Here’s a lady in Finland who had an ambitious project to create knit / crocheted versions of other people in her village. Wow.

Image via Laughing Squid

I’ve thought a fair amount over the years about the difference between art and craft, where the line is (if there is one), whether it’s in the eye of the beholder and the value people often don’t place on craft. As a ceramic artist that was a pretty hot debate and I personally lean towards art for anything made skilfully that isn’t strictly utilitarian (though there can be some beautiful, artistic, decoration on the most humble of daily use type objects). Overall, what it comes down to, for me, is level of skill and innate or learned eye for design. To me, kids mostly do crafts and adults achieve a higher skill level. Except for the ones who don’t, due to lack of artistic skill/talent, imagination, lack of practice/interest, or intent. And of course there are exceptions both ways.

What I’m getting at here is this lady is talented. What she is doing is art. And it’s good. Look at the face of the lady with the dog. She gets the cheekbones and nose right – in yarn! Now the dog, not so much, except the legs. I think he would have been more realistic if the rest of the yarn had been brushed out. The yarn woman has all the right shapes and even seems to have similar weight as that of her real life inspiration.

Never let anyone tell you that your art (or craft – whatever you choose to call it) isn’t valuable. It’s not all going to have lasting cultural significance, but creating with your hands and imagination has lasting benefits, at minimum, for the creator and may just bring a little joy into someone’s day.

Create on!

See this post for additional yarn people creations.

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Irene Posch and Ebru Kurbak have created an embroidered computer! It uses gold embroidery thread and other traditional crafting materials to create a circuit that performs calculations. And it’s pretty! I would not have guessed it was anything but decorative.

You can read more at the embroidered computer.

Ready to wear never quite fits. Because, honestly, it’s not meant to.

RTW will only ever be your exact fit by happy accident. These items are intended to fit a body type and average size of that customer, graded up or down. Since we’re unique – and changable – we get our own unique fit issues by clothing type and brand. Even sometimes within a single brand…

  • Crotch depth in pants (and waistband gaping)
  • Bum coverage in undies
  • Bodice vs bottom sizing in dresses
  • Torso length in dresses/one-piece bathing suits
  • Bathing suits in general
  • Calf circumference in tall boots or even socks
  • BRAS. Freaking bras.

I hate bra shopping maybe slightly more than I detest pant shopping

These can be reasons we sew, but each of them includes specialized issues and techniques for a good finished product. Just because I can make a corset doesn’t mean I can tailor a suit (or want to spend the time learning to do so). Just because someone quilts doesn’t mean they can or want to sew a dress. I don’t know that I want to make my own bra…

I have a long history of being unhappy with bras (like probably 95% of you). I’m small busted with a small ribcage. My ribs are small enough that probably half the US brands don’t come in my band size. I usually find a brand that runs small and if it comes in a 32, great (but a 30 with the right cups would be better). If not I get a 34 and start on the smallest hook. That means my bras wear out faster.

Last year I bought a couple Warner bras that fit rather nicely. I even started on the outer hooks in a 34! But quickly moved to the middle ones. That was the point where I realized there was no elastic in the band, just powernet. WHAT!#@$??? The hem is folded up and I guess I assumed there was elastic inside. I already knew the bras were on the cheap side (though not MalWart cheap, that’s a whole different low) because the band isn’t lined. Lining can be cushioning, but it also means there are two layers of fabric taking the strain. Elastic helps with that even more. But not this bra. Incidentally, a similar bra in the same line, but in the previous year’s model, does have elastic. That version is lasting better, no surprise.

My solution is to add elastic. I bought some plush back to match. But how much negative ease do I need? Too much and it will be constricting. Too little, pointless. From the single t-shirt I’ve made I know that a self fabric band collar gets 15% negative ease, so that’s a place to start. But I want to do it once and be done. To the internet!

Whereupon a rabbit’s hole is discovered and an afternoon all but lost. I think I’ve mentioned before that I like research and planning and plans. Today, my rabbit hole is your gain:

  • A highly recommended bra size calculator that gives me a rather different size than what I’ve been wearing forever
  • Bra making supplies here, here and here
  • Discussions of what goes into creating an ideal custom bra pattern and challenges of a bespoke bra startup with Bra Theory (tons of great info in intricacies of underwires, finding suppliers, fittings, shape, etc)
  • Basic bra making at Threads
  • Custom drafting a bra made in your breast root measurements here and here
  • And the info I was looking for in bra elastic negative ease. Looks like that 15% is what I’ll be using.

