"But, really, why does anyone create? You feel a... a restlessness inside, a need to make something new, something no one has ever seen before. You want to add to the beauty and the richness of the world with a gift, an offering that is uniquely yours. It's an act of selfishness and generosity, all rolled into one."

-- Bruce Coville,
The Last Hunt

Friday, December 27, 2013

Now that the presents are opened...

Both of my parents have birthdays the same week as Christmas, so December tends to be a busy month. I always get each of them an individual birthday present, and often a joint Christmas present for both of them. Now I can finally show the things I've made recently.

First, my dad's birthday present:

Yeah, another selfie, but again it was the best way to photograph the hat. I used this pattern, which was my first project with cables. I'm really quite proud of how it came out. It's pretty big on me, obviously, but that's because I made the men's size. It fits my dad just right.

For my mom's birthday present, I made the Jeweled Waterfall pendant in her favorite colors, purple and pink.

The threads are Lizbeth size 40 in colors 177 Elderberry Jam and 619 Baby Pink. The pink beads are from a necklace I bought at a yard sale a couple of years ago and dismantled; the color turned out to be a perfect match for the pink thread. There are also purple delica seed beads that go well with the purple thread, some round silver seed beads, and of course the purple teardrop. And then it turned out I also had some pink ribbon in my stash that was just the right shade as well. Actually, every single component of this necklace came from my stash. Never let it be said that I don't use what I have (even though I do keep buying more).

Finally, although I did get them a larger Christmas present as well, I decided to tat something using one of the brass rings left over from the creamer bag project.

This is Jane Eborall's "Snowflake 1 on Ring", although I know Jane would be the first to say it's a star, not a snowflake. Well, you know, a rose by any other name and all that. (And Jane does come from the same town as the guy who wrote that, too. And I worked last night and haven't been to bed yet today, so I am rambling.) Anyway, whatever you call it, it's a lovely pattern, and very quick and easy to work. For a new tatter, it would make an excellent first project with beads. I used delicas in gold and white, and I simply ran the hanging thread through the bead at the very top. The thread is DMC size 20 in white. I really like the elegant simplicity of the white and gold.

I was going to tat my sister something, too, but I ran out of time so I bought her some New Mexican food instead-- a couple of jars of red and green chile and a box of biscochitos (New Mexican sugar cookies flavored with cinnamon and anise). She lived here for several years, too. Once you've lived in NM, no matter where else you go, the chile addiction never quite goes away, and you can't get New Mexican style chile-- especially green-- anywhere else. I'll do the tatting project for her birthday instead.

Having successfully completed one knitting project with cables, I have now embarked on a cable and rib sweater for myself. I've made a pretty decent start on the back of it, but I'm too tired to photograph it just now. It's looking good, though, and I'll show it to you in the next post.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Creamer Bag Revised

My coffee creamer friend didn't work Sunday night, which gave me time to make some minor adjustments to the bag. I felt that the solution I came up with on Sunday, while functional, wasn't quite as elegant as I had been hoping for. What it boiled down to was that once I had learned that the pointed flap coming over the front wasn't going to work as a locking mechanism, any other mechanism I came up with wasn't going to look right with that point.

So I unraveled that whole section and bound it off straight. There's still a flap that comes up from the back of the bag over the top, but it now stops flush with the top of the front. I added a few more brass rings all around the opening and adjusted the length of the chain.

That's a bit better, I think. It's easier to see the difference in real life where you can view it from all angles. I kind of like how you can see exactly what's in there, but you can't get to it without the key. There's something in me that enjoys taunting would-be thieves.

Finally, since anything in the fridge at work is supposed to have some sort of identification of the owner (not that this stops people from taking things, obviously), I added a set of tatted initials.

The thread is Lizbeth 622 Medium Pink, size 40. The patterns for the letters are from The Tatter's Paradise by Gillian Buchanan.

