At some point in my youth and childhood, I went on a trip to Ireland. While I was there, I got a blanket (from this company). It seemed ruinously expensive at the time (I was a teenager, that was a lot of hours of babysitting), but I loved it and wanted it beyond all reason. It lived in my room for many years. For the last decade or so, it has lived in the bottom of my blanket chest.
Its fall from grace is not its fault. It’s a lovely, sturdy, wooly blanket. It does all of the things a blanket should do. But I no longer like the colors. At all. There is nothing purple or blue in my house. I just don’t find myself drawn to any of those colors when picking things for my home.
So, rather than throw it away or keep it tucked away in the shadowy depths of the blanket chest, I have decided to rescue it. I’ve bought some packages of dye and I’m about to go abuse my washing machine.
Now like any rescue plan, this one has some risks. There is every chance that the result will be a big giant mess. But I’m willing to chance it. As I see it, there are three possibilities:
1) The blanket is ruined in some way. Either it felts horribly or it turns a wretched color or some other mishap befalls it. But, I currently have a blanket I will never use. If the plan goes horribly awry, I will still have a blanket I will never use. The risk is small.
2) The washer is ruined in some way. This is the bigger risk…a broken washing machine is not in the budget for this month. But, the package of dye says you can do it in the washing machine, and I’ve used it in this fashion before, so I’m hoping this risk is small too.
3) The blanket takes on lovely earthy browns instead of garish 90s purples, and I am once again madly in love with it.
Anyone want to place a wager as to how this will turn out?
So, as promised, I’d like you to meet someone who really knows her way around the bead shop. May I introduce the lovely Laura Nelkin?
I got to know Laura when she was design director for Schaefer Yarn. She got in touch with me when I was very new at this pattern thing and asked if I’d like to do a design for Schaefer. This was an incredibly generous thing to do. I was a complete newbie and was totally making it up as I went along. Her encouragement was a tremendous help.
Laura has recently made the switch to being an independent knitwear designer, and she’s doing some amazing things. Her latest project is a video class on lace shawls that looks like great fun. Even more impressive (at lest to me, as I sit here surrounded by hundreds of beads and a few false starts) is her way with beads.
She’s done lots of individual beaded patterns in the past (Ennoble more or less makes me weak in the knees), but now she’s done something even more fun. She’s put together a whole collection of knitted jewelry and other accessories (most of it with beads). She’s releasing one pattern a month, plus a few surprise patterns here and there. The first pattern came out back in May, and new patterns are being added every month.
The pattern collection is called Adorn, and it is absolutely marvelous. The patterns are lovely, and the instructions are clear enough that even a bead novice like me isn’t intimidated. If you’re already a bead expert or if you’ve only been considering taking up beading (and really, if you like yarn shops, there is a good chance you’ll like bead shops…they hit a lot of the same ‘oooooh, pretty colors’ buttons in my brain), you’ll want to add this to your collection.
I’ve got a copy to give away to one lucky reader. If you’d like it to be you, just leave me a comment below and tell me what you like to do with beads (even if it’s just admire them from a distance). I’ll pick a winner on Friday. Do be sure to use a real email address so I can get in touch if you win (and don’t worry, I won’t do anything with any of the addresses except contact the winner).
I occasionally get messages complaining that my knitting always looks better than that of the writer. Seriously folks, this is because I cheat. I tend to only show you the pretty stuff. The stuff that isn’t working out? That gets tossed against the wall and sworn at and then ripped. But just so you know it happens, here’s an example of something that isn’t working out.
But this is a case where the whole is so much less than the sum of the parts. I think its because all the colors are just too similar. The yarn and the beads and the thread all sort of blur together and nothing really pops. So, I’ll be ripping (which to be honest, is no fun at all with two strands plus beads), separating it, and finding another plan. And I have a suspicion the plan will involve just that purple yarn because it’s just singing to me and trying to sweet talk me into finding a better use for it.
And just to provide a counterpoint for my beaded failure, tomorrow I’ll introduce you to someone who does all sorts of nifty things with beads (and have a little giveaway to spread the love).
- August 26, 2011
I like to look at all of the ‘my house is so pretty’ blogs. Well, sort of. I like to look at them, but then I tend to look around at my actual house (the one with the extra cat and the pile of laundry and the dishes in the sink) and think it all looks a bit…less than stellar. So, on the off chance that you too occasionally look at those sites and are left feeling a bit glum, I’ll present my closet. I assure you it is not a magazine closet. It is not full of custom shelving and matching storage bins. It’s just…a closet. A tidy closet full of yarn, but a closet none the less.
This is the view straight in the door (that’s the door over there on the right of the pictures). And yes, the closet does have a window. That’s a big part of why it’s the craft closet and not the clothes closet. The clothes didn’t like the sun. Those are the shelves I got at Lowes. On the bottom two shelves are The Stash. Well, the Non-Sock Stash. The Sock Stash lives in the card catalog out in the office proper. It’s all housed in these awesome 27 liter plastic totes. They’re flexible and squashable and hold a surprising amount of stuff. I found them in the gardening section of one of the big box stores and bought…um…several.
