Friday, April 27, 2012

The Magical Multiplication of Bookworms!!

So I have a couple goofy little amigurumi FO's this week---this little citrus-fruit/octopus hybrid, made from a super-cute, addictively tiny and quick pattern by the awesome Lucy Ravenscar.  I got inspired to make one (or more. there will be more.) after seeing these sweeties by Odd Socks.

And I made up a silly little beaver finger puppet...

 ...and added cupcakes and stars to my bookmark yarnbomb repertoire.  But all of that pales in comparison to the discovery I made yesterday in one of the three local libraries I've dropped off bookmarks in so far.

 I have inspired another bookworm yarnbomber.  As I was walking through the kids' fiction section, looking for a copy of Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse to add a bookworm to, and also picking up some more of Frances O'Roark Dowell's novels (I finished Falling In and it stayed wonderful to the end, so next up is Dovey Coe...), I noticed a little tag hanging out of one of the books.  Attached to a crocheted worm with seed bead eyes.

A crocheted worm with seed bead eyes that I didn't make.  Which means that someone---a mysterious fellow book-loving crocheter!!---saw the worms I've been dropping off the past couple weeks and decided to join in, which is the the most. amazing. thing. ever.

 This one was recommending Carl Hiaasen's Hoot.  (A recommendation with which I concur, I read it a few years ago and loved it, it's actually what got me into Carl Hiaasen's books for grown ups.)  So I trolled through the kids' fiction aisles on pins and needles, iPod (...sorry about the crappy photos) in hand, looking for more!  And there were more!

One recommending The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo (which I dutifully checked out, as one should trust a bookworm!).

 And a third, recommending The Mysterious Benedict Society, a book which I hadn't heard of and plan to check out in the future.

I'm still grinning ear to ear just uploading these photos, I'm so excited that other people (and this includes all of you amazing blogland friends!) like this idea and want to play along.  Hooray for crafting and reading and combining those two things into a hybrid creature of happy awesomeness!  I'm sort of thinking of starting a bookmark-recommendation yarnbombing group on Ravelry...

(Fridays, as always, are for FO Fridays and Fiber Arts Friday.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lots more booky things than yarny things going on this week, which is interesting---just not photographically interesting!  I'm sort of at a so many ideas, so little time place with the crocheting, so while I have a whole Mental Queue (...which reminds me that I should learn to actually use my Ravelry queue one of these days.) of Things to Make, the only things actually on the hooks/waiting for finishing are some more yarnbomb bookmarks and a baby bootie that I'm pattern testing (and which is destined to be frogged, so it only sort of counts).

Working with doubled yarn isn't something I've done much of, it's a little challenging!  This pattern is cute and uses some other techniques (like decrease stitches using two stitch types/heights---instead of just "sc 2 together," there's "sc-hdc together" or "hdc-dc together") that I hadn't tried before, which is always cool.

But now, books.  I want to talk about books.  I'm branching out a little this week from my mainly-steady reading diet of kids'/YA novels---although of course, I've got one of those in there---Falling In by Frances O'Roark Dowell, which begins with the sentence On the morning this story begins, Isabelle Bean was convinced she was teetering on the edge of the universe. and only gets lovelier from there.  Definitely one of those stories where like, ten pages in, I was already wondering how quickly and from what library I could acquire the author's other novels.  It's seriously charming, with a funny, current voice that's very sharply self-aware of the kidlit/fairy tale tropes it's playing with, and (so far, I guess I'm about halfway through) a very satisfying balance between humor and poignancy.  ...Also, it's one of those books that makes me want to make things.  In this case, I sort of want to crochet a fairy (even though the book has yet to feature, and probably will not ever feature, an actual fairy).  Any pattern recommendations?

But I also grabbed a small volume of poetry to celebrate the tail end of National Poetry Month (I wanted to read some Edna St. Vincent Millay, but I'd walked to the library and the only poems of hers they had were in a collection too big to carry home!), Partly Cloudy by Gary Soto.  It's been a long time since I've read any poetry, really, and this collection read fast and really authentically High School (it's all love poems from the POV of teenagers), it reminded me of the stuff I used to write when I was that age, but somehow without making me feel mortified about it, which was nice.

And I decided to try and encourage my inner geek with The Pluto Files, because while I love the night sky, I don't actually know anything about astronomy, and that's sad.  I'm liking the book so far, Neil deGrasse Tyson's writing is funny and easy to follow (well. most of it.  the explanation of what a parsec is sort of went over my head...).  Poor Pluto.  I was legitimately sad when it became an un-planet.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday and Yarnalong.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Paying it Forward! a much more interesting way than, say, that movie of a similar name with Haley Joel Osment.   Which I recall seeing (in a movie theatre, even...why.) and being bored by.   

