Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Above and Below

My husband Andrew has been selected for his third juried group show in the four months since he started submitting work to galleries.  This show is called In Your Dreams.  Andrew's photo, Above and Below, was one of 40 photos selected (out of around 1650 entries!) to be displayed in the gallery.

Three things about Andrew's photo make it very special to me:

1) It is an un-manipulated, in-camera double exposure.
2) One of the two exposures is a candid photo.
3) Each of the exposures required very different, manually input camera settings.

The magic of Andrew's shot is that he captured these two images — in sequence, in the moment — from scenes that were dynamic and fleeting.  And yet, none of this was as haphazard as you may think.  He knew exactly what kind of image and mood he wanted to create.

Capturing this confluence of elements  ... this exact way ... is both spontaneous and precise, combining otherwise unrelated scenes into a single composition with a logic, feeling, and atmosphere greater than the sum of its parts.  I feel like this is similar to the way our minds bring together disparate thoughts and images to form our dreams, making the photograph very well suited to the theme of the gallery's upcoming show.

When I can, I spend time with Andrew out in the world while he's taking photos.  Sometimes we take long walks through the city.  Sometimes we find a spot and let the city come to us.  At those times, I take a craft project to work on.  Just two days after he took Above and Below, he took this double exposure of me knitting with DPNs.  I love how I look like I'm speed knitting!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Perrin's Starling - Part 5: Finishing the Lining and Loopy Felt Flowers

Now that I have thread, I could make the lining.  There was a freakout because I couldn't find my personal lining instructions that told me exactly how I normally make the interior pocket or where I normally sew in the label.  

I've looked everywhere and it seems those handwritten instructions didn't make it through the move from Philly.  I've started re-documenting the process.  Maybe I'll update the lining tutorial to include this "fancy" info so I can't lose it again. :)

I also finished the embellishment.  Using this felt flower tutorial I made an awesome loopy flower.  Such a great, simple tutorial with excellent results.  When I came across that link, I knew it would be a perfect match for Perrin's bag lining.  I found the cutest little button for the flower center in my stash!

I tried making the blue part have super-thin loops.  It looked really awesome, but the acrylic felt started pulling apart at the loop ends.  It would probably work with wool felt, though.  Different loop widths and lengths could look amazing in the right layers.

How you thread your "pull tight" stitches through the loop strip make a difference in how your loops lay.  For the blue one, I went in and out every loop which oriented the loops sideways.  For the cream one I skipped every other loop. so some loops are sideways and the skipped loop pops up on top.  If you're going to make these, I encourage you to experiment!

Just a couple of finishing touches left.  I'm almost done! :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Purple Stripe Sweater - Update 4: Dealing with Yarn Ends In Arms

When I was knitting the arms, I would carry the yarn if I was only skipping over two rows, otherwise, I would cut the yarn.  There were dozens of ends along the seam where I was making color changes and cutting the yarn.

When it came time to do the finishing for the arms, I looked at a ton of different ways to weave in ends.  I really liked what is basically duplicate stitch on the back.  See how I'm weaving in the ends below?  It's a beautiful thing!

These photos show me weaving in the light purple yarn.

This shows both the end of the dark yarn and the beginning of the light yarn woven in on either side of the seam.

After weaving in 6 ends (three side-by-side sets), I tried the sweater on and discovered that weaving in so many ends so close together resulted in a stiff, lumpy fabric along the underside of my sweater arm.  The result was very unattractive and uncomfortable.

So I unwove all those ends.  And I stared at them.  And all I wanted to do is just cut them all off.

So I did ... after some hand sewing. :)

I threaded the blue yarn up the middle of the seam as a guide from the right-side of the fabric because it was easy to tell where the "seam" was from that side.  

Then I turned the sleeve inside out.  With all the carried and cut ends, the seam was less obvious.  The blue yarn was a super helpful guide.

One stitch to the left and one stitch to the right, I sewed up along the "seam".  When I came to a yarn end, I went through the yarn, then around the yarn, then pulled the thread tightly, and then I knotted the thread.  

I had to go up both on the left and right because when I started a new yarn, the end was on the left and when I broke yarn, the end was on the right.

Here's another shot of my sewing with the ends snipped.  I'm going to leave them just like that.

The last bit of finishing for the sleeves was to sew up the "seam" from the outside for extra security.

The next time I do color changes in a tube like this, I want to carry the yarn along the seam and just twist them every row.  This sweater only has 3 colors, so there would only be 2 yarns being carried at any given time, which wouldn't be too bulky.

Does it freak you out that I hand-sewed the seam and cut the ends short?

SPOILER ALERT: I'm already done with this sweater, but I still have a couple of posts left before I do the big reveal.  I only admit this because I've worn the sweater 3 times already *and* machine washed & partially machine dried it and the "seam" is superduper awesome.  So, no need to worry that the whole thing is just going to fall apart as I wear it.  This totally worked, as janky as it is. :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Perrin's Starling - Part 4: Buying Thread

I made it to the fabric store last weekend and, as promised, I picked up a rainbow of colors!  And some sorely needed neutrals.

