Monthly Archives: January 2012

Family things

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One invariable feature of being a mom: when you want to have some time to be in peace and just do your own thing the most, something concerning children will always interfere. Always. But, at the same time, just as you want to focus on your own thing, there is no greater pleasure than take the time out of your busy day and, in result, see your kid lit up by a happy smile when you put a new slipper with a silly mouse’s “face” onto his foot. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true πŸ™‚ And so that’s the pleasure I’ve been experiencing this weekend.

‘Course, I wouldn’t have bothered “just for fun”, because I really do want to focus on my knitting. But it appears that my little one outgrew the slippers he had in his day-care and when even the patient teachers point such things out, there’s no way around – either I had to buy a new pair, or make one. As I had just brought home a pile of perfect yarn for making woolen slippers (and absolutely for free! Thank you once again, Ana Paula πŸ™‚ ) and all the other “ingredients” were on hand, guess which option I chose πŸ™‚

Here are the results of my home-y weekend: mouse-y slippers for my little boy πŸ™‚

I managed to knit two left foot slippers somehow – and not notice it until I took the slippers to embroider after washing them (four times!), drying and painting the anti-slip soles! – and the anti-slip soles aren’t really as neat as I would like them to be (I need a lot more practice… but do I? πŸ˜€ ), but overall I’m quite happy with how these cute things turned out. And my son was very happy with them! That’s really the main reason for taking the trouble πŸ™‚

If you want something just like that, the pattern is here (though you might consider knitting both left and right slippers after all πŸ˜€ ). I’ve already mentioned the DROPS Design website in one of my previous posts and I stand by my words – it really is an absolutely wonderful knitting resource page.

And now – the weekend’s over so it’s time to get back to “work” and to “my own thing” πŸ™‚

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More than winning

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“There’s more to racing than just winning,” said Lightning McQueen in “Cars”. He meant to boast, of course (that was in the first part of the movie while he was still the “cool racing car” without friends; I watch this movie at least 5 times a week – I have kids, remember? – so don’t laugh, ok? πŸ˜€ ), but this week I really was struck by the realisation that there IS more to racing a.k.a knitting than just winning (read: end-result). I was so absorbed in my “business plan” of making wristers as fast as I can and setting up my shop and getting to sell them as fast as I can, but… life’s not just about speed, right?

This week I made a great progress in knitting – I finished the first wrister of my first “pair for grown-ups” and I was so happy about it. It seemed that everything was finally coming together. But then I really looked at what I did and decided that… I can do better! The knitting is good, the process seems to be working well for me, but I’m not entirely happy with the design and I’m more than a little unhappy with the beads I used – they’re of different sizes which, I thought, would give more interesting texture to the knit, but I now think I’d be more happy if they were the same. Here’s how it looks in the present state.

And why did I start with talking about the process? Because I decided to spare enough time and improve the design until I really like it (it just needs a little tweaking but those little tweaks mean that I’ll have to recount all the beads and rewrite my sequence for stringing them) and use a bit different beads for the second wrister. If it comes out just as I want it, then I’ll remake this first one as well. Because I understood that there is no such thing as hurrying this all up so I can start selling fast. If I want to offer a really really good product and get a price that my time creating it was worth, I need it to be PERFECT. So, basically, back to square one and let’s start the process from the beginning with all the lessons that it already tought me firmly in mind πŸ™‚

