New Crafting Spaces

It was a gorgeous seventy degree and clear blue sky type of weekend in Seattle.  Birds were singing, kids were playing, and oh yeah, I couldn’t leave the house.  Why?  Because with the color and warmth of spring, comes pollen.  And lots of it.  The allergen count was that high this weekend that even inside the house I was miserable.

So with the sunshine time wasted and my A/C unit turned on, what did I do?  Reorganize my crafting spaces!

Yes, the blessing in disguise was that with the allergy house-arrest, I was finally able to consolidate all my creative goodies into a single just two areas of the house.  I am so happy with how these spaces came out!  Just like most crafters, my (honest) life goal is to have a beautiful craft room in my dream home, just for me and my fun.  This would be complete with skylights for great light, big bay windows and a window seat, a huge fabric table, and all the storage I could possible need.  Of course we could push the dream farther by saying it automatically stays organized and clean, but let’s be realistic…

For now, I’ll have to settle for sections of the apartment.  I’m so lucky to have a husband who understands my hobby/obsession/lifestyle, and regularly has his own “Hey Girl…” moments.

So I went and got the go ahead to move all of our books from the downstairs shelves up to the office.  We did in fact have the books downstairs to illustrate to guests just how intelligent we are (what?  You know you do it too), but let’s face it, I was just moving my crafts from upstairs to downstairs and not putting them back.  Because every crafter knows, you’re never really done using something!

Once the shelves were cleared I started assembling my Ikea accessories (Lekman Boxes – $9.99;  Kasset series Boxes and Magazine Files – $3.00 and up) and filling them with my yarn, fabric, notions, current projects.  I could have perhaps used more, but the fact that I’ve filled four large boxes and then some, only cemented the need for my stash-busting yarn challenge.

Ikea at its finest

The kitchen was another project.  Since we’re not currently using our dining table for real dining (again, small apartment) I’ve been utilizing it as a makeshift cutting and craft table.  The only problem is that the majority of the table is taken up by my sewing machine and other bits of craft love.  So what does a good small space dweller do?  Go vertical of course!

Talk about utilizing a wall!

I installed another shelf, about eighteen inches below our display shelving for all our holiday and Judaica art (Ekby Bjarnum Brackets – $15.00; Ekby Hemnes Shelf – $14.99), which was just enough space for the current projects I had.  I had an initial plan of storing my sewing machine up there (wouldn’t that look cool?), but hubby was convinced that the shelf wouldn’t hold.  He’s probably right, so I cleared off a nearby cubby hole where the cookbooks are housed and was able to just fit the machine inside nicely, without unplugging it or pulling too much on the foot pedal!

Below the shelf went a metal bracket (Asker – $14.00; Gruntal Canisters – $4.99) to collect all my loose odds and ends, sewing needles and stitch markers in particular, and next to that a metal bar to eventually hook all my rulers and scissors to.  For now they’ll go in the hanging bucket, which also looks pretty cute if you ask me.

Ideally I would have really liked to get my craft on and do this whole organization from re-purposed wood, jars, hooks, and boxes, but frankly it just needed to get done!  I still have the rest of the house to go through and do some spring cleaning with, so maybe I’ll take a bit more time in planning with those projects.

How do you prefer to store your yarn, fabric, and do-dads?  Are you in love with Ikea as much as I am?  After all, you can’t get much better than cheap and quick.  Plus, I enjoy putting it all together, even if they are just cardboard boxes.  Please, let me know what you think of my zones, and share your ideas for more storage.  The more storage, the more yarn I can stash!

Inventory Complete!

Hooray!  The great yarn inventory of 2012 is done!  And what a wonderful an awkward and mish-mashed collection I have…  I knew this challenge was going to be hard, but perhaps it will be harder than I anticipated.  I only did the inventory this weekend and am already dreaming of the yarn I can purchase.  The worst culprit might be the warm weather (since I seem to have a significant lack of cotton yarn), but I made the commitment, so I must work through it.

