3KCBWDAY7 - Crafting Balance - Day 7

Ahh, the never-ending discussion on knitting vs. crocheting.  Here's my take....

I am an avid crocheter, who also knits.

Do I prefer one over the other?  In short, no.  They are two different craft forms, that yield different types of results.  Crocheting is a chunkier craft - the yarn lays flatter in knitted works, so of course crocheting will use up more yarn.  If there is a project where I feel that the flatter, lacier look is what I'm going for, then knitting is the craft to choose.  There's something so special about a lacy shawl.  And there is no way that a crocheted cable could ever replace a knitted one.  But then again, I prefer bobbles and popcorn stitches on crocheted works much more than on knitted ones.  And I don't think you'll ever get me to knit an afghan...ever.  I say let each craft form do what it was meant to do and move on.

Here's an example of two neckwarmers using the same type of yarn.  One is crocheted, the other is knitted.  I like them both for different reasons:

Chunky Crocheted Neckwarmer
Chunky Knitted Neckwarmer

Why do I chose to learn both craft forms?  Because each one yields different types of results.  (No brainer.  lol)

How did I come to learn and love my crafts?
I learned to crochet from my pastor's wife. They have 4 daughters and when we had slumber parties we always had to learn something wholesome so we wouldn't spend our entire evening talking about boys!!! My first project was a granny square. I made a blanket for myself because I loved crocheting so much. I also learned latch hook, cross-stitching, and sewing at those parties. But guess what, we still found time to talk about boys!!!

I made this blanket when I was 13 or 14.
As for knitting, I learned intermittently.  I went on a technology retreat, purchased a "Learning How to Knit Kit" while there and some of the ladies in my cabin were trying to help me.  I knitted (if you want to call it that) a little swatch.  Then I forgot what to do.  Some time much later, I tried again, watched a couple of videos online and made this crazy dishcloth that I gave to my mom.  She finally decided to use it like 2 years later.

Finally I took a 2-day knitting course at a yarn shop.  I was the only student so I asked a bunch of questions.  I left there with a pretty decent dishcloth and a whole bunch of patterns.

Now, why do I love these crafts?
That's probably such a long-winded answer, but I will say:
  • There's this type of peaceful bliss to see a string of yarn transformed into whatever you have decided to make.
  • Either one of these craft forms is something that doesn't require being in the company of others to do (once you learn the skill).  You can crochet or knit at whatever hour you choose and it's easily transportable.
  • I also believe that they both are highly therapeutic.
If you want to read more about others bloggers insight on crafting balance, Google the code 3KCBWDAY7 - or click here.

This post marks the final day of the weeklong blog challenge.  Starting Monday, I will return to my regular (or irregular) blog topics.

Until then,

3KCBWDAY6 - Improving Your Skillset - Day 6


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I've been crocheting since I was about 13 and knitting off and on for about a year or so.   In the crochet world there seems to be an infinite amount of stitches that can be learned.  Although I have been crocheting for quite some time, it was only in the last few years or so where I branched out from my sea of afghans and baby-blanket-making sessions and tried new things.  For a while I picked patterns where I could learn one new stitch each time.  But now, I'm content knowing that if I need a new stitch I can learn it, so my focus isn't merely on learning new stitches to add to the repertoire, but rather to find new ways to use crochet.  (I'm getting close to spilling my secret here so let me switch topics.)

Now for knitting, there is so much that can be learned because I'm a beginner.  Because I knit infrequently, I almost always have to refine my technique for tension control and get back into the swing of things.  My goals for knitting are much different than my goals for crocheting because I'm at a lower skill-level for knitting, so at this point, any technique that can be learned to help me reach my goal of knitting hats and scarves successfully is pretty much on the list.  :-)

I would say more if I could, but I had a pretty long day with the craft festival.  I'll be sure to post on that next week.

If you want to learn more about how other crafters improve their skillset, Google 3KCBWDAY6 or click here.