Anyway!  I can't resist the thought of getting to make stuff to send to people, so I'm happily jumping on this bandwagon via Natalie at Marigolds' Loft.

Here's how it works:

1.  I will send a gift to the first three commenters on this post. The gift will be handmade by me.  It will be sent sometime in the next 365 days. It will be a surprise.  (If you're outside the US, it may be a flat surprise as my shipping funds are limited, but international applicants are entirely welcome!)
2. To sign up and receive a gift, you have to play along, too. Pay it Forward on your blog by promising to make a surprise for the first three people who comment on the post.
3. You must have a blog, as I will blog stalk you, cackling with glee all the while, to find the right gift for you.
4. After commenting here, please repost this or something similar to your blog in 48 hours.  If not, I'll chose the next person who comments.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ends, Tied Up and Woven In.

Hooray for FO Friday and Fibers on Friday! I didn't think I'd be finishing this headband in time, but all of your nice comments about the yarn (which is from the sadly defunct Sheep Shop Yarn company, it's Sheep One in the "Sprite" colourway), and the fact that it's too warm for a hat but not warm enough to leave my head uncovered, spurred me on and I sewed on the button and wove in the ends this afternoon.  And then wore it as I finished reading Harold and Maude, which wasn't at all as emotionally affecting as the movie, but was worth the read.

 Here's the headband in action.  I love the way this yarn held the stitch texture---this is a crocheted Calorimentry copycat, and it's just plain old half-double crochets alllll the way through, but it looks so much more interesting than that because of the yarn.

But now on to this week's Big Finish, the shawl(ette)!

Seen here unblocked (and flanked by dandelions and my rain boots)...

...and blocked!  This is my first experience with blocking anything bigger than an ornament, and I'm thrilled.  I can't wait to finish something in a lighter-weight yarn and try the process again!  This yarn (well, not the bordery bits, which are Bernat Alpaca Natural Blends in plum) was a completely amazing bulky-weight surprise of bliss sent to me by someone on Ravelry with whom I made a swap a while back.  I bought her some patterns in exchange for a different skein of yarn (which will someday make its glorious appearance on this blog...), and she sent this along, too.  It's a merino/alpaca blend, and working with it was a dream---so soft, and watching the colours glide through my fingers as I made the rows of chunky double crochets that make up this shawl was mesmerizing. 

And naturally, I'm insisting on trying to wear it bandit-style, like the cool kids do, despite its hilarious bulkiness.  I'm not sure whether I'm going to add tassels or not.  I was all gung-ho about the tassels as I was working on it, but now that it's done and un-tassled, I sort of like it as is.

I also made a mug cozy,  which I equipped with needless bobbles.

And learned to make crocheted i-cord!  I combined this excellent video tutorial from PlanetJune with a different tutorial that made the cord using a base chain of two instead of a base chain of three (which makes the whole thing less fiddly), and sat around watching an episode of Raising Hope and getting into the rhythm of the technique.  And then I sewed the cord up into a pretzel shape and embroidered on some salt.

 And the bookworms (and fish, not pictured) have been busy, recommending things like Sharon Creech's Love That Dog (a novel-in-poetry that successfully broke through my mental embargo on novels-in-poetry, see also: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse) and Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet by Kashmira Sheth.

Also, I wanted to issue some heartfelt thank-yous to Natalie, Susan, and Shannon for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.   I never have the kind of time and energy for blogging that I'd like, so the fact that you guys like the stuff I do manage to post is really amazing to me.  I'm thrilled beyond belief to be inspiring you with my weird little projects!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Springtime Firsts

...I'm sure there are people in the universe with good timing, but then there's me, happily working away on wooly accessories on the first 80-degree-days of the year.  They were just freak 80-degree-days, though, so it's not as silly as it sounds!  And I'm always cold, I'll probably get some springtime use out of the projects I'm working on, one of them being the yellow/green blob up there, which will someday be a headband.  Also in the above photo, the current stock of bookmark yarnbombs to be completed, tagged with recommendation notes, and tucked into library books.  (Suggestions about what they should recommend are, of course, still welcome!)

And the winner of the bookworm-bookmark giveaway, as chosen by Paula of Knit and Seek! :D

Also on the book front, I was intrigued to see this copy of Harold and Maude---apparently not just a movie!---on the shelf at my library.  I watched the movie (which actually preceded the play version, unusually enough, the guy who wrote the screenplay adapted it into a stage play later on) in college and it broke my heart with a sledgehammer.  I haven't read a play for a long time, and I'd forgotten  how different it feels than reading a novel.  Interesting.