Next stop, the actual bra upgrade.

Do you make your own bras? Alter RTW?

Also, Happy New Year to you!

Yaaaaasssss!

It only took me *cough* three years to complete the thing, but it’s done. I present to you, the Red Heart Pineapple Squares throw blanket. Ta-da!

The table it’s sitting on is a 4′ x 4′ square and you can see it overhangs.

My camera decided to make everything very yellow, so I had to tweak all the pics, which blew out the backgrounds. This yarn is a vibrant blue-teal in real life, technically Peacock.

I used the Red Heart With Love yarn instead of the Super Saver the pattern calls for. The With Love yarns are delightfully soft. I’m pretty sure it also altered my scale so I might have an overall slightly larger blanket. The pattern calls for 6 skeins @ 364y each, but the With Love has 315y. I believe I bought 8, but I can’t be sure anymore. I got all worried last year, when did the bulk of the work, that I wasn’t going to have enough, so I bought a lot of three skeins in a panic. I can tell that I have those three new and one original left over. Thankfully I love this color.

The pattern is listed as intermediate and I’d agree with that. It’s not really a pattern you can work while watching TV, since every round is different and there are different size clusters in different places in each round. That said, once you get the swing of things you do make the same thing 12 times.

I initially started this with some leftover yellow yarn from the Monster Slippers, as a test run. Making one (some errors included) wasn’t too bad. I think I got through my first peacock square without too many mishaps, but it took forever somehow and it was clear that I would not be finishing for Christmas. I also felt like it was a bit too complicated for my skill level. My next big project was a Virus Blanket, which was easier than the pineapples, but more complicated than other things I’d done. It was a good way to prep myself to get through this blanket.

Being a South paw crocheter has some special challenges. It’s not just a mirror image of normal instructions. Things don’t always work in reverse. There are a couple very simple edge stitches that I can’t even do. In the round it means you sometimes need to start in a slightly different place than instructed, like at the next stitch or motif over. It’s entirely possible that I missed something somewhere and if I made this pattern again I could start my rounds as instructed (even though I’ve made 13 if these squares…), but I find the need to start elsewhere pretty consistent over different in-the-round patterns.

What all this means is I have to rewrite the instructions. In this case I did so more than once (the forest year and the second). These aren’t really written for anyone else and don’t say things like where I start subsequent rounds, but it gives you an idea of what I need to do to get through a pattern. What I love are diagrams. If a pattern has one I hardly need to make any notes at all, just find my starting place.

Left to right: my notes on the original, half of my version 1 and both pages of version 2, with a diagram of the first 8 rounds.

Did I enjoy this project? Yes.

Would I make it again? Maybe, but not any time soon. I really don’t like to do the same thing over again. I prefer a challenge. I did actually make something else with pineapples last year, a shawl, so that was similar.

Would I change anything if I did make it again? Yes. I think I’d add another row of squares so it would be 4 x 4 instead of 3 x 4. That should be around 64″ x 64″ overall.

What did I dislike most? I hate sewing in ends and sewing together. That’s why I will probably never make anything with Granny squares. I think 12 squares is my minimum. That said, if I made this again, I might figure out how to crochet the squares together as I went instead of sewing them together at the end.

No, it hasn’t been blocked and I frankly don’t care.

Look at those pretty pineapples! (A thing I would never say if it was food!)

This is the fill in motif. You start with a magic ring, add clusters, then complete by crocheting the little motif into the available space.

This is the center of a four pineapple square. Looking at it now, it doesn’t look quite symmetrical. I might have goofed something up. I know there are a couple places where I have a 3dc cluster where a 4dc cluster should be and visa versa, but I didn’t notice any central motif errors while I was making them. C’est la vie!

All folded up and ready to give to my mom for Christmas!

This year’s color is “Living Coral,” a color I’ve been complaining about for at least the last five years. It’s a color that looks good on few and downright terrible on others. Target has been pairing it with a medium, dusky blue for years. I continue to be unconvinced that the shades go together, that they belong on clothes or that they belong in this decade.

Image via Pantone.com

Living Coral is supposed to be bright, but understated. Humanizing, reminiscent of the past but bringing us into the future, light hearted and life affirming. Or some such.

Previously:

I guess something had to be the color of the year and it’s unlikely to be a shade to my taste. Not with my general dislike of bright colors or pink. Any pink. All pinks. At least it’s not “Millennial Pink.”

