Saturday, December 31, 2011

New year, new workstation!

I got myself a new desk for the coming year. Up until two days ago, all my things were scattered around my bed. My knitting basket was by the foot, my sewing machine was by the head, my big bag of fiberfill was left wherever.

So I decided to get rid of my old set of rattan drawers and replace them with a desk-cum-shelf piece o' furniture. It took me and Marc three hours and two different malls before we found the perfect one -- We found an Oxford Ladder!! And it is, in fact, a desk-and-shelf-in-one! It's pretty minimalist-looking too, so it was perfect for me.



Everything that was stored horizontally in my side of the room is now stacked vertically. Creating more space!




:D

Monday, December 5, 2011

Now how to organize a scattered brain?

A lot of my friends have been persuading me to start selling my projects and patterns. They've all been saying good things about them, but I still haven't found the courage to actually start selling my own stuff.

To add to that, I can't seem to come up with a definite line of designs. I always come up with new stuff that are totally unrelated to what I was working on previously. It's actually holding me back, this scattered brain of mine. I keep getting excited about new things without even solidifying what designs I finally make.

A couple of people have even invited me to sell their stuff with them, but I turned them down 'cause I wasn't feeling confident with what I already have.

Maybe I should just drop all my current projects at the moment and just focus first on finding focus. Hrrrmmmm...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Stuck in a (productive) rut

I haven't been staying true to the purpose of this blog. I created this blog so I could document my progress in coming up with projects and the actual steps I take in completing them. And here I am, neglecting it for more than a month.

For the past few weeks, I've been experimenting and trying to improve my skills by undertaking new projects that contain techniques that I haven't tried before. I got so crazy about trying to knit socks but it took me a while before I could actually make one. At the same time, I started making a knit hoodie, which is in fact the largest project I have ever finished thus far.

But since I'm groovy like dut, I actually was able to make both during the hiatus of my blogginski. Et voilĂ :

The first pair of socks I've ever knit <3

The first hoodie I ever knit <3

More details about each project coming soon. Still pretty busy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cool!

Last month, I finished knitting and crocheting a couple of hats and scarves for two of my dear colleagues who flew to Europe for a two-year scholarship:

The two hats were crocheted and the yellow&red scarf was knitted.

It feels so good to know that some of my finished works have made it to a different continent, keeping my friends really warm and toasty despite the kind of weather we never ever have here in the tropics! <3

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Early Xmas present

It's only October, but I feel like it's xmas already.

I finally got my interchangeable knitting needle set! YES!


Imagine the possibilities!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Continental style vs. English style Knitting

Watching other people's videos on knitting, I get so envious of those who can knit in the continental style! In my opinion, I think it's faster and more convenient... But I can't seem to get the hang of it.

I learned using the English style 'cause that was the style used in the first tutorial I saw. But after seeing more videos of knitters using the continental style, I just get so crazy about trying to learn it myself.

Why? See how fast this amazing lady knits.

I've read somewhere that the continental style is VERY easy to pick up by knitters who also know how to crochet because they already are used to holding the yarn with their left hand. I do know how to crochet, but though I knit right-handed, I crochet LEFT-handed. *hikbi*

There go my hopes of being a master of the continental style... But I do try it again once in a while. I keep hoping I'd wake up someday comfortably using it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sweaty Palm Dilemma

I live in a tropical country and I get sweaty palms easily. This really hinders any smooth knitting and crochet work. The yarns gets stuck along your fingers and it isn't fun.

I searched online for some tips about how to deal with sweaty hands while knitting and crocheting. Here are some tips:

-Lightly powder your fingers before working. --I've tried this and it feels weird. Not too effective for me, personally.


-Wash your hands every once in a while to remove sweat and oil. --I like doing this, but here in my country, we believe it's not good to wash your hands while they are tired; doing so will aggravate the sweaty-palms syndrome :))

-Work in an air-conditioned room or right in front of an electric fan. --This works best for me, but I don't always work in the same convenient places all the time.


