May 30, 2016

8 What To Do When You Can't Knit

Months ago I suffered a blow to my high-temp knitting fever -- elbow tendinitis. Since then I've gone through abstinence, physiotherapy, cortisone shots, exercises and general abandonment. The good news is that the acute pain is gone, the other news is that I'm dealing with a long-term problem to be managed. No, this isn't a post about how sad that is, THERE ARE NO TEARS IN THIS HOUSE! This is a post about all the things I've started doing instead... and you'll never believe the last thing in this list. Oh the irony!

Listed in order of trying:

1. Jigsaw puzzles

I like the busy ones with lots of silly and weird things happening.

Jigsaw puzzles are the perfect example of something I love to do that never gets done because everything needs to be JUST RIGHT. There has to be a large table available for days (who the hell has that?), an eon of rainy or nasty weather, and a short-term string of time to work on it before chaos hides your pieces in the jigsaw black hole.

Jigsaw puzzles SAVED me during the abstinence phase. You can actually do everything with only one hand... you can watch cheesy shows like Forensic Files. YOU CAN DRINK TOO!!

I did so many puzzles I found a duplicate piece in one. Bizarre!

2. Drop spindle spinning

Photo from Z Twist Art

This is a shout out to all the people who gave me suggestions of what to do instead. After I told my knitting group I had to stop knitting for awhile, my friend J. came by with a homemade CD drop spindle. So nice! The awesome thing was that I learned how to drop spindle, but the not-so-awesome thing was that it used all the same tendons as knitting. Oh well -- I still chalk this up as a win!

3. Cleaning


It'll take more than some pesky tendinitis, lol!

4. Crochet


So, when I knit I hold the yarn in my right hand and throw English style. This is now a problem. When I crochet the yarn is in my left, so I asked, could I just crochet instead? Well, sort of. The right hand still moves a lot, but I found I could go at it for quite a bit. This was savior #2! Especially with a project as fun as Sophie's Universe. It's free (unbelievable!) and if you crochet you should make this. The original has tons of color, my Ravelry project page for a monochrome one is here.

5. Exercise

Believe it or not, this actually worked for awhile! I was running on the treadmill, with the lovely view of Acadia National Park from the gym windows at work. Of course what happened within weeks of overdoing it, I got a hip pain I couldn't run with. Geez, can a girl get a chance?! I now have reduced to step aerobics a couple times a week out of laziness, but I have to thank tendinitis for opening up my mind to using the gym -- something I had never done in my LIFE!

6. Sewing


I have always been a seamstress. The most fun job I ever had was working for my Wesleyan University theater costume shop back in college. Corsets, period wear, drag, you name it >>> I made it. Of course, it never had to look perfect up close, so now I work at improving my details.

I made this entire jacket for my husband after learning about the tendinitis! It's made out of an elastic denim that I kind of hated by the end of it, but it looks pretty sweet.

I've also been having fun using up my decade old fabric stash with projects from Merchant and Mill's sewing books.

This is the Fisherman's Top and the Orton Bag (free!). Don't think for a second it isn't cool to match your bag to your top. I only wish I had made a pair of pants, too!!

7. Organizing stuff you never organize



All that stuff you want to do and you never actually do goes here. Re-decorate? Frame those photos? Organize your computer files? Yeah, get tendinitis and let it do the job for you! Weeeeell, the truth is that computer work hurts the most, I have no idea how to frame and re-decoration would actually take some decision-making I simply don't possess. 

So instead, I'll pat my back for organizing my matchbook collection. I found a display rack at a thrift shop and then fished out my most prized collection of matchbooks from my Ph.D. days back in Manhattan. This was when everyone could still smoke in bars, when we lived in bars because everyone's apartments were too small. Oh, the memories!

8. Nails

You know all those pictures of Instagram people holding the polish that they just used? I'll spare you. But I did make a new hobby out of nothing. My goal is now to always have a polish on hand that will match my crafting projects, haha. And it's actually a great fashion statement -- I never realized!

9. Beadweaving

And here I finally found it, an actual new obsession! I knew the danger was there, I was actually relieved when the drop spindle didn't work out. Well I'm hooked on beadweaving and have already started a stash (oh, dear). I started with a pair of feather earrings:

And just finished this most excellent bracelet this weekend (pattern is Big Sky Bracelet):

Did I tell you I LOVE BEADWEAVING?? Now to integrate it into my knitting, very excited about that prospect.