Next is the printer. The printer was the impetus for this whole reshuffle. It’s giant and heavy and noisy. But it prints pretty pictures, and I need it, and I needed it to be somewhere closer than the basement. Next to it is the mini laptop which is playing the role of ‘magical-make-printer-go-device’ for the moment. I have a suspicion there is a more efficient way to do this, but I’m not really using the laptop since I got the ipad, and it works, so we’re calling it good for now.
On the top two shelves are…baskets of knitting stuff. One holds mini sample skeins from some of the yarn companies I work with, one holds knitting things that are awaiting some sort of attention from me (socks to darn, things to photograph, etc). The other ones are empty. That’s right…actual empty bins. I’m sure something will come along, but right now I’m enjoying the breathing room.
This next shot is taken looking over to the left into depths of the closet (the ceiling slants way down). I’ve got an old set of shorter shelves that I’ve had for years (my sewing machine is on the bottom shelf, the top shelf is empty). A bit farther back is a stack of extra totes (I’m assuming The Stash may someday grow). They’re sitting on top of the file box that holds the records for and leftover from Book the First.
Then all the way at the back is…other crafty stuff. The front left blue basket has my sewing supplies, and the one beside it is full of coloring books and colored pencils and bits of funny paper and more drafting tools than I could possibly need. Behind the paper is a basket full of beads (don’t ask, it was a previous addiction). The fourth one is full of stuff for making straw stars (a traditional German christmas ornaments…it’s another previous addiction). For some reason Barry loves hanging out on the straw for those. He doesn’t eat it, so I don’t stress over it.
On the bottom is my secret shame. I’m usually really good at getting rid of things. Obnoxiously good at it. I’m not terribly sentimental, and I love empty space, so I’m pretty ruthless about tossing things out if I don’t want or need them. But I’m not quite perfect. So those two drawers there at the very back are full of things I totally don’t need and likely won’t use but can’t quite bear to throw away. I figure everyone needs a bit of that, and if I keep it to those two drawers it’s not too unmanageable. And every now and then I sort it and see if any of it has lost its luster.
Over beside the drawers are frames and pictures I had every intention of getting framed until I actually went and got an estimate and now I’m not sure I actually like them that much because holy crap is framing expensive. Am I the only one who does that? I really should learn to do my own framing.
So, that’s the closet and the stash. I still need to purge a little bit more stuff (there is some yarn in those totes that I totally don’t need), but overall it’s pretty organized, and there is room to grow. How do you guys store your yarn and crafty stuff?
- August 25, 2011
You know what I’ve learned…it’s damn near impossible to take a good picture of one’s closet. At least my closet. Possibly you can take good pictures of your closet. Your closet is likely painted, maybe with some sort of decorative painting technique (but a pretty one, not one of the scary 80s ones). You probably have an area rug and a picture hung on the wall and some sort of charming lamp. Possibly even some sort of lovely tiny chair to sit on while pondering your perfectly-coordinated wardrobe.
I? I have an old closet. My house was built in 1920 and while I love it dearly, closet technology has come a long way in the last 90 years. I more or less consider myself lucky to have a closet in my office. It’s even a fairly good-sized closet. It is, however, long and skinny. It’s about 3 feet deep and 9 feet long. But don’t get too excited, because it’s tucked up under the eaves of the house so the back 6 feet or so have a sloping ceiling. And the light? The light your classic bare-bulb-with-pull-chain deal featured in every horror movie basement ever.
So last weekend, I decided I really really wanted to get our printer (our giant noisy heavy printer) out of the basement and into my office. I’m in the stage of the book where I spend a lot of time pouring over pieces of paper looking for commas and capitalization and extra spaces. This means I am killing a lot of trees (yes, I know you can do a lot on the screen, but eventually I need to see it on paper…sorry trees). The printer is not allowed to be out in public in my office (doesn’t jibe with the Victorian library/Turkish bordello vibe I want in here), so it had to go in the closet.
That required some…shifting.
Now, if I lived in a magazine, a perfectly-coiffed genie would have appeared out of nowhere and magically transformed my closet into a shining jewel box lined with shelves and drawers and full of matching buckets and bins. The walls would be a lovely pearly gray, there would be a cushy sheepskin rug on the floor, and the whole thing would glow from the artfully hidden lighting. It would be easy to photograph.
I don’t live in a magazine, and so I went to Lowes and bought some wire shelving. Then I dragged EVERYTHING out of the closet, threw half of it away (always a good idea). Then I crammed it all back in. Then I wanted to tell you about it (it is the yarn/craft closet after all). But now I realize this post is way too long already so the pictures and stuff will have to wait till next time.