Here's to Lifelong Learning,

3KCBWDAY5 - Something a Bit Different - Day 5

So today's challenge for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is to find a new way of blogging.  Not having a lot of time this evening and a craft show on tomorrow, I decided to do a vlog - my very first.  Don't judge me too harshly on my lack of using a tripod and being without lipgloss (it's amazing what you notice about yourself on video that you might not have caught in the bathroom mirror).  This video was made in one take and no editing has been done.  And yes, I did say it was 2010. ??? Let's just blame that on tiredness and the sweltering heat.  lol

If you think this post deserves a nomination for being creative, then nominations can be made here.

To view how others have blogged differently today, Google the following code -  3KCBWDAY5 - or just click here:  3KCBWDAY5.

Happy Friday and Happy Crafting,

3KCBWDAY4 - The Seasonal Crafter. Me? - Day 4

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Over the years I can honestly say that I wasn't a crafter dictated by the season until I turned my craft love into a business.  Before, I made whatever I wanted, whenever, and in whatever color suited my fancy.  (I have to admit though that back then I was mostly making baby blankets.)  But when I became an official business, I started trying to "keep up" with the times.  Just like clothing stores.  If you expect to have fall items ready at the brink of fall, you make them a season ahead.  Is this easy?  No, because frankly, I'm not wired that way.

It's hard for me to truly enjoy the summer when I'm trying to think of fall/winter items.  And in the winter, I want to snuggle up in the warmth of what that season brings, not looking ahead at what's happening come spring.  It feels like I'm rushing my time.  It's easier when I'm making items for a specific person, but just to curl up and grab the next season's palette of yarn...not happening.

So what do I do?  Sometimes I find myself making items just because I want to and holding it until the appropriate season.  Sometimes I do make seasonally appropriate items. And sometimes I put my yarns away altogether (gasp) and pursue another craft.

What's my long-term goal?  To create beautiful items that aren't dictated by the season.  More on that in due time.  (Again, I'm keeping secrets here).

Originally I started a yarn stash because I lived too far away from decent yarn stores, but now that I realize my rhythm is off-beat, so to speak, and if I had to do it over, I would purchase as needed with the exception of your basic colors.  Live and learn.  But in the meantime, I'm going to work my stash down like nobody's business.  :-)

To read how others knit or crochet according to the seasons (or not), Google the code 3KCBWDAY4 or just click here: 3KCBWDAY4.

Happy Crafting,

3KCBWDAY3 - The Unsung Heroes - Day 3

So, I have this recurring dream for myself.  I won't dispel all of the dream (in case in turns into an amazing best seller some day), but I will tell you this much about said dream: 

I have the luxury of visiting all of these wonderful countries - not the tourist attractions, but where reality resides.  While there I literally sit at the feet of the true artisans.  The ones who go unnoticed. The ones in the villages.  The ones barely being paid for the beauty that they create with their bare hands.  The ones who know the secret, even if they don't realize that they know it.
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Humbling myself before them, I watch and learn.  I learn new ways to combine colors.  New techniques for tying those knots of yarn with my hooks or needles.  I'm learning the story behind the art.
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And when I finally come back to my home, I am changed.  I see in a new light.  I am able to take what I have learned and create something new.  No, not copying the technique but being inspired by it in such a way that whatever I can now create has transformed itself into what I had always imagined.

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These unknown men and women are my unsung heroes.  I am inspired by their skill, their wisdom, and the story they tell with their yarns.

You really don't know how many times I've had this dream.  How many times I've seen myself wearing flip flops, carrying a small backpack full of yarn needles, and of course my camera.  Every time I even think of the possibility of this dream coming to life, I smile.  I mentioned it to a friend of my brother and his response was:  "Sounds like you like anthropology."

If this dream ever becomes reality, know this - I will write a book.
To read other blogs that have shared their knitting or crochet hero, Google the code 3KCBWDAY3 or just click here: 3KCBWDAY3.