And in the mean time… I’ve finally found time to look through some of this year’s designers’ Pre-Fall collections. And they are great! And I’m not talking here only about the fact that there are tons of things that are absolutely gorgeous for me personally, but there are tons of things that indicate I’m not completely off with all this wrister business! I understand that it is very very bold of me to put my humble starting creations next to such design giants as Chanel or Oscar de la Renta, but… We need to dream BIG, don’t we? Sooo… Here are some pictures I really liked (there are only a few because I haven’t had time to look though all the collections and, of course, I cannot put here everything that caught my fancy – there would be tens or even hundreds of pictures πŸ™‚ ) It’s just a very small selection but I was thrilled to see that Chanel, for example, had beads all over their designs – not only clothes but bags and gloves as well, Oscar de la Renta, Versace and lots of other designers had lots and lots of 3/4 sleeves that are perfect for wearing wristers with, and there’s also the trend of looong gloves and even kinds of “wrist warmers” (well, they at least look like ones) though in fancy materials such as leather.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect anyone who’s wearing Chanel to buy my wristers to go with the costume πŸ˜€ But the fact is, that the fashion – and all the “more wearable” things in more affordable stores that will follow the fashion trends – is indeed advantageous to what I’m starting to do here. And I am really glad! So I wanted to share my joy, maybe give you some ideas, and again… to be continued with better designs πŸ™‚

 

Wishing for 48/7 instead of 24/7

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Yep, I was right: my adventures are faaaar from over πŸ˜€ Although is it still an adventure if I conquer the same problem again and again, though in different ways?.. Oh well, I promised you the peaks “behind the scenes” for my creative – and business – venture, so: whatever you call it, I was again wrestling with getting my tiny little beads for another project onto the woolen yarn I’m going to be knitting in… Good thing it’s not the first time and I decided to test my earlier found “technique” with only 264 beads for starters and not all of the almost 1200 (and that is for only one wrister, I might add!). The earlier technique didn’t work. After an hour of glueing my fingers together while trying to glue the threads of different yarns (and succeeding in glueing only my fingers…) I finally got frustrated and went to bed… This morning I found another solution that finally got me through all of the tiny little beads – all 1200 of them – without much trouble (only with the reasonably expected amount of patient work) πŸ™‚ One more skyscraper of a problem toppled… for the time being πŸ™‚

Meanwhile, I finally got my long-awaited book from the library! Only when will I have time to read it, huh? In between all the bead-stringing and knitting, looking after my sweet kiddies and making dinners, and studying one of the more difficult languages at least in Europe?! Here’s what my evening looks like so far (not including the kids and the dinner: the kids run around too fast and scream too loud – might fracture the camera lens πŸ˜€ – to take any kind of picture of them, and the dinner is already gone)…

Add to this picture a husband and list of the most interesting things I really want to watch with him, an even longer (like more than ten times) list of blogs I haven’t gotten to read – and I want to! – because I was stringing the beads like an obsessed person, a list of friends I promised to visit or meet for coffee, lessons for 3 hours of every day… Ok, you get the picture πŸ™‚ So it’s small wonder I can’t make those wonderful wristers more quickly, is it? But I’m working on it πŸ˜‰

P.S. You can see the pattern I’m working on in the picture. Consider it a sneak-peak πŸ™‚

Ta-daaa!

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Ahm, maybe the fanfare’s too much πŸ˜€ I must admit that I myself was really looking forward to seeing my first design “in the flesh”… and it’s not that much to see. No, it is beautiful really and my daughter (whom it was made for) adores it, but it is such a small thing and it took me so much time to make… Well, not actual time to make – maybe rather find time to make. But, without further ado, here they are – Girly Wristers With Bows.

Now for those who would be interested not only in photos but in the actual process of making these pretty things, I have promised to tell more when I mentioned problems I stumbled upon, haven’t I? Here’s the list (and it’s not the full one, either): first, I thought I had suitable beads for the wristers – that’s basically why I decided to make the little girly ones in the first place: because I had a few batches of pink beads that I didn’t think I could find any other use for and half a ball of white yarn, but when I sat down to string the beads, I found out they had too small holes in them and the yarn simply didn’t fit in. So I had to go buy new beads. Second came the problem of stringing: the seed beads are so small and there’s a LOT of them (well, in this design there were only 306 beads in one wrister, but that was a really small design) and the woolen yarn, though I use quite a thin one, is not so tiny after all, so I had to find a good method to string them all together. When I knit wristers earlier for my own pleasure, I would just cover the end of the knitting yarn with glue and use it instead of a needle, but that was a slooooow process and having in mind that I’m planning to kind of make my living off of this kind of knitting, I had to come up with some more “productive” method. It took me four kinds of glue and a gazillion times of trying to glue yarns of differing thickness together, but I made it – the “productive” method was found! Then came the knitting itself that proved to be a bit more difficult because first, I was knitting with 5 needles instead of the usual 2, and as the beads were of differing colors for the first time in my whole “knitting history”, I found out the hard way that it does make a difference which way the beads are strung – you have to think where the beginning of the knit and the beads will be, and where the end will be (sure, I would’ve figured that out without actually experimenting if I’d thought about it, but I simply didn’t think about it. In Lithuania there’s a saying for such instances which could be roughly translated as “If the head doesn’t work, the legs [in my case – the hands πŸ˜€ ] suffer”). And, of course, there were lots of other small “light bulbs” along the way that I might not even remember now but I’m sure they will come to mind the next time I knit.