Last but not least, here's a teasy photo of my second heat-wave-wooly-stuff project, which should be appearing in full on Friday.  Right now it's pinned out on some Sponge Bob play mats on a picnic table in my yard, drying in the sun.  It's Baby's First Blocked Shawl, you guys---although it's in bulky weight yarn [beautiful bulky weight yarn, hand-dyed by an awesome Ravely member with whom I made a yarn/patterns trade a while back], so it sort of doesn't count.  But I'm still excited about it.  And should probably be standing guard over it with a broom to make sure the local woodland animals don't try to steal it to make nests or something.

While I do that (or just, you know, go out to check on it sporadically, possibly I don't need the broom), check out the awesomeness of WIP Wednesday and Yarnalong. :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

This Week's Menagerie.

...Featuring Plaguey the Passover Penguin, finished last Saturday (after being started last Friday---go, quick patterns, go!)  The story behind this guy (and his little yarmulke) goes that as a toddler, I was at a Passover seder hosted by a family friend, and during the part where you recite the ten plagues and drip wine on your plate, I looked up at a penguin mobile hanging in the room and shrieked PENGUINS!, thus inventing the Plague of Penguins.  So when my mom was headed to a seder at this same friend's house last week, and this pattern (the second most popular amigurumi pattern on Ravelry, and with good reason.  fast, fun, turns out cute, I already want to make another one...) was the April pattern at Amigurumi of the Month, I knew it was time to put one of these little waddlies on the hooks and send him along as a gift.  He even got to sit at Elijah's place at the table, apparently!

I also made up a quick bunny egg cozy for another family friend, nestled him around a plastic egg filled with M&Ms, and dropped him off at her office in secret.  Cloak and dagger crochet---my favourite kind!  More on that in a moment.

First, meet Mint Mouse (made sort of from this pattern, but I made it smaller, of course), who's going as a "sorry your commission is so late" gift to the person who ordered Lilac Cat 2.0...

...and Suomi Seal, made for a Finland-themed prompt at the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup.  The pattern is aces---so tiny I didn't even have to make it smaller, and really sweetly shaped, and you can learn some Finnish crocheting terms while you go. ("Täytä häntä" means "stuff tail"!)

 Now a little bit more on the bookworm (and now bookfish,as I used this great little applique [I used the "small guppy" here] to create the above fishy bookmarks) project.  I am so excited about the wonderful response I got from all of you lovely people on Wednesday about the bookworms.   Thanks for all your comments and suggestions!

 Heather reminded me of Jeanne DuPrau's lovely The City of Ember, so I had a bookworm suggest it yesterday.

 And I had one of the fish make a recommendation for Ida B: …and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World, a truly amazing book that I credit with getting me back into childrens' literature a couple years ago.

So keep suggesting books, please, and also go check out the other finished/fiber goodies at FO Friday and Fibers on Friday!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Very Bookish Wednesday.

...and one with time to link up my bookishness (and it's even National Library Week!) with WIP Wednesday and Yarnalong, hooray!  While I have a huuuge stack of library books around at all times, these are the two of my current stack that I'm actually reading.  I chose Lauren Groff's Arcadia mainly because of its pretty, colourful cover---yes, fine, I do sometimes judge choose a book based on its cover.  Which has led me to some amazing books!  I'm not that far into Arcadia yet, but it reads pretty well so far, although it's a bit more...I don't know, "literary novel" than is usually my cuppa.

But what I've been more absorbed with these past couple mornings (morning is my reading-time lately) is Lois Lowry's The Giver, which I picked up hoping to get back to the roots of the recent Dystopian-Novels-for-Younger-Readers trend (e.g. The Hunger Games, Matched and Crossed by Ally Condie, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Delirium by Lauren Oliver...).  I'm sure I must have read The Giver back when I was actually a child, but I don't remember it at all, and I'm really impressed with the way Ms. Lowry has constructed her particular dystopia, and the very real, sharp feelings of anger and terror and aloneness (but also of love and discovery) that are being conveyed through the main character. 

I may have to have a bookworm recommend this one---which brings us to the yarny, WIP-ish part of my post.  The little coiled-up cuties you see on top of the books in the above photo are bookworm bookmarks, made from a super-simple pattern---basically you just...chain a bunch, and then make two double crochets into the first thirteen or so chains.  And then you have to weave in ends and sew on eyes (I'm using beads), which is the only less-fun part. ;)

I've been remembering how much I love yarnbombing lately, so I've been making these guys up in various scritchy acrylic variegated yarns, attaching notes, and tucking them into relevant books at local libraries.

