Craft Addict

"Everybody got their somethin'...." ~ Nikka Costa

Monday, January 30, 2006


Being a new knitter and only employed part-time, I don't have a lot of money for my new obsession. Recently I found out that you can recycle yarn from thrift store sweaters, and I thought to myself that this would be a great way to get yarn for practicing new techniques and small projects, without shelling out a ton of cash. I first saw recycled yarn for sale on eBay and, wondering what this was all about, did a search with google to find out more. I found a couple great sites with full instructions and info ( & and decided that since the thrift store was right near the craft store, I might as well kill some time on my day off poking around the stores. I came home this morning with $32.45 worth of sweaters: 4 sweaters that cost between $5.99 & $7.99 each. Considering I'd just spent that much on 3 skeins of yarn next door, I figured I'd be doing pretty well if I was able to figure out how to unravel my new treasures. Today I'm going to start on this Abercrombie and Fitch striped turtleneck. Some teenage sorority girl somewhere will probably have heart palpitations the second I cut into this one! I do admit to feeling a little badly about unraveling something that probably cost someone the amount of money I make in half a day's work when it was new, but I am hoping that I will be able to make something much more pretty and satisfying once I am finished with it. I didn't like the colors together very much, though I did try it on just to be absolutely sure I wanted to cut it up instead of wear it, but there is the perfect variety here for some felted flowers which I am very interested in as future projects. I won't need much of each color and some of these colors would be great for petals. Plus there is a yellow stripe and green stripes that I will be able to use for leaves and centers. It doesn't show in the photo, but there is some very subtle variegation to the yarns which I think will look beautiful once I've felted it. If only I can keep my hands off of it long enough to do my pilates!! Wish me luck :)

Knittin' Fool

Last Thursday (1/26/06) was my second knitting class. We learned to slip stitches, increase with a KFB (Knit front Back I believe it's called) and yarn over. The project is a seed stitch dishcloth with a lacy edge pattern, knit in a triangle so as to teach us how to increase and decrease. I don't know why, but after being so confident with my knitting and purling, this project threw me for a bit of a loop. I knitted and ripped out over and over for the first eight rows - a good 30 times. Finally I decided to screw it and just push on and before too long the pattern established itself and things were looking better. Our homework was to knit 45 stitches in our pattern and then return to class this coming Thursday to learn how to decrease and finish our dishcloth. So here's what my homework looks like as of today:

With my homework finished, I needed another knitting fix to tide me over between now and the next knit class. So I was exceedingly naughty and broke my rules about spending money on new craft items and went to the local shop and bought the supplies to make a felted clutch that I saw in a recent magazine. They didn't have the lush raspberry colored yarn that I really wanted, but I found something suitable and some new needles to go with it. Since this will be a felted project, the needles are HUGE! Size 13! Should be interesting since I've never knitted anything on such big needles before. Check out my new fun project:

I can't wait to get started! Of course, I still have to worry about getting in shape for that Hawaiian vacation I'm going on in March, so I better not cast on any stitches until I've worked out first, or that bikini is really going to be a lost cause!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Knit one

My husband has been bogarting the computer for the past week since his had a major meltdown last weekend. I don't mind sharing, but it makes it hard to post to my blog when he's busy looking at kayaking stuff.

My first knitting class was last Thursday (1/19). I went straight from work, with one short detour through my favorite coffee stand, and ended up with a lot of time to kill. It surprised me how uncomfortable I felt loitering in the snack and study area with my magazine and coffee. Before moving here 3 years ago I worked at a university for about 4 years and never felt this out of place. Back then I dressed the part - whatever the "kids" were wearing I wore too, and I was often mistaken for a student which never failed to make my day. A couple girls wandered towards the vending machines I sat near, their strident voices echoing down the tile hallway. Couldn't they see the sign that said "Quiet - Study Area"? I thought this and then instantly laughed to myself for sounding so uptight. They hovered around the vending machines, making their choices and discussing something to do with one of their friends. Their voices were heady with youth and entitlement. I concentrated on my magazine feeling like an interloper, wondering if I looked as foreign to them as I felt. Of course this was a community college and they were probably used to seeing older people in their classes and down the hallways. I wondered if it was just the first class jitters (I always got these on the first day of school - was I in the right room, did I bring the right book, was it the right day and time?) making me feel this way or just that I'd started to feel I looked my age and was aware of the sharp contrast between the youth of the students I was encountering and what I viewed as my own sad, wrinkled visage?