So there really was a great amount of experimenting, looking for “optimizations” (with the view of all the future work that would be easier when I found them), knitting and re-knitting in this project. I only thank all the higher powers that they steered me in the way of choosing something really small for my first design. Knowing myself – if not for those pink beads that I already had and the fact that I don’t wear pink but my daughter doesn’t wear anything but – I would have chosen to make long wristers for myself (it’s still – already! – winter after all) with some intricate design that would have taken me not a week but a few months to make with all this experimenting.

So you can guess what I’m planning to make next with all of my new-found knowledge, can’t you? πŸ˜€ Although I’m sure it is still far from the end of my adventures and experiments. So… To be continued!

Positivity

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I suppose there are very few people who haven’t heard about the power of positive thought until now. Maybe there are more, who don’t really believe in it, but that’s their problem. I do believe. And one of the things I was planning to do as one of the first steps in making my dreams reality was creating an inspiration board for myself. There I would put all the things that are beautiful, cute, attractive, thought-provoking, imagination-stimulating, and butt-kicking; and all my plans, designs, ideas and dreams as well.

Of course, I always notice all the beautiful things in magazines, blogs and books I read, streets I walk though (and drive by), so why don’t I have the inspiration board already? First, because I wasn’t serious about my dreams until now, second… oh, don’t laugh, but I didn’t know where to put that board at home πŸ˜€ I’m not sure even now, so I guess I’ll have to experiment and see where it fits best, but I just couldn’t pass by this wonderful poster I stumbled upon in Family Style blog and followed to a seedtosprout Etsy shop.

This is the first item that will go onto my inspiration board, the very center of it πŸ™‚

P.S. The first pair of wristers is coming soon as promised! I encountered a few “production problems” on my way but the full account will be presented to you together with the photos of the final result. Stay tuned!

Butterflies on the Toes

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Oh, finally there’s something that looks like winter outside! You’d think that living at the end of the world (Fin-land, right?) – and in the most northern capital of Europe – we’d have winter from October. Not so this year: it was dark, wet, windy and autumn-y up until now. We started the New Year without a grain of snow! But now the winter is finally here, there’s lots of snow, the sun is shining and it’s -14 C… About time for warm slippers, which is exactly my most recent project that I was supposed to finish before starting my first “designer piece” in wrister department.

First of all look at the raw “product” from which the slippers started. "Raw material"Now it does look kind of ugly, doesn’t it? πŸ˜€ I myself actually hate this phase of making this kind of slippers because after hours of knitting you end up with something that looks like sacks for not particularly “appetizing” products. On the other hand, it’s just the “raw material” for felted slippers that don’t require any hard “hands work” and water-and-soap usually required for felting. This fact alone redeems the “ugly sack phase” for me. All that’s needed is knitting, sewing up the seams, crocheting a border and tossing these things into a washing machine. Admittedly, this time it took me 3 times of washing and spinning until the slippers shrunk to the size I needed. And all that just because I was too impatient to start and decided to knit them using another kind of yarn than indicated in knitting instructions…

Oh yes, I did use knitting instructions. This is not my original design, neither is it my original idea: it was the courtesy of a wonderful free knitting pattern page DROPS Design. If you’re into knitting, check it out! They have enormous amounts of gorgeous designs, great ideas and interesting techniques. Even if you hate knitting from a pattern, there’s lots of inspiration there.