So the final stash tally can be found on my Ravelry profile, since before this project most of my stash tab was empty.  But, some of the gems found include:

Oh, there is plenty more I just didn’t want to bore you, Dear Reader.  If you’re a fiber artist or crafter of any kind I’m sure you can sympathize with my plight.  I have all kinds of yarn, and not a clue of what to do with it!

So this is my plea: Help me with project ideas for these fibers and quantities so I can buy something other than Sea-foam Green wool!

Please leave your suggestions, links, and ideas, in the comments section below.  Believe me, I need them right about now since the only thing I can think of is making five baby hats as quickly as possible!

Inventory Update: Half Done!

Thank you to my dear hubby, for helping me inventory the first half of my yarn stash last night!

Didn’t take nearly as long as I anticipated.  While I sat on the floor re-winding loose ends, pulling out half-done projects, and deciding that ten yards of yarn wasn’t enough to keep, he was entering all the important information (brand, type, grams, color, number of skeins, etc) into a Google spreadsheet.  Plus, we actually were really good at identifying all the “unknown” yarn remains that didn’t have ball bands!  I’m fairly impressed, although the rest of the stash will definitely prove to be more of a challenge.  Results of last night are currently updated on my Ravelry Stash page.

In the meantime, resisting the sale below is a challenge.  The Interweave Knits patterns are my favorite, and they’re always nice to have as digital copies so they don’t get lost or torn up by the dog/kids/hubby.  There are tons of patterns on sale for less than $4.00 too!  If you’re like me and always search for the free patterns, now is a great time to purchase some for relatively low prices (well, compared to free that is).  I highly recommend checking it out and seeing if there’s anything you’d like to add to your own yarn stash or book collection!  Then post what you got, and what a steal it was, in the comments section below.  I’ll keep counting my yardage  for now… (must…resist…sale!)

Knitting Daily Shop April Sale is on!

Dream Interpretation

Something a lot of people don’t know about me:  I love to analyze my dreams.  Always have!  I remember having a paperback dream dictionary that I found as a kid, and in the morning I would look up the items from my dream just to see if anything ever sounded cool.  As I’ve gotten older I’ve actually noticed that a lot of the dreams I have relate to what is going on in my waking life.

Dreaming sweet happy crafty dreams...

Now, I have no idea if these symbols actually mean what people say they’re supposed to, or if they’re kind of like horoscopes (general enough to apply to just about anyone’s dream), but I enjoy it nonetheless.  When I can make sense of something that seems so mysterious, it’s not only interesting, but calming.  When you think about the capacity of the human brain, and what could potentially happen in our subconscious when we’re asleep, it just amazes me.  I take solace in the fact that I can maybe understand something deep and meaningful inside my mind.  Perhaps it’s something that I’ve been ignoring or denying, and it’s screaming to be heard!

With that being said, I’ll start to leave some dreams here on the blog.  Who knows if the interpretations I read are accurate or not, but maybe you can help me think of alternative meanings to some of these symbols!  Leave a comment if you’d like to share any of your own dreams or meanings.  Maybe I’ll post a response as to how these interpretations fit in to my life at the moment.

Was on a cruise ship, somewhere near China on the globe, but nowhere I had ever really heard of.  Exotic and foreign.  Lots of mountains, one large mountain with a town below.  This is where I lived, and have been before.

Needed to take an elevator ride down to a subway station to take me to the airport for a short plane ride home.  There were six gold elevators, lots of people waiting, doors open and close very fast!  Missed the first elevator.  Went for the second, missed it too.  Got the third.  Took it down, emptied me out in a station that did not lead to the subway trains, but to an international terminal for the airport.

There were only two flights leaving from this terminal: one to Beijing (-9 hours), and one to London (+8 hours).  Since I was late, the employees tried to help me get a seat on these flights, but neither of these options would help me get to my destination.  I thought I was stuck, but realized I hadn’t gone through security yet, so I ran back up the escalator past a man with a bag of oranges.  When I got to the elevator, I had forgotten my metro card.  I ran back down to get it.  Forgot to get it before running back up.  Ran back down.  Finally grabbed it, rode the elevator back up, went to the correct station.

