Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The First Wonders of Yarn

When I was a young girl, I didn’t have any idea about how people used yarn to make amazing knitted or crocheted projects. I didn’t even know what the purpose of yarn was except that it made a convenient rope for hitching my model horses to a Barbie car in order to make a makeshift Barbie wagon! My sister and I used to use yarn to help create a prop for our numerous stories that we invented for our toys when we were young. One day, some of our friends came over for a play date and one of their mom’s showed us how we could tie three strands of yarn together at one end so we could braid those three strands. She showed us how to get started and told us to tie a knot at the end whenever we braided to the length we wanted. I fell in love with this really cool way to use yarn. All of the braids that we made were all very colorful and sometimes the braids were not as even as they should have been. This didn’t matter to us since we were actually creating something that we could tie into a bracelet or turn into a keychain to give to our parents! We were really excited and I remember spending what felt like hours braiding away with my sister. We even used these braids to decorate our Barbies and model horses, which provided us with endless hours of entertainment. Our parents fondly wore the braided bracelets and used the keychains that we made even though they probably appreciated the fact that their two young daughters made these wildly colored bracelets for them out of love instead of actually appreciating the bracelets and keychains themselves. The happiness on our parents faces encouraged us to make even more braided strands. Even today, I could probably find a few of those colorful bracelets laying around our house, which always brings back happy memories of my first discovery of the wonders of yarn!

Lots of Glitter

Throughout the entirety of my elementary school career, every Christmas, we made ornaments as gifts for our parents. It was the time to bust out the glitter, glue sticks, and construction paper to create a masterpiece. When I was in third grade, we were given gingerbread men templates that we had the freedom to go completely wild with. I remember going home covered in glitter - it was in my hair, on my clothes, in my shoes - everywhere. Looking back now, giving a bunch of nine year-old's free reign of the craft supplies closet probably wasn't my teacher's best moment. But, back to the gingerbread men. We were given a construction paper cutout gingerbread man and were set free. The only requirement was to paste a copy of one of our school pictures in the area where the gingerbread man's face would be. I went completely glitter crazy. I'm talking about using almost a full canister of glitter to cover a six inch cutout, minus my gingerbread mini me's face. I was so excited to take that gingerbread man home to show off to my mom, and, like all good moms, she immediately added it to our Christmas tree; I'm actually fairly sure that she still has it and puts it up each year.
While I'm pretty sure that glitter has been banned from almost all elementary school's now, my seven year-old cousin had a similar craft project that he made in school last Christmas. Just like mine, it was a hot mess, but my aunt loved it and proudly displayed it for all to see.

Another Lopsided Potholder?

One of the fondest memories of crafting I can recall from my childhood would have to be when I got my first loom set.  We all know the ones I am talking about; the small square loom that came with a giant bag full of cloth loops that could be woven into potholder after potholder.  Of course, on the bag the manufacturer would show all the neat things you could make with the loom.  They would show little blankets for dolls and place mats for the dinner table.  However, I never progressed passed making potholders.  I remember laying out the colors I was going to use for the potholders before I started, always choosing different ones to coordinate with who I was going to give it to.  I’m pretty sure that within the first week I had my loom I made my mom about four different colored potholders.

It was never really the potholders that made me want to use my loom.  It was just the satisfaction of making something that I knew would be used.  Even as a child (I’m sure I was no more than 8 at this point) I enjoyed being able to turn something so foreign and odd into something that could really be used and cherished and remembered for being something that I created.  Looking back on it now, I’m sure that it was never the new potholder that pleased my mom or my grandma or my aunt; it was the sheer happiness that it brought me that made them so willing to accept my lopsided potholders with a smile.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Sorceress Orb Rattle!

