the joy of quick stitching

It was a short work week but somehow it felt very long and exhausting. So I decided to spend Friday night enjoying a new episode of Fringe (yay!) and making myself a new hat. I think I really like wearing hats.

I recently bought scored a retro-looking plum-colour down jacket from Value Village for $15 (!), and I could picture it going really well with a grey slouch hat. I used this lovely pattern on Wee Robin, mainly because I was drawn to the flower motif on the back of the hat.

I made it in an evening, and it made me happy. That’s the magic of crocheting.

I’m quite pleased with this hat. It doesn’t give me hat hair like my other hats, and still keeps my ears warm.

And today we went out for a walk. It was a windless afternoon, with snowflakes falling quietly around us.

Mike brought along his camera, so I was borrowing it for a while. It has a nice macro lens.

 

Found a budding branch! :D

Spring will be here soon, any day now!

Have a lovely weekend!

the art of slow

 

The cable owl was actually a really quick project, but I’m thinking about knitting in general. I have been avoiding knitting for quite a few years now, shying away from patterns I actually like, telling myself that “it would take too long,” and “I don’t have the patience for this”. Crocheting is indeed much quicker, more straightforward, and more of the “instant gratification,” I guess. A crochet cardigan would probably take me no more than a week if I work on it every evening.

On the other hand, I have been working on this knit cardigan since the beginning of February, and I have to say, I’ve quite enjoyed the process.

This is actually the beginning of the second sleeve, the last component of the pattern I have to knit before sewing everything together. I think what I like about knitting now, is the process of taking the time to do something really well, without thinking about whether it would be worth it, and whether it is taking too long. And more importantly, it is discovering that I do have the patience for this. Not only for knitting, but other things as well. Other perhaps more important things in life that requires patience, willingness to invest, concentration, perseverance, and hard work. I find knitting a good mental exercise for those things.

My recent attempt in knitting has suddenly opened the door to tons of beautiful knitting patterns — now I feel like I’m able to make these things! Not that I didn’t know how to knit before — my mom’s taught me how to knit when I was in grade three — but I had just always thought of myself as, you know, a crocheter, who wouldn’t bother with knitting. Until now. That said, I still don’t know how to read most knitting shorthands, and I don’t know how to fix mistakes like dropped stitches, which can be a problem. I used to be able to just ask my mom when I lived at home. But now I’ve found the internet to be a wonderful thing when I need some explanation or demonstration. A friend once told me that knittinghelp.com is helpful, and I totally agree.

In fact, that’s where I learned what c4b and c4f mean when I was attempting the knit cable owl pattern :D

I used the alpaca wool I got for Christmas. The one on the right is the first one I made and the needles I used were too small and it looked a bit uptight (even surly :/). So I tried again with a larger needle and the cable twists looked a bit better. It took me a long time to find the perfect iridescent buttons for its eyes. And then I sewed a piece of felt on its back to make it a bit stiffer and to attach a pin to it.

I think I will make more in different colours! :D

Another thing I like about knitting is that it uses less yarn. I heard that it uses 40–60% less yarn than crocheting. I don’t remember where I heard that, and I’m not sure whether I remember those numbers correctly. But either way, I’ve found that a ball of yarn goes a long way in knitting. So yesterday I ordered from the library all three of the One Skein Wonders books, so I can put my very large (and growing) stash of single (and may partial) skeins of yarn to good use.

The next knitting project will be for my mom, because she gave me all her needles :P and because her birthday is coming up in May (yes, it will take me that long to finish the project). I found a cardigan that she might like, it has a lace pattern and involves circular needles, so it will be a bit of a challenge, but I hope to be able to figure it out.

And just to clarify, that I am in no way turning my back on crocheting — I still find it enjoyable and fun, especially when it comes to making plushes. But it is good to know that I can enjoy knitting as well.

Anyway, back to stitching I go…

Have a wonderful Thursday!

today

The crimson glow of the setting sun paints a rectangle of light on my wall.

The day is getting longer. Soon we can take walks after dinner. The promise of spring gives me hope.

May your evening be restful and filled with peace.

favourite things of the week — accessorize!

That was the fashion tip a dear friend gave me. Except that my idea of accessorizing appeared to be quite different from hers… I think we’ve agreed to disagree, as we have been since high school (that, or she’s given up on me after all these years :/).

But I still love her to pieces anyway :)
(And I promise not to wear any of the below to a job interview!)

So, anyway, today I brought you some cool accessories that one can make!