Now that I see the haul with the fabric, I should have grabbed a light lime green, too.  I can't wait to use each of these colors in a project!

I plan on using this turquoise to sew the lining and this tan to sew on the label.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Crochet Heart Scarf - Free Pattern

You may have already seen this over on CRAFT's site, but just in case you didn't, I designed a crochet pattern for them ... this cute crochet heart scarf.  

I know I'm not giving you much lead time if you want to make one for V-day, but it's a quick crochet, so you could make one tonight if you don't have anything else planned.  Grab some yarn out of your stash, put on The Princess Bride, and get stitching!


Thursday, February 09, 2012

Purple Stripe Sweater - Update 3: Fixing Too-Wide Armholes

As I suspected, the arms on this sweater were much bigger than I wanted them to be.  They might be the right size for layering over button up shirts, but I wanted a closer, smoother fit, so I went back and made some adjustments.

Several times.

Four, I think, before I got it just right.

But first, here's some photos of what I have come to call the flabby sweater arm.
Someone was making me laugh!  The arm on the left is fixed, and the arm on the right is the pattern as written.  The arrows are pointing to the flab.

Now, my upper arms are thicker than most.  I know this because when I try on shirts that fit everywhere else, my upper arms are often squeeeeeezed.  So I don't like anything extra going on around there.  The little bump you see was mirrored by a bump on the back.

It's difficult to photograph this, but the lumpiness was simultaneously in the front and the back.

I'm looking at these photos and I can see the the lumps don't look all that bad.  In the photos they look like normal ease in the arms of a sweater.  But trust me, in person it was too much ... it's not me having delusional upper arm body image issues. Ha!

Here is the nice, neat, fitted arm after my mods.  Ahhh, look at that perfect fit. :)

This whole thing was actually a blessing in disguise because I totally forgot to cross the stitches at the armpits.  Here's what I did:

Row 1: Starting at center armpit, p/u 6 stitches (5 normal p/u one row below co edge and one stitch to the left of the last column), knit 3, k2tog, k3, k2tog, knit until last 10 stitches remain and k2tog, k3, k2tog, k3, p/u 6 stitches (one stitch to right of column and 5 normal p/u one row below co edge).

Row 2: knit all, except at corners with the extra p/u stitch where I k3tog with the extra stitch on top of the two stitches on either side of it.

That's it!  Just two rows of extra decreases on either side of the arm pit got rid of my unsightly sweater flab.  It took some experimenting to keep from creating a strange bulge near the decreases.  My first couple of tries made the sleeve look like a puffy mutton sleeve.

I will probably make this sweater again.  Next time I will adjust the sleeve stitches so I end up with the right amount without the decreases ... I think.  If I can figure out the math and it doesn't throw everything else off. ;)

And I will remember to cross the stitches at the armpit!  I will.  I will. I will!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Perrin's Starling - Part 3: Starting the Lining

I have a little progress to report on Perrin's Starling ... and a little is better than nothing.  Baby steps, baby steps.

Two weeks ago I picked out the tear-away stabilizer from the label.  If you've ever done this, you know it's more work than it seems.  :)

Last night I pulled out the ironing board, the cutting mat, and set up my sewing machine.  I was going to stay up a little later than I should have and finish sewing the lining.  I was thwarted by a lack of coordinating thread.  I could hardly believe it: no white, no cream, no blues or greens that match the fabric.  

It might be a couple of weeks before I can trek over to a fabric store, but when I do, I'm buying a rainbow's worth of spools.

I had to put everything away, so I pinned the lining and the cut-out pocket to the ironing board before I slipped it back into the closet so it will stay nice and flat.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

My First Granny Square Afghan

When I was three my mother taught me how to crochet.  I picked a pattern out of a magazine and we went to the store together to pick out the yarn.  I remember that I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when the blanket was finished.
(photo circa 1974)
HA!  Not really.  I totally couldn't crochet at three.  In fact, from the state of my face and the front of my shirt, it appears I still had issues eating.  It looks like I lost a fight with a bowl of chocolate ice cream.

Anyhoo.  My mother was making this blanket.  As she tells the story, I was fascinated by her crocheting.  One afternoon, while she wasn't looking, I climbed up into the chair and sat there poking the crochet hook into the granny square and sort of wiggling it around.  

It's hard to tell, but I'm holding the hook-end of the hook in my left hand and the shaft of the hook is hanging down and is peeking out from under the granny square just below.  It's red.

When I was discovered, I looked up and said earnestly (and probably with my eyebrows raised), "It doesn't work." Then I held the crochet out to her as if she should fix it.  I've always loved this story and this photo.

I've started scanning in all my childhood photos because they don't look like they are going to last much longer.  This is one of the Polaroids in good shape, and it still has some bad cracking (see top right hand corner of the curtains).  

The other issue with the photos, besides their age, is that our house burned down when I was 10 and all the photos were stacked willy nilly in the living room, so all the edges have smoke damage, as you can see at the top of the photo.