I'm trying to complete a scarf for my friend who's leaving for Spain very soon and I've been struggling all afternoon with my sweaty hands. I couldn't do any of the three tips I mentioned above though.

In desperation, I tried dabbing my fingers with a piece of tissue to soak up the sweat (gross, sorry). I then realized that it might be a good idea to keep the tissue wrapped around my pinky finger to see if it will let the yarn move more smoothly.



Lo and behold, it does work for me. Yay.

Sometimes, common sense doesn't really seem too common. :))

Monday, August 8, 2011

One-sock Syndrome

Or in my case, one-glove syndrome.

I attempted a lace pattern for half-fingered gloves a couple of months ago because one of my friends told me that she had trouble finding nice half-fingered gloves. She needed them 'cause she works the mid-to-night shift at their office and at times their air-conditioning could really make her fingers feel frozen.

Of course, I thought immediately to myself, "Challenge accepted!". I'd never tried making gloves before, nor any kind of knit lace pattern so I was excited. This was gonna be a change from my then prolific crocheting phase. Also, I found this very pretty pattern on Ravelry called "Hands of Blue" which gave the knitter the option to make the gloves half or full-fingered and I tried it out.

When I was starting on it, a friend warned me about having a "one-sock syndrome". Sometimes, people give up after making the first sock because the pattern could be tiring, tedious or they just get interested in making other projects. Honestly, completing one of a pair could already give a sense of accomplishment, especially if the pattern is complicated. So it really is likely that someone could lose interest in completing the second sock or whatever.

I didn't think I'd get tired of making a pair of gloves though. But apparently, I did have the "one-glove syndrome" and I did stop after the first and only:

The pattern's sooo pretty.
Too bad for me.

Oh man. I guess I just got discouraged after all the obstacles I encountered finishing this one. And it's my fault, really. First off, I completely forgot to make the cuff!! (But to be fair, it still looks pretty). And I was having trouble with gauge. When I first checked, it seemed to be fine. But when I did finally reach the fingers part, I realized it could only fit me :(I have pretty thin hands). I also got confused with the number of stitches for the fingers. The pinky ended up being tighter than the rest. (If any one who reads this has attempted this pattern, please let me know if you encountered problems with the fingers too, and how you remedied it).

So there. Maybe one day I'll make its pair, but for now, only my left hand shall stay warm haha. And besides, I already used up the same yarn for a crocheted hat. Silly me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Monaco yarn testing results

Working with the Monaco yarn was pretty easy (was testing it out, as mentioned in previous post). It is firm and it doesn't thin out too much when it's stretched, so the work really takes good form. Also, it doesn't slip off the needles when you're idle. Minimal stitch-stretching too! Even though I was working with DPNs, I could still maintain consistent stitch size between needles.

However, its firmness could actually be a disadvantage for when you're making a slouchy hat like the one I tried out. Look! It can stand on its own! haha

How funny!

Also, I made it too small to be a nice slouchy beret. Harhar. At least it can still pass off as a nice beanie:

I love the color so much. I think I'll buy more balls of it.


The yarn is a bit stiff and slightly rough, but at least it's
not itchy nor scratchy! Plus points!

There you are. So in conclusion, I think Monaco yarns are okay to work with. The value is good for its quality. I like how the stitches are clear, like when you use Lion Brand Cotton-Ease yarns (but again, Monaco yarns aren't as soft). Also, I noticed that they have a nice variety of colors. I think I'll go back to that yarn shop again to check 'em out.

I would stick to making small beanies, purses and amigurumi with it, but I probably would not make "soft" projects like scarves and slouchy berets/caps. For those, I'd probably stick to Excel yarns.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yarn testing

When buying yarn, I usually look at how soft the yarn is, how smooth it is to work with, and also how much it costs per meter per skein. During my first months of crafting, I couldn't seem to find yarn that I was satisfied with in the shops in my city. Almost all the shops I went to had yarn that was too thin, too rough or too itchy when worn.