…and then woke up.

Note: the website I use for dream interpretation is DreamMoods.com.  Some   interpretations may make sense, some may seem like nonsense.  Please be   respectful to their work and use this information appropriately, and leave them positive feedback if you enjoy their site!

Yarn Challenge: 2012

I’ve noticed a lot of people doing Pinterest challenges to actually make some of the crafts and DIYs they find on the site, rather than just pinning them, and I was inspired to do my own challenge.  Not a Pinterest challenge per se, but a yarn challenge.

Like most people right now, money is tight in our family.  Of course it’s partially due to the economy, and partially due to the fact that the hubby is a student now.  But the last (and most adjustable) part is because I spend entirely too much money on crafting, yarn, and fabrics (which I think is not an uncommon issue.)  My Clapotis is coming to a close, and my Aidez sweater has been knit (just some blocking and assembly left, so to me, the fun part is over.)  I’m now starting to think about what I’ll be working on next, and the thought of spending more on yarn is a little scary.

Some may suggest getting yarn from less expensive places such as JoAnn Fabrics, or simply select less luxurious fibers such as acrylic, but I am an admitted yarn snob.  I have no shame in saying it!  But instead of simply going in the “different source/yarn” route, I think I’ll simply challenge myself to use what I have.

Nice stash! Please note, this is not mine... it's much too organized...

Most knitters have what they call, a “stash,” and this is exactly what it sounds like.  We stash fiber.  There’s a phrase that I subscribe to, which pretty much sums up this philosophy:

She who dies with the most yarn, wins.

Many people call what I’m doing “stash busting”, but I think calling it a challenge sounds a bit more fun.  I’ll start by taking a careful inventory of my stash, and enter all the fibers and amounts in my Ravelry profile.  Then I’ll tackle one project at a time (okay, I’ll be honest, probably more than one at a time) and slowly use up the yarn I have in stock.

Requirements and rules to this challenge:

  1. I must not buy any additional yarn!
  2. I must currently have the yarn in my stash.
  3. I must find projects for the supplied amount of yarn that I have.
  4. In order to finish the challenge, I must complete at least five projects before I’m allowed to purchase more yarn!

Seems like a lot, but I’m thinking I can totally do this!  Resisting yarn for specific projects will be the biggest fight.  It will force me to complete some projects that I’ve been putting off, and at the same time use up some of the great fibers I already have though!  I’ll post my stash list here once I inventory, and would love suggestions for patterns or projects!

The only thing left to figure out after the inventory is done, is how to organize and store it!  What’s your favorite method?  What have you done that’s been both cute and functional?  Leave a comment since I need the help!

Forray into Needle Felting

I’ve finally tried my hand at some needle felting!  I’d like to try a more graphic project sometime, but this is a great start!

Needle felted sheep thanks to Fancy Tiger Crafts

He’s pretty cute huh?  I thought the white sheep was a great symbol, since I can’t seem to get enough yarn in this lifetime.  What do they tend to say?  “She who dies with the most yarn, wins!”  True statement.

Smart Darwin Baking Night!

Well, with hubby still in Denver for his upcoming conference (nicely coordinating with our Passover trip to Denver last weekend) I have some time to myself.  Now don’t get me wrong, I hate having him gone and can’t wait for him to come home, but I have to admit that it’s nice having the nights to myself to do whatever crafting I desire.

Peanut Butter Stars cooling on the stove

Oatmeal Hearts are looking good!

So last night was a baking night!  Two batches made for Smart Darwin, a side project business of mine, and I must say that these cookies came out beautifully!  The puppy was sitting by my side all evening, just waiting for me to “drop” a piece.  Of course I let him be the official taste tester once they were cooled, but it was pretty funny to see how attentive and patient he was for these treats.  I guess that’s some good feedback, huh?