I’ve been working on my husband’s Dodger beanie. Well, I really haven’t. The cat will not let me work on much of anything. When it’s cold, sometime your just have to cuddle!

Last night I got some work done. Turns out it’s hard to keep 4 yarns from tangling and to keep good tension on the logo portion. I’m not sure about the right side of the logo; it seems a bit short. We’ll see.

I removed the typical outline, reduced the height in a couple places with minimal white and the width in the vertical white sections to make up for Tunisian stitches being taller than their width.

Cat cuddling! Look at those feet!

I’m not making a lot for Christmas this year. Actually, I largely don’t know what I’m doing. Eek, that’s not going to turn out well for me, is it? I have a crocheted blanket to complete and I’m making my husband (who I seriously doubt will read this post) a Dodger beanie, semi-on-request, in Tunisian crochet in the round.

The pink logo test. What else am I going to do with that terrible yarn? And yes, I’m going to have to modify the pattern. Tunisian stitches are taller than they are wide, giving the bottom of the A too heavy a foot.

I thought the Caron Simply Soft yarns would be nice. Simple, washable, I already had white and just needed to buy blue. Well it turns out gray is a nice addition, but the blue (now in my possession) isn’t quite the right shade. I started the project, but the color was disappointing, so a-hunting I went.

At dreaded MalWart, the only place that is close to me and open after 5, I could only find the right color in the ever cheap SuperSaver skein. It’s useful yarn for big projects, but cheap and scratchy. Some of the colors have an odd, almost foamy, texture, while others are stiff. I bought the right blue and a good gray (which is surprisingly soft). I already had white. I started the project again. And again, I was disappointed. The yarn is thicker (yes, it’s #4, but technically so is the Caron) and scratchier than I’d like. So a-hunting I went.

I looked at several major yarn retailers and loaded my cart with the blue (and coordinating white and gray) yarns for further review. Between DK and sport weights, a recommended website and the very evil-in-a-good-way yarn.com, I had 7 different sets in my carts. The problem is that almost no one comes out and says “this is Dodger blue,” and I can’t find accurate hex code or pantone equivalencies, so I’m guessing. There are a lot of great choices with different compositions on yarn.com. Acrylic, superwash wool, cotton, bamboo, nylon, polyamide, cashmere, angora, etc., and pretty much every conceivable combination. There is a superwash wool/ bamboo viscose that particularly caught my eye.

I got rid of everything in one cart and reduced the other from 5 sets to 3. My thought was to pick two and return one set after viewing them in person and making the best choice.

Then I thought, ‘what the heck am I doing!?’ It’s nice to get the right materials, but I’m being wasteful. I already have two sets of not quite right. Now I was going to add two more? Shame on me.

Today I read about a company that a friend introduced me to last year, Love Your Mellon. They make beanies and donate 50% to cancer charities (they used to donate a beanie for each sold, but stopped after they hit something like 45k). With those kinds of numbers they clearly make (made in the USA) and buy in bulk, so they have a lot of options. I’m sure, like the garment industry, they are able to have yarns made to their specifications, unlike us mere mortals. In fact, Love Your Mellon’s latest hats are made partially of reclaimed ocean plastic. Good for them. Good for the environment too, as long as the reclaiming process is also environmentally friendly.

Unfortunately, there is a continued divide between available supplies for commercial makers and what we small time folks can get. My local options are MalWart (barely an option), Joann’s, Beverly’s and Michael’s and a couple independent stores that closed by the time I get off work. And the internet, of course. I’m limited to inferior mass production or expensive and hard to get to semi-mass production. Yes, there are other options, but not great ones for my current needs and situation.

Where does that leave my hat? I’m still waffling about which of my two versions to work up. Each isn’t quite right. When I do decide, I’ll finish it and let my husband decide if he’ll wear it as is. If not, I’ll offer him the option of one of those other yarns and make non-rushed, smarter decisions. Maybe someone offers swatches. Maybe some small retailers and independent retailers just need better websites. Maybe I hate shopping.

Or maybe I need to relearn patience and practice less instant gratification. Back when I had to save and plan for every single purchase, I would find something I liked and carry it around the store. If I was still interested when I was ready to leave, I’d get it. Other times, usually for bigger purchases, I’d put it back. If it was still there a couple days later and I still wanted it, I’d get it.

For further reading.