I felt better when I got to class. I was definitely in the right room and it turned out I was one of about 4 of the youngest students there. At least, that's what I guessed from looking around at the 15 other faces in the room. We sat in three groups of 5 students and thankfully skipped that dreaded activity they seem to put you through in every single small class college course I've ever taken; you know the one where they make you introduce yourself and tell everyone something about why you are taking the class or where you're from or what makes you tick. They might as well shove hot needles into my eye. I might enjoy it more than I do that particular first day activity. But thankfully I was spared.

We got right into it after a brief introduction from the instructor. She showed us the long tail cast on first. I picked it up quickly because I'd taught myself this one from a magazine late one sleepless night. Looking at the other students struggling, I thought how hard it would be to learn this technique if it was the first time someone had demonstrated it for you and you had to see it from afar and then wait your turn while the instructor went to everyone else first to show them one on one. The loudest students definitely got the most help. I am, by nature, a silent struggler. So when the time comes that I need assistance, will my need be squashed and then drowned like a delicate grape in the stomping vat exposed to the force of more bold students? Or will I find it in me to fight my nature? I wonder this as I listen to them and practice my casting on.

We move on to the knit stitch once everyone has 20 stitches cast on. I pick this one up quickly too since I have knit about half of a scarf in garter stitch already. We are learning the left-handed Continental Method, or "picking", because our instrutor knits this way herself and feels we are less likely to encounter this method in the big world of knitting and wants us to be familiar with it. It feels awkward to me at first since my prior experience has been with "throwing", or the English Method, but I quickly see that this method will be much easier once I get over the foreign feeling of having the yarn in my left hand. As I practice in class I realize that it is already easier to knit this way though I still am not very smooth or speedy with the technique. I've been a crocheter for years and as I was practicing last night I realized that I crochet in very much the same manner, with the yarn to my left, and this must explain why picking feels so much more natural. I never felt comfortable with the throwing method. It always felt foreign and that I must be doing something horribly wrong to make it feel so awkward and practically painful.

We move onto purling for the very last bit of our 2 hour class session. I am struggling with this one and decide that I hate to purl. My hand just will not cooperate, and neither will the yarn or the needles. I feel reassured when the instructor tells us that even seasoned knitters do not relish purling. I guess it's just a means to an end. A necessary evil to gain the most beautiful of patterns. I keep practicing and by the end of our time I have about 2 inches of stockinette stitch attached to my needles. People are impressed and I feel practically bloated with self-pride, while trying to maintain an aura of modesty. I have been working on my own ahead of the class. This is the first time that I can remember that I have understood absolutely everything in a course and come away with the full amount of knowledge imparted by the instructor. Where were these powers of concentration and attentiveness in my 20's? How I wasted my youth!

Next week: Knit class 2, and continued purling....

Monday, January 16, 2006

One down, 999 to go....

Today I finished UFO #1. There's something to be said for finishing a project that's been hanging over your head, mocking your inability to follow through on something once the initial romance of a new project has worn off. But I don't entirely blame myself. You can't get much more uninspiring than hemming a pair of pants. I seriously don't know why I put off hemming those stupid pants for so long. It took me all of about 20 minutes to press the hem and then stitch it. One down, how many more to go? Now I can finally move on to something new. Right after I finish Amy Tan's book....

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Bikini Season Interferes

I don't have time for much of anything lately unless it relates to fitting into my bikini in March when we go to Hawaii. My free time is consumed with fitting in exercise and trying to make healthful lunches for myself, not to mention trying to distract myself from thoughts of "therapy mochas" as my husband calls the mocha you treat yourself to when you are feeling especially stressed or in need of a caffeinic and high-caloric pick-me-up. Distraction consists of ignoring your growling stomach and instead of indulging, busying yourself with one or another of the never ending chores that grown-ups have to do in order to maintain some semblance of an ordered life. I am also reading a new book which has proved to be a worthy competitor for my attention. Amy Tan's biography, "The Opposite Of Fate", is absolutely fascinating to me. Here is a fabulous and famous writer who worries about the things I do and analyzes and obsesses over them in the same ways. Truly amazing.

