Monday, June 25, 2012

I have a PhD in Rainbows

I've got one of those projects where some of my color choices were based on using up yarn I already had.  I did buy three new colors, but the pattern was based around the fact that I had a big thing of Soft White left over from Gwendolyn's star blanket and some Shocking Pink from...well, being related to Kristen.

One of the new colors was Bonbon Print.  For those of you who've been following along, yes, this is all Red Heart purchased before the cancellation of the Scarves for Special Olympics project and no, I'm probably not going to stop using Red Heart as a form of mild protest.  I assume Red Heart would've preferred to keep selling people yarn for their projects, and even if I was actually outraged, the price is right, yo.  When you're making amigurumi--especially for kids--Red Heart is cheap as hell and machine washable.  Sure, you could make it out of 100% Organic Wool originating from college educated sheep, but that's just dumb.  (Again, I am willing to refer to Red Heart as "inexpensive" or "affordable" or say nice things about pretentious yarn in exchange for money and/or swag.)

Anyway, Red Heart has a list of its multicolor yarns with matching single colors.  One of the reasons behind Bonbon was 1)it included Shocking Pink and 2)it included the colors the recipient likes.  Choosing Lavender was based on the highly technical process known as "eyeing it."  We crochet professionals look at things and--using our incredibly sophisticated color theory studies--decide if two or more things look horrible together or not.  (There is another, super exciting MYSTERY SHADE, but I'm trying to keep some suspense in case the recipient figures out who/what this is all about.)

I managed to burn through my big thing of Soft White without even noticing until I suddenly reached the end of it while crocheting.  And on Friday I realized that I would not have enough Shocking Pink to complete another row.  This left two options: buy more Shocking Pink (and probably Lavender just to be safe) or try a color I already had.

Red Heart Super Saver comes in two sizes: Dainty and Massive.  The Willow Lawn A. C. Moore only had Shocking Pink in Massive, which only added to my dilemma.  I was willing to buy more yarn to try to keep the pattern I'd already established, but was there any point "using up" yarn only to end up with potentially more of the yarn than I'd started with?

For the two of you who actually went to the Coordinating Colors link or for those of you who have studied Color Theory, you will have noticed that Bonbon has a turquoise shade in it.  Which I don't have, but I do have I Don't Know The Label Fell Off, a lighter shade of turquoise.

Which is pretty damn close to one of the shades in Bonbon.  Not content to keep scarves from special athletes, Red Heart is also suppressing coordinating shades of yarn.  Feel free to voice your displeasure on Facebook!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Special Update

Last week I posted about the delayed color announcement for Scarves for Special Olympics.  And of course the growing dissent among the ranks of knitters and crocheters--some of whom are armed with sharp implements and others with dull hooks.  And the dissent about the dissent.

On Tuesday, Scarves for Special Olympics announced that they were discontinuing the program because it had been too successful.

Last year there were too many scarves, which makes it impossible to ensure that every scarf makes it to either an athlete or an athletic supporter.  Now, I know my quantitative skills rank somewhere between "god awful" and "[weary sigh]", but this does not make sense.

Some of the comments have suggested giving extra scarves to homeless shelters or, to keep them in the program, to coaches or athletes' families.

Other comments have pointed out that it shouldn't take over  a month between "Announcement coming soon!" and "Oops, you guys were too generous.  Program cancelled!"

On display here is one of the things I despise about Facebook: 31 people like this.  We clearly need an "Agree" button for people who wish to acknowledge that they have read something and understand the speaker's point of view, but do not necessarily have positive feelings towards the post's contents.  No, I'm not overthinking this--I'm just one of the only people left who understands what words actually mean.

Between this and Mad Men, Virginia is just so hot right now.

All I can find on this is a forum post from 2009 about extra scarves being sold for a $2 donation (or $5-$20) and a comment from 2011 about extra scarves being sold for $1.  So, apparently extra donations has been a problem in some states for awhile?

I guess what really matters is that I don't have to feel bad about failing to mail last year's scarves in time!

Mine will probably end up going to One Warm Coat or a winter-time clothing drive.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Hatchback Fit for a Hunchback!

As you may recall, this was the year that all cool people got Kindles.  If you did not receive a Kindle this year--even if you already owned one--you are no longer cool.

But just having a Kindle isn't enough.  One also needs a quality Kindle case.  This would probably be a good parable about how our capitalist society makes us feel we need stuff to go with our stuff, but that would take away from my basic message of I will make you your very own Kate's Kindle Kozy if you give me money.  Look, if you're just toting around a naked Kindle, you have basically squandered all your cool points.  Which are a thing that adults keep track of.

My brother-in-law wanted a Kindle case.  And apparently everyone else wanted more money than I would, so that's how I ended up having chat conversations about whether or not light would be visible through the stitches and the Hideous Contraption.

