Back in the crafty saddle again (sort of)

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Invincibility Star Hat
(Pattern modified from April Draven Designs)

So, it’s been a long time since I posted anything about crocheting. And I mean a really long time. I’m fairly certain the last time I posted anything I was currently working on was in August 2012. I will admit that I have had to put my crocheting largely on the backburner because of school, though I have actually been rather busy with it in recent weeks despite my needing to also work on my thesis. I am increasingly finding that crocheting is becoming the best way for me to combat school- and work-related stress, and I think it is largely because I am intending to donate my work to feel-good causes.  Continue reading

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Donation Day #2: (Thanks)Giving

“A powerful way to show how thankful you are for what you have is to give some of it to those who have less.” (Vincent DiCaro, CNN contributor)

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Donated winterwear… and Freya, wishing she could have a pair of baby booties.

On Saturday November 10, after many delays (mainly due to exhaustion) and thus a bit later than I would have liked, I finally made it up to the Safehouse to donate my late Grandma’s scarves and baby booties, as well as the hats I crocheted over the summer. The final tally came to 22: 11 pairs of baby booties, 6 scarves, and 5 hats. Everything I made, save for some of the embellishments, was crocheted using my Grandma’s yarn. Giving away the beautiful things that she had made, as well as a few of my own creations, felt so wonderful and rewarding. I thought that parting with her creations would make me sad, but it did not: I was happy knowing that I fulfilled a generous task that she had done in life.

There was a trend on Facebook that a couple of my friends were taking part in: every day for 30 days, they would make their status something they were thankful for. Thanksgiving certainly is a time to be thankful– I myself have many things to be thankful for– but frankly, some of these statuses struck me as… well, selfish. Even tactless. I am happy for people who are able to live comfortable lives and be mindful of how lucky they are, yet there are so many people out there who do not have much to be thankful for. For one of my friends who posted every day about what she was thankful for– like the fact that she has a warm bed, a good job in a sh*t economy, her own car, etc– I’d say she got an average of 5 likes per status. That’s about 150 for the month. When I posted a status about giving things to those in need, I got 2 likes.

Two.

Granted, it was only one status (though I just posted the beautiful story of the NYC cop, Larry DePrimo, who bought shoes and thermal socks for a homeless man, and it only has one like). Perhaps people thought I was being preachy. Perhaps the fact that I have about half as many friends as this one girl does means that two is about right if we’re thinking in terms of percentages. Perhaps people just don’t check Facebook on Saturday mornings. Or perhaps my friends– real or “less real” (aka the people I barely know and am only Facebook friends with just because)– too vividly remember how selfish I used to be not too long ago.

I suppose that a little bit of selfishness is to be expected when you spend years struggling to stay employed in a bad economy, then dive headfirst into grad school, and mix in the fact that I am an only child. My shift towards being a less selfish person really began near the end of my first semester of grad school: I, like many other grad students, rarely ever feel like I am doing well. Grad school made me hyper-conscious of myself and my actions, but one of the few things that made me feel good was being kind to others. When my Grandma died, it was like something permanently changed in me. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt for not having talked to her more in the months immediately preceding her passing. In a small way, my crocheting was an act of penance– for being a bad granddaughter and for being relatively selfish. Her death was a tragic catalyst that made me realize how much I wanted to do more good in the world.

Christmas is around the corner, and I am making plans to set up boxes at work and school to take donations of clothing and blankets to the Safehouse. This November and its 30 Days of Thankfulness may be over, but next year, I am thinking of doing my own version of it. And I won’t even care if I don’t get a single “like.”

I’ve heard about this thing called “WIP Wednesday”…

A soon-to-be-finished iPad cozy!

I’m being all kinds of bad this week: I’ve apparently lost all motivation to read for comps, and though I am once again crocheting, it is something that is just for me. My justification for the lack of studying is that I’m a little better off than I thought I was in terms of where I am in my preparation. Also, to be quite frank, at the moment I feel rather burned out and kind of want to take a break before I am back in the thick of school on Monday. I may regret this decision later, but right this second, I just don’t care.

So what am I working on? Why, a little folio/cozy for my beloved iPad! My boyfriend asked, “Didn’t you already buy a cover for your iPad?” I said that I didn’t want the cover getting all scratched up (yeah, I’m that Type A) and that I wanted to make something pretty/colorful. These yarns had been sitting around my apartment for 2 years. They were an impulse buy at this fiber crafts expo a couple summers ago, and for the longest time, I could not figure out what I wanted to do with them. Both are hand-dyed: the multi-colored wool is called Fairy Slipper (after the orchid),  and the other is a merino wool is called Winter Pine Buds. I’m just about done– I need to finish the other side with the merino wool and the trim– though I’m also thinking about making a little pocket to put my styluses in, or maybe doing some pretty embroidery to make it a bit more unique.

I may regret my decision to slack off on my studying right before things get a hell of a lot busier with a full class load, but at least I’ll have something bright and beautiful to look at. Working on this has also made me think about other things to add to my list of things I’d like to try once I’m out of school, such as learning how to spin and dye my own yarns. Those would be some very cool and unique skills to acquire.

Things I dream about doing… after grad school

I have dedicated a lot of this blog’s bandwidth to rambling about grad school. Not a whole lot, but far more than I had originally intended. Summer has really opened my eyes to the glory of not being in school– in addition to revealing that everyone you know gets married in their mid- to late-20s– and I cannot believe that I ever used to get angsty about feeling bored.