 


Scarf repurposed from cool graphic tees! I love that it uses a #10 envelope as template, because I don’t like measuring :/
Tutorial at Just Something I Made.

 


How lovely are these? Just strings and paperclips. I love the simplicity, and I especially love the yellow pair. Tutorial by Evie S.

 


Buttons one can spell words with! Brilliant. I know I have some Fimo hiding somewhere in the craft drawer… Tutorial at Design*Sponge.

 


I borrowed the cable needles from my mom so I can make this! I don’t look good with barrettes so I’m going to wear it as a pin. Pattern by Ysolda.

 


Accessory perfect for the night owl, I think. To live nocturnally one needs all the sleep one can get during the day, but it can be difficult to fall asleep with all that daylight. So I would highly recommend the owl eye mask. Pattern on Roman Sock.

 


And finally, accessorize the lollipops! With these cute superhero printables on Zakka Life! They are designed for V-Day but with a few tweaks I’m sure they will be a hit at parties for all occasions and all ages.

 

So, put on your favourite accessories and have yourself a great Monday, friends! :D

green with deliciousness — round two!

My mom requested some green tea leaf cookies for the weekend, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try a different recipe, because last time the tea leaves turned out a bit too puffy. So this time I used Martha’s green tea shortbread recipe, and they looked fabulous! :D Kept their shape throughout the baking.

The cookies are very, very buttery (so delicious…), but it also makes the dough a bit difficult to handle. But the leaf-shapes turned out alright. I used regular salted butter because I had some left over from baking last time, but next time I will buy unsalted butter, because I think the saltiness of the butter kind of took away from the subtle green tea flavour, and if the cookies weren’t green one may not even know that they were green tea cookies. But they were still quite delicious.

And then we celebrated several birthdays over the weekend — my dad’s and my parents-in-law’s :D I found this recipe that makes a double-layer cake, so I made 2 cakes out of it, one in a loaf pan and one in a round pan. The batter was so green! And I thought it makes a nice photo as the yogurt was being mixed in…

The green tea flavour is easier to detect in the cake than in the cookies. I was rather happy with it.

Hope your weekend is fabulous!

if pain

I have been working on this for a while now. I started a painting on a small wooden braced panel but I didn’t feel very inspired to continue, so the painting, with printed leaves in fall tones, had been sitting on my shelf collecting dust for a few years now. Last fall, one of my teachers brought in the idea of making shadow boxes, and I had been wanting to try making one. When I looked around the house for boards and things to make shadow boxes with, I saw this half-done painting and I thought, the back of it would make a great shadow box.

But still I didn’t start working on it, because I had no vision for what could inhabit the shadow box. And then on the first Sunday of the year, I saw this quote in the sermon note:

If pain causes us to go inward, there is no communication with the world outside; if it causes us to go outward in retaliation, then we lose the message we bear… If pain causes us to go forward, then we are not bearing the pain, we are using the pain.
- Dr. Samuel Kamaleson, 1976

Somehow that led me to the image of the Walled City. Like I had mentioned before, I have never set foot in the actual Walled City. All I have of it are stories, from videos and posters and museum exhibits and a friend who’ve spent time there, and a tour of the meticulously manicured park that holds the same space as the Walled City but looks nothing like its former desolate self.

I suppose it’s easy to romanticize what life was like in the Walled City. The poverty, the injustice, the sufferings of the soul, the resilience of the people. And frankly that’s what I imagine, but I also know that the reality of the place was anything but romantic. And I have no idea, and I will never have any idea, about what it was really like to live there because I have never been there.

But something about that place resonated with me. Perhaps not the reality of that place but what it represents. And I can’t really explain what it represents to me. I suppose that’s why I made this, because I don’t know how to express it otherwise.

I used the classified section of a Chinese newspaper, with small boxes of text and many mentions of the word “home”. And ink, which reacted with the adhesive I used to paste the newspaper and crackled in frost-like patterns. And pieces of roots, which were salvaged from a yucca plant that didn’t survive the winter. On what was the front of the panel I wrote part of the quote, and the leaf prints were still visible through the black paint. I think as a whole it has said what needed to be said.

I have been working on this for a while now. The making of the image is complete, but the work of learning, and of understanding, isn’t.

Hope you are well. Enjoy the weekend!

favourite things of the week!

