Friday, July 25, 2008

Bookmarks & Stickers

I recently needed to send a thank you to someone. I wanted to include a small token of my appreciation with the card, but I'm in the middle of a move, currently, so I don't have an abundance of time to make things right now. In a conversation with this person about my knitting, and my trepidation about knitting things for men, because there are only so many scarves, hats, gloves you can make for one person before it gets redundant and unimaginative. And, I don't know about you, but I'm not a big fan of doing the same thing over and over again--I like to try out new things. Well, this person told me that if I made him a doily, he would appreciate it, because I made it, even if he didn't have much use for one.

So, I decided to make him a doily.

No, actually, I wouldn't make anyone a doily. (With my experience with "never" statements, stay tuned for my blog entry on doilies, as I'm sure there will be one....)

I decided to make him a bookmark. I figured it would be small, therefore easy to knit up and easily placed in an envelope, and probably more useful than a doily (except, to be honest, I have no idea if he reads with any regularity). I have an "encyclopedia" of knitting and crochet stitches (because I am determined to enjoy crochet almost as much as I do knitting), which I bought a couple of years ago when a friend and I decided to make a friendship scarf with each other over the course of a year--I'll have to take pics sometime.

It was a cool experience. But, I digress. I decided I would look in this book for a pattern I liked and do one iteration of the pattern. I initially chose a pattern that would need 19 stitches (because I have this problem--I have a difficult time creating smaller pieces without having a border--as proved in my friendship scarf), and that was just too wide. I decided a smaller pattern would do and chose one that required seven stitches plus two for the border on either side for a total of 11 stitches. It was perfect! And, I knitted it up in three hours (although it was difficult on size one needles, let me tell you!) The final piece looks great, and I wish I'd taken a picture, but I'm pretty distracted by moving, so I sort of forgot (and don't know where my camera is, actually--it's in the new place, but where in the new place is a mystery). Now, I have a great idea for small presents for people, especially for those who I know are readers. I have a whole book of patterns to choose from! What an easy task! Wee-hoo!

The story doesn't end there, though.

I had to mail this with a thank-you card. Of course, when I placed the bookmark in the envelope, I found that the seal didn't seem too strong, and I feared that the envelope would open and the bookmark would tumble out, so I needed to tape it shut. Well, remember that I'm moving, and I was in a living space where everything is in boxes, so I didn't know where to find any tape. Well, I say everything is in boxes. My craft and art supplies are mostly not in boxes--never were, in fact--and I could easily locate my sticker-making device. Of course, I also needed something to make a sticker out of. I looked through a box of book-making sundries, and found cut-outs I had saved from previous books. I saved these just in case I felt I could use them in later projects. As it turns out, the green puzzle piece had a new job! I quickly turned it into a sticker and sealed the back of my envelope! Voila! I haven't actually made any books since last November, and I've never used the sticker-making device since getting it for Christmas, so it was doubly fun to be able to use my new toy to solve a problem!

Now, I'm looking forward to other uses for my sticker-making device! Wait till my craft room is complete! Wee-hoo!

Thanks for reading.


Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen

This is something new from me--a review of a book I read.

I just finished reading Water for Elephants, which I had heard good things about--nothing specific, but good things, nonetheless--by several people--"This is a great book! Have you read it?" So, I really didn't know what to expect when I opened the book to page one and started reading.

Oh my goodness! I loved the story instantly. It didn't hurt that the main character has the same last name as one of my cats' former last name (I decided that Boudrage suited her better than Jankowski, although I still like the sound of the latter).

This book is not only well-written--the characters, even the animals, come to life in striking contrast to each other. I couldn't help but love Jacob and sympathize with Marlena regarding her abusive relationship with her husband. I will say that I have a difficult time, as a counselor experienced in meeting individuals with schizophrenia, paranoid type, to swallow that this character's violence and temper tantrums had anything whatsoever to do with schizophrenia. If you've read my earlier entry, you will know how I feel about people's lack of understanding of this particular mental illness (even though it can't really be blamed...). This doesn't detract from how much I loved Rosie and Bobo and the horses, just as much as Jacob and Marlena did--especially Rosie. And, it certainly doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the story overall.

For a long time while reading, I was sure that Jacob saw Marlena kill her abusive husband, and I thought, "Well, he deserved it!" The real culprit was surprising and just as suited to the task! It was fabulous! I laughed incredibly hard in the last chapters when Gruen described, through Jacob's clear memory, what happened after the Big Top collapsed. It's one of those stories where all the bad guys get what's coming to them, and most of the good guys get what they want (sorry, to spoil it), but even so, it's a great book. There were times when I was outraged, too, don't get me wrong. I love a book that causes me to laugh, cry, shout, etc. It means it's a good story. Unfortunately, I don't always get to read a well-written good story, and this one was that.

I love how the story weaves back and forth between Jacob at 93 and Jacob in his early 20's, and how the reader knows where the next chapter will be, based on whether there's a circus picture at the start of the chapter or not. Very clever way to let us know just what time we're in. No surprises, there. There are enough of the other surprises without having this unnecessary one.

I strongly recommend this book to fiction readers. I would never have imagined that I would enjoy a novel set in a circus, per se, but I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this one. It's a love story, but it's more than that, so much more. I was moved far more than I ever imagined.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Another Afghan!

Okay, so this afghan-knitting exercise is more time-consuming than I had initially thought it would be. This is only the second one I've finished since starting this project in January. The good news is that I'm almost finished with the third one, which was the second one I started!

Actually, I LOVE this pattern! Once I got the hang of it, I thought it looked really cool. This afghan was made for my cousin's wedding present. I can't wait till she gets it, because I think she'll love it! I wanted to have an orange in it, instead of the purple, but I couldn't find yarn that I liked, and since purple is my favorite color, I decided to go with the purple after all.

One of the things I love about knitting is that there isn't much too it. This pattern looks pretty complicated (I think), but it's really not. It's about using knit-stitches and slip stitches. That's it. Pretty simple. The entire project was supposed to take me ten hours, but it definitely took longer than that.... I thought I was a pretty fast knitter, but maybe not so much! lol Maybe it has to do with the fact that I don't really have ten hours a week to dedicate to any craft, let along completing an afghan. In doing this particular pattern, I decided to add an extra stripe, so that the afghan begins and ends in green. For some reason, I thought this would be a good idea. And, ultimately, I really like it and am glad I did it.

I've thought about doing another afghan of this pattern this year, but I think I'll not do that, as this year is about trying various different patterns for afghans. Maybe next year, I can make one like this for someone who isn't family, because there are plenty of patterns out there, just so I don't have to make the same pattern for multiple family members, who will conceivably visit each other and see the same afghan! Too much thought needs to go into this....

Soon, hopefully, I'll be finishing up the third afghan. There are several other patterns that I want to try out, so I can start in on those patterns when I'm through.

...although, I'm moving soon, and I have some knitting ideas for decorating my new home, especially since it's my first very own piece of American soil!

If anyone has any neat patterns for cool afghans or throws, please let me know. If anyone is interested in this pattern, please drop me a line. I'm happy to share!

Thanks for reading!