So far all I have been able to accomplish is: purchasing the thread to hem Dad's pants (UFO #1), pinning the hem, and trying to decide what UFO #2 will be. It's a toss up between the photo albums I put together for this past year (one for me, one for my best friend) and the stocking I started for my husband about 3 years ago (before we were even married). Finishing the photo albums would free up the most room since one of them will get shipped to Virginia and the other will be shelved, but finishing the stocking will result in the greatest sense of achievement since I've been working on it for practically forever. I do have the distinct feeling that all these projects may fall to the wayside after I start my knitting class though.

And honestly, my biggest goal right now is making it to Hawaii without too many wobbly bits hanging out of my bathing suit!

Monday, January 09, 2006

My Fabric - My Tools

Today I went to the craft store to get my yarn for knitting class. The color selection was highly disappointing, so I went for the pastel sherbet colored stuff you see on the right. Still not to die for, but interesting enough to keep me wanting to knit with it. Why not have fun colors to look at when I'm knitting row after row of boring beginner's swatches? I told myself I should not look around, trying to resist the urge to spend more money, but wouldn't you know.... positioned right next to the yarn aisle was a rack of new home decor fabric. I just happened to have a 40% off coupon (koo-pun as my husband prounounces it, jokingly referring to a skit by redneck comic Mr. Ron White) for home decor fabric. Well, I just couldn't let that coupon go to waste, right? And I also couldn't resist the super-girly butterfly fabric you see in the picture next to my yarn. Who could? I bought 2 yards just to make sure I'd have enough for whatever project I chose to use it for. When the gal at the cutting counter asked what I was going to make with it I told her it was really just for future projects, maybe a handbag or something. I was feeling a little guilty and joked that my husband probably wouldn't like me bringing more fabric home just to have it sit around (to be fair, he wouldn't really mind at all). She laughed and told me that in one of her previous customer interactions she helped a lady who told her that she looked at fabric as her tools. "He has his tools, I have my fabric". He needs different tools for each specific project just like I need special fabric for each item I'm planning to work on. And just because you've already got a screwdriver, doesn't mean you can't use another one in a different size, with a different head, or even a longer handle! Yep, I like that point of view. Well, guilt assuaged, I spent only $11.67 on 2 yards of fabric and my ball of yarn (I had a 40% off coupon for the yarn too). Not too shabby, though not exactly playing by the rules of my resolution.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Breaking the Rules

O.k. I've stuck to my rules pretty well up to this point though I can't pat myself on the back too much since it's only Jan. 8th. But I did break the resolution already. -Sigh- I had such high hopes! But -yay!- how could I resist this? I signed up for a knitting class at the community college which starts on Jan. 19th. This cost me $85 and basically constitutes spending money on crafts or craft related items. Oops. But I am justifying it because I have been wanting to take this class for over a year now and just haven't found the time to do it. It gets even better for that slacker part of me that figures I will cheat on my resolution sooner or later..... I have to buy supplies to take the class!! We're doing good here though because all I need is a pair of size 7 or 8 needles and a ball of cotton yarn. I've got the needles already so the yarn is all I'll need to actually purchase.

I convinced the hubby to go into a new yarn shop downtown yesterday after we had lunch at our favorite Mexican place. He is so patient with my obsession! I've been dying to go into this place since I saw the signs announcing their opening. They had mountains of beautiful yarns - I was practically drooling. Apparently though, 100% cotton yarn must be too pedestrian for them to carry as they didn't have a single ball of it in the shop. I love the specialty yarns and all but when I buy a sweater I usually want cotton! Wool is just unbearably itchy on me. Is this odd? I'm already starting to wonder what I'm going to do when I want to put my new knitting skills to work. Maybe buy yarn off the internet or something.

I am really excited about my new class. I've wanted to knit for as long as I can remember, but the obsession started again last Christmas when my best friend sent me a red furry scarf she'd knitted for me as a gift. We talked about how much I still wanted to learn and she sent me a learn to knit book with a few post-its inside about which technique she uses and different notes. So then came months of poring through knitting magazines and books in the bookstore. Not just poring though, purchasing too, so that I have mountains of print with patterns above and beyond my actual skill level. I figured that someday I'd learn and I'd want that cool pattern for later. I don't know why but I have not been able to teach myself how to knit from a book. I taught myself how to crochet just fine and have been making afghans and other items for years now. But knitting is constantly elusive. I did manage to start a scarf which looks "really good for a beginner" according to my husband's grandma who's been knitting for decades. But I can't get over that feeling that I'm not really doing it right and I want to learn how to do it the right way before I get in too deep.