I’m having a cup of tea as I write this :)

I love how the handle of the mug conveniently works as a handbag hanger. They remind me of my school days when I would occasionally walk past the industrial design department and marvel at all the brilliant concepts that I would never in a million years come up with myself. I’d love to see a coffee shop filled with these.

Coffee chair from Sunhan Kwon.

 

And these delightful spoons, for stirring tea.

Forest spoon by Nendo.

 

Both the coffee chair and the forest spoon, along with their lovely photo composites, came from Inspire Me Now, a streamline blog filled with, well, inspiring ideas! If you haven’t heard of it I would highly recommend paying a visit.

And I just can’t write a favourite-things post without sharing something we can make ourselves :D Here are some wall hooks made from coat hangers and papier mâché. I think the one with the bandit mask looks fantastic ;)


Detailed tutorial on Bloesem Kids.

 

Have a happy Thursday, everyone!

quick afternoon

The to-do list started to grow as we approach the weekend. One of the to-do items is making a hat for my aunt, who wanted a gift for her friend’s newborn baby. She requested it after seeing this on a Zeller’s flyer.

It’s a knit hat, and I don’t have much time before delivering it to her this weekend, so I was looking for a crochet pattern — because it would be much quicker for me to crochet than to knit, and because I’m not familiar with infant head-sizes.

Initially I was just searching on Ravelry for a plain infant hat pattern, but then I came across this pattern on Stitch Tac Sew (website no longer available :( when checked again in July 2012) that looks exactly like the knit hat on the flyer, except it’s crochet! :D It’s free (score!) and involves using a large hook (double-score!)! I’ve been looking for projects to put my 16mm hook to good use.

I crocheted with 4 strands of yarn held together, mainly the bulky, woolly sort. My aunt suggested using pink and white. The hat only took 5 rows to complete. I was also delighted to see a tutorial on how to make pompoms without a pompom maker on the same blog, because I don’t have a pompom maker.

And so, here’s the hat! :D

 

I like the yarn combination, it reminds me of strawberries and cream.

And I hope the small person who is receiving this hat will like it too.

So with this project and laundry and the finishing-up of another piece of artwork that’s been hibernating for weeks, the afternoon went by quickly. I will now go make supper. Thank you for visiting, and have a great evening!

we love

 

It is walking a few extra blocks after work to get her the prettiest cupcake in the store, or looking around the city for that discontinued vanilla Coke he so loves.

It is spending a morning making and eating red velvet pancakes together.

It is joining each other not only in laughters but also in frustration, pain, and sorrow.

It is, as Mother Theresa urged, spreading love wherever we go; let no one who comes to us feel unwanted or unloved.

We love, because He first loved us.

 

Wishing you a day filled with joy, peace, and love.

 

 

 

favourite things of the week! special valentine edition

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I’ve always seen this holiday as an opportunity to tell those around me how special they are to me and how much I love them. So I thought it would be fun to round up some quick craft projects for anyone who’s looking for last minute gifts or decorations to make this weekend :D And, of course, involving materials one can usually find around the house.

Watercolour window hangings! All you need is some coffee filter, washable markers and spritz of water. How fun! Use them to make bouquets of flowers too!

From Aunt Peaches.

 

A clever, quick, and easy printmaking technique involving masking tape, paint and Q-tips.

From Sactrippers.

 

I, too, would like a heart doily t-shirt.

From The Artful Parent.

 

I’ve always liked the patterns on tissue boxes.

Tissue box photo hearts from Michele Made Me.

 

A yule log for Valentine’s Day? Yes please! :D

Tutorial on Pretty Little Things.

 

Some dainty, elegant lace hearts (and scented too!) made from paper doily and candle stubs.

Instruction by Aunt Peaches.

 

Cold days in February are perfect for these lovely ice sun catchers. Great if one has a collection of pressed leaves from the fall!

From Twig and Toadstool.

 

These are so amazingly simple to make and so fashionable-looking. Not something I have around the house, but I recall seeing these rose cabochon at my favourite bead store — will have to make a trip there soon!

From The Craft Nest.

 

Now rick racks might be easier to find in craft drawers.

See how to turn rick racks to roses on Maize in Montana.

 

Very, very simple heart garlands, your choice of paper or felt.

From Craftzine.

 

And of course, a crochet heart! I’m going to make one of these to wear as a pin on the weekend :D

Pattern generously shared by June Gilbank of Planet June.

 

Last but not least, some red velvet pancakes to start the day, anyone?

Check out the super easy recipe on Cafe Zupas!

 

Have a lovely weekend everyone!