Hook versus Needles

Hook versus Needles

 Crochet or Knitting?
What is the difference?
Which one is better?
Which would I recommend a novice to try?
Before I weigh in with my two cents,
Let me first say:
I am neither a knitting nor a crochet expert.
But I enjoy both.
Mostly as a vehicle for meditation.
I don’t make clothes.
I have no patience for checking gauge or blocking.
I really just love the act of letting my hands make something 
while I mull over ideas, watch movies or pray a little.
Here’s the awesome thing,
I don’t need to be an expert to share what I know and love with others.
Sometimes I knit along with more experienced friends.
Other times, I get to pass on tips to someone just getting started.
And every now and again,
A complete newbie will ask me whether she should start with knitting or crochet?
This is the one where you use one hook.
Don’t be embarrassed if you didn’t know that.
You are in the company of many others.
The great thing about crochet is that you have only one stitch on the hook at a time.
If you mess up, 
It’s a very simple matter to unravel a few rows and to get going again.
Depending on the stitch you choose,
Crochet can move really fast.
I especially love crochet because I can “sculpt” with it.
Baskets, flowers and amigurumi are my personal crochet favorites.
Never tried to crochet but want to get started?
But know that you may have a frustrating lesson or two before you get the hang of things.
In crochet, each hand has a job.
One hand controls the hook.
One hand controls the yarn and the tension.
It may feel unnatural and awfully awkward at first.
Be patient with yourself. 
You will get the hang of it.
Left handed?
Me too.
My advice to lefties is to just crochet the right handed way.
Both hands have to work, after all.
Do you really want to spend all that time flipping instructions and diagrams in your mind?
I have one big gripe about crocheting.
When I’m working on larger pieces,
I have a tendency miss stitches.
As I mentioned before,
I like to crochet while watching movies.
‘Course, if my attention is on the screen,
I’m not looking at the growing fabric in my hands.
Sometimes my hook passes over the next stitch and I might not notice til the credits are rolling.
At least picking up again after unraveling is a no-brainer with crochet…
This is the one that calls for two needles.
And all your stitches are on one (or both needles) at all times.
Once you cast on your stitches,
The actual knit stitch is very doable.
The scarier part is what happens when a mistake needs to be un-knit.
Or a dropped stitch needs to picked up.
 I think the actual fine motor skills of knitting are are easier to pick up than crochet.
But dealing with knitting mishaps are worse.
What knitter doesn’t develop a strong and lasting headache when pulling the stitches off the hook and unraveling?
My knitting nightmares include getting all those stitches back on the needle in the correct orientation.
But I do really like the look of a knitted fabric.
Garter stitch nice but oh so slow to grow.
Stockinette pretty, even if it rolls at the edges.
Ribbing is functional and knits up fast.
Love the look of cable (hate the counting).
Think linen stitch is gorgeous.
And the list goes on.
Biggest gripe for knitting?
Aside from fixing mistakes?
I am a very S_L_O_W knitter.
It takes me forever to finish projects.
Speaking of which,
I’m 15 inches into a 60 inch prayer shawl.
Knitting with a variation of a garter stitch.
What can I say,
There’s going to be a lot of prayer sprinkled throughout this thing by the time I’m done…
So which is it?
Crochet or knitting?
I think both are worth learning.
Each has its quirky tricky parts.
But once you get over that initial hump,
Both can be learned.
And used to create wonderful things.
Perhaps the better question is,
What do you want to make?
Did you see something that inspired you?
Why not make that first?
And maybe pick up the other skill a little later?
I suppose my question is,
Why does it have to be hook versus needles?
Why not both?
Quest for the Spark (Book Two)

Quest for the Spark (Book Two)

Finishing up with “Quest for the Spark, Book  Two.”
I take back what I said about this series last time.
Not enjoying this book.
The mix of characters are no longer interesting.
Which is a pity because there was potential in book one.
Tired of reading about the snotty arguing little bones.
Not interested in either the bears or the bees.
Or whether or not the Veni Yan priest thinks a mere boy is a fit leader for their quest.
About the only highlight in this read aloud was when my 12 year old complained about how one dimensional all the characters were.
As the mom,
I felt all warm and fuzzy that my kid could talk about character development… 
The 10 year old promises book three is better.
Hope so.
Cozy Cable Headband