Finishing an object, any object is always a big deal to me.  I usually have several unfinished projects lying around my room in various stages.  I will plan projects and obtain the materials to make them only to abandon them when a new plan comes to mind, but I’m really proud of the objects I have finished.  The one object I’m proudest of isn’t knit or crochet, instead it’s made from clay.  In 12th grade I took Crafts, Pottery, and 3D Design as an elective and I really loved the pottery portion.  In class I got the opportunity to make bowls, whistles, and sculptures.  My favorite object I made is a rattle, but not the kind of rattle you give to a baby.  Yes it makes noise when you shake it, but that was the only requirement.  Instead of making a classic rattle I made a Sorceress Orb based off of my character from Diablo 2’s weapon.  It isn’t exactly like the one in the game, and it isn’t perfect, but it functions and it didn’t fall apart like I expected it to in the kiln.  I was able to take my vision and make it a reality, and I’m super proud of that.  I really loved the colors that it turned out and the way that the talons are visible.  I spent a lot of time mixing the paint to the exact shade I wanted, adding texture, and making sure the clay didn’t become too dry and fall apart.  I’m proudest of it because I had such a fun time making it and it came out way better than my expectations as a novice pottery student.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Finally Finished

Let me just say.. Learning to knit so far has been much more exciting and beneficial than I ever thought it would be. Although initially I spent several weeks fumbling around with my fingers and getting yarn twisted, the moves eventually began to feel natural. I fact, it fascinates me that I no longer have to concentrate on every slip of the yarn. Instead, my hands have begun to take over. I knit everywhere now. :/ During classes, between classes, during staff meetings, while doing homework. However, I think that is fantastic. :)

And I am almost done with my first knitted item! When I first started knitting, I was using size 8 needles and I had a cheap skein of yarn that I had gotten at Walmart. But once I began to pick up the skill, I realized that neither of those felt good in my hands. The needles were sufficient, but the stitches they created were too small for me to feel confident in my progress. And the yarn itself was a bright color, but felt itchy and uncomfortable under my fingertips. That was when I decided to treat myself. I have always been a person that is very touch-oriented. When I was little, I used to get in trouble walking through clothing stores because I would feel every fabric that we passed. In fact, it didn't just stop at fabric. I once knocked a fourty dollar bottle of bourbon off the shelf at a grocery store because I kept running my hands over the bottles. :(

Knitting satisfies the tactile urges that I often feel. Being able to run silky, soft, and cozy yarn through my fingers is something that delights me and calms me down. That made working with the yarn I got for this project really fun. I picked a dusty purple color because purple has always been, is, and will always be my favorite color. And I just started knitting.

And now my project is almost done!! The first thing I ever knitted and completed. I am so excited that, now that I have mastered the basics, I can begin to create even bigger and better things. I can make things for myself, for friends, for family, for strangers. I can make a difference- whether that be by treating someone to a handmade gift, relinquishing my dependence on store bought items, or helping someone in need. It is so special to truly appreciate the skill I have learned, rather than just knitting because it is part of my grade. :)

My Proudest Project!

This summer, I completed my first cabled “scarf.” It was the first time I had ever knitted anything that wasn’t a simple garter stitch. I had tried a few things here and there, but never had I actually finished a project of this skill level. The pattern was difficult for me at first. I had a hard time remembering which row I was on, but eventually I just started keeping a tally to keep me on track. Soon enough, I had really gotten the hang of it! It definitely is not the most beautiful thing in the world, and it’s not even that functional. I started it partly through a skein that I had used about ½ of, and the resulting scarf was about three feet long. However insignificant and dysfunctional this scarf may be, I am still very proud of it. It is really skinny and the edges roll up so much that it is just about 4 inches wide. And I love it. When I finished the end of the skein, I was so proud of myself! I immediately showed off my new achievement to my friends and family. And even though it was pretty pitiful looking, and looking back at it I realize how silly it looks, I was still proud of it! It was like I made an A on a tough test and I wanted to hang it on the fridge for the world to see! And my friends and family were proud of me as well. I think a lot of their pride in me was a result of the pride I had in myself for competing it! When they saw how excited I was about it, they couldn’t help but be excited as well!

The process of making this scarf encouraged me to try a little more advanced scarf. I am currently working on a cabled scarf that has three cables on it and it is about three times as wide as my first one. I basically just adapted the pattern from the first one and make a pattern for the second one! It is going really well! I messed up on one row, but I didn’t realize it until about 3 rows later and I didn’t want to risk creating a huge hole, so I just left it! My roommate saw me working on this new scarf, and she was so proud of it! I asked her if she thought it was cute enough to wear, and she jumped up and said, “I would definitely wear it!” That definitely made my pride go up a bit! Knowing that someone was willing to actually wear something that I had made gave me a huge sense of self worth! It makes me want to try more and more patterns!