Fingerless Gloves

It’s exam season. My second-to-last undergraduate exam season, ever! I’m stressed out and unmotivated at the same time. I have a lot to do (and it will get done, I’m not worried about that) but it’s the opposite of what I want to be doing right now. I’d much rather be making salted caramels and going ice skating and drinking mulled wine and hanging up sparkly lights. Instead, I’m looking at two weeks of bleak days where I don’t get out of my pyjamas and sit in front of a computer screen for hours. Ugh!

I did a little project last week, while the exam storm was a’brewing. These gloves were super speedy to knit up, and I think they’re adorable. Better still – I’ve actually been wearing them around the house, and even to bed once! Montreal is far too cold to practically wear fingerless gloves outside in the winter, but as indoor handwarmers, they work great. (In fact, I’m wearing them right now.)

I got the pattern from Knit and Bake here. I followed the instructions pretty exactly (even using the right size needles, which is something I have been guilty of not doing in the past) and yet mine still came out larger than hers, both in length and width! I was disappointed, because I’m not sure how to fix that issue. Luckily they’re not too big and I can still wear them! I’ve been trying a lot of projects lately and most of them I’ve pulled out because they were too big. Maybe I don’t pull tight enough! But then, I dislike it when the stitches are too tight on the needle. I think I’d better go see my Grandma and ask her what’s up.

The good news is, I’m getting much better at knitting! I’ve picked up some tricks along the way (another reason those false start projects were not a waste) including how to comfortably knit on double pointed needles, a new way to hold needles so it goes faster, how to “unknit” stitches (so helpful!!), and how to unravel knitting and pick it up again (very risky, but I did it once successfully). I’m so happy to know all this stuff, and I can’t wait to make every project The Purl Bee offers. Check out my DIY inspiration board here for more knitting projects I hope to do!

Okay everyone, let’s hit the ground running this week! I know I sure need to. Have a wonderful week, don’t forget to take study breaks to stress bake (might I suggest these and these?) and laugh with your friends. Buy a crate of clementines too, you’ll thank yourself later.


Striped Circle Scarf

So, yesterday I was so excited to try this scarf on that I pulled out my winter jacket just to see how it would look. This is significant, because if you know me at all, you know that it takes a very good reason for me to go anywhere near my winter things – I spend most of my time in denial that winter exists. But I was so excited about this scarf that I made in two days in a fit of creative frustration that the winter jacket had to come out for modelling purposes.

I was inspired by Elise’s cowl and was more than happy to follow her simple approach. I tried making a complicated mini herringbone scarf a few weeks ago, and although it was a beautiful pattern, I kept messing it up. I was happy to make something with plain old knitting stitches. This was the perfect project at the perfect time – I had both colours of yarn left over from other projects, had the right sized needles, it was easy. I basically just went with it, figuring out things like switching colours every row by watching videos and by trial and error. Turns out I accidentally joined in the round while some stitches were twisted the wrong way, so my cowl has a permanent twist in it. For my purposes that works just fine (because I am looping it around my neck anyways) but I was really careful about joining in the round so I’m not sure how it happened. I’m blaming my midnight knitting start-time.

 None of my projects ever turn out the way I expect them to, but I always end up appreciating them for what they are. I can’t stand how this cowl is always curling in on itself (that’s the price I pay for knitting the whole thing), and it’s a bit smaller than I thought it would be so it’s a bit tighter around my neck twice. It also looks stupid when it’s not looped. But looped around twice? I love it.

I cast on just over a hundred stitches on 24-inch circular needles. In retrospect, I would have done more like 150-200 stitches. I joined in the round and then knitted every row, switching colours each row. I used the tips in Elise’s post, and this video was totally crucial – I watched it around 4 times.

This project was totally the result of me needing to make something with my hands. It’s (I guess) winter, so knitting feels comforting again. I might try my hand at making some socks. I only wish I had access to better, nicer yarns! Oh well. Now that I’m finished my midterms, I hope to use my time to create some more handmade happiness.

Happy Monday!

Sunburst Painting

Remember that general feeling of malaise I was telling you about? It’s still kicking around, but I’m working really hard to shake it. This weekend, I tried bibimbap for the first time (in an authentic stone bowl, in a tiny Korean restaurant that looked like someone’s wood-panelled basement) and fell in love. I ran a race that made me into a rainbow! I shared a few good bottles of wine with good friends (after finding out that good wine can be bought on the cheap, I’ve been making an effort). I baked cookies at a party. I read my book, and got caught up in its magic, whimsy, and sadness. I had a long shift at work, punctuated by watching that crazy guy jump out of space on a customer’s iPad. I had some nice talks. I found out about an awesome knitting store in the area. And I made this painting.

