Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Uses For Random Buttons

It's the rare day that I have to buy buttons. My mother came from a family that followed the tradition of saving the old buttons from your clothes when the clothes were worn out and went in the ragbag. She got further infusions of buttons when older people she knew passed their button collections on to her. She has button boxes, I have button boxes...there are a lot of buttons around.

Of course the small problem with saving buttons is that sooner or later you wind up with a lot of buttons where you only have one or two of a kind. Hate to throw them out, but what do you do with them?

Some of my mother's random mother-of-pearl buttons have gone onto ornamental pillows, which it seems a lot of people have done. 

Some of them end up in other crafts - I have a hair clip my sister made years ago that has the same kind of overlapping look as this picture frame.

Knitting projects that take only a couple buttons, like slippers or hats, are another notion, and a good one if what you have is larger, ornamental buttons - the kind that used to come off coats. I've done that a few times.

But I learned of another, apparently trendy, use a few weeks ago, which is the reason I've been picking through my collection for lone buttons in specific colours today. Brides are making (or buying) button bouquets! One of the knitters I know has requested buttons for her wedding bouquet, and I had to go search online to see what she was talking about. 

Kind of a neat idea, (and appropriate for someone crafty)! Buttons either stacked or wired into flower shapes, or sewn in a dome shape, and set up as a bouquet. What'll they think of next?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Bits of Winter Life

I was happy to be out at the parents' for a couple days last week, in that so-lovely frigid weather. Nothing like having a good heat source, like a wood stove, on a cold day. It was very pretty, though - sunrises sparkling over the snow (that's what I get out my window when I'm there), and the feeders thronged with birds. But I watched from inside, thankyouverymuch.

I expect the good part of the cold for the birds is that they don't have to worry about the cats so much. Certainly none of them spent much time outdoors. Some, like Julia, found vantage points to watch the feeders, and some, like Pumpkin, just found a nice cozy spot (with a sunbeam, if possible) to nap in.

There's always erranding to do when I'm down, and this was no exception. Mom and I went to meet up with Jo and Chantal at the alpaca ranch - and I always come home with homework from the meetings. This time it was a pair of thrummed mittens that someone wanted me to knit up from a Fleece Artist kit, which I knew was waiting to pick up. I spent the next couple days enjoying making those!

There was also showing the model and discussing some pattern adjustments to be made to the stranded mitten pattern I've been designing for the shop, to go with the dye classes or with shop kits (and which I hope to get posted on Rav after Chantal tests them for me), and a bundle of yarn and some patterns and ideas for commissions for the shop, and a commercial sweater Jo loves and would like reverse engineered and adjusted for their yarn.... I think most of my personal projects are going to be put off again!

Mom's thing is weaving, and she had some books and magazines to lend Chantal, who wants to do some scarves for the store. She also brought her latest project, linen towels for the bathroom, to show. I can't blame her, they are lovely! They look so nice lined up on the towel rack.

There is also a matching bath mat - and a runner for the cats' table in the kitchen, where their food bowl is. Only in a weaver's house would the cats have a handwoven, wool-backed, linen runner to lie on and eat their food on!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Pasta and Parterres

I have found a new use for my wooden clothes-dryer.

It makes a great rack to hang fresh noodles on. This is the remains of my first batch of pasta from my new toy (the pasta-maker I got for Christmas), and it made a very tasty supper. How luxe is that - fresh pasta is going to be the norm around here from now on!

And on the perils of combining two interests...I've been reading a lovely book about estate gardens in the US between roughly 1890 and 1940, and a lot of the formal gardens have parterres - variously shaped flower beds, often edged with green low stuff like boxwood and filled with plants, like this:

And at the same time, I'm working on another hat - a reverse engineer of a Finnish pattern in the slip-stitch and stripe technique I've been seeing and wanting to try.

But now I've got the idea, the outlined shapes are making me think of parterres, and I can just about see designing something with a knit version of an outlined parterre garden using this slipstitch patterning. I think it could be fun...

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Something New

A friend of mine wanted a hat, so she was over looking at patterns and yarn yesterday. I'm very happy with the fact that the pattern that caught her eye was the Something beanie by atelier alfa, because I had been eyeing it previously. It looked like a neat construction, I just had no excuse to make it - until now.

And it is just as neat as I thought it would be. I'm not normally a magic loop person, but I'm wrestling a slightly stiff circular (it's an old Aero, but the only one I had of the right size and length) into service, and the hat is coming along nicely.

See that? The hat's kind of like a shaped ribbon, attached to itself as you go. You're working in basic back-and-forth garter stitch, but coming out with a round hat. Reminds me a little of the Baby Surprise Jacket, but with no seams involved. And like the BSJ, stripes are good. Which is perfect for me, since the yarn going into it is some handspun I had natural-dyed last summer - 4 colours but only about 60-70 yards of each.

I really like the construction. The designer has a matching cowl, but I'm wondering now...can I use it to make mittens? Socks? Suddenly, I see more magic loop in my future. Definitely Something fun.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

New Year, New Look...

...not for me, though! I'm perfectly happy with what I've got in that field. Nope, it's my apartment that's getting the going-over, as a New Year's Resolution and a present to myself.

It's just way too easy, especially if you're busy, to let things slide. And I do let them slide, sadly. Result? There are corners in my place that haven't had a proper cleaning and sorting since I moved in a decade ago. It bugs me, but the sorting out hasn't been a priority. I KNOW there are papers and school notes under my bed from college and undergrad, books lying around that I'll never read again, clothes in my closet I haven't worn in years, things in the kitchen that are stale-dated and haven't been opened/used in years, or equipment I don't need...

So that's what's on the slate for the next few weeks, with breaks for knitting and spinning, of course. I'm all gung-ho to get things out of here (not the stash, though - sorry, that stays), and the remainder organized and cleaned. Made a good start already - after having a quick rummage through the dresser and closet, I've got a big garbage bag half full of clothes to give away.

Oh, and on the fiber front - Knit Picks Under 100 collection is out. I've got a pattern in it - the Candy Stripes Fingerless Mitts below - and another Amanda from Ottawa has a pattern in too, which is pretty cool!