Cozy Cable Headband

Finished this cozy fleece lined cable knit headband just in time,
 ‘Cuz winter finally hit.
Temperatures have dropped.
Icy rain and sleet keeping us inside.
Got a draft blowing through every single window in our house.
I don’t like blasting the heat.
Instead, I’m sporting three layers of clothes,
Including a hoodie with the hood up,
Fuzzy socks,
Furry slippers,
and my new headband.
(I’m quite the sight to behold).
 This has been sitting abandoned for almost a year.
Proved to myself I could indeed cable if I really wanted to.
Then decided I didn’t want to.
Not four inches into the swatch, 
I lost interest in counting and tossed what little I’d knit into the yarn stash.
Shortly after, we experienced a pivotal family moment.
Packed ourselves up.
Moved from NY to NC.
Set up a whole new life.
And pretty much forgot about knitting til last week.
The sudden cold weather triggered the urge to knit.
What better project to start with than this little headband?
The pattern is “Big Cable Scarf” by Jami Brynildson.
However, I used #8 instead of the suggested #17 knitting needles.
And worsted weight instead of bulky weight yarn.
After knitting 103 rows, my swatch measured 20 inches long by 3 inches wide.
Not even close to a “big cable scarf.”
But just perfect to form a headband.
 To make the headband extra comfortable,
I added a fleece lining.
To do this,
I cut a 21 inch by 4 inch fleece rectangle.
Making sure the fleece stretched along the longer length of the rectangle
(Fleece does not stretch in all directions).
Folded the edges over a half inch along the two long edges for the fleece rectangle.
Wrong side to wrong side.
Finished the edges with a decorative stretch stitch.
 Next, I folded the fleece rectangle in half.
This time, right side to right side.
Used a half inch seam allowance and stretch stitch to sew the inner headband together.
Finger pressed the seam open.
Caution – NEVER iron fleece
(unless you want to melt your fleece and make a mess of your iron).
Used the yarn ends to stitch the knit outer headband together.
Wove the remaining yarn ends into the cable knit fabric.
I tucked the outer portion of the headband into the inner portion.
Wrong side to wrong side.
Then hand stitched fleece headband lining to outer knit headband.
It’s a super comfy headband.
I’m glad to have it on this wet dreary winter day.
Collaged Journals by Stacy Lee

Collaged Journals by Stacy Lee

 Did I ever tell you about my friend, Stacy Lee?
She’s one of my all time favorite people.
I’ll skip the long list of why.
If you know her, then you know why.
If you don’t, then it doesn’t really matter why.
And if you’re Stacy, then I’m expecting a text shortly…
Remember to use lots of emoji.
One thing I find fascinating is seeing how Stacy sees the world.
Made especially clear to me by looking at the photos she’s taking
or which pictures she’s clipping out.
When we visit exhibits and museums,
I’m drawn to faces and big splashes of color;
The more obvious stuff.
But Stacy might be pulled to a corner of a piece of art.
Or a random juxtaposition of angles.
Or a repeating pattern nobody else consciously registers.
She has an eye for detail and the abstract that I greatly admire but don’t have.
…But lucky me.
I get to benefit from her vision.
Case in point?
These cool journals she collaged for me.
 If a brochure, magazine ad or even paper shopping bag catches Stacy’s eye,
She keeps it.
It might be the picture itself.
Or a texture.
Perhaps color.
Or just a vibe.
The paper cutting and collecting happens one piece at a time.
It’s a slow, slightly meandering process.
Not to be rushed.
 Stacy starts a new collage by thinking of a feeling or theme.
She chooses a few pieces.
Cuts with a consistent scissor edge for that collage.
 Considers if an image can be used in an unexpected way.
Before she pulls out the glue stick,
She might take a photo to use as a point of reference.
Once all the images are glued in place,
She finishes with a layer of Mod Podge.
 Stacy says she collaged these journals with me in mind.
“A specific energy.”
Now that makes me curious.
Will have to take the rest of our conversation off line…
But let me just ask this:
Is the little red expressionless robot me?
Thanks Stacy!
These are awsome.
And you know I’ll use them.
Winter Evening Contentment

Winter Evening Contentment

Chilly winter evening.
Sitting by the fire.
A game of Scrabble.
My honey and me.
The game gets tense when our competitive natures kick in.
He claims his placement of words are
“For the sake of the game.”
I laugh at him as I block his move, throw down a triple word play and say
“It’s for the sake of the points.”
Our boys wander in and out of  the game.
Sometimes teaming up with me.
Other times, with him.
In the end,
It always comes down to this:
Who can get away with the most ridiculous words?
And the game ain’t over til someone spells “qat.”
This is winter evening contentment.