And so, after knitting, sewing, crocheting, washing, re-washing and re-re-washing, adding slip-stopping designs on the soles and drying them all through the night, and then adding embellishments on the tops… Ta-da, the great wintry accessory!

Now I may not yet be a very good photographer but it is still apparent that these cute cosy butterfly slippers are far from the ugly things they started life as, right? πŸ™‚ Mhm, and they’re even not for me – it’ll again be a gift for someone else. I hope she’ll enjoy them!

What’s the Big Mystery

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Ok, I’m very prone to speaking in general terms like “making beautiful things” and lofty phrases like “journey to the handcrafts world”, I admit it. I love looong sentences, brackets (very very much! There will be a lot of them and I don’t intend to change in this respect), generalisations, exaggerations and sometimes my writings might get a tad bit pretentious (I hope that its only a “tad bit”, anyway!). But please don’t be put out by that – I’ll really try to write something more “down-to-earth” and straightforward at least sometimes. Today is one of those times, and I intend to tell you what my main idea for “journeying to the handcrafts world” is (really, I understood how comic this phrase might sound only a good deal of time after publishing it). And first of all I’ll give you a kind of lecture – or info-article – on a thing that I (please note this) will call wrister (it will be short, promise!).

Now let’s make one thing straight from the start: most of these items that I found on the World Wide Web are called “wrist warmers” and basically that is one of their functions. But “wrist warmers” is such a broad category: it includes both articles like fingerless gloves (of various length, materials and patterns) and articles like wristers that are essentially kind of band (also of various length/width, materials and patterns) that covers only the wrist. Here’s what Merriam-Webster online dictionary says about wristers (actually, there’s no such term as “wrist warmer” in this dictionary or definition of it anywhere on the Web, really! Try “define: wrist warmers” in Google, you’ll find lots of items themselves but not the definition. But maybe I’m just splitting hairs here? ):

“wrister (noun): a warm knitted covering for the wrist.”

And what I am interested in is an even smaller category – beaded wristers, where the small seed beads are knit into the wrister making a beautiful pattern. Here are a few pictures from the only book about exactly this kind of wristers that I know of (of course, there might be other such books somewhere out there in the world that I don’t know of) – Irena Filomena JuΕ‘kienΔ—’s “RieΕ‘inΔ—s” (surprise surprise, its in Lithuanian! – my native language – and if you’re interested, the word between the quotation-marks in Lithuanian means exactly that – “wristers” ).

It seems these kinds of wristers were part of a national costume in many Northern European countries in the XIXth century. They were usually made from wool and served both a practical function of warming the wrists (and sometimes holding very wide sleeves in place so the wind wouldn’t blow into them or they wouldn’t get in the way while doing some work) and decorative function of embellishing the costume. Usually the beaded wristers were worn only with the best/”Sunday” clothes and mainly for the decorative purposes (for everyday uses people wore much simpler wristers without beads, made from thicker yarn). And, by the way, these nice things were worn both by women and men.

Well, and that’s it for the historical excursion. I don’t know how you found the examples in the photos but for me – although the idea of the knitted-in beads is great – the wristers themselves look a bit dull (or maybe just the photos aren’t so good? But it is a rather old book)… I actually made quite a few pairs of them exactly like that – using traditional patterns but choosing more colorful, brighter yarns – and gave all of them away to friends. Some of these wristers even turned out quite nice and not so very boring (how can aquamarine colour be boring, huh?!). But my idea behind “making beautiful things” is to make the beaded wristers even more decorative and much more original. I’m planning on using a bit different technique from the traditional one (traditionally wristers were knit using two needles and then the ends were sewn together; I’m going to knit with five needles so there is no seem to mar the beauty of the pattern and there’s no “wrong side” of the wrister) and develop my own – original – designs/patterns for them.