If you look at the scan of the letters alone, and look at the pattern, you can see from the thread ends (left long for sewing on the bag) that I started the S in a different place than the pattern calls for. By starting in the middle instead of at one end, I was able to avoid split rings and cutting and tying, and make the whole thing in one go using just a ball and shuttle. The trick is, when I got to the chain opposite the ring that I started with, I put a piece of scrap thread across the core thread to make a downward-facing joining picot. That one little trick allowed me to simply ring-and-chain my way around the whole letter without stopping. The V, of course, was perfectly straightforward.

I gave the bag to my co-worker last night, and she gave me a huge hug.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Coffee Creamer Security

Most people who work nights develop a very special relationship with caffeine. This is particularly true of one of my co-workers who prefers her coffee with a flavored creamer. She brings in her bottle of creamer and stores it in the fridge at work-- and when she comes back the next night, she invariably finds that the people on day shift have used up half her bottle. This is despite the fact the she writes "Please do not use" all over it. This is particularly irksome because people on day shift don't need caffeine in the same way that night workers do, and they have access to the on-site coffee shop which is not open at night. The people who use it never bring in their own creamer, either. My friend is frequently quite enraged about the whole thing.

I decided there had to be a way to make a lockable bag to put the creamer in. It had to have a flat bottom so the bottle could stand up in the fridge. So I knitted two identical squares, stacked them on top of each other, rotated so that the grains of the two pieces ran at 90 degree angles to each other, then sandwiched a piece of felt in between them, and finally whip-stitched around the edges, going through all three layers. Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of this in progress, but it made a stable, non-stretchy, flat bottom for the bag. Then I picked up the whip-stitches along each side and knitted four sides for the bag.

The bottom pieces are in garter stitch. The front and back sides are in this eyelet pattern, because I wanted to try something new. The other two sides are in plain stockinette to make it go faster. The back is longer than the other sides so that it folds over the top. Finally, I blocked it...

...sewed up the sides to make a bag...

...and added two brass rings to which a padlock can be attached.

Now there's just one problem, which is that it doesn't actually work. A thief can simply do this:

But I still think my friend will get a kick out of it, and it does reinforce the message that she really doesn't want people taking her creamer. There is a way I can easily cinch up the sides to make it really secure, but that would require three separate locks, which does seem a bit excessive for coffee creamer. I really doubt my friend wants to unlock three locks just to get a cup of coffee. But if the problem continues and she wants me to do it, I will; it would be easy enough.

What it really needs is a zipper all around the opening, with the zipper being locked like a suitcase. However, the idea of me successfully installing a zipper is laughable, so this is what I've got.

The yarn is a cotton-acrylic blend that can just be tossed in the wash if creamer gets spilled on it. And now I have a whole packet of little brass rings to attach tatting to!

UPDATE: Problem solved, thanks to the very first comment I received! "Chain," says Caseymini. "Why, I've got chain in my stash!" says I. Well, duh, when you want to secure something, you chain it up, right? So a few more brass rings and a short length of chain later...

...and I give you the Fort Knox of coffee creamer.

I simply sewed brass rings to each top corner of the bag, and the front corners of the flap, and ran a length of chain through them. At one end, the chain is attached to the brass ring by a split ring jewelry finding. I put another split ring at the other end of the chain but left that end free to be pulled in and out; the padlock goes through this split ring and the brass ring a the back corner of the bag. The key was to keep the chain very short so the mouth of the bag get pulled up smaller than the bottle.

Thank you, Caseymini!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

3/4 Done

The knitting is about 3/4 done-- actually a bit more, because I've done a little more work since taking this picture. Then a bit of blocking and finishing, and you'll be able to see where I'm going with this. And the next project will be tatting, I promise.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Just Checking In

Just a quickie post to let you know that I am actually working on stuff.

More on what it is and what it's for after I finish it. I'm still hoping it will work the way I'm planning for it to...

And I have actually completed a couple of other things that I can't post yet, including some tatting.