The good thing is that the knitting progress on the whisper has been going smoothly - no difficult-to-correct mistakes. The bad thing is that it is going slowly. Setting a goal of getting it done before going out of town this week was plain crazy. Pshhh.
Complaint: I do this often with crafting. I get over-ambitious and set an unrealistic goal and then fail to meet it. I think my to-do list of projects is so long that I end up trying to get things done quickly and then I don't enjoy the act of it as much.
Need to remember: crafting is supposed to be a fun creative outlet to reduce stress, not another thing that adds stress. Why is this so hard to remember? My goal is to repeat this mantra whenever I feel myself getting anxious about progress on a project. Onward.
So. I've got one sleeve done and part of the back upper portion of the shrug.
Also, re-decorating. I've got big plans that will take some time but here are the very beginnings. I've been inspired by this (as many have) to use fabric as my main re-decorating tool. So, the first little batch of fabric that I couldn't resist - a few Japanese prints (echino) with some Amy Butler and Joel Dewberry purchased at Purl Patchwork. These prints are bright so I don't think I'll do large wall hangings with them. I think some small ones and maybe a few pillows would be pretty.
Look closely at this one. It's so spooky-cute. I love it. Little deer, birds, pigs, squirrels, skulls and ladybugs. Yum.
A few days at home dedicated to just fun hasn't yielded a lot of progress on the craft front for some reason. We've been in and out of the house and there actually hasn't been a lot of down time. The next three days are a little busy but low-key enough to get a little more done.
In the meantime, a few updates. My Anthropologie Inspired Capelet is finished. I ended up having to order another skein of yarn in order to finish the last sleeve. After blocking it's a little big (probably the reason I had to order more yarn for this one skein sweater). If the mistakes I made that led it to be a bit large hadn't taught me so much about sweater construction, I might be a little miffed. As it is, I learned a lot and it's only a little bigger than I'd hoped. I liked the pattern a lot and admire anyone who takes the time to figure out the math like Julia Allen did.
In other news we're in full-on paperwork mode for our adoption. There are forms and fingerprints and notarized documents and doctor appointments and blood work. The sheer amount of paperwork to get our wee one is a bit overwhelming. Sadly, right now none of it feels very tangible and we're just going through the motions. The one tangible thing we did (that was surprisingly fun) was get our fingerprints taken. I think adoption paperwork might be one of the few times getting your fingerprints done for your FBI background check is "fun." The fingerprint woman had a chuckle as Sean took this picture, not exactly sure what to do with us and our giggly picture taking in the DC courthouse. The guy waiting to get his prints done for the California bar exam was not amused.
Today is the first day of a two week break before starting my new job. I'm excited to have this time off for many reasons including knitting and crochet time, dog park visits, a little travel, and at least one day dedicated entirely to sewing.
I'm also grateful to have a little more time to spend here. I like it here. I view my days in a different light since starting this blog. Almost everyday I spend at least some amount of time thinking about what to share here and that makes me see things around me a little differently. I love that I can dedicate a lot of time to being here over the next couple weeks.
To celebrate, let's talk Japanese culture and design!
This past week marked one of my favorite times in DC. Cherry blossom time. If you've never had the good fortune to be in DC during this time you're missing something amazing and you should put it on your list. Although, I can't even tell you when to book your tickets for next year's cherry blossom peak because the little buggers are unpredictable and it's fairly impossible to guarantee exactly when they'll bloom in full. This year Sean and I were out of town during the peak of the peak. But we managed to catch an eyeful before it turned midnight on them and they turned into regular looking trees.
The cherry trees were a gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington in 1912. It was meant to celebrate the growing friendship between the United States and Japan. The initial gift was 3000 trees and then, in 1965, we were granted 3,800 more. They're planted all around the city of Washington, but mainly concentrated near the tidal basin and the Jefferson Memorial. Sometime shortly after 1912 the United States reciprocated by giving Japan a whole lot of dogwood trees (which are beautiful, but I think we got the better end of the deal.) In spring, the cherry trees blossom and you've never seen anything like it. The city puts on the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a two week celebration that includes things like sake/sushi parties and the crowning of the Cherry Blossom Princess and the Cherry Blossom Queen. It's a celebration that means spring is coming. It also means over 1 million tourists are coming - which is fine by me - I like that I live in a place where people take their family vacations.
