Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Yarn Along

Reading: Yeah, I'm still reading Emma. I'd forgotten how I seem to read Austen novels at a slower pace than other books. That's a good thing, really, because sometimes I think I have a tendency to rush through books. (Probably because my to-read pile is so big and intimidating.) I'm a little past the point when Mr. Elton gets married, so I'll probably finish it over the next few days.

Knitting: My cardigan is coming along nicely! So far it's been mostly stockinette, but last night I joined the sleeves together with the body and next I'll be starting the cabled yoke. Lately I've been itching to cast on a pair of socks (despite saying not too long ago that I was going to take a break from sock knitting). I'm trying to wait until I'm almost finished with my sweater so the socks won't distract me from working on it. But I'm thinking it's a good idea to always have a pair of socks on the needles, even if I'm not working on them very consistently...right?

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Inside Out.

I'm a big Pixar fan. I love animated films, anyway, but I'm consistently amazed by the quality of the movies that Pixar puts out. Somehow they always manage to set the highest standards and make most other animated films look a bit ridiculous in comparison. (Just being honest, though I will admit that with Tangled and Frozen, Disney has been improving. I know that Pixar is owned by Disney, but you know what I mean.)

Having said that, I wasn't especially excited about their new film, Inside Out. The whole premise didn't seem very interesting, and the previews I'd seen didn't draw me in. But knowing that Pixar movies are almost always amazing, my mom and I still decided to go see it at the theater.

I'm so glad we did! Pixar did not let me down...I loved Inside Out. It was fun and fascinating and beautifully animated and hilarious and heartbreaking. (Most Pixar movies make me tear up, and this one was no exception.)
Sadness was, by far, my favorite character. Poor thing. She was so awkward and uncomfortable and melancholy. She reminded me of Puddleglum (from the Chronicles of Narnia), which is probably one of the reasons why I loved her so much. She was just perfect, from her oversized glasses to her knit turtleneck, and she made me laugh a lot.
The whole plot ended up being really creative and interesting. From what I understand, I think that a lot of it was actually based on what scientists know about the brain and memory and how those things work. I loved how they imagined the long-term memory storage and abstract thought and everything else. I'm not someone who's particularly interested in science or medical stuff or how the brain works, but they presented everything in such a lovely way that I couldn't help but be fascinated.
I also loved it when we got a peek inside other characters' heads. That was hilarious. :)

As usual, the attention to detail is incredible. Not just little things in the plot or bits of dialogue that I'm sure I won't pick up on until after repeated viewings. But I especially noticed the gorgeous animation details this time. I love the textures of everything! Sadness' hair and the slightly fuzzy look of her sweater. Then there's the way that Joy doesn't look quite like a solid form (she's almost pixilated around the edges) and how that sparkly essence follows her around.

{Also, Lava, the short film before Inside Out, was adorable. Slightly odd, but adorable.}

So...yeah. I was impressed. :) While I think that a couple of the other films like Monsters, Inc. and Up will still remain my absolute favorites, Inside Out is up there at the top in terms of creativity and beautiful animation and an emotionally engaging story. (How do those people at Pixar manage to be such geniuses? I'm a little jealous.)

P.S. The idea of a dinosaur movie doesn't appeal to me much, but after this one I am so ready for The Good Dinosaur later this year. :) Also, if I ever finish my Disney film marathon, I think I'm going to continue it by rewatching and reviewing all of the Pixar films...
Have you seen Inside Out? What did you think?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Knitting: Orchids & Fairy Lights hat {number 2}.

{Outtake: after asking my mom if I had shifty eyes in some of the earlier photos.}

I first made this pattern back in January of 2013 (see?). I had only knit a couple of hats at that point, and the Orchids & Fairy Lights pattern was quite a challenge for me. But I loved that hat so much. I still do, but it wasn't knit out of the best yarn, so after a couple of years, it's been downgraded to a hat that I wear in winter to do chores and such.

Back in March (yeah, I'm a bit late getting pictures), I finally got around to knitting the pattern again, in a nicer yarn. And I love this hat. It's probably my favorite hat I've knit for myself so far. I don't know what it is about this pattern that's so appealing to me. Maybe it's because the texture looks botanical, and right now I'm obsessed with knits that have a bit of nature incorporated into them (like almost anything designed by Alana Dakos). The pattern itself isn't difficult, and it's surprisingly intuitive once you get going. But all of the cables and bobbles, combined with knitting on 16" circulars, made my hands hurt at times. Still, it's so worth it!

I went up a needle size, just because I did the first time I made this hat, though my tension was a lot tighter back then. And I have a big head (24"), so this hat isn't as slouchy on me as it's designed to be.

I've loved Madelinetosh yarns ever since I first started knitting. I kept hearing about them and seeing them online, but when I finally saw the yarn in person at a yarn I was hooked. I really wish they'd offer non-superwash bases (because I'm trying to get away from superwash as much as possible), but their colors are just so gorgeous, and I've never seen anything like them. Anyway...yarn tangent. :) I had this skein of Tosh Vintage in the Kelp colorway, which is so much prettier than it looks in the photos. It's a darker, richer teal. It was one of the first skeins of Madelinetosh I ever purchased, and I held onto it for about two years before finally deciding to use it for this hat.

A favorite pattern and a favorite yarn (in a color that I love)...this was a really enjoyable project! I can't wait until it's cool enough to actually wear it.

Ravelry project page.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Knitting: blue baby cardigan.