From what I can tell, the Hideous Contraption is two Hillshire Farms tops, cardboard, rubber bands, and saran wrap merged in the sort of unholy union that destroys the sanctity of marriage.  (I would also be willing to accept money or free stuff from any of the companies named in exchange for a follow up post in which I say nice things about Hillshire Farms Brand Deli Meat Products or stop genericking brand names.)

What makes the Hideous Contraption so striking is that my brother-in-law would generally be considered an Order Muppet.  As long as fireworks or corncobs and garbage disposals aren't involved, he and my sister are like Bert and Cookie Monster.  You would not expect a rational mind to come up with the Hideous Contraption, and I'm sure I'm going to get a detailed, logical analysis of the damn thing within minutes of posting this.  (To fend off my sister's complaints: I would be Oscar the Grouch.)

The Kate Kindle Kozy itself is simple, yet elegant: crochet a long strip.  Explain to curious passers-by that it is not a scarf.  Once the unformed Kate Kindle Kozy has reached an appropriate length, fold it into the correct dimensions and stitch up the sides.

I'd originally thought that I'd attach the Hideous Contraption, then sew up the Kate Kindle Kozy into the trademark Kate Kindle Kozy shape.  Yeah, I'm calling trademark on a rectangle you can fit a Kindle in.  I'm an entrepreneur.

In practice, it was not possible to hold the unstitched Kate Kindle Kozy in position and stitch the Hideous Contraption to it.  So, here is the unfinished project as a Kate Kindle Kozy for normal people.

And here it is with Hideous Contraption safely locked inside and with a stylish coordinating button.  The Kindle fits inside the interior pocket, but the outer hump makes it feel as though there's always a Kindle inside.  I'm not sure if this is weird or an innovative design aspect.

I'm still trying to figure out how to get that corner to stop sticking up at a jaunty angle.

It's my innovative packaging that sets me apart from other bootleg Kindle accessory companies.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Well, isn't that special

Since managing to miss every state deadline for the 2012 Special Olympic Scarf Project, I've been checking in pretty regularly to see if the 2013 colors have been announced.  Originally the announcement was going to be made sometime in May.  And then it became "It's May, but it'll happen soon."  And, as you may (ha ha) have noticed, it's June.

The Scarves for Special Olympics Facebook page hasn't given any updates in over a month and dissent is brewing.  As is dissent to the dissent.

I've been staying out of the discussion, but I am with Team Impatient on this one.  And I find it much easier to understand impatience than posting snitty comments lamenting how impatient everyone else is and complaining about "so much negativity around a project that is so good and beneficial."  Which I think ignores the fact that some people and groups have planned on knowing the mandatory yarn colors by a certain time--either based on when their group meets, how fast individuals knit or crochet, and when they would need to start working on crafting for gifts/other obligations.

  What Smiley Face definitely seems to miss is that everybody who's posted--whether on Team Impatient or Team Holier Than Thou--is just happy to help out.  Everyone who's posted on the Facebook page or sent an email to either Red Heart or the Special Olympics wants to help--but they can't because no one can start until they know the 2013 yarn colors.  The way the project is set up, every scarf has to be certain dimensions and include two Red Heart yarn colors. Which is really the only way to make sure every athlete gets the same colors, but it also means that, unlike a lot of other charities, there is no way to do anything until the colors are announced.

Despite Edna's reassurance, this is still about as passive-aggressive as writing a blog post about ladies getting pissy about the Special Olympic Scarf Project.  I assume Edna's a parent, because "thos of us who take on this project" (and an earlier comment of "The folks who will work on the project will make sure the job gets done.") has that note of motherly scorn/disappointment.

And I don't think Edna really understands as much as she thinks she does because I don't think it's negative to say you need to find another project for the summer.  Hell, finding another cause that doesn't have specific, unknown requirements is at least slightly better than spending your days refreshing Facebook and sighing to the internet about how much you would like to start doing good.  Or at least better than scolding other people on Facebook.

So, if you are crafty and want something charitable to do while waiting for Scarves for Special Olympics:

  • Snuggles Project--Knit, crochet, or sewn blankets for shelter animals
  • Project Linus--Handmade blankets for ill or traumatized children
  • Many charities collect/distribute hats for the homeless, but I recently saw that wool socks are greatly needed.  Scarves, gloves, and children's toys would probably be good items for upcoming winter charity drives.
For children/teens, items for boys are especially needed.  Teen girls probably do slightly better, but a lot of charitable crafters/shoppers want to buy pink girly stuff.  