10. Knitting. Wait, knitting??

I CONFESS, I HAVE BEEN KNITTING (almost) THIS WHOLE TIME!! Bad Dayana, BAD. A part of me is saying "thank goodness your only addiction is knitting" because I clearly don't have what it takes to stop. The logic was similar to crochet -- what if I just knitted Continental, holding the yarn in the left hand and avoiding the throwing motion on the right? It turns out it's not a bad compromise, not at all. My tension is totally different of course, if I want to go back to languishing English projects I'll have to re-swatch.

I find the trick is simply not to knit too much. I take a lot of whole days off -- unheard of before. The difference is that NOW I actually have other things I want to do! You really do get to a point in an obsession where you do nothing else, so I have this injury to thank for opening things up again.

So yes, somehow I managed to knit an entire 50 square afghan during this whole time. Blush. The pattern is free from Rowan, called the 2nd Martin Storey KAL. See my Ravelry project and link to the pattern here. It's just wrapping up now and that will be my next post, all about KNITTING... thank goodness!

Follow this blog, posts are rare but refined!

April 20, 2016

12 Scraptastic 2: The Next Generation


So I've got this thing for finding ways to use up all my scraps of leftover yarns. Hell, they don't even have to be mine, they can be yours -- I take anything, I'm the kitchen sink of stash giveaways. Or maybe the garbage disposal.

Here's my Scraptastic #1 pullover I made with leftover skeins of yarn, it was a blast.

The thing about this pullover, though, was that it needed quite a bit of each yarn to make it through each section. I even ran out a few times and had to come up with creative combos to hide it. (That's when I realized how many scraps I really had, that I could replace with a completely different yarn in an identical shade.)

But after this sweater I realized I had a problem. Most of my scraps were getting very short.  Some were not even more than a few feet!

I thought and thought "How can I take Scraptastic #1 to the next level?"

My scrapbusting obsession became a pretty awesome Pinterest board, and I discovered this:

An oversized pullover with ribbed drop shoulders -- and key, seemingly random stops and starts of color. I dragged my 15 pound scrap basket to the living room, grabbed a random yarn end and cast-on some largish number of stitches on big needles.

This time I wasn't going to care about 1) yarn weight and 2) yarn length. When a yarn was done I'd just start with a new one. ETA because I've gotten some good questions: Sometimes I paired yarns or tripled them even. Sometimes I knit with one strand of laceweight and then one strand of extra chunky. By using US11 needles the gauge was loose enough to accommodate these differences.

What I was going to care about was matching the stripes. This meant STEEKS. You see, if you do a body in the round, when you stop for the armholes you won't be able to work on the whole body at the same time. If you have enough yarn, this isn't a problem, you just do one side and then mirror the stripes on the other.

But I couldn't predict how much yarn I needed. I needed to make sure everything was done at once. This meant that I was going to make a big old sack.

The "steeks" are just 5-7 extra stitches you knit in that is so that you have something to cut through later. Here are the extra steek stitches starting at the armhole -- after cutting they become the sleeve seams.

I slip-stitch crocheted both sides of the cutting area to secure the stitches...

... dug out the scissors...

...and then I slipped it on. Awesome, it worked!

So, how was I going to match the sleeves? Check this out.

I knit both sleeves at the same time in the round, with two steeks across from each other. When you cut, you have two of the exact same sleeve stripe pattern!

At this point you might notice some pretty big differences between my inspiration and how this was coming out. First, it's in stockinette, not reverse stockinette. That was just a mistake, I totally forgot! :-p Second, you'll see that my sleeves are quite skinny.

Well -- they didn't start that way. I went for huge, just like the picture, but man, it just did not look good. See the left sleeve and compare where I decided to cut off the excess on the right sleeve:

Heh heh. I think you'll agree it's an improvement.

This was one of the most fun sweaters I've ever made. I looked forward to coming home and digging into my basket! You can see how some yarns don't even last half a row... there is so much going on and the surface area is just so big to show it off.

I know this shape isn't for everyone! And I know it isn't particularly flattering -- but I do know that when people see me in it, they wish they were in front of the fire with capuccino. It just evokes that cozy but fun feeling.

So, how do you think I did? Did I avoid the dreaded Pinterest Fail? 😎

See my Scraptastic 2 on Ravlery

In other news, I'd like to thank you all for your entries to win the Refined Knits by Jennifer Wood! The winner was Lou7 on Ravelry (congrats!), and her favorite pattern was Victoria. I'm sorry I couldn't send a copy of this lovely book to ALL of you -- but I bet Jennifer would be so pleased if a few of you joined Lou7 in knitting her pick.

I also wanted to tell all of you that I've really started posting a lot on Instagram, if you'd like to follow me there, I'd love to see what you are up to, crafting-wise and life-wise!

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