I love knitting for babies. I know that some knitters don't. Here's their reasoning: babies are messy, and there's a good chance that the knitted item is going to get drool or spit-up on it within minutes. Also, there's the whole issue with how quickly babies grow...what you make likely won't fit them for very long.

But it's still so satisfying. How else would you be able to knit up a sweater in a matter of days? (Maybe some of you fast knitters can knit an adult sweater in week, but I'm lucky if I can do it in a month.) And while the finished item is pretty darn adorable in itself, there is nothing cuter than a baby wearing a handknit.

My friend Carolynn is due to have her first baby, a little boy, in a few weeks. I knew I wanted to knit something for him. This was the first time I'd had the chance to knit for a baby boy! Ever since I started knitting, all of the babies I've made gifts for have been girls.

I had a skein of blue, hand-dyed, superwash Merino yarn that I bought at the fiber festival last year that would be perfect to use, but I wasn't sure what to make with it. It was 275 yards of DK weight yarn, which was too much for a hat and not enough for a blanket, and I was sure that the only size sweater I could squeeze out of it would be newborn. And a baby born in July does not need a wool sweater. Then I stumbled across this pattern which has a 3-6 month size, and according to the pattern, I had plenty of yardage. I was skeptical that I could get a whole sweater out of one skein, but it worked out! I even had enough yarn to lengthen the sleeves and still had a bit leftover. :)

I'm so happy with how this little sweater turned out. The pattern is very simple and quick, and it was really the perfect fit for this yarn. There was no pooling, and the colors blended together in a sweet way. I'm so glad I hadn't used this yarn for anything else.

With this heat, I know that Rueben won't have any need for a sweater when he's first born, but hopefully it will keep him cozy this fall! :)

Ravelry project page.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thoughts on spinning in public.

A couple of Saturdays ago, I spent the morning spinning yarn at the farmers' market. They were having an event with people demonstrating different crafts, so I was there with my spinning wheel. This was my second spinning demonstration...the first one was at a local craft fair last October. In a way, this time was a bit easier because I had more of an idea of what to expect. I knew what sort of questions people were going to ask, so I was more prepared for how to answer them.

I had a good day, but, as an introvert, it still wasn't easy. I don't like having attention focused on me, and the thought of talking to lots of strangers is so intimidating. I was pretty nervous that morning, but once I get started, I'm usually okay. It helps that I'm talking about something I'm obsessed with, that my hands are busy doing something, and that it's usually one-on-one. (It's a lot harder when it's a group of people.) I get in a zone where it's easier to talk and explain the process.

(I've heard that if you're not feeling confident, the best thing to do is fake confidence. Well, I'm not very good at faking anything. The closest I can get is pretending to feel slightly more comfortable than I really am, because I've learned that constantly thinking about how awkward I am tends to make things worse.)

Here were the top comments that I heard about spinning:

1. 80% of people assume I'm spinning cotton. I think that's because our town used to be a big producer of textiles, and lots of the older people who stopped to talk to me used to work in the cotton mill, so that's what they're used to.

2. "You sure are young to be doing such an old-fashioned craft!" And apparently I look even younger than I am. Several people guessed that I was in high school. (My mom says this is a good thing, but I'm not so sure. Maybe when I'm older I'll be thankful to look younger, but at twenty-four I'd like to look my age, ha.)

3. "You must be really patient." I'm really not. I'm still trying to learn to enjoy the process of creating just as much as the end result. But girls used to spin yarn out of necessity, not for enjoyment, and I'm sure some of them weren't any more patient than I am!

4. "What a beautiful wheel." It was mostly older ladies who said this, but I happen to think it's pretty, too. :)

5. "That looks so relaxing." Spinning is relaxing for me now (for the most part), but it took me a while to get to that point. (I'm the girl who knitted for a year before it stopped being stressful and started being relaxing!)

I still feel weird about being the spinner. I've only been doing this for two and a half years, so I don't even pretend to know everything there is to know about spinning. Compared to other spinners that I've met, I feel like such a beginner. (And honestly, I think fiber arts are an endless learning experience. You can do this your whole life and still not learn everything.) This probably sounds dorky, but before a spinning demonstration, I always pull out one of my old books and skim through, just to make sure that I have my terms correct and everything. It's not like I discuss spinning with people on a daily basis, so I just like to refresh my memory and make sure I'm not giving out incorrect information. :)

I got to talk to a few knitters, which really made my day. Sometimes I feel like I'm making things in a little bubble. I don't have a local yarn shop, and I'm not in a knitting group...I'm not around fiber people in real life except on rare occasions. Knitting blogs and Ravelry are amazing, of course, but it's so good to talk to people about knitting in person. :) Just discussing something as simple as sock knitting and DPNs vs. magic loop with another knitter was lovely.

I gave up wishing that I was an outgoing extrovert several years ago. I've come to realize that I'm okay with being a quiet introvert, though at times I still wish I was less awkward. :) I'll be doing at least one more spinning demonstration later this year...possibly two. Hopefully it will get easier each time. Anyway, I guess what I'm saying in this rambling post is that sometimes it's good to get out of your comfort zone. It's not easy, but that's sort of the point, right?

(That's a peek at the handspun that will be available in my Etsy shop soon! I was waiting until after this demonstration to open my shop since I also had items for sale there. I was hoping to have it ready by the end of the month, but that might not happen. I still have to get some more product photos, so I'm waiting for a slightly overcast day. Lately either the sun is blazing or we're having a thunderstorm.)