Continuing to be inspired,

3KCBWDAY2 - Photography Challenge Day - Day 2

Photography Challenge Day! Today challenges you to be creative with your photography, and get yourself in with the chance to win the photography prize.
Today is Day 2 of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.  The challenge is to use photography to create a scene of some kind.  Well, normally I would be up for the challenge, but I'm feeling a bit under the weather and so no Photoshopping or extra, over-the-top creative stuff will be happening this day.  However, I love photographs of crafters' tools and I've been eyeing my Mason Jar full of knitting and Tunisian Crochet hooks for a while now.  Some of these tools were purchased, but most of them were given to me.  You know I don't know a thing about Tunisian Crochet.  lol

So, even though my photographs definitely won't win a prize for being creative, I'm sharing them because I like them and don't want to be a loser on only the second day of the challenge.  :-)

Who knows?  Maybe I'll turn these images into cards or something.  Hummm....

To read other blogs that have blogged on this topic and to check out their cool photographs, Google this code: 3KCBWDAY2.
Enjoy and Happy Blogging!

3KCBWDAY1 - In Living Color - Day 1

Who remembers that television show?  Well, this post isn't dedicated to that well-loved 90s show, but to the colors in my yarn stash.  :-)

Because of my current craft room makeover project, I was unable to access my actual yarn stash, so I took a sneak peek into my stash noted in my Ravelry account.  And what did I see?

Mostly a lot of:



and This.

And not a whole lot of



and That.

It's strange because I do love lots of pretty colors, but I have to admit that fall is my favorite season.  Maybe subconsciously I'm drawn to those yarns because of that.

It's also of interest to note that the more vibrant colors in my stash have come from friends from various parts of Latin America where color vibrancy is more of a rule instead of an exception.

But hey, I'm trying.  I purchased these two skeins of Noro because of their beautiful vibrancy of colors.

Still haven't used them yet, but there is still hope.  :-)

My belief is that there is a time and place for everything and so there is a time for the more subdued tones and a time for the vibrant ones.  It really depends on the pattern, the person you're making the piece for, and the season.

  • I've said this before, but there is a perfect yarn for a pattern.  If I want to showcase something special about the design, then I choose a simpler yarn - one that won't compete.  If I want to showcase the yarn, then I go all out for it and choose a simple stitch.  
  • It's no point in making a beautiful item in a vibrant color if you know it's too much for the person you made it for and because of the color, that beautiful piece will remain in their closets or dresser drawers.
  • And finally, the season dictates my color choice.  If I want to make something that matches what Mother Nature has dictated is the color palette for that season, I do that.  But sometimes I like to do the opposite of Mother Nature and choose a bright color that will stand out against that season's color palette.  It's sort of like carrying a bright pink umbrella on a dreary, rainy day.  Somehow it makes you feel a bit happier.
So, those are my thoughts on yarn color.  I  hope you enjoyed.

This post is my contribution to Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012.  Post:  3KCBWDAY1.

Happy Crafting,

Earth Day 2012

Every day is Earth Day, but today, April 22, 2012 is the day set aside to celebrate Earth Day.  I've been learning and adapting my ways, little by little, to do my part to reduce my carbon footprint.  It's not easy to break old habits, but I believe a little goes a long way, so if we all try and change up our bad habits one at a time, it's bound to make a difference.

Here are a few pins that I've added to my Pinterest boards that I'd like to share with you.  Just a few ideas on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle:

Got Weeds?  Use Vinegar, Not Round Up.

Reusable Snack Bags
Source: etsy.com via Libby on Pinterest

DIY Watering Can

If you're interested in learning more about going green, here are a couple of my favorite blogs/websites.

Nature's Nurture Blog
In addition, author and friend, Tulani Thomas has written an article for Essence.com that is worth the read: Every Day is Earth Day:  7 Simple Steps to Go Green.
And let's remember, Every Day is Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day,

Tagging for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012 is almost here!  Here is a little more information as you consider your posts for next week, should you participate.  The tags are not mandatory, but are unique tags and will allow for your posts to be easily viewed if someone were to search for the tags for each day.  Also, using the tags will allow your blog post to be considered for the prizes that will be distributed.  You can place the tag in your blog title or simply somewhere in your post.  I'm going to do the latter.

I hope some of you decide to participate in some form or fashion.  And, if you have no clue as to what I'm even talking about, check out yesterday's post.  :-)

Happy Blogging, 

p.s. I'm really trying to get used to this new Blogger layout...

