Category Archives: Terminal Weirdness

I Don’t Have the Skills to do THAT

Friends, I am so so tired of hearing this. I am so tired of hearing “oh, that’s so nice, I wish I were that talented.” Didn’t your Bob Ross lessons sink in? You know, the one about how “Talent is pursued interest” and if you’re willing to practice, you’ll get all awesome at it because you develop the skills you need? That one?

As Oona’s just pointed out, we don’t need to put ourselves down to lift other people up. The amount of skill and talent and beauty and general awesomeness in the world is not finite.

Oh, wow, I could’ve done a better job of pressing the back there, huh?

So I get a little frustrated when people claim that the thing they want to do, they just aren’t good enough for it.

If the worst that can happen from trying is having to rework a lot of times, and no one’s safety or security is threatened, then you should totally shoot for that ambitious goal.

So here is a thing I made that I really do not have the skills to make. (And some really strange, awkward selfies. For which I am not at all sorry.)

Vogue 1172. Out of the envelope, it is mid-calf length, with princess seams, extended shoulders,  wide v-neck, godets, side zip, lingerie straps, waist stay, and facings.

My version is knee-length, fully lined, with in-seam pockets, horsehair braid at the hem, and the (handpicked) zip moved to center back. Both skirts have a combination of French seams and bias binding. I drafted pockets myself, and added three seams to the skirt to make them work.

Until I made this dress, I had none of the experience needed to make this thing happen. I had 3 weeks to figure it out and make a ton of stupid mistakes, like assembling the bodice and lining completely, then stitching them together at the neckline and the armscyes, then clipping and grading seams AND ONLY THEN trying to turn the thing right-side out. After which I took a guess at which seam I’d have to unpick and then handsew to make it work. And guessed incorrectly. And ended up handstitching the lining and shell together at both armscyes and the neckline.

And when THAT was all done, I still had to catch stitch a full 10 yards of hem, insert the zipper (then grit my teeth because the zipper was so close to the right color that it looked like a mistake), wash it, press it, get on a plane and fly across the country with it (almost miss the plane), arrive on the other coast and rip out the zipper to replace it with a contrasting one that matched my belt, and insert the waist stay.

And let me tell you. I’m still not sure I have all those skills, not really. I’m not really good at modifying patterns yet, or sewing princess seams, and I don’t quite understand the trick to clean finishing a sleeveless bodice. But I did make the thing, so I know I can muddle through, and the next time I muddle through will be a little easier, a little less dramatic, a little tidier. And when I muck it up, it won’t be the end of the world.

This dress isn’t perfect, but it is nice (it makes me feel like a very ferocious sort of princess), and it taught me a lot of things.

Having done it once has made me braver, which means that once Tour de Fleece is over, I have something else to show off. In fanciness, it’s got nothing on this baby, but I’m still awfully pleased.

And if I can come out excited after a battle with my old nemesis “sewing,” well, friends, you can definitely do that thing you think you’re not good enough yet to try.

Wanna hear a secret?

I already know you can do the thing.

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Merry Knitmas

Hmm, it’s spring now, isn’t it? No matter, the northern parts of the east coast are still mired in Ragnarok (probably), so the holiday knits I sent out a couple of weeks ago are still relevant to my family.

First, the non-knit crafty things though–

SONY DSC

“Is that a trio of dinosaur print flannel jimbly-jambles,” you are asking yourself, I’m sure. And let me tell you, friend–it certainly is. I sewed all three in a span of three days near the end of January and I’m pretty pleased with myself. I recently learned that all seams have to be “finished” or your garment falls apart, which really might’ve been nice to know about ten years ago. Then instead of being incredibly frustrated with my abysmal sewing skills, I might have had a couple of encouraging successes, leading me to practice more, and, in this alternate reality, I would now be capable of inserting a cuff placket instead of a miserable failure at same. But never mind, that’s a story for another day.

In addition to belated holiday jammeroonis, I made a belated holiday point twill scarf for my dad (no finished object photos, sadly, as this item was given away before I had simultaneous light and time for picture-taking), a pair of handspun colorwork mittens for my mother-in-law, a tiny sweater for a brand-new nephew, and a cabled cowl for my dad’s girlfriend.

Let’s start with the least drama-fraught item.  This is a newborn-size Welcome to the Flock, and I shall henceforth refer to it as “wee sheepies.”

As almost the entire planet is probably aware, I become incoherent with delight where sheep (and especially lambs) are involved.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for my colorwork in this instance.

Just look at those fuzzy little sheep tummies and try to ignore the mess around them, okay?

I probably made quite a few modifications, but I couldn’t say what they are. I was too busy gibbering about the wee sheepies to make notes.

Next up, Irish Vine mittens.

Funny thing about these mittens. I was knitting along on the first mitten, delighted to be working with cormo, which is a lovely wool, which I had combed and spun myself, endlessly entertained to watch the pattern emerge with each round. But there were doubts, too. The fabric seemed a little thin. It was a little open. All in all, it was looking just a little bit on the side of not-quite-big-enough.

