Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Crafting saves my day

So, Sandy left New York with whole lot of water and no power.
Fortunately our area did not get affected but power at work is down and subways aren't working so my husband and I are basically stranded in Queens.
But we have electricity, internet, heat, and no excess water than we normally have---our place is so normal I even feel bad that we have all those stuff while many people near us are having lots of trouble.  I really hope things will get fixed and get better soon.

Being a scaredy cat from birth and haven't made too much progress in 30 years, crafting really helped me during the storm.  I made a huge head start on Christmas gifts and didn't have to be extra scared or antsy the entire time the storm went through.
I would have liked to do more spinning, but unfortunately my right thumb is still healing from the slicing caused by mandolin, and the wound is riiight on the area most used for spinning, I mostly stuck to sewing.

Crafting, seriously, is a necessity for me.
I'm glad they exist.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New stuff. Like, REALLY new stuff

Okie dokies.
Summer seems to be cooling off bit by bit and what does that mean?

The happy season for knitters and knit lovers are coming! wohooo!
So coming September 15th, I will do my 'Anuuanl grand (kind of)reopening for winter season' with lots more stuff!

Also I have not much yet, but I have been brushing my skills on sewing too so I am planning to release some small hand-sewn accessories too.

These aren't for sale, but you'll get the gist of it :)

The "+" of AZURE KNITS +

This is a bit of a life story/rant, so read it if you have time to kill. :P

Back in January 2009, I started my knit store "AZURE KNITS".
I thought knitting and crocheting was all the crafting I was ever going to do.


I couldn't have been more wrong.

Well first off, I am a drawing kind of artist to begin with.  I've loved drawing for my entire life, as far back as my memory of being alive begins.  So, selling some of my art and portrait commission was a given.

Second, I work in animation industry.
I do Animation directing, character design, storyboard design, background design, compositing---being in NY I kind of do whatever part of the production when I am called for, but most of my work is to yes, draw each poses of a character animation and the inbetween motions.

It's quite obvious that I have no problem repeating the similar thing over and over and over and over and over to eventually finish with a piece of art at the end, whether it be animation, or knitted object.  I also like breaking down an existing object or motion, trying to figure out why the shape of a bag is how it is, how limbs move when people run--those kind of things that if you don't really care to think about, you really don't have to.

Third, I recently noticed that my hobby isn't just knitting or just drawing--it seems to be 'teaching myself stuff and trying to conquer it'.  I come off most of the time to most people as 'that quiet girl who just gets stuff done' but once you get to know me in person, I really don't like being defeated by techniques, once I decide I really want to be able to do it.

I think it started in 2007 when I realized I like cooking and am ok with it, but I suck at baking (which my sister is an expert at and to this day I cannot beat).  I took like a year to bring my skills to the point I can make a presentable pastry if needed at a birthday party.  Not super, but a little better than 'yea--I can bake'.
I was ok with that level for baking since I was interested in it and I love sweets but I didn't really care for mastering it.  Conquering it to a level was fine.

Knitting however was a bit different.
My grandma was the person who taught me reaaaall basics of knitting and crocheting when I was about 7, but it was only a day thing and I forgot about it for years.  When I was 17 I made my first scarf for my boyfriend and my sister gave me advice, and then another one next year since he wanted another one, and then forgot about it for years again until I started again when I was 26.  That's when it stuck with me.  Everything was online and books.  I tried whatever cast-on I found, made couple stuff, and tried doing something a bit different each time I grab a pattern.  Yes, I am one of those person who picks up a recipe and end up making something completely different each time.
Anyho that process of finding what's new and practicing to be able to do that was just so fun and satisfying for me, more so than finishing a project.

When I was doing my searches I kept on seeing articles on dying yarn, so I did it.
I also kept coming across spinning articles, so I was curious, then my in-laws got me a beautiful drop spindle and gave me an opportunity to start spinning.