Upcoming Event: Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

I stopped by a blog recently and heard about this upcoming event that I am signed up to participate in.  It's called Knitting and Crochet Blog Week and it begins on Monday, April 23, 2012.  Each day there are a list of topics for you to blog about and also one wild card topic in case you have difficulty writing about the topic assigned.

If you're interested, head on over here to sign up, and get all the information on the weekly topics right here.

Oh, did I mention that there would be prizes?  :-)

I've accepted the challenge, what about you?  (In other words, you'll have to check back later for more craft room makeover posts.)


Zesty Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad

Who would have thought that the frozen cooked shrimp that I purchased some time ago due to an after football season sale of some kind, that I would actually have a purpose for it.  At some point I even thought, why in the world did I buy this crazy thing?  Shrimp is so easy to prepare, etc, etc.  Anyhoo, a friend made this dish last week and it's from a food blog that I love - Skinnytaste.com so I thought to give it a try as well.  Having that frozen cooked shrimp on hand just made the food prep that much simpler.

Thinking about making this dish?  You'll need the following:
  • Cooked shrimp
  • Avocado
  • Red onion
  • Cilantro
  • JalapeƱo
  • Tomato
  • Lime juice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
My tip that I learned about the onions to make them less pungent is this - put salt on the onions and cover with water; let it sit for 5 minutes or so and then rinse them off.  I used white onions because I didn't have red onions.  I also used more cilantro that required.  I've found that you either have a love or hate relationship with cilantro.  I happen to love it so I don't measure; I just grab, chop, and throw it in!

I also didn't have jalapeƱos - they had gone bad - so I threw in some green chiles.  Green chiles are definitely not the same, but I used what I had.  Still not having the kick I preferred, I realized I had some pepper jack cheese in the refrigerator and so I placed a slice on a flour tortilla, put some of this zesty lime shrimp and avocado salad on it and wrapped it up.  Super tasty!


Listen to the Paint: Painting 101 {Tutorial}


As my dad lent me a helping hand, it was a fine time to ask him how he got started painting in the first place.  Apparently, when he was in high school, there was a teacher who was a master painter, but my dad never was chosen to study under him.  So instead, my dad continued to watch this teacher's every move and determined within himself that he was going to paint as well.  (Apparently  he must have forgotten how that felt, because I never could touch the paint as a kid...I just watched.)

Nevertheless, my dad continued to learn this skill as he took on painting opportunities, the first being to paint his parent's house.  Mistakes were made along the way, like using interior paint instead of exterior paint, and repainting had to be done.  But that's a part of the learning process, right?  So anyways, over the course of about 30 years, he painted.

Now as I work on this space of mine, I am hearing the techniques that he never shared before:

Listen to the paint.
Apparently the paint speaks to you if you take time to listen.  There is a certain sound you will hear that let's you know if you have too much paint on your roller, not enough, or it is just right.  When you see the amount on your wall that provides coverage (not too faint, not too thick/heavy), then listen to the sound of the roller against the wall.  That sound lets you know the amount of pressure you're applying to the wall.  Let that sound guide you.  Listening to the paint is one reason why painters who are a good team, may not even speak while working.  The paint sets the tone.  It's quite therapeutic when you think about it.

Learn how to properly hold a paintbrush.
Hold the brush at an angle.  In fact, purchasing an angled brush will help tremendously in this area.

Overlap your lines.
When using a paint roller, make sure to overlap the lines of paint.  It helps to provide a better coverage and blend in the paint so that you can't see where one line of began and the other ended.

Learn to be ambidextrous.
Learning how to hold a steady paintbrush with either hand will prevent you from change your body positions to paint.  This is especially helpful if you have to get down low and paint under a windowsill, for example.  Just switch hands and keep it moving.

Get organized.
Make sure your drop cloth is spread out properly.  Always have your paint tray facing the wall that you're painting.  That keeps from a lot of unnecessary twisting around and such, and also helps keep from getting in the way of other people who might be painting on an adjacent wall.  No one likes being poked with those painting extension handles.  And nobody likes stepping in your paint tray.  If you get organized and keep it that way, you move a lot faster on the project.