No, I thought. No, this will be fine. It’s going to stretch when I wash it. I’ve followed the pattern, it’s going to be fine.

I kept knitting.

I grafted the top closed.

I started the thumb.

It felt wrong. Really wrong. I tried on the mitten.

My fingernails nearly stabbed through the top.

I made despairing noises. I sighed. I carefully ripped the whole mitten out.

And I restarted with the yarn held double.

It was a good decision. Colorwork in too-thin yarn on too-large needles is a pretty sad sight.

Of course, I could have saved myself a great deal of time and labor if I hadn’t knitted on in denial for several days.

Last, and with perhaps the most dramatic story of all, this Nennir cowl:

I started this shortly after the Winter 2012 issue of Knitty came out, using Malabrigo sock in “Playa.”

After finishing the first chart, I decided I didn’t like the hand of the fabric. Too loose, almost mushy (not to be confused with smooshy, which is a great characteristic in a knit); my stitches looked sloppy and the cables really weren’t showing well. This is a big issue I have with Malabrigo Sock–it’s soft as anything, but it’s well on the “heavy lace” side of “light fingering,” with little twist in either singles or plying. For something calling itself sock yarn, you’d walk holes through it in about two minutes. That’s usually a deal-breaker.

But this is a cowl, not socks, so I ripped it out, held the yarn double, and started again.

Then I ignored it for a while. And then a year had gone by since I bought the yarn, but I wasn’t worried, I had lots left.

But then I knitted and knitted and knitted and knitted and suddenly there was not so much yarn. I began knitting faster, to outrun the end of the yarn. (Did I mention how knitting in denial is a very bad idea? Knitting in denial backfires almost every single time. Avoid.)

Suddenly there was half a chart left and I was definitely, definitely certain that the yarn was faster than me.

No matter, I thought. I will go to the yarn store. I will purchase another skein. Surely they’re still dyeing this colorway. If I use one strand from the original and one from the new skein, they will totally blend and no one will ever notice.

I almost didn’t find any Malabrigo Sock at the yarn store. When I did manage to locate it, there were only four skeins in just three colorways.

I ended up with “Primavera.” It’s not really close, at all, but it was closer than the others; nothing else even resembled the right combination of color, fiber, diameter, and texture.

I held out hope, though. Held double with “Playa” and kept to the back when possible, it wasn’t a particularly jarring transition.

But then, ten rows before the end, I ran out of the original color completely. And that’s why the inch or so left of center looks like a different color. Fortunately the person it will be accessorizing wears her hair long enough to cover the weird part.

It is a comedy of errors, friends.

Don’t Forget to Be Abnosome

This last week has been slow on spinning. Very slow, partially because of a couple of small hiccups in the art yarn department–specifically, that these hands have never made art yarn before and trying to jump into coils and beehives straight off is sort of insane. The hands are learning corespinning now. More on that when I run out of core. It’s going better than the other things, which I will photograph for full disclosure at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Of course, there is a larger reason. A very large reason, in fact. That is, the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. I signed up on Team Fishwhales, and when registration was through, we were combined with a team of strangers calling themselves 2Glam2GiveADamn to become 2Glam2GiveADamnLovesFishwhales. To their credit, they were indeed quite glam, far too glam to be embarrassed by the kind of spectacular silliness that ensued over the last week.

Last Sunday the item list appeared–over 150 items of varying impossibility. Most of the impossible items were a problem of geography (I’m most upset about the item in which three team members go to the Dalí Museum in Spain with absurd moustaches, come on Spain, whatcha doing all the way over there???), which, if it could be solved by creative thinking, I would already have done. So we signed up for some things, we got excited, and we made stuff. And here’s the stuff I made, both materially and in profound metaphysical strangeness.

I lost a game of Settlers of Catan to Matt and Mr. Squooshy Penguin, narrowly beating Hubert, during a bloodparty.
I experienced some difficulty getting dressed when a flock of helium balloons made off with my pants.
I got a celebrity endorsement by Jeph Jacques for the SOMETAL Ukulele from Fishwhale Glamours, and became convinced that I’d invented the word “blood.”
I had a churro dagger-fight with my best friend–fortunately churros are fairly harmless, but the whole thing got a little bit Julius Caesar for a few seconds there.
I became the proud papa to a litter of wee kittens…and then cooed over the rest of the teensy kittybabies and most of the pupples at the SPCA for at least half an hour.


And THIS, well…this speaks for itself, doesn’t it?


Here, have some outtakes too.

I became a kale dragon–you may call me Kale Drogo.

 

I did a hug with bonus Star Trek joke. Oh, and all that face paint? I’m totally allergic.
I made and wore a uniform…and got photobombed by the Queen.

These are just my own contributions; there’s much, much more–but I’ll let my teammates tell their own stories (links if and when I have any).

As the sole member of the California division of 2Glam2GiveADamnLovesFishwhales, I could have pulled off none of this without the help and support of my BesFren (official title) and roommate, Matt. Nothing I could say could adequately express how thankful I am for so willing a partner in crime terminal weirdness.