Now you are (hopefully!) keen on seeing what my wristers would look like. Unfortunately, you’ll have to have a bit of patience. I will make my first original pair very very soon: the idea already lives in my head, all it needs is the execution – the transformation of my image into an actual working-pattern and knitting it (and then taking pictures). And as soon as it comes to being it will be displayed here for everyone to see and comment. But right now I must finish one of my current projects (it’s not related to the wristers and not yet related to the “potential items for sale” list in my head, but the list is still in the phase of development, so who knows); and maybe I’ll drop in some pictures of it (when finished) in the mean time, so you won’t get very bored waiting for my first “masterpiece” πŸ™‚ But the “masterpiece” will follow very shortly.

And – just for the record – wristers are my main idea for “sell-able” items, but not the only one. But let’s not get ahead of things πŸ™‚

Beginnings

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It’s probably a clichΓ© but still – what better time is there to start something new if not right after the New Year? Well, maybe some 30th or 50th birthday would do nicely but I don’t want to wait for those and I needed a kick in the butt NOW, hence the start right after the New Year.

What was the kicking for? For finally engaging in something I’ve been secretly and openly dreaming, thinking and wishing for a very very long time – to start my very own creative journey into the handcrafts world and stay there! So here I am, starting that journey from this blog of all things. But why not? Sooner or later I will need some outlet for all the ideas I’m now bursting with anyway.

Actually I’ve never thought about myself as a particularly creative person. And probably that was my first and biggest mistake, because by thinking I didn’t have enough creativity I just never concentrated any energy on bringing it to a focus and using it for something (and believe me, I know how to concentrate!). But I’ve come to a time in life when I need to choose my “occupation” for the next few years ahead of me and I remembered my lifelong dream. Now is really the perfect time to do something about it!

All my life I’ve been hooked on one handcraft or another, riding on wave after wave of passion for knitting, beading, crocheting, crocheting with beads, making beads, felting, weaving, sewing… you name it. Every time I see some new knitting or beading technique, I lit up with the desire to try it out; I can browse the handcraft supplies shops and especially e-shops for hours and hours (the only competition for them might be bookshops, but even there I get stuck in the handcrafts section); and I always always have some craft project underway (well, usually maybe two or three projects). So I decided to use this passion and this energy for something both fulfilling, exciting and useful – start selling my handiwork. And as soon as I started seriously considering it, my mind just started bubbling with ideas for all the possible beautiful things I could make and hopes that somewhere out there I could find people who would be happy to own my creations. Talk about not being creative!

Maybe this start wouldn’t have been so sudden and “serious” if not for my brother who tried to convince me that there is no way to make a living off the handcrafting, that it’s only an occupation for wives of rich husbands – the husbands can support the family and leave their sweethearts to pursue their dreams that cost a lot and don’t bring any profit. But I don’t believe him and so I set out to prove him (and quite a few others who told me the same thing after I broached the subject) wrong. And this blog will be a kind of “travel journal” to document everything from the very beginning: my creative ideas and their end results (and all the “behind the scenes” in between); my successes and failures (I really hope for only a few of the latter!) while spreading the word about what I do; my life trying to balance this exciting adventure, my studies (I moved to Finland only a year ago and I’m now devoting insane amounts of time to learning Finnish), my family (I have a husband – who supports this endeavour, by the way, although I think he secretly hopes that when it doesn’t work out I’ll find a real jobΒ  – and two lovely little time-consuming monsters called kids), and my home (I still am a stay-at-home mommy until this whole thing starts to pay off); and all the other things that will go with everything else.

Please, feel welcome to visit! To read, to chat, to look at nice photos (hopefully I’ll get a hang of using my “fancier” camera soon – maybe I’ll have to write about that as well), to advise… maybe to criticize a little. Because I really hope and will do my very best to achieve success that will both enable me to live my dream and enable all those that believed in me to say with poorly disguised pride: “I know her from the very beginning, and I always believed she’ll do great!” And I intend to write about the path to both these great things here. So come!