Sunday, April 15, 2018

The March 2018 Geek and Nerd Swap: Science Fiction

Now that I am crafting again, I am also logging into Ravelry again, and remembering how fun it is to snoop through message boards and new patterns.  In keeping with that, I decided to sign up for another Geek and Nerd Swap.  In particular, I opted for the March one with the theme Science Fiction.  I carefully reviewed the month, noted all the days I was taking off work, and decided that I could do this.  I could even explore some of these science fiction TV shows I have heard so much about but never watched (like . . . Firefly . . . or Dr. Who . . . I don't watch a lot of TV, okay?).

The month promptly fell apart for reasons I don't want to go into because they are no fun.  Happily, I received this package.

I wonder what's inside?

Tissue paper?  Let's take a peek underneath . . .

I spy something knitted . . .

Behold my awesome swap gift!

I received Dune-themed post cards, spicy hot chocolate and spicy chocolate (for spice, get it?), a ball of yarn, a book on the science of Dune, and a sand dunes inspired scarf!  I love it all!

It promptly got too warm here in Frankfurt to wear the scarf, so clearly it has magical powers that made spring come.  I love it all the more.


In roughly June of last year, I suddenly felt like crafting again.  So I started crocheting a baby blanket.

I understand if a blanket makes no sense to you as a crafting re-entry project.  Even a baby blanket is a large, time-consuming, non-portable endeavor.  Historically, I have done most of my knitting or crocheting on public transit, and that would never happen with this sort of WIP.  However, I had a mess of multi-colored acrylic and the itch to do something mindless while browsing youtube videos on the couch, and let us all acknowledge the suitability of blanket projects when one really wants a convenient lap-warmer.

(Cats are right out, because I live in an apartment and my husband is allergic.  But I acknowledge their prowess as lap-warmers too.)

The multi-colored yarn was a melange of grey, white, black, peach, mauve, and lavender, and a gift.  I doubt I would have ever picked up such yarn myself.  But I thought it would look good in strips with some solid colors to balance things, and so worked up the Rainbow Ripple Baby Blanket.  The only change I made was to limit the solid pink strips to two rows, which did not impact the placement of any other increases.  Doesn't it look fetching?  I worked in up in less than four months.

Then I gave it to my mother over Christmas to regift, since she goes to more baby-shower-type events than I do.  I was on to other crafting pursuits, my inspiration more or less back intact. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018


In January 2016, after finishing my holiday crafting, I wrote the names of all the patterns I wanted to knit on slips of papers and dumped them into the top of an cup-shaped dance trophy.  I drew one at random, and cast on the Cancan mitts.

Then I stopped knitting.  I was jobless and struggling to learn a new language, and I stopped crafting.  My creative energy disappeared, rerouted to deal with the stresses in my life.

Then I got a new job, and was assigned to a new project, and started flying around Europe every single week.  I did not knit on the plane.  The first mitt languished unfinished through the end of the year and into 2017.  It was spring before I found myself sitting in a train instead of a plane, and confident enough in my work, to have some energy to make things again.  Then I finished the mitts.

They are too small for me.  I refused to do anything about that.  They are done and off my needles and gone, and I have moved onto other projects.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Holiday Projects

I have gone almost a month without actively working on a knitting or crocheting project.  I got distracted, and my creativity ran off in another direction.  Behold, one of the most selfish Christmas gifts ever.
 My mother has a large supply of novelty cotton prints for the making of I-spy quilts.  She would like to reduce this supply.  She would also like to produce some blankets appropriate for a small child.  I wanted to try my hand at patchwork and quilting.  I therefore was granted permission to raid my mother's fabric stash over the holidays and use her sewing machine.  With a few coupons to a fabric-selling big box craft store, I selected a few additional fabrics and off I went.

I hauled my very own rotary cutter and ruler across the ocean for this.  I did purchase a new cutting mat for my mom, though.  My mom's sewing machine is brand new a Brother CS6000i.  This thing was the greatest deal, guys.  I am almost a little jealous.  I took to calling it the mighty midget, because this sewing machine has a bunch of nice features for quilting while feeling like it weighs next to nothing.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Saga of the Kitchen

Several months ago, my husband and I moved to Germany.  Moving to a new country always presents many adjustments, but I found one of the most disconcerting to be what is considered a furnishing in an unfurnished apartment.  In Belgium, light fixtures (and I mean the ones you screw into the ceiling or wall) were furnishings.  They were the property of the tenant, and tenants took their lights with them when they moved out.  In Germany, the lights and the kitchen are considered furnishings.

This includes the kitchen appliances.  It includes the counter-top.  It includes the kitchen cabinets.  It includes the sink and the faucet.  The "kitchen" in an unfurnished apartment around here comes as a room with a few pipes hanging out of the walls.
That's the original "kitchen"
Clearly moving into an apartment without a functional kitchen is a problem.  There are a couple work-arounds commonly used to make the transition easier.  The first is that often the old tenants have no more desire to pull out all the cabinets, appliances, and fixtures of their old kitchen to pack along to a new place (not to mention the difficulty of getting a pre-existing set up to fit correctly in a new apartment) than the new tenants do to find, purchase, and install all the cabinets, appliances, and fixtures necessary for a kitchen.  A deal can then be made where the new tenants pay the old tenants to leave their kitchen in place.  This effectively increases the initial cost of moving in, but requires no additional effort on anyone's part.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015 in Knitting Review and the State of the Stash

Happy New Year!  I hope that you had a wonderful holiday and that 2016 is off to a good start.  I spent the holiday with my family in the US, and recently returned to Europe.  I am now dealing with a lingering case of jet-lag that keeps waking me up in the middle of the night, so I apologize in advance for any incoherence in this post.

Following my post from last year, let's see how 2015 compares with previous years in knitting.
I did not meet my goal of twelve finished projects this year, as I only managed to get through ten.  That's one less than last year.  However, as shown below, these ten projects used a bit more yarn than 2014's eleven projects.  One of the big drivers of that is the Elizabeth shawl, which was the biggest yarn eater of the year.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Ballroom Tip: Costume Considerations, part 3

Today we continue with me detailing my personal philosophy on ballroom dance costumes, and this post is a quick one as I've been dancing and prepping for an interview all weekend.  I've discussed already that dance costumes should attract attention, and described how I evaluate the effectiveness of colors and color combinations.  I'll finish with a few posts on elements I look for in a dance dress to ensure it works for my body and skill level.

While a dance dress should attract attention, it should be flattering at the same time. This means at the very least, it should stay put while you're cha-chaing/waltzing/jiving/quicksteping around.  You will not dance as well if you are worried about your dress failing to stay on.  The biggest issue for me with this for several years was keeping my chest contained, as I hate feeling like my breasts were bouncing around without me.  This means that I stick with dresses with sturdy straps over each shoulder and with a back.  The back of the dress puts tension on the edge of the bra cups to hold them in place.  In a couple of my costumes, I actually bought a cheap, nude-colored bra, cut off the over-the-shoulder straps, and sewed the cups into place, leaving the straps with the hooks and eyes attached.  It gave me a lot of extra support.

The same logic applies to other body parts you'd like to keep under control.  Uncomfortable about your bum or thighs?  Wear fishnets and pick a costume that doesn't have cut-outs around your rear or a back that dips below the waist.  If you don't like displaying your entire arm, pick a dress that has sleeves.  I also have a red birth mark in the middle of my back, so I wear dresses with higher backs to cover it.  These things make me more comfortable and allow me to focus on my dancing and performance, which is ultimately what matters most in a competition.