The blossoms. They are brilliant and beautiful and I love them.
I've recently discovered another source of love for Japanese culture and design and, given our blooming city this week, I thought, what better time thank now to share it here.
Japanese crochet and knitting books. When I started my obsession with fibers, I was mostly crocheting and, to be honest, I had to search pretty hard for crochet patterns that blew my mind enough to spend hours interpreting them and stitching, stitching, stitching them. Don't get me wrong - they're out there and there's no doubt there are some incredibly talented American crochet designers. But. Then I discovered the brilliance of Japanese crochet patterns.
They are amazing for so many reasons. First, the patterns are dense and involved thereby creating fabric that is luscious. Also, the designs are intricate and tightly stitched making them so structured that it's almost like crocheting a little sculpture. They also take the traditional granny-squares (that enjoy a super rich history in the US) to a totally different level by stuffing so many steps and stitches into one small motif that the result is a beautiful overload on texture and yarn-y goodness.
(And, look at this one! Patterns for crocheting with strips of fabric.)
But. The main reason Japanese crochet and knitting patterns (I've yet to try a Japanese knit) are beyond brilliant is that they use symbols. This means that anyone, no matter what language they speak, can crochet or knit from a Japanese pattern as long as they know what the symbols mean.
So instead of reading through a pattern filled with lines like this: "Ch 2, turn, dc in 1st sc, (ch1, skip next sc, dc in next sc) across: 6 dc and 5 ch-1 sp......"
You get to read a little chart, like the one at the very top of the next photo. MuCH better.
Every Japanese book you buy (and I get mine at Kinokuniya, my favorite book store in NY) includes a section at the end with a visual set of instructions next to each symbol necessary for most crochet patterns. Plus, the symbols are universal and the internet abounds with keys and legends for guidance. (Some crochet and knitting designers in the US and the UK have been inspired to create patterns using these symbols now and brava to that!)
I have these books sitting in my living room and I often pick them up and scan through them even though I've seen each page a hundred times. I think I love them so much because of the color and creativity combined with the methodical, repetitiveness of the pattern instructions. Which is sort of a reflection of me I guess - creative, yet pretty structured.
Now that I've satisfied my craving for some Japanese good-ness, Huck and I are off to the dog park. We might even be lucky enough to glimpse some remnants of the cherry blossoms.
The light isn't good this morning, but I wanted to show some pictures of my snail's pace progress on the whisper cardigan. So, If I wanted to pretend that my progress wasn't as slow or that I'd been able to use those 20 hours super efficiently, I'd show you this and call it a day. Can't really tell what you're looking at, can you? Just some pretty grey lace. (Ooooh, pretty, fuzzy, soft grey lace - it really is yummy.)
In reality, what you're looking at is about 1/3 of an elbow length sleeve. Here's a better angle.
For those who don't obsess over yarn and aren't familiar with this uber-popular pattern, this is lace weight yarn. To give you some perspective that means this is a really small swatch of my sleeve. The yarn is like knitting with something slightly thicker than embroidery thread. Those stitches are tiny tiny tiny. Tiny. Yes, I'm just getting back into knitting and still learning about gauge and garment construction. But Still.
20 hours. Twenty Hours.
Nothing can deter me though. We have yet another road trip this weekend. This time we'll be driving a much more tolerable distance (sans Huckleberry) to Virginia Beach for a friend's wedding. This means about 8 hours total in the car - all during daylight (knitting) hours. So watch for more progress. Now that I have the gauge figured out and I'm feeling more confident with the yarn and the decreasing (even though I still don't understand how I was picking stitches up rather than letting them go) I think I'll get much more knitting-per-hour done.
I'd love to have this ready by the time I go to Los Angeles later this month. It's a lofty goal but I'm going for it. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Oh, and in case you didn't know what the cutest little dog settling in for a road trip looks like - here.
This is about two hours in to our drive out of town last Friday. He's never done this before and we're still not sure what inspired him. He went back and forth the whole trip from the plain ol' back seat to this little perch behind the headrests. It never got old or ceased to crack us up. We'd chuckle looking back at him and he'd look at us like "What. I fit here perfectly." We joked that his little brain probably thought this was the longest. trip. to the. dog. park. Ever.
Wish me luck on the whisper. Oh, and this weekend, I'll show some sneak peeks of the fabric I'm using for some redecorating. (hooray! redecorating!)