Most of the projects I make are hats, scarves and amigurumi. I like buying yarn that is smooth to work with but affordable. Good thing a friend showed me this wonderful yarn shop in the next city (the same shop where I got all the hooks and needles I use now). They sell a nice variety of yarns there, but most of them are too expensive for me, when you consider the price per meter. Still, that's where I always get my stash.

After trying out a few brands and types, I settled on the Excel yarns as my staple. The colors are nice, the yarn is smooth, and it feels like it's made of cotton, when in fact it is 100% acrylic! The material it's made of ensures that it's very affordable too! You can say that it's worth the effort of going all the way to the next city to get 'em. Some novelty yarns, Bernat yarns, and Lion Brand Cotton-Ease appear in my stash too, but Excel for me is always the pinaka-sulit or, in English, best for its value.

I do wish I could find yarn I like in my city though. Which is why I still keep an eye out for some craft shops and other local brands of yarn. I've been reading a few entries by fellow Filipinos about Monaco yarns. They say it's okay to work with, so as soon as I saw a store selling Monaco yarns, I bought a few skeins in one of my favorite colors.


Rusty-orange, one of my favorite colors

Trying this out now by making a hat. I really hope it doesn't turn out to be itchy/scratchy, 'cause I did notice that it's not as springy or soft as the Excel yarns. If it does satisfy at the end, I just might stick to this brand! It's only 18php for one ball!

Magic loop vs. Chain 2 (or 3)

Which is better, the magic loop or the usual chain 2 (or 3)?

Surprisingly, I've noticed a lot of people asking this question. I think it's because the chain 2 (or 3) method is easier to do, but the magic loop provides a cleaner finish.

Personally, I would say a magic loop is always best. You can control the size of the hole created at the beginning, or you can even eliminate the hole altogether! It really is worth the time to understand and learn how to make it. It gives you a choice!

For example, when you create a hat that is made from top to rim, starting with a chain 2 or 3 could sometimes leave a hole at the top of the hat. You can sew it closed after working, but that would mean extra work (albeit little). But with a magic loop, you can just pull the end of your yarn to adjust the size of the hole or close it!

You can look at these two photos to compare:


This was created with a "chain 3, DC in 3rd chain from hook, 8 DC all around".
See, leaves a hole in the middle! Depending on the size of your hook, the hole could be so big!


This was created with a magic loop and 9DC in loop.
I've already pulled the end of the yarn to close the hole. See how nice and closed it is?


You can watch one of Teresa (Crochet Geek)'s instructional videos here to learn how to do the magic loop.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sometimes I despair...

...when I accidentally interpret some instructions in the wrong way 'cause I'm a lefty.

I knit the right-handed way, but I crochet as a lefty. Good thing the Crochet Geek and other online resources provide instructional videos for lefties now. Good for future lefty crocheters. When I was starting out, I could only imagine things from my point of view.

Confusion.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crafting for a cause!

It's really interesting what you can do with knit and crochet crafting. I often get funny looks from people (sometimes, even from friends!) when I tell them I knit and crochet. But what they don't know is that we can make all sorts of practical things -- hats, scarves, washcloths, cozies, etc. And the beauty about hand-knit and crocheted items is that they're all custom-made and made with love!

They're not a dying craft and they're not just for grandmas!

Speaking of grandmas, I find this 91-year old lady pretty amazing: she knits breasts for a cause!


You can find the full story here.

Another movement that is crafting for a cause is the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project. Sounds amazing, doesn't it? It combines math, science, arts and crafts, and environmental awareness! Amazing. Click the link above to learn more about it. You can actually begin your own satellite reef in your area to contribute!

Many firsts

When I started learning how to knit and crochet, I couldn't ever finish any project I'd begin. I would get daunted easily by the complex stitches in patterns that I liked. Plus, I'd been jumping from job to job and couldn't find the time to do anything. It didn't help that quality crafting materials were hard to come by here in the city.

After a year of on and off crafting, I kept all my hooks and needles away, wrapped up all my yarn into one messy plastic bag. It was depressing. Then one holiday season, I took it upon myself to clean out my room. I found my old yarn stash and realized what a waste of yarn it was. I then took out my needles and hooks and tried making little projects.