For now though, I get to go look at yarn. Happy Happy Joy Joy!!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

UFO #1 - Dad's Pants

These are not strictly a craft project, but they do constitute a sewing project and they are unfinished, so I am tackling them as my first UFO to get out of the way. Dad asked me to hem these pants sometime around September and he told me he didn't need them right away so I instantly put them aside and forgot about them. Now that I am in "get rid of it" mode with practically everything, I figure it's about time I got them back to him. Don't you think? I am trying to decide right now whether to hem them by hand or by machine. Machine would probably be faster, but not guaranteed to look as nice. Also, the "craft" table was moved downstairs for extra seating at Christmas dinner and is not near enough an outlet to set up the sewing machine. I'm thinking the hand hemming would look nicer but maybe not be as durable. That's o.k. though. Dad's not too hard on his pants and he only lives across town so I could fix them if anything happened. This way I could cheat and watch a movie or something while I do it. Maybe one of those plastic surgery shows that I just can't get up and walk away from. Have you ever watched one of those? Kinda makes me re-think the idea of having "a little work done" someday when I'm older! I can't stand all the cutting and blood, not to mention the horror stories when something goes wrong. But yet I'm strangely fascinated at the same time.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Craft Addict Revealed

I recently did a search online for signs of addiction. What I found was generic, so you could fill in your drug or behavior of choice, but if you add the words "craft" or "crafting" in the blanks where a drug name would go what you get is suprisingly pertinent to my suspected addiction to crafts. Check it out:
  1. Can you stop doing "the thing" you suspect/others have told you that you are addicted to for a day, a week, a month, a year, or forever? Hmmm. No one has actually told me that I'm addicted to crafts and crafting, but my husband has come close and I suspect that I am addicted. I don't see myself quitting for more than a month so I guess the answer is no.
  2. Does the thought of your stopping doing "the thing" for a short time cause you any physical discomfort, mental anguish, or emotional anxiety? Physical discomfort? I'd have to be into some weird crafts, maybe the kind they did in the 60's. Emotional anxiety or mental anguish.... maybe.
  3. Would your stopping doing "the thing" cause you to be "less yourself"? Hah! DEFINITELY! Even my husband recognizes my craft interests as an ingrained part of my personality.
  4. Have you tried and failed to stop doing "the thing" in the past? Now why would I want to quit? That's just crazy talk!
  5. Do you know that doing "the thing" does not serve you and/or is causing problems in your life (at home, at work, in the community)? Hmmm. This one is tough. The only problem it causes for me is the loss of a spare bedroom and some space in the garage to my mountains of craft supplies, maybe a small drain on my finances and some rolled eyes and teasing on the part of my husband. Now that I put it that way, I may be causing myself a few teeny weeny worries, but these risks far outweigh the benefits. Spoken like a true addict!!
  6. Have you lost friends or alienated family members or irritated coworkers because you keep on doing "the thing" no matter what? No, this hasn't happened yet though I wonder how long my hubby will think my habit is cute and endearing.
  7. Have you or are you putting your life at risk by doing "the thing"? No, unless hubby decides to toss my stuff or "rearrange" one night and I get hit by a car while chasing the garbage truck down the street trying to get my 2 ton bag of buttons back. Ha Ha. I'm not that crazy! (Or am I....)
  8. Deep down inside, do you really want to keep on doing "the thing"? Well duh! That's a no brainer.
  9. Does "the thing" control you or do you control "the thing"? I'm in control except when a sale flyer comes out, or I pass by the fabric store, or I read a craft magazine, or I surf eBay. Hmmm. Maybe I am out of control. But I kinda like it that way :)

Finishing the UFO's

It's bad when your husband tells you that you need not only a craft room to hold all your crafting stuff, but a whole house. I have been collecting patterns, scraps of fabric, and piles of magazines containing craft projects for as long as I can remember. And don't get me started on the pounds and pounds of buttons! There's always a new project to catch my eye or a new technique I'm dying to learn. The catch to this whole thing is I find myself with more than half a dozen UFO's (Un-Finished Objects) floating around the bedroom, garage and spare bedroom (spare bedroom - Hah! more like depository for random crafting detritus). So this is the year I thought I might try to change my ways and put some effort into finishing those UFO's cluttering my life and space. I am going to do my very best to refrain from spending money on any crafting items except for those needed to finish a UFO. This is going to take some serious willpower. But I can console myself with the idea that after the UFO's take off there will be plenty of room for new projects and supplies around here :)