Someday I might do a post with all the childhood pictures of me with handmade items in the shot.  I have a slew of photos where I'm sitting on a crochet-blanket-draped couch or wearing clothes my mother made for me.

There's one photo I didn't manage to sneak into my stash that I wish I had.  It's my sisters and me in matching overalls that Mom made for us.  The bibs were a lion's head with a crazy loopy mane all around the edges.  So epic.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New *Share This* Post Buttons

(strictly techie today, so feel free to skip this post)

A bazillion years ago, I added a widget at the bottom of my posts to make it easy for people to share things.  I picked AddThis.com's widget because you could do ANYTHING (almost) with it ... add to bookmarks, email it, facebook it, stumble it, etc.  Looking at the stats on AddThis, I see that almost no one has used it.

Recently, I noticed that my traffic from Pinterest is rising steadily.  I figured I'd make it even easier for people to pin my posts.  When I looked into adding a Pinterest button, I discovered that it's not as easy as all the other social media buttons because it requires an image to be associated with the button.  Makes sense, but it's not something I could just pop onto the page.

Monday night I made some database changes, admin changes, and display changes to add Pin It buttons to every post.  Basically, I have a new field to fill in when I save a post ... the link to the image I want to use for the Pin It button.  If you click the button for most of my posts, the associated image is my logo, but for the most recent posts, and some of the older popular posts, I've put in an appropriate image from that specific blog post for the Pin It button.  Woo hoo!

It was so much fun to add that button, that I decided to upgrade my AddThis widget.  I got rid of everything except the Facebook Like button ... because it was the only one with a count next to it.  Then I found the code for the Tweet This button with a count next to it and added that one, too.

The reason I didn't use the AddThis tweet button with the count is because when you click the AddThis tweet button, it says "via @AddThis" at the end of the tweet text.  If I created the button programatically myself, I could have it say "via @futuregirlcraft" instead.  Of course, the tweeter can change the text that gets tweeted, but I didn't like AddThis inserting itself into my reader's experience.

I have no idea how the Facebook Like button works because I don't have a Facebook account.  If you ever use it and it seems goofy, let me know.

I like having the counts because it gives me instant feedback about how people feel about my post.  Not everyone comments because it takes time, etc, but it's super easy to click the Like/Tweet/Pin It buttons.  It's also probably good that you (my readers) aren't presented with a block of 20 little icons to choose from; you can choose to do one of three things easily.

I will go back through my old posts and update them to use an appropriate image for the Pin It button, starting with the posts that are linked to most often, like the blanket stitch post (which I've already changed).  I was thrilled to see that post already has 90 pins!

The other upside is that the purple stripe sweater post from Tuesday already has 8 pins.  I think it is due to the new Pin It button, which is great!  I love that people want to share something I've posted. :)

One little rant ... wtf is up with Pinterest making their share button taller than EVERYONE else's button?  The whole rest of the world is playing nice and making their buttons the same damn height.  I found the css that needed to change and I was all set to override their stylesheet (like I did with the twitter feed in the left sidebar) to make the button the standard height BUT they used IDs in an effing iFrame ... and at that point I'd already been programming for an hour past my bedtime, so I just gave up (I'm not even sure if it's possible to affect the styles in an page shown in an iFrame ...). But woe to you, Pinterest, if I ever *do* have the free time to look into this, because I'm going to cut your button down to size, you bunch of Egomaniacs.

Resources:
Tweet button details
Pin It button for websites details
AddThis.com details

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Purple Stripe Sweater - Update 2: Color Change At Ribbing

Even with the stripes, this is a very quick knit on 5.0 mm needles.  I sped through the body and did everything according to the pattern ...

... until ... haha, you knew there was an until, right?  

I didn't make the sweater as long as the pattern suggested because I like my tops to hit at the widest part of my hips.  I find that it's a great way to break up the bulk down there and having the shirt flare out accentuates my waist.  It's probably against the rules, just like horizontal stripes, but that doesn't bother me.

(OMG, see how big that armhole looks?  I'm trying to ignore how freaky big that hole is.  Just keep knitting.  Just keep knitting.)

The pattern suggested that you go down a needle size for the bottom ribbing.  I thought that would pull in too much and make the cardigan balloon-ish.  So I did two test swatches.

My suspicion was correct.  4.0 mm needles made the ribbing way too tight.  Both of the swatches are exactly the same number of stitches across and down.  The smaller needles also make a shorter row.

I was even tempted to go up a size to do the ribbing so it wouldn't pull at all.  But the sweater is cotton, so I figure it'll stretch a little and loosen up. We'll see.

A super-happy consequence of swatching was that I noticed the problem with starting 2x2 ribbing in a new color.  It reminded me of a striped ribbing trick I learned from Color Knitting The Easy Way:



The trick is, if you're knitting stripes and ribbing at the same time, to knit every stitch the first row, then go back to the ribbing on subsequent rows.  Ta da!  No dashes mucking up your stripey stripes.