manual (including instructions for making afghans), it also includes four cord clips and three yarn needles.

If you’ve got a few bucks to spare and an itch to try out something new, you could do a heck of a lot worse than this. I know I have!


Monday, July 16th, 2012
By Twistie

Check out these ridiculously adorable Dalek egg cozies! I mean, who wouldn’t want an alien killing machine with a plumber’s friend for a weapon keeping their soft boiled morning treat safe?

Okay, maybe there’s someone out there who wouldn’t, but I totally would. Geekery, crafts, and cooking all working together to make me happy. That’s what the world needs more of.

Anyway, the original, crocheted version was created by Cosy a Go Go (where some other fabulous crocheted sci-fi/fantasy inspired egg cozies live, so be sure to check them out).

Then Lyle’s Knit spread the word and did a knitted version, available here as a free PDF. Oh, and if you knit but not in the round… you might want to check out Anne’s variation, the flat knitted Dalek egg cozy, which is also a free PDF, but available here.

Daleks may never rule the universe as long as The Doctor keeps fighting them and winning, but at least your eggs will never get cold when you rush off in the TARDIS to help him out.

Then again, if your eggs do get cold, you can always have a Jelly Baby.

As Mr. Spock Would Say… Fascinator

Thursday, July 5th, 2012
By Twistie

Once upon a time, a fascinator was a hooded scarf, not unlike this knitted opera hood:

(Via World Turn’d Upside Down)

Now they look more like this:

(Via MHL)

Don’t ask me when the definition changed, because I honestly don’t know.

Still, as much as the word ‘fascinator’ still immediately raises the image of a practical head covering for me, I really love some of the things being done  with the more modern version.

So imagine my delight when I wandered over to Criminal Crafts the other day (pairing two of my all time favorite subjects: crime and craft) and found an article about crime-related (and some not-so-crime-related) fascinators.

You couldn’t pay me to sit down and read the 50 Shades of Grey books… but I would absolutely rock this intense fascinator any day of the week.

Have I ever mentioned I look absolutely sparkly in grey?

Check out the fun!

Excuse Me, Sir, Are Those Your Kidneys?

Monday, July 2nd, 2012
By Twistie

“I, for one, welcome our knitted alien overlords.”

These are the words that open the Etsy description of this delightfully deranged knitted Alien Autopsy by aKNITomy.

Each one is hand knitted from hand dyed wool and comes pinned to a 7 1/2″ x 11″ aluminum dissection tray for your displaying pleasure. Sure it’s $115.00 plus shipping… but you’ll never find anything quite like it.

Or Maybe you’d prefer to see where the Easter Bunny Donated His Body to Science.

Just In Case Someone Wants to Make Me a Gift….

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
By Twistie

Or maybe I’ll give a go to knitting again. Either way, the instructions for these gloriously campy fingerless gloves are available at Ravelry for just $4.00.

Seriously, though, these puppies are taking me back to my childhood version of Batman:

Throw in a little Burgess Meredith, and I’ll be in nostalgia nirvana!


Happy Pi Day!

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
By Twistie

In honor of 3/14, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite subjects in the world: pie.

(Image via Serious Eats)

I started baking early in life. At six I was baking cookies regularly – with adult supervision, of course – and at seven I made my first pie crust.

My mother nearly cried.

It was perfect.

Pie crust was my mother’s Achilles’ heel in the kitchen, the one thing that never came out quite like she wanted it to. And her seven year old daughter turned out to be an idiot savant of crust.

Once Mom accepted that I had a talent she didn’t, though, she was more than happy to exploit it. It became my job on Thanksgiving to make the crusts for the pumpkin pies.

Over the years, many people have asked me for my secrets. For years I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know why I couldn’t turn out bad pie crust on a bet. All I knew was that every single time, my crusts turned out delicious, golden, and flaky.

Still, I did eventually come up with a short list of tips that seem to help others. And now I pass it on to you, in hopes that those who struggle with pie crust can find peace, enlightenment, and flakiness.


Dying to Please You

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
By Twistie

Mmmm… pretty colors.

It’s fun to have lots of pretty colors of yarn to play with. Whether you plan to knit, crochet, or do massive string art with it, color is an integral part of the charm of your finished product.

But not everyone loves to do the actual dying. Sort of like the way not everyone wants to spin the yarn. And of course there is that learning curve when you’re playing with techniques, but can’t count on the best results, yet.

And that’s where the aptly named Decadent Fibers comes in.

They carry a wide variety of yarns in natural fibers, such as: merino, silk, organic cotton, and mohair. Some varieties do contain a small amount of nylon to help keep the shape of the finished product, but it’s just a touch.

Best of all, every kind of yarn they sell can be custom dyed. Sure, they’ve got a lot of great colors they make every single day, but if you don’t find what you want there, you can request the color you need and they will create it for you.

Don’t want yarn? If you’re looking for roving to spin or felt, you can get the same great range of colors.

Need something to do with all this yarn/fiber? They also carry a range of books, patterns, and kits to get you going, including their one-skein knitting projects.

Then again, maybe I’ll just splurge on a few skeins to fondle when nobody else is looking.

Pushing Daisies… Pushing Crafts

Monday, January 9th, 2012
By Twistie

I wonder how many of you remember the short-lived wonder that was Pushing Daisies. I was a huge fan. Every week it felt like this glorious world teetering on the pin-point intersection of the whimsical and the macabre was created just for me. The hero was a pie maker who could revive the dead, with caveats. The heroine was his murdered childhood sweetheart who he revived, with consequences.

I remembered the revived sweetheart and dog, the synchronized swimmer aunts of the dead girl and their cheese fixation, the scheming waitress with a crush on the hero, the private eye who used the hero’s talent to help him solve crimes… so that he could collect all those juicy rewards.

All of that had stuck with me. Funnily enough, until Mr. Twistie gave me the entire series on Blu-ray for Christmas and (just two nights ago) set up the Blu-ray player we bought three months ago (I’d have done it myself, but it turned out to be far more complicated than I ever imagined, between all the things plugged in back there and… well… I married a sound guy. It’s always more complex where anything involving sound is involved), and I could sit down and watch the show again… I’d forgotten how many crafts were involved in this show.


Taking Apart Craft to Make Art

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
By Twistie

This installation art piece by Jean Shin is titled Unraveling. Actually, it’s one of several installation pieces of the same title by Shin. Its composition intrigues me as someone deeply interested in crafts and what they say about us as individuals and as cultures.

You see, this concept has been played out in a number of cities. Washington DC, Berkeley, Houston, New York, and Honolulu have all hosted versions of this piece. In each city, it has been a new piece, unique to that place, yet universal in its intent.

As Shin took the concept from place to place, she gathered up sweaters in each of the host cities from Asian women in that community. She then silkscreened a label with the donator’s name and attached it to each sweater. Then the unraveling began. All of the sweaters remain partially intact, but the threads of them interweave to create a colorful web that binds them all together, as well. It’s meant to represent the interconnections in Asian art communities, but I think it goes beyond one culture, or even one life pursuit.

We are all individuals, and yet we are also part of a whole, no matter where we are, no matter how we choose to live our lives. It’s nice once in a while to reflect on our place as individuals, and also on our part of the whole. In a funny way, I find myself quite moved by this illustration of that universal truth.

And it couldn’t have been done without a lot of people knitting sweaters in the first place.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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