I couldn't seem to finish anything at first, because all my needles and hooks were on the thin side and thus made making projects a bit more tedious and less varied. I also started looking up patterns online and realized that I was still lacking in equipment! Asking around, a friend pointed out a certain yarnshop in the city. Here I found everything I was looking for: needles and hooks of different sizes, soft yarn, thick yarn, novelty yarn.

Now, I feel that there are hardly any limits with these crafts. Once I began using new materials, I started being very prolific with my projects. I made a lot of hats, a few scarves, some amigurumi and some bags. It felt really good; I felt like I found my niche. I tend to get very crazed about a multitude of things without making any follow-through, so it was wonderful to find something that I still haven't getting tired of.

As I said, I became very intense about completing projects, and I started several new projects at once. Everything was a first time and it was exciting. Here are some of my "firsts":



^^ My first knit hat!
Was pretty proud of this 'cause it was also my first attempt at fairisle designing.
(Special thanks go to my sister for modeling all my hats for me)


^^ My first crochet hat!
I found this really fun pattern online and it was my first time to use a crochet hook that was thicker than 2.5mm LOL. Pattern from here.


^^ My first attempt at amigurumi (crochet)!
Found a really cool pattern for this dragon here.


^^ My first amigurumi of my own making!
Here I didn't follow any pattern, so it was my first original ami. TMNT!


^^ My first crochet bag!
I found a copy of the book "Crochet Bags!" by Candi Jensen in the bargain bin of a bookstore, and this is the first one I made.


^^ My first knit bag!
Pattern was from Kelley Deal's book "Bags that Rock".

I've already made a lot of things now, and a lot more other firsts, but these are the most notable for me. :)

I wish I was more conscientious about writing down the patterns for my own creations!

Hooked and crazy!

I recently pooled some of my resources to invest in a set of Susan Bates crochet hooks. Until a couple of days ago, I only had 4 hooks to my name, and they were made of acrylic/plastic. The material of the hooks never bothered me until I got a chance to try out a Susan Bates aluminum hook. I must say, the yarn does slide more smoothly now.

Coming from a tropical country, I don't have to worry about aluminum crochet hooks getting too cold and giving my fingers and joints the aches. But I did have my eye on a set of bamboo hooks, which never turn cold, just 'cause they're light and environmentally friendly, and the yarn doesn't slide off when you're idle. Too bad I didn't have enough money for it.

The only quality hooks and needles I can get locally here in Manila are from brands like Aero and Susan Bates. These brands are my personal favorites.

So yeah, I finally invested in a whole set of aluminum hooks, and I'm happy :)


Set included sizes from 3.75mm to 6.6mm. I bought the 8.0mm, 9.0mm and 10mm hooks separately. Still cheaper than buying online!

Welcome! Bienvenue!

Welcome!

This is my first ever post for this blog and I'll use it to talk about why I created this.

I learned how to crochet and knit back in 2008, after graduation. I was a bum and didn't know what to do. Job-hunting got me depressed so I tried looking for new things to do and discover. By chance, I found my sister's old, old knitting needles and decided to try 'em out. No one I knew could teach me how to use them, so I had to figure it out on my own. Guess how I learned -- By watching videos on Youtube! Good thing I've always been into crafting; I took to these yarn crafts easily.

After learning the basics, it took me a while to start coming up with my own projects. I've always found it difficult to be very original and creative, so I focused first on trying out other people's patterns. It was a good thing; it taught me lots of essential techniques.

But now though, I'm trying to force myself to do my own thing. Hence, this blog.

The internet has been very useful to me (and to everyone else I know). I got to discover other people's blogs and websites for crafting. Everything I've seen so far has been so inspiring and encouraging!

Still, I can't seem to find it in me to come up with my own projects that I can really be proud of. I am almost never satisfied. I know myself though, and I know that I won't get anything done unless I pressure myself (haha). This personal blog is supposed to whip me into shape.

Someday, I hope to achieve what others have been able to do for me -- inspire!