My first worm, in a charming pink/purple variegate, recommended the Judy Moody books.  (Which are too much fun, and very much a direct and delightful descendent of Beverly Cleary's sublime Ramona Quimby novels.)

 The next two...

...recommended Sunshine by Robin McKinley, which is totally a better class of Vampires for Teenagers fiction than a certain other set of novels in that genre; and Kimchi and Calamari by Rose Kent, another book I chose by its cover and really liked.  (And I even corresponded with the author a bit, and she is lovely.  I'd never written to an author before! It was exciting!)

 My most recently released worm was made in zombie-green-fleck, and nestled appropriately into a copy of the first volume of The Walking Dead graphic novel.

And here's where I'd like some input from you, Dear Readers.  I have (as per the first photo) two bookworms ready for tagging-and-release, as well as two more who need eyes and ends-woven first, and I'd love suggestions from you about what they (and future, still-on-the-skein bookworms) should recommend!  What have you read recently that you loved?  What book do you wish more people would read?

I think I'll turn this into a giveaway, actually.  Leave a comment, and you'll be entered to win not one, but two bookworm bookmarks (which, okay, are not the most impressive project/prize ever...)---one for you (in your choice of colourway!), and one to release in your own local library or bookstore. :D

Friday, April 6, 2012

Finished Objects, Mainly Non-Anthropomorphic.

Here's the finished green-blob-in-the-center-of-the-photo from my WIP Wednesday post---an Easter avocado!  I made it from this fun pattern, and it worked up super, super fast.  Even the Sewing Bits weren't bad, as sewing together a crocheted project like this where you've made two pieces with the same shape and number of stitches is as fun and non-daunting as doing one of those sewing cards with the holes punched around the edge.

 I think it will look bizarre and charming nestled into an Easter basket (amidst some candy and a wind-up chick).  And it's for someone who loooves avocados, so I swear it makes sense, gift-wise!  It's not just gratuitous randomness!

Sadly, Easter-avocado was the only thing from my photo on Wednesday that I managed to finish in the interim, but do you all mind some more cheaty-bits from March?

Because I'm kind of in love with this pencil (designed by the same person who did the avocado, and she has more patterns I'm dying to try, too...)  I made it during a single episode of Smash on Hulu, and can't wait to do more of them.  (Anyone else watching Smash?  I gave it a go just because I love Anjelica Huston, and I'm not sure about it just yet---definitely has its moments, though, when it's not trying to be Broadway-Glee-for-(semi) grown ups.

Also, I finished and gave away my Giant Seekrit project so I can now reveal... Very First Blanket!  Made from the excellent, popular, and strangely addictive  (I never thought I'd make---or want to make---anything this big, but it was fun, except when I worked on it too late at night and started fudging stitch counts) Beth's Little Star pattern, this beast is over a yard from point to point, which, while not huge in the grand scheme of crocheted blankets (at all), is huge for me.  I already want to make another one.

And fine, okay, one more food project to share, too.

Because I want everyone (well, all of y'all who crochet, anyway) to try the pattern.  It's done all in one piece, which is genius.  I almost giggled to myself with glee as I worked up the peel pieces (while watching season two of Southland on DVD...) because they came together so perfectly.  And no sewing.

Other people over at FO Friday and Fibers on Friday probably have projects that are less...uh, bananas, and you should go admire them and share some love. <3

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Today's Books and (Things On and Off the) Hooks.

A quick post-and-run today, as it's beautiful outside and I have a mile long to-do list.  Part of which is finishing this relatively small pile of very-green WIPs---feel free to guess what any of them are!  Hopefully they'll all be showing up finished on Friday.  The two things on the left are actually already done, crocheting wise.  So, eek, the dreaded Sewing Bit is upon me, but I can't delay!  The blob in the middle is an Easter present, so that will nudge me onward.   

In the way of books, I've been slowly making my way through a collection of William Gibson's collected nonfiction (Distrust That Particular Flavor), which is really interesting and thinky-thought provoking.  William Gibson is definitely on my (loooong) list of "favourite authors," his talent for creating a sense of place in his novels is awe-inspiring and wonderfully absorbing.

I'm also randomly reading the second Percy Jackson book, which is fluffy good fun.  Even though I read the first in the series almost a year ago, Rick Riordan's tone (clever, a little silly in places, very Boy's! Own! Action-packed! Adventure!) feels familiar, which is nice.

Linking up with WIP Wednesdays and Yarnalong.