8 months later I bought myself a spinning wheel, trying all the methods of drafting I can find (and pretty much going back to my most comfortable one)
And when you get into spinning, what articles do you start finding a lot? Yes--weaving.
I have been curious about rigid heddle loom for months, hesitating since I didn't really want to drop the money and since we have a tiny NY apartment.  I was also interested since just before my grandmother passed she tried to learn weaving, but she was just too old to start a new thing.  I really wanted to have her loom to master the technique she wanted to, but alas during the renovation of our home, it got lost.  But my parents decided to do a "use $X for whatever you really want" thing for my birthday last month, so what do I do? Hell with the tiny apartment, I'm getting a loom!...a foldable one...also the 16" one...I don't want to totally stray off from knitting as I collect more hobbies, so I'm staying away from trying to weave for garments. (This is where my husband grins and say 'you see Azure. Just you wait')

Just around the same time, I had a day off work and found a bunch of fabric I bought from a 100yen store in Japan and decided to make a zippered pouch.
That day I found out how little I knew about this 'sewing'--the most basic thing that you probably would have been frowned on just a decade ago if you were are a girl and did not know.
Just when my husband was chuckling "so when is the sewing machine coming?" (mind you, he is not saying these things sarcastically, he is very very sweet and genuinely entertained by how I react to crafts) I meet a friend, pretty well a friend of a friend at that point, who tells me "if you want a sewing machine, I have one I really don't need.  TAKE IT"
I was expecting a used, not-so-attractive old model or something since she was willing to give me for free but OOOH NO.  She hardly used it, and it was adorable.

I frequently drop by Purl SOHO which is a yarn/fabric store where my friend works (she was a friend of a friend but my friend introduced me to her when she found out about my yarncraze), and have been gazing at their fabric sections, The Frontier for me.  When I looked at the sewing tool sections, I found I was much familiar with them more than I thought I was.  My grandmother sewed a lot, and as a kid I remember very well of my sister and I wearing clothes that my grandmother made.  I remember poking the two sewing machines she had quite a bit, though I never knew how it worked.  Anyho that big triangle blue chalk, the big scissors, the seam ripper, the 'useless needles with cute flowers on one end', they looked all familiar.

Even though it turned out that even my dad knew better than me how to operate the sewing machine, I am getting quite comfortable with this gadget that I am going to start selling some small items in my store.
And eventually, I see a hand-spun hand-woven hand-sewn (and perhaps combination with hand-knitted) item coming up.  In a few years probably. haha

Making things is fun.
Really fun.
And being able to have things that you really love without spending a fortune for something you can make it for way less, why not?

So here it is.
Drawing, knitting, crocheting, weaving, sewing (including patchworks and quilts).
Plus the care of making the material, and knowing the material of the material.  All those stuff are included in the "+" of AZURE KNITS+.

Anyhow.  A bit of an anti-climax for a giant post/life story, but the bottom line is

I just really hope you all enjoy the store.  :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sock Knitting Ramble. Spinning, Plying, DPN, 2circ, Magic Loop...

So I've been spinning over a year now, and am kind of fascinated about sock yarns.
And knitting socks. http://www.ravelry.com/projects/azure-m/diagonal-lace-socks
I liked the thought of making self-striping or spinning from multicolored roving, and had to try the Navajo plying.
Of course I tried my fist one with KP Wool of the Andes Roving ($3 yay, but alas not anymore) and experimented.  Navajo plying is awesome when it comes to color controlling, but I'm still having trouble with the noticeable 'bumps' whenever I start a new chain.  It turns out though, that it is way less noticeable while knitting, and minute enough to not notice in the fabric.

