Friday, June 3, 2011

Arts and crafts and resolutions

Last week, a friend was asking me about arts and crafts and my blog and wanted to see my posts about different projects.  So I went through anything with the label "arts and crafts."

It was a little sad.  You can see for yourself.

I didn't have very much there, and some of what I did have just sucked.  Which sucks.

I was embarrassed.  Then I was thinking.  I'm 28 and haven't learned to follow a pattern just because I'm afraid it's hard.  I've never even tried to follow one.  I'm making scarves basically the same way I did when I was 11.  When it comes to crocheting, I refuse to do anything beyond the granny square because I have problems adding and dropping stitches even though the last time I even attempted crocheting basic rows, with one exception in college, was when I was 11.

I'm still giving out garter-stitch scarves that look exactly like the ones I made 5, 10, or even 15 years ago?  It's ridiculous and I'm not even exaggerating out of humility.  You can check my mom and sisters' collections.  The only difference between the scarves they got for Christmas last year and the scarves I gave them in, say, 1998 is that my tension is a little better and I'm using nicer yarns.  Yes, I have a baby.  Yes, I have a full-time job.  Yes, I am far too easily frustrated to even consider knitting socks or my own bathing suit or whatever insane projects supercool knitters do.  I guess those are valid excuses.  But seriously? 

I want to do more.  I can do more.  Our libraries are full of books with patterns and projects that I check out, read for the pictures, and then return without trying a single one because they required counting stitches or marking rows or double needles.  The Internet is practically exploding with tutorials and groups and all manner of yarncraft awesomeness and I'm still thinking I'm a big deal because I play around with needle sizes and yarn heft like I learned to do this last month.

I've been trying a few different things in the past year like wristwarmers, a checkered pattern for scarves, some crocheting granny-square style scarves, etc.  But I really had a hard time coming up with all of them and working out the kinks, and I had to make up patterns (that weren't even really patterns) myself because I don't know how to follow one.  I don't know the terms, the abbreviations, or anything.  I look at patterns and they may as well be in a foreign language because it's like I'm craft-illiterate.  And since I'm hardly going to turn into a self-taught sweater-knitter any time soon, I'm going to have to learn.

I will check out the Elizabeth Zimmerman DVD again (just as soon as I pay some overdue fines and return some things.  The library sent me a pretty extreme email this morning).  I will check out some books.  I will follow some blogs.  Real craft blogs with patterns and posts about yarn purchases--not the blogs I've been following where women say they're crafty and then they just crank out post upon post about what they wore, or "thrifted", or what they did to their hair and then call their husbands "great providers/hard workers" like the two phrases mean the same thing and have weird nicknames for their kids.  (I deleted a bunch of them from my reader yesterday in a frenzy, but that glorious cleansing is another post for another time.)  I've already checked out a few and just what did I discover when I read these real craft blogs?

I'm in way over my head.  

I only understand what they're talking about half the time.  I have to keep looking up terms.  I have to watch the accompanying videos when someone posts about a simple way to do something fairly common.  Repeatedly.

I love it.

I'm going to learn things!  I'm going to stop being shy about projects I'm going to screw up several times before getting it right!  I'm going to even post more about the crafts I do!  Because I've been doing things, but I haven't been posting about them.  And that's just dumb, because I love writing about what I'm working on.  Love.  Working with yarn is something I've enjoyed since I was 8 or 9.  I love the look and texture or yarn and I love all the things you can do with it.  It's far more a part of me than I tend to think about.

When the tree fell on our house, most of my yarn was wet and dirty.
I was devastated because some of it was new, and I'd just found the time to start knitting again since Evelyn was born, and well, I love my yarn.  Mom put a bag over everything and took it home with her.  Then I didn't see it for 3 weeks.  I spent a few days moving stuff, looking for apartments, loving on my baby, and then......I needed a project.  After 2 days of feeling a physical urge to hold knitting needles in my hands, I mentioned something to Cody.  The next evening, we went to pick up Chinese food for everyone and Cody dropped me off, alone and shopping post-baby for the first time.  In less than 10 minutes, I picked up some circular needles and some sale yarn because a hat wouldn't take up much room at my mother-in-law's house (we'd already taken up quite a bit of space already!), and started knitting.  Cody ran some other errands, thinking I'd want plenty of time to look around and browse.

I just wanted to knit.

By the time he came back, I was sitting outside the store, casting on for the third time.  I was feeling so much better.  I wasn't worried about our less-than-great search for a new apartment.  I wasn't worried about my damaged stash.  I wasn't worried, period.  I was counting stitches and playing with yarn and thinking about other things I wanted to make.

I wound up having to unravel the hat a couple more times, but it kept me preoccupied and happy.  It's finished now and looks terrible, but I'll have to take a picture and show it to you some time.

Since then, my yarn has come back to me.  Mom wiped it off beautifully and I'll be sure to wash the finished project of anything made with that yarn.  But it's generally fine!  I've started two other projects.  One of them is even finished!  Remember this scarf?

It's done, and I like it.  Kelly even asked if I could post a pattern of it, which made me feel awesome.  So. Kelly: once I learn the names of the things I do, I will write a post about how to make this scarf.  Maybe I'll  even post a video!  My time is more scarce now, which is why I want to spend it more wisely.  This is what I love doing so much, so I want to learn how to do it well.

So!  Because lists keep me on track and are just generally wonderful, here is a list of the things I want to do in the next few months:
  1. Write down a pattern for the granny scarf.
  2. Post a pattern for the granny scarf.
  3. Take more pictures of my yarn, my projects, and finished products.
  4. Finish Evelyn's afghan!  I had finished nearly half of it before she was born, and I haven't touched it since.  But Mom washed it and dried it (yes, nearly everything craft-related got wet and dirty during our exciting storm damage adventure), and Dad ironed all my granny squares (?!), so I should be good to go!
  5. Learn knitting and crocheting terms. 
  6. Learn to follow a pattern for a basic hat.
  7. Do more with my Ravelry account.
And a bonus goal: learn to cable-knit. I love how cabling looks.  And because I think a cabled scarf would be really pretty.  Yes, more scarves!  I love making scarves, but I think they can use some improvement as well.

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