My hate-love-hate relationship with grad school is kind of like my relationship with this meme.
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My relationship with grad school is best described as hate-love-hate– you know, kind of like West-Northwest, which is when you’re headed in a more Westward-ly direction than a simple 45 degree-Northwest– because, while I love learning new things and feeling like I am benefiting my career, I cannot even begin to express how stressful school can be some weeks. It’s not necessarily the copious amount of reading and writing– I’m actually pretty fond of the writing (shocking, I know– I only post on my blog every other day)– that gets to me so much as the classroom experience.

I’ve got 13 days until I’m back in school. One of my upcoming classes meets for seven hours a week. Seven. Two hours on Mondays and five hours on Wednesdays. All of my other classes– in the past and next semester– meet for 2.5 hours a week. Granted, the five-hour sessions are field-trip oriented, but still: seven hours for one class.

I’ve thought a lot about what my life is going to be like next summer, which is hopefully when I’ll be done with my Master’s degree. I don’t want to revert back to my pre-grad school ways– sitting on the couch all night playing Tiny Wings or Angry Birds, reading the news off of CNN.com like there is no tomorrow– because there is no denying that grad school has changed me. I can’t imagine being lazy after this experience. However, as much as I actually enjoy reading scholarly material now (seriously, I kind of do), there are other things I would like to do with my time as well. Continue reading

Crochet project #5: FINALLY done!!

Wow, this hat took a shockingly long time to complete. I am terribly sorry, fellow crafters: I’ve just been so busy and it’s been difficult for me to find time to crochet. I hate to say it, but I think that I’m only going to be able to get 6 hats done this summer. I’m panicking too badly about my work load next semester, so I am trying to get as much of my comps reading done in the next three weeks as I can… My next (and probably last) hat will be the cute baseball hat I posted about several weeks ago.

Despite the fact that I am falling short of my crocheting goal, I am proud of everything I have done so far, and hopefully this winter– and definitely next summer– I will be able to make even more stuff to give away!

Ravelymp… I mean, crocheting during the Olympics!

Crochet project #5: Baby girl’s flower hat

I would have loved to have gone to an Olympics crafting party last night, but working on my hat at home was very nice too. I know that I was thinking about starting the baby’s baseball hat the other day, but my antsy feeling to try a new kind of stitch overwhelmed me (not really, but you know). Here, I used a back post double crochet stitch, which creates a nice texture for the brim and will be flipped up. The Olympics Opening Ceremony is a great time to get some crafting work done, because a) it’s long, b) it’s entertaining television, and c) I can’t read and watch TV at the same time because TV is usually more stimulating.

I have to admit that when the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics was just getting started, I was a little unimpressed. Granted, I may be biased because I don’t think that the opening for the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be topped for a long, long time (and Danny Boyle himself said that he was glad that their opener was better because he knew he couldn’t top it, meaning he could do whatever he wanted). I get that it was meant to trace London’s history from egalitarian to industrial revolution to modern day, but the history geek in me was like, “Where are the medieval castles??” I also thought that the beginning part of the industrial revolution segment was a little, well, dumb, but once the drums came in, it got a lot more entertaining. The appearance of Voldemort and other villains was very cool (especially given that JK Rowling was one of the cast and I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd), and I did love the dancing in the “modern era” segments. There were a few parts that were a little odd, like the giant baby in the middle of the stadium, but overall, I ended up being impressed. So kudos, Danny Boyle, ya did good.

I wish I could do nothing but crochet for the next 2+ weeks and watch the Olympic games, but unfortunately it is almost August and I am feeling a little anxious about my current state in relation to comps. While I have my 5 major questions decided upon, I only have 2/3 minor questions solidified. I also need to start writing 3 page papers on each of my questions so that I’m not in full-on panic mode when school starts. Too bad I’m not inspired to do a read-athon or something– that would be awesome to do while having the Olympics on in the background (if I were capable of such a feat). Oh well. I’ll make do with crocheting a bit while watching the Olympics on occasion.

Next idea for a crochet project

Spring Training Cap, by Linda Permann

Pattern from the March/April 2012 edition of Crochet Today (which I’ll either need to go find or make up on my own, because all they have online is the supply list and a basic picture of the pattern sized for a child).

My lovely coworker sent me a picture of this via Pinterest. Some of you probably know that I have been having trouble thinking of a good hat for a 6-12 month old baby boy. Where would an uninspired crocheter be without a fashionable friend with a Pinterest account?

I apologize to my crafty friends for my absence from posting about crocheting. I sadly have not been working on anything lately for a variety of reasons: my need to read more books for school, last week’s shooting in Aurora, and my birthday are the big ones. But I am hoping to start on this hat soon! If I want the main body of the hat to be made primarily out of my Grandma’s yarn, I may have to opt for off-white. The red that I have is the same gauge, and I don’t think there is enough pure white in her stash at that size even for a baby hat.

I have also made a test swatch of that pale pink yarn I posted about previously for a 6-12 month old baby girl hat (this is the yarn that will nicely complement my currently unused dianthus flower). I am going to try something new with this hat: I want to use back and front post stitches for the brim so that I have a nice textured fabric that I can flip up. Hopefully that experiment goes well (and thank god for Youtube!).