Thursday, 30 April 2015

A Question of Storage (Part One)

I was recently listening to the Prairie Girls Knit and Spin podcast, when Susie and Danie were discussing their storage solutions for knitting needles. What made me think was how fixed in space their solutions were: from vases, to mugs, to pencil cases, they were all focused on the moment before the project is begin. Since almost every knitter you meet will have a different preference for DPNs, or circulars, or straights long enough to hold under your arm, it isn't that surprising that each knitter's knitting basket / toolkit is different, and yet, everyone's normal is their own way of doing it.

So in the interests of show and tell, I thought it might be worth sharing my own choices. They aren't perfect (and I'm thinking about ways to improve them, but am wary of pushing too far towards processes that won't be followed – if I don't end up using my systems, they aren't very valuable!)

First, my straight needle holder: I don't use these often, so really, this has become a long-term storage solution. It has a handy diagonal slant to allow access to shorter needles, and pockets of a variety of widths, together with a top flap to stop things falling out! When I'd made it, I found the usual Needle Roll idea wasn't going to work with my collection of needles or fabric choice, and so I have what I rather like to think of as a Needle Fold, instead.

Much more useful and regularly used is my small Needle Roll with Swallows, which holds my circular tips and DPNS. With two rows of pockets, it does still hold all of these at the moment, though it is possible that, were I to finish all my WIPs, it would be rather tight. The button and ribbon closure works well, though I'm ashamed to admit that I completely failed to add that vital 'stop them all falling out' flap, so it is somewhat less portable than I would have hoped in the planning stages.

Finally, the circular needle storage has lost its button (#ugly), but is nonetheless my preferred option. I looked at various ways of storing circular needles in a long, straight or dangly fashion, and couldn't bear the thought of the tangles... so I made felt tubes and sewed them to the centre of a cotton wrapper. The resulting pockets take my range of circulars and cables, plus crochet hooks, and occasionally (when I remember to put it away) needle gauge.

And as for notions - I have a couple of re-purposings for you. My absolute favourite stitch marker and small notion keeper? The egg from the middle of a Kinder egg: will fit enough to keep you knitting, and you get to justify the chocolate purchase!

For those times when the egg isn't quite enough, I've a lipstick holder (that I got in a Christmas cracker), which has the benefit of being big enough to hold a selection of yarn needles.

Monday, 27 April 2015

What is Ugly?


APlayfulDay's series of blogging inspiration prompts has spread ripples throughout my crafting (particularly knitting) community. If this blog started as a way to stay in contact with the knitting group I was leaving behind, and to share my experiences in craft and creativity with my friends and family as our lives moved geographically further apart, it still exists because I have found so many new, fascinating and wonderful communities of creative spirits and funny, enthusiastic knitters, bakers, writers, ponderers, and seamstresses that I want to be a part of.

 I may disappear for months at a time, and then re-appear with a flurry of posts (while carefully not mentioning that I was ever away, or the re-curring possibility that I'm talking to myself), but I have learned these things about myself: when my 'real' life is busier than usual I retreat from extra external interaction; I still want to contribute to the conversation; I plan far more posts than I will ever have time to write; work-life balance is a work in progress.

This challenge has made me sit up and take notice of blogging, of sharing thoughts (in format longer than 140 character) and of my wider community once more, and so, while late to the party, let's think about 'Ugly', the penultimate theme.

When I think about blogging, I often think about the very opposite of Ugly – the time taken over layouts, backgrounds, styling and taking the most perfect photograph tends to ensure that the blog is Beautiful, maintained as the best presentation of our creative lives, especially where that life is perhaps aiming for a professional finish. The glimpses we have into another's life through their blog may make it look as though they have a wonderful, dedicated, crafting space, full of satisfying and successful creative projects. Their wardrobe is carefully curated, and their photographs full of natural light and good focus.

In our online communities (distinct from the 'village' where everyone's news is everyone else's speciality), we can curate the image we present of ourselves: my knitting group knows that I'm finding one project particularly difficult not because it's hard, but because I'm bored of it; they know when I decide not to knit for a week, or when I've had to rip out a project three times; I don't tend to share this with the blog, because it is tedious, because I am bored of my moss-stitch project, because ugly ripped-out-knitting is not appealing.

But perhaps it's time to make a change. Let's wave a banner for all the means we have to share our imperfections. Why not carry on the #messytuesdays tradition? Why not share our #whenknittingattacks moments?

Maybe it's time to remember that a mistake shared is a mistake you might not make again, or might spare someone from making. Maybe now is the moment to share my lessons learned, so that someone else doesn't have to make it, or could believe that blocking will make that much difference.