Darwin sitting and waiting patiently for a fresh cookie

I have no idea what craft I’ll get into tonight now that the baking is somewhat done.  I’ve got about three sewing projects I’d like to start, two knits going (one of which is this close to being ready for blocking), and some photography and editing to do for Smart Darwin.  Not to mention that there’s some TV on tonight too.

So many options, but ’tis the life of a crafter!

Fancy Tiger Crafts, Denver

I think I’ve died and gone to craft heaven! If you’ve been to Denver and haven’t been to Fancy Tiger Crafts, you are seriously missing out.

Denver is a city I visit at least once a year for business, but haven’t really seen as a tourist with my own schedule. That is until this trip. My sister in law and her family recently moved here, so during our annual Passover visit, I wanted to make sure I got in a little craftsy.

They made their store name out of embroidery hoops and fabric letter cutouts!

Fancy Tiger Crafts is the store to visit too. Big, with great window displays, the long hardwood floors make it feel grand and spacious. Or maybe that could be because the displays are nicely placed with lots of room to navigate around them. There’s nothing I hate more than feeling like you’re going to back into or knock over every display in the store because they’re too packed together!

Well maybe there’s one thing, and hubby agreed with me on this one, which is bad lighting. If you own a shop, please do everyone a favor and put in some decent lighting! Fancy Tiger has amazing light setups displaying the colors of fabrics and yarns beautifully! Not to mention that there are skylights all throughout the space, which brings in the natural light (I know everyone has done the “can I step outside with this skein to see the true color in the light?” thing). Oh, and the Edison bulbs around the counter checkout and cutting tables? Amazing touch to bring in that craftsy vibe!

Just a tiny taste of their yarn selection! The text on the wall just sealed the deal for me.

They’ve got a wide variety of yarns, (including some beautiful Malabrigo that I had a hard time resisting), and a wonderful selection of fabrics. Very modern and cute, mixed with a little bit of folk. They have a great supply of embroidery tools and patterns, sashiko (japanese embroidery), spinning fibers and wheels, needle felting kits (I got one to make a curly white sheep!), and an endless supply of books!

When you walk towards the back of the store they’ve got two classrooms set up, each with large tables for cutting, every notion and tool you could need, and about twelve sewing machines. Of course, if you’re like me, and can’t take one of their fabulous classes, you could always just join a knitting night group around their huge table.

Huge table! Loved the size and homey feeling of the wood.

So after touching, squeezing, and drooling over every single thing in the store, I settled on a needle felting kit ($15, made by Fancy Tiger and available on Etsy.com) to help me take a dive into something I’ve always wanted to try, one skein of Skeindalous super wash marino sock yarn ($20 for 100g, color way: Flowering Inferno), and the hubby bought me Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross ($29.95, published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang).  It was an incredibly hard decision on what to take home since it was all so tempting, but I thought since the kit was made by Fancy Tiger Crafts, and the yarn was local, they were definitely worth taking home.  The book, well, I was flipping through it while we waited to get picked up by my sister-in-law, and couldn’t walk out without it!

I think it’s needless to say that this was my favorite trip to Denver so far, and have a new go-to spot whenever I get some free time to myself on trips in the future!

Knitting Bag

My Clapotis project us getting a bit big for my current knitting bag, and I had to soon start skein number three. So what did I do? Made myself a new knitting bag!

20120405-181249.jpg

Hubby and I are heading to Denver tomorrow for the Passover holiday with family, so I wanted something easy to travel with, flexible (that means stuffable into a larger bag if need be), with handles and a large opening. So I found some fabric from my stash that I’ve been waiting to use, matched it with my green thread and began sewing.

I thought the pattern was perfect for a crafty bag, given that it looks very country and homey. Only thing was that I was afraid it would be a bit much for the body of the bag alone, so I added a yellow pocket to break it up a bit.

Ended up with this, and I love it! Perfect size and no Velcro/snaps/buttons/zippers for knitting to get stuck to.

And its a happy color, so that’s a bonus.

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