I didn't blend this with silk or nylon, so it was a straight-up wool yarn, which isn't really a good sock yarn, but I did spin and plied it pretty firmly.  3ply.  The mid-range slightly coarse Wool of the Andes yarn wasn't exactly a joy to manipulate with a tiny size 0 needle.
Call me crazy, but I did try all of these working on this project:
DPN-ing with Lantern Moon Sox Stix Blond Wood, KP 4in Harmony Wood, 6in Nickel Plated
2-circs with KP Nickel Plated 16"
and Magic Loop with KP Nickel plated 32?".
well...also because I was working on two socks at the same time, not on same needle but in tandem.

It was interesting, I seemed to enjoy DPN more than I thought.  I would have probably done the entire thing if it wasn't mid winter.  Being in NYC and having to commute on a subway, I am a hardcore public knitter, and most of the time I do this is while I am wearing my big coat.  The tips of the DPNs get hooked inside my coat cuff like it was made to do so.  Esp. 6".  I usually don't like the 4" that much since it stabs my palm alot, but it was short enough that they didn't do this thing, so it was quite enjoyable.  BUT yes, it is impossible to knit the insteps as it grows, and I'm constantly afraid of losing stitches in my bag even with the WIP sock tube thing.
Also I ended up breaking one of the sox stix (saad, because it was one of the more $$ needles I bought and I liked it a lot).  This was probably caused by the coarse-ish not-sliding-freely-yarn I made, but I definitely enjoyed the metal needles more as I was less worried about snapping them.  (you know, esp. size 0s)  Anyho, I felt that if it was not winter and I was wearing short sleeves all the time while I knit, I would have used this technique more.

I have mixed feelings about magic loop, as I'm always concerned about the connection of the needle and cable, and not extra fond of having to manipulate the stitches around the long cable every half row, but I do like having only two needle tips, and not having this cuff-hooking DPNs.  So I experimented with 2 circs.  the problem with this was---which is totally my fault--I keep on picking up the wrong tip. lol.  So I finish knitting the half row, and find it all one one circ.  haha.  Otherwise though, I really liked it.  I'm currently trying 2-socks-on-two-24".  I should just mark one of the needle some how.  If I liked the harmony wood ones I should use one of them as one needle, but I like metal needles too much.

One other thing I experimented with this socks was the bind-off.
I saw on Interweave Simply Sockupied about the Double Bind-off, and it looked nice and elastic.  This turned out to be a tad little too elastic/loose for this particular socks, as  I think I made it a little too big for my feet anyways.  I might just stick with my default...I can't remember the name of the technique, but the bind off where you basically do the regular BO but you keep the stitch on the left needle thing.  But there are couple other bind-offs discussed in other Socupied, so knowing myself I'll probably try them too.

I started two more socks, one with KP Imagination and another with my first-attempt of self-striping yarn (3ply Targhee and Nylon blend), and they feel A LOT smoother on my needles and against each other.
I'm kind of really fascinated with the engineering of sock yarn now.  Hold on, and I will make some delicious yarn to sell in my store!

So, as a conclusion (at least for myself),
1) Smoother yarn is definitely more enjoyable
2) DPNs are awesome if you're not wearing a coat, and use metal ones for size0 unless you're using super slippery yarn
3) 2circs are also awesome if I'm not as stupid as I am
4) Try other bind-offs

Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Pattern!! "Fringy"

Woaaa...the last time I posted a pattern was November 2010 @_@  Ever since I started knitting sans patterns, I have been designing a bunch of stuff as I went but never got around actually building one.  This one should be a reeeal quickie. 
Before blocking, it was much thinner and felt pretty snug against my face.  I liked the pre-blocked look better, but this work just fine too.  

 The lace pattern is pretty simple and easy to follow/memorize/read from the previous row.   Since (though pretty big) it is a lace, if you try to use a multicolored yarn it will obscure it.  I actually overdyed everything with light chestnut brown to bring down the contrast the yarn originally had.
As usual, when I add fringes I like to make them quite long.  I don't know why, but I like it that way.
Anyho, here it is!  Instant gratification.  I really want to make some handspun yarn to make another one of this.

Available both on Etsy and Ravelry!

Friday, January 20, 2012