Unfinished Business

Ahoy. I hope that the month of July has been treating you well.

With our moving day on the horizon, we’ve been packing up a storm. And, as a crafter, there is nothing as humbling as stumbling upon my unfinished business — unfinished WIPs to be exact. UFOs are a direct line to sobering reflection on the finitude of time, energy, and intention.

I thought I’d post some of those UFOs here as a way of remembering them. Each project started in a flurry of excitement, motivation, and planning. Each project was born of a dream, idea, and inspiration. And each one, at some point, got relegated to the bottom of the project pile, only to be fished out too late. To cut down on movables given our limited space, these projects have either been frogged or given away.

So, with this post, I am saying goodbye to all the WIPs that never made it to the finish line: the tiny tapestry that never was, the ribbed winter hat that never saw it past the brim, the mitered-square blanket that couldn’t be made. I learned a lot from starting these projects, and I’m resting in the assurance that they will endure in another form. The yarn will be salvaged, and the skeins re-directed into new dreams and undertakings.

I write this to remind myself that not all things need to be “finished” in order to have served their purpose. There is meaning and learning, still, in incompletion; sometimes, E is for Effort and it’s okay to have left some loose threads in one’s wake…

So, without further ado, the things that never were:

Frame loom tapestry (cotton and acrylic)
Mitered-square blanket
Winter Hat
Lace Blanket

Wishing you the gold of summer. We’ll be on the road to our new destination. See you on the other side. 🙂

Kitty fiber folk

Hello, there. Friday seems to have crept up on me. What a busy week it has been. I didn’t want it to slip by without a post, though — so today, a recent picture of a feline fiber friend.

Drawn in my favourite Faber-Castell pencils, this kitty is a keeper and collector. In time for Spring, she comes with a provisioning energy, reminding me that all of the little bits and bobs that I once squirreled away for Winter (the metaphorical and the literal one) are still useful. Those collected and once-dormant winter-stored bits are ready to be brought out and given new life. “Here they are!” the kitty says, as the yarn hovers up and into a blue sky of possibility. Maybe it is high time that I return to my stash.

Have you tapped into keeping or collecting energies lately? Or maybe rediscovered a long-hidden stash of semi-forgotten goodies? The life of the maker is full of hidden treasure.

Whether you’re spinning up a storm, gathering skeins from that big basket of yarn, or are simply allowing some colours and remnants to commingle and dream themselves into something new, this kitty is for you.

Until next time. 😺

Crochet cushions

Since last year, I have been working on a crochet side project: granny square cushions. 🙂 Using square pillows (either worn down cushions that could use upcycling, or brand new cushion inserts), I’ve been nursing a small and hopefully growing cushion family in our apartment.

These are a delight to make, and they’re quick to do. The smaller ones work up in a night, with the help of Netflix or a podcast. And because I’m still a crochet beginner, they are incredibly simple: 2 identically sized granny squares, fit to a cushion and seamed up along the sides.

I am not a huge fan of the white insert peeking through the stitches, but until I drastically decrease my hook + yarn size, find a darker insert, or sew a separate cover, they’ll do. I enjoy making these not only because they’re endlessly customizable (my new impulse: cover all the square things in crochet!), but also because they’re a great way to practice working with colour in another medium, alongside my paints and pencils. Colour-wise, there are the individual transitions to consider from one row to the next, the full square’s effect, and then the combination of the two seamed together. Working on these is pure play: Side 1 of the cushion is often experimental and helps me find colour combinations I really like for Side 2. I always wind up with a favourite side, and it is all very intuitive. Did I mention that these are a great stash buster?

Instead of just showing you the sides, I happened to stumble on a fun way to give those stitches and colours some life: by turning them into a GIF, of course.

They almost resemble flashing lights (and imagine if traffic lights and signs flashed in crochet stitches!).

Until next time, friends. I hope you enjoy your weekend. Stay crafty!

