Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Capturing the creativity (or not!)

Still knitting the scarves...

and pleased that I'm making some progress.  I've started on the 2nd half of the Red Leafy Scarf, which means I'm on the lace part again (concentration required!) and I think I'm over half-way on the Any Yarn Scarf.  I'm not sure how long to make it yet, but I guess the straight part will be somewhere between a third and half of the total length.  So far so good anyway.

But my musing this week is around how to get good pictures of my projects...  I took this photo with an iPhone4, which has sometimes given me spectacular photos and sometimes just doesn't know how to focus. And on other projects it's worked well, but for these two I don't think I've managed a sharp image yet.  I've tried different backdrops and different flash conditions or focal points, but I can't get a clear picture to show the stitch pattern.  It's a shame, because the enjoyment of these scarves is partly in the detail of the patterns.

I don't have a "proper" camera to play with (maybe I should ask Santa!) but I've had success with my phone before.  So I've got some ideas to try...
- wait for daylight (weekends only at the moment, and sometimes not even then!)
- try creating a plain backdrop with a sheet of material to give a clear contrast
- wait until the scarves are finished and blocked so the definition is more obvious
- borrow my husband's camera so I can put it on a small tripod (I'm not always confident I've kept the phone steady)
- spend more time browsing other blogs to see what clever tricks other people have used
- I'd like to be able to get a good close-up as well... 

I'll just have to keep practising.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

What's the attraction?

I'm still knitting the scarves and enjoying their growth:

I've been alternating between them, partly so that one of the recipients doesn't see her present before Christmas, and partly for the change in texture and pattern.  I think the Red Leafy Scarf's getting towards the half-way point now, which means I get to start on the lace part again, and I've decided to do a straight section on the Any Yarn Scarf so that it won't be triangular after all - more of a trapezium.
So there's beginning to be a sense of achievement.

I took a short break on Saturday for a quick knit in the car that I'll post about after Christmas, which got me thinking... how do I choose my projects?

Variety - I like to change the routine a bit while I'm knitting, so I often have more than one active project which use different types of yarn or stitch so that I can switch when I get bored with the project in hand.
Challenge - I enjoy learning new techniques, so I'm attracted to projects which use methods I've not tried before.  The (as yet unfinished) Snug was a good example of this - an almost seamless design for a baby jacket, knit for a baby expected just after Christmas (it'll be finished once I know if Baby is a he or a she...)
Mindlessness - if I'm travelling then I quite like to knit to keep my hands occupied while I'm looking out at the passing countryside.  So a project which doesn't need me to watch every stitch is great to have with me.  The Any Yarn Scarf is almost one of these, in that the increase section is garter stitch.  Anything fiddly just won't do though.
Design - I'm drawn to elegant designs, such as the Baby Surprise Jacket or Clapotis scarf, where I can marvel at the designer's skill in creating something beautiful in a clever way.  This is a big part of my addiction to Möbius cowls too.

Most of my projects have been gifts, although this year I've made slightly more for myself.  While I'll always look for something which suits the recipient, I'll also be sure to choose something that I'll enjoy making.  Then  hopefully the gift can give pleasure twice - as it's made and once it's been given.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Switch it off!

After posting last week about the frustration of never-ending scarves, this week I've been enjoying some of their repetitiveness.

I cast on for an Any Yarn Scarf for Grandma, using 4-ply sock-yarn, and spent some time on that this evening.  I've reached the stage where I don't need the pattern any more, which feels good: I like being able to read the rows to know where I am and what comes next.

I've also picked the red leafy scarf back up and made some progress last night while chatting with friends.  It doesn't need to be long enough to wrap around a neck, so it shouldn't be too long until I can start on the second half.

In both cases I've been enjoying the repetitive nature of their fairly short rows and simple lace stitches combined with plain knitting. This is something I've often read about but not experienced so much myself; normally I look for the challenge of a new technique, or I'm knitting to a gift deadline.  And knowing that I can switch between projects when one becomes too repetitive lifts the sense of there being no end in sight.

But perhaps the real difference has been knitting while chatting rather than with the tv on for "entertainment".  So maybe the moral of the story is... Switch it off!

I'm a little late for WIP Wednesday, but there you go... too busy knitting I guess ;o)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Against my better judgement...

I have 3 active projects at the moment, and one which I ripped out yesterday.  All of them are scarves.  Looking back at my recent makes I've also made 4 circular moebius scarves and a Clapotis wrap since the start of the year.

So my question is... why do I keep making scarves?  When I first cast on for a new scarf I'm full of enthusiasm, but I know that long before the end I'll have grown to resent the thing: its nagging, unfinished presence and the repetitive rows which are the same as the previous 100 and the 100 still to come.  I know that I'll put it down "just while I do this quick knit" only to find it abandoned months later, when I realise I've left it too late for the gift deadline I had in mind.

Even the Teddy's Scarf I knitted for our young godson's birthday was tiring by the end.  (Surely it's long enough by now!)

And yet, I love the finished result.  And I press on with the thought that a gifted scarf might keep the recipient feeling warm and cosy - a lasting hug.

So here are my current projects:
These were wonderfully quick to knit up, thanks to chunky yarn and a pattern that can be knitted without having to watch every stitch.  I even made the crocs a bit longer than the design.
They're both nearly finished now - only the eyes and nostrils to add.  I think they're going to be so cute!
I started this back in June and made great progress until I put it down for a short while... I've restarted it within the last week or so.  It won't be finished in time for a November birthday, but maybe Christmas; just don't ask which year... it was originally planned for 2011!

This is my first entry for WIP Wednesday.  There are loads more projects to see at Tami's Amis

Sunday, 4 November 2012

crafty creations

Our friends visited for the weekend: 2 adults and 2 children (aged 7 & 9) who all enjoy making things.  Each has their own interest and it's been fun exploring the different activities.

Over the last 2 days we have:

  • knitted... to written patterns and to a secret pattern in his head
  • slow-cooked a beef stew ready for our return from a day's exploring
  • experimented with new drawing techniques at the Pencil Museum
  • bought some (more!) yarn
  • baked lemon drizzle cake
  • shared pattern ideas
  • made a toy car garage from big blocks

I've been blessed by the eager creativity of the youngsters and the way they're learning how to put their ideas into being.  It's so exciting to see traditional crafts being shared with, and enjoyed by, the next generation.  

And I've been honoured to be the only person trusted with the secret design for his project; I'm looking forward to seeing the results!
(so no picture of that project...)