Practicing gratitude like that always makes me feel a million times better. All of those things, at the time, may not have felt like much – but they truly were all special and it’s nice to recognize that.

This painting was inspired by this photo and this version, though I liked the colour scheme of the first much better than the second. I’m all about bright, happy primary colours after all! I read in the comments on one of those two posts, someone suggesting an off centre midpoint, and I instantly loved the idea. I immediately saw a picture in my head of the way I wanted it to be laid out, and got the stuff later that day. I already had some paint leftover from this project, but I bought some orange and pink to go along with them. The canvas was a 12×14 canvas I got on sale. I used regular painter’s tape, but I had some problems with it. It didn’t like to stick down to the surface of the canvas, so not all of my lines were as clean as I would have liked them to be. Boo!

These projects always seem to be an exercise in patience, calm, and letting go. I always get into a “flow” state, where the time is passing and all I’m thinking about is how to solve the problems that are arising. It’s so calming to see a project take shape, regardless of how frustrating the process might have been. And I am always reminded to let go of the need for perfection. This painting is nowhere near perfect. The lines aren’t all clean, the colours aren’t all exactly what I wanted, some of the painting turned out a little patchy, the center where all the points meet is a bit messy.

But guess what? That’s not the point of this painting. The point is that I needed something fun to do. The point is that it’s bright and cheerful and lightens up my space. The point is it will only be seen from across the room, and from there it looks perfect.

I taped out the triangles one at a time. I mixed paint colours (on a pad of paper) using turquoise, yellow, orange, pink and white. (Creativity was needed, and I was happy about that). I went back and touched up sections. I learned a quarter of the way through to paint much thinner layers of paint, so it dries faster. I also learned to press the tape down very carefully. By the end I think I mastered it!

It fits absolutely perfectly into that space on my wall that looked unfinished. The colours look dull in this photo, because I took the picture late at night, but trust me it is stunning, and brightening up my whole space. Easy, simple, happy.

Happy Monday!

10/10: Pink Polka Dot Dress

Guys, I’m going to do a little report on my break from the internet soon, but let’s just say: a) it was not overly successful, but b) it was totally necessary for me to not blog/Facebook/Pinterest for that first week of September, and c) taking that much time away from my blog doesn’t make me feel good.

Do you know what does make me feel good? Conquering an extremely frustrating project.   Let me give you some context on this dress. Before sewing this dress, the extent of the sewing I’d done was cutting out two tubes of fabric and sewing three seams to make this skirt, and practicing seams on scraps of fabric. That’s all.

Turns out, there’s a *ton* of knowledge that one needs to follow a sewing pattern. That includes knowing how to even read the pattern, how to pin pattern pieces to the fabric properly, what all those funny marks on the paper mean, what to do when your sewing machine (inevitably) jams, how to finish seams, etc, etc, etc. And this is all basic stuff! Despite my stubbornness (“I’m going to sew a dress, darn it!”), I had actually chosen a relatively simple pattern – it’s just that there’s still so much I didn’t know how to do.

So how did I manage? I yelled at my pattern a lot (wish I was exaggerating). I would take the pattern one sentence at a time, and sometimes half a sentence. I called my mom about how to cut out fabric. I Googled everything and watched a lot of Youtube videos. I Googled some more. I tentatively followed the steps.

It was a bit of a meditation, actually. I was really eager to be finished the project (as I always am), but I couldn’t really rush this one. Every time I tried to rush, I’d almost mess up, and I’d have to remind myself that I wanted to do a good job, and that I needed to focus. #lifelessons

Trust me, nobody was more amazed (or motivated) than I was when I saw this dress start to take shape. Every time I finished a step it looked slightly more wearable, and it made me giddy. And guess what? Now that it’s finished, it really is wearable – and I’ve actually worn it! Success!

I bought my pattern from Simplicity, it’s called Misses’ Dresses. The one I made is called the Diplomat dress. I think the pattern was good, but I will never again buy a printable pattern – the system was not easy to use to download it, and it was so much extra work to print, cut, and tape together the pattern pieces. I picked out my fabric at Fabricville because it was cotton, and because it was pink polka-dotted.

I have to say that although this was without a doubt the most frustrating of my 10 DIYs this year, it is also probably my favourite. I am really proud to have accomplished it, and opened the door (to myself) to make more sewing patterns. Not that bad once you get the hang of it!

I’ve completed 10 DIY projects this year! To see the others, click here