Reunited

Before the lockdown, I was a regular CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) commuter. My job took me all across the city and, depending on the delays, the trip there could last upwards of an hour and a half, one way. Not one to lose this time, I used to spend my commuter hours crocheting on trains and buses (I was that lady).

Crochet is the perfect commuter craft. You need only a single hook rather than the 2 needles of knitting. And nothing pointy to potentially poke someone (or yourself) with! I took to crocheting on the buses so often that it was only a matter of time before I decided to bring a craft kit to work so that I could swap out different colours, day to day. I miss my days as the crocheting writing teacher.

My kit is full of scrappy Cascade yarn. I also brought 2 crochet hooks, a Swiss Army knife, and a cross-stitched ornament, from a friend. The kit sat in our office for over 6 months! I went back, recently, to retrieve it; it’s a little dustier than when I left it, but intact. I’ve missed these hooks and skeins.

As you can make out, one of my favourite things to work on are granny squares. They are these wonderful little marvels! Using the magic of maths and loops-within-loops (or chains on chains, in crochet-speak), these symmetrical yarn squares can be used for whatever you like… how about a granny square jacket? or a cushion? or a marvelous afghan, like the one being made by my dear blogging pal, Tierney, described in her series of posts on granny square madness? Because, yes, when one starts with granny squares, it’s hard to stop. Over my several commutes, I ended up making a bunch of different squares with no plan for them. I decided to put them all together to make a banner to adorn the window in my shared office. Now that I’m home most days, the banner adds colour to the blank wallspace in front of the kitchen sink (making my turn at dish-duty a little merrier).

Believe or not, I miss taking the train. I miss my long bus ride along the scenic Lakeshore Drive and its endless blue horizon. The buses and train platforms do get crowded during rush hour, but I miss the Chicago subway musicians, among the best. And I miss that moment when I finally manage to find a seat, and hunker down with a playlist and some granny square-time. Now that my kit is back home, it reminds me of the tiny freedoms of making on the go.

Ok. More makes to come. Wishing you happy crafting this week, and hoping that you’re soaking in all of the gold of Autumn.

Flower Garlands

Earlier this Spring, I had the idea of decorating our reception venue with lots of handmade flowers. I had originally wanted to make big flowers to festoon the doors and windows. Like an excessive number of huuuuge flowers, or a crochet-flower photo backdrop. I even bought a 25 mm crochet hook and mega-bulky yarn to make this floral dream come true.

Big crochet.

The big flowers weren’t a success: they came out too floppy to hang. Also, I never got comfortable working with that huge hook (and the levels of wrist and arm torque it calls for!).

I went back to my worsted weight yarn and chose 2 floral patterns. For a month or so, my hooks seldom left my side. Train rides, car rides, waiting rooms, and the post dinner lull — it all became prime crochet time. Each flower was done in 20 minutes or so, and the crochet patterns became second nature, which surprised me. I always used to marvel at how crocheters could memorize their complex patterns. It was all a mess of loops, to me, before I started the craft myself. I like to think back to a story my mother would tell of my legendary crocheting great-aunt who could make a peacock-patterned curtain panel over afternoon TV. She was an inveterate cigar-smoker and, as the story goes, could smoke, watch and crochet simultaneously (she smoked out of the side of her mouth, and rarely looked down at the work). I wish I had her levels of multi-tasking ability!

Perhaps more than any other project, this one taught me the motivating power of working on small, quickly finished things in succession: after one flower is done, the mind says “again,” and the works seems to complete itself.

I strung all the little flowers onto 6 garlands, and added some quickly made tassels to the mix. I was happy with how they came out. After the party, the garlands sat in a box for a month, getting their petals bent out of shape. I felt sorry for this. So, I recently took them out and gave them their very own wall. They are keeping our space festive.

Has anyone had success with the huge 50 US/25.00 mm crochet hook? Or making decor or garments with mega bulky yarn? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Happy mid-September Saturday!