Protect your investment.
When you're done with your paint and there's more paint in the can or bucket, make sure you seal the lid nice and tight.  It preserves the paint and keeps you from wasting money purchasing more of the same paint at a later date.

Ventilate the room.
If you don't want to pass out, ventilate the room.  Turn on a fan or open a door or both.  Pretty self-explanatory.

I have painted in my home before, but never under the tutelage of my dad.  I was nervous when he relinquished the paint roller and gave me the "ok".  Actually he stepped out of the room, I yelled out, "You want me to paint?"  First he said, "No" (Go figure), then said, "Yeah, if you want."  So I got started.  I knew even from another room that he was listening to the paint to determine what I was doing.  I was so overjoyed that when he returned, he complimented me on my painting skills.  Apparently, you can learn something from watching an adult.  Imagine that.

So, if you're still reading this post, let's recap:
When painting:  Get organized, ventilate your room, learn to be ambidextrous, protect your investment, learn how to hold a paintbrush properly, overlap your lines, and most importantly, listen to the paint.

Happy Painting,

Bookmarks for Special Occasions

I recently finished a custom order for a local branch of a professional organization celebrating their 50 year anniversary.  I was honored that someone would think of me to create these little mementos.

For this project, I learned how to download and install special brushes in Photoshop.  Here is a link to one of the sites I visited for this project.  What I like about this download site is that you don't have to create an account or do any weird tricks, simply download and save the files.  However, I am not responsible for whatever anime ads they have on their page.  lol

Happy Crafting,

Life as I Know It - Weekly Update #8

My mom and dad were at a thrift shop on different occasions and they decided to buy me something to fuel my photography addiction.

This is what my dad bought.
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This is what my mom bought.

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Maybe after being married for almost 43 years, they are rubbing off on each other.  My dad in a thrift store, come on, really?  They both got a deal, but mom's the professional thrifter.  My dad's book cost $1.00 and my mom's was 10 cents.  :-)

On Friday morning, I was one of the features on Curly Nikki's "Show and Tell Fierce Friday" segment.  This is my first time being featured on a natural hair blog.

Click on the image to see the complete post.

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Remember back in the fall when I slept on my hand all funny and wound up in OT?  Well my hand is much better since the therapy, but not 100%.  I was doing everything I could to prevent getting a cortisone shot, but finally I wanted some definite answers to my condition, so I made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor and prayed that he would tell me something conclusive and that he wouldn't say, "Ma'am, you can no longer crochet."  I'm shuddering now just at the thought.  Well, I did go to said doctor, I finally got some xrays, and a conclusive answer.  I do not, I repeat, do not have carpel tunnel.  Yay!

I have been diagnosed with DeQuervain's Syndrome, which has a lot to do with the thumb.  The doc told me to wear my brace at night for 6 weeks even when I don't feel anything wrong and apply ice to the area when I do.  My injury just hasn't completely healed, but because the response was really good to therapy and other treatments, it will probably subside.  He did not recommend cortisone, unless it was just really bad, and it's not.  Surgery is the last option, but it's not that serious.  I like doctors, who are surgeons, who don't push meds and surgery as if that's the only option.  In fact the doctor said, "We want to keep you crocheting!"  Needless to say, I was literally skipping out the office.  :-)

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I've been on spring break all this week - a much needed break, I might add.  Well, work resumes on Monday and so I must bid adieu to the schedule I had recreated for myself this week.  It does make me kind of look forward to the summer.  There are definitely more projects around this house that need to be done.

Over the break I had the opportunity to photograph some beautiful pottery.  All edits are done and the cd is on the way to the potter.  I'll do a blog post this week so you can see more of these gorgeous ceramic creations.

Life happens and throws us off schedule at times.  So, my craft room makeover project won't be finished with the paint portion before I head back to work like I had planned, but that's ok.  Slow and steady wins the race.  The ceiling and the molding strips are painted.  The three green walls are painted.  Then we had to take a break.  My dad started wheezing and I said, "Enough!"  The deadline is not that important.  But I couldn't resist giving you all a little sneak peek.  I feel happy in this space already.  :-)

Until next time,