For shelter animals, make sure whatever you make or donate can survive the industrial washer and dryer.  As a bonus, you don't even need to bother washing it before you send it off because it's going straight to the laundry room anyway.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Art Supplies

The purpose of reality television is to make us feel better about ourselves.  And by "us", I mean "me" because I know that one of life's great pleasures is drinking while watching Intervention or eating snacks while watching some TLC show about the morbidly obese.  Hoarders/Hoarding: Buried Alive is slightly less fun since it reminds me that I have tons of useless crap mixed in with my awesome things, and I cannot watch most of the episodes with animals because those people are monsters.

As a disgusting slattern and filth wizard (7th House, Order of Merlin), I've been keeping two bags of travel memorabilia in a dresser drawer for years.  It's all ticket stubs, brochures, and other stuff that either didn't make it into a scrapbook or I never made the scrapbook.  But of course I can't throw it away because it's a treasure trove of memories!  The bus or metro tickets I don't remember and can't figure out the actual city for!  A candy wrapper that I probably didn't eat the candy for!  Bags I was given for purchasing other souvenirs!

Since it's not two bags of kittens, this problem can be solved by decoupage.  I know I normally recommend solving everything with a hot glue gun, but I also enjoy avoiding burns on my fingertips.  The big plan was to take the ugly table I'm getting if I ever trick anyone into giving me a full time job and gluing a bunch of crap from  the Continent on it.  Since I had no idea how mod podge interacts with 8 year old airplane tickets, I decided to start with one of those woodcrafting blocks.

Success!  Also, now I can just get more woodblocks and procrastinate either hauling down my ugly table or attempting to decoupage in the sweltering heat of the attic.

Something else I've learned from this experiment is that I don't think I ever scrapbooked my trip through Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Denmark.  I should probably add that to the scrapbook queue and rationalize hoarding more paper scraps until I someday get around to putting together an album for a trip I took ten years ago.  Right after I accept that, holy shit, that was ten years ago and stop weeping over my lost youth.

Since I've already made enough scrapbooks for London, that seemed a good subject for the next woodblock.

A quick personality test: you discover a paper crown you've been saving for an amount of time that can't possibly be right because you're not that old.  Do you A)wallow in your youth because you have nothing that old, B)throw it away like a sane person, or C)see an opportunity?

Yeah, I'm one of the best arguments you'll see for stifling children's creativity.  If I hadn't been encouraged in my mad whims and desire to glue stuff onto other stuff, I would not be saving all kinds of stupid crap "just in case."  Except by "just in case" I mean, "I shoved it in a drawer and forgot about it for awhile."  The point is that creativity is about unique problem solving.  Like not throwing things away because someday you might need to glue them to something.

The Student and Adult travelcards worked out pretty nicely.  Good job, Past Me!  Well, except for whatever the hell that haircut was supposed to be.

There's a mixing of years, but it was either that or keep hoarding ticket stubs, bags, and out-dated public transport cards for a city I no longer live in.  Next step: maybe considering throwing out that Brighton Rock before it acquires sentience.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kate's Kindle Kozy

After a brief tour of Amazon's Kindle accessories, I decided that there was not way I'm going to spend $20-$60 on Kindle protection.  Especially not when I can just google "crochet kindle case" and copy the least ugliest thing that comes up!  (Yeah, everybody got a Kindle this year.  At least everybody who's cool did.)

And by "google", I mean do that and then flip through pattern books at the library.  Then start the project when you don't actually have the Kindle with you.

If I've learned anything from this experience, it's that you should not try to make Kate's Kindle Kozy without the Kindle.  Having the Kindle is a key step to not completely screwing up the size.  Even having the Kindle is not necessarily helpful since I think I had to start this thing 3 or 4 times.

I think I eventually ended up chaining 23 or 24 (you'll hear the cursing if I trust this number later and turn out to be wrong).  The pattern is from alternating single and double crochets, and then putting a single in a double and a double in a single.

As you can see, I also learned that there are only three buttons in the house, and they're all terrible.  Lion Brand claims it's possible to crochet a button, but I assume that pattern is a leftover April's Fools joke that someone forgot to take down.

Today I stopped by A.C. Moore to scout materials for some commissions and found a passable button. A.C. Moore: You can totally just grab buttons and attempt to fit your Kate's Kindle Kozy loop over them, and nobody'll say anything!  Even if you start muttering to the buttons because $3 for one button is fucking ridiculous.  Unless it's, like, a magic button.  Part of its magic would be explaining what makes a magic button different from a regular button.

If you look closely, you can see that I am only using my Kindle for public domain books that seemed the most interesting/potentially horrifying old timey attitudes.  Miss Leslie's Behavior Book has given me such useful information as when to loan out an umbrella (never) and "there is a shocking ungentility, in a lady to speak of taking a 'snooze' instead of a nap,--in calling pantaloons 'pants,' or gentlemen 'gents'" because "[a]ll slang words are detestable from the lips of ladies."