Just For Fun is my way of sharing all the little things I like to do... from crafty things to thoughtful things!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A sweater by any other name... Part Deux

Many of you remember how pleased I was to finish my Molly Weasley inspired "coat of many colors" sweater.

And I was!  I even wore it to my grandson's birthday party.  But by the end of the day, the sleeves grew out of control.  Literally.

Gravity, thou art a heartless bitch.

The weight of the yarn made the entire piece 'grow' which is especially common for pieces like this.  However, I was prepared for a couple of inches, not six plus.  So, these sleeves are even too big for me!
Therefore, I have undertaken a Summer Repair and Renovation Challenge in on of my Ravelry groups.

My challenge is to find a way to remove some of the rows in the sleeve without losing the overall Weasley feeling.

I think I am up to the task... we'll see.  I will update this post as I go along!

ETA:  For some reason I'm not allowed to add comments at the moment... but the pattern I used for the sleeves is here.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The end of the world... as we know it.

A religious group says today 5/21/11 is the end of the world and we should prepare.  I figure  there's little I can personally do about it either way.

These things come up every so often.  I remember in 1981 the world was supposed to end while I was walking home from school.  While I looked around for strange signs in the sky... nothing happened.

I suspect that's what will happen today as well, and on 12/21/12.

I'm not sure that the 'end of days' is a literal thing.  I think it's more likely a change in awareness.  These topics get us thinking about the meaning of life in general, and the meaning of our own life.

In that light, and by special request from my friend Swati... I decided to crochet and have a chat with my favorite Advisor Warrior, Archangel Michael.  I asked him which pattern in should use to create his likeness in yarn and he immediately responded with "Obi Wan Kenobi of course!"

So, here he is, an Advisor Warrior modelled after an Advisor Warrior.  Swati, you'll be happy to know that in spite of the blueish tint to my photos, Michael's hair and his robes are actually bright purple!

I somehow feel comforted by having Michael around... I imagine that's because we have a long standing arrangement.  I know that when I miss the mark or stray off course, he usually kicks my butt back into gear.  Since this was a fun project and so far, has not resulted in any butt kicking, I figure I must be doing ok.

Just in case though, I gave him Obi Wan's light saber!

Friday, May 20, 2011

I love homework!

Betcha never thought you'd hear anyone say that, huh?  But most people don't attend Hogwarts, and even fewer participate in the Harry Potter Knitting/Crochet House Cup (HPKCHC).

I've had so much fun working on 'homework' assignments that I looked up this morning surprised to find it was Friday already!

This little fellow is part of a Quidditch match.  We have a limited amount of time to craft a small item, the house with the most completed projects wins the match.

He's already been adopted by Steve, and his name is Goofball (GB for short).  You can see by his tail in this side view that he is not crocheted in one giant piece, but rather individual pieces sewn together.  This is a great example of typical amigurumi, or toys made of yarn.

I even made book scarves for Quidditch, and I snuck a peek at the pattern for the opposing team and made a Golden Snitch just because I thought he looked like fun.
 I also made an Aster-oid belt for Astronomy class (how could I not with a name like that?!), and a collection of gift bags for Muggle Studies.  The assignment for Muggle Studies was interesting... we were to find a piece of art we enjoyed, describe what we enjoyed about it and then craft something based on that piece.

I chose Monet's Water Lilies.  Each of his works based on his gardens in Givenchy was slightly different,  lighting, shading, color palette, and some you can tell are affected by the artist's mood.  (Angry Water Lilies?!)  I was amazed when looking up close that the images were created out of tiny blobs of paint.  Up close, the canvas was a bumpy, disorganized mess... but when you took a few steps back, the mess magically transformed into a soft beautiful landscape.

When an artist does several version of the same subject, it's called a 'study'.  I decided to do a 'study' in gift bags.  No kidding!  I used yarn that would represent Monet's tiny blobs of color, and used three color palettes, one matching my 1908 Monet example.  What do you think?

Last night while watching The Mentalist, I made a Red John tote.  This image strikes terror in my heart, juicy, delicious terror.  :oP  I wonder how many people will recognize what it means as I am out and about?

My pride for the week though is my Tinkerbell bag.  Our Defense Against the Dark Arts assignment related to mysterious creatures and vacations.  Sounds like Tinkerbell to me right?  Together with my dismay for missing a recent trip with friends, I thought this might be a way to tie into hopes for a future trip too.
It's made of nylon thread, olive green for the 'blade of grass' strap and citrus green with gold 'pixie dust' sparkle for the body.  I had to improvise this pattern because I had a very specific idea about the size and shape.  It's important while on vacation (especially in Pixie Hollow) for me to be 'hands free' - I do not want to have to keep track of an extra bag until souvenir day.

So, this sling is meant to carry my important items in such a way that they won't fly out while I'm upside down on California Screamin', but I can still find that Fastpass.  Can't I?  Darn it, where is it?  I know it's in here somewhere!
... and here are more photos in case you want to see!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What can I say about radishes?

Ahh the radish... but by another other name would smell as... ummm... yeah let's not go there.

Riddle me this, grasshopper - if someone asked you to choose a fashion icon in the Wizarding World, are there any other answers?

Merlin?  Classic, but traditional.  Anyone can come up with a pointy hat and robes.  Name almost any wizard in any muggle fairy tale, and he's just a Merlin wannabe.

Dumbledore?  Untraditional that's certain, but still a bit fussy.  Voldemort?  Now that's just plain mean.  Potter?  Weasley?  Granger?  Puh-lease!

No, the obvious answer is Luna Lovegood.  Not only intelligent, thoughtful and kind, but a fashion standard we can only aspire to.
So, here is my homework for History of Magic, and my tribute to a wizarding fashion legend.

It's a radish 'lariat' scarf pattern by Twinkie Chan.  yes, believe it or not, this is a real pattern and it is not actually Luna related.  I just put two and two together.  :oP

I also made matching earrings since that's really what Luna is most famous for... along with her butterbeer cork necklace of course.

One of my favorite projects for the week though was something very simple.  A mokeskin pouch. The trick about a mokeskin pouch is that only the owner can get anything out of it!  So, it's quite a safe place to store your most important items. 

Hagrid gave one to Harry for his 17th birthday.  It came in handy because Harry was able to use it to carry the things that actually helped him defeat Voldemort in the end.

Thanks to Greta, I was able to recreate Harry's pouch very accurately!

Although, I did make my pouch a longer sling... I still haven't perfected the undetectable extension charm that allowed Harry's to be very small and still have room for everything.

My big excitement for the week though was finding this fantastic yarn.  I tend to stick with 'normal' yarn for all of my projects because I just can't justify spending the money on fancy yarn.  Buuuut, we were at the Mothers Day craft fair downtown and the spinners were there.  The yarn looks so wonderful, and the colors so unique.  I walked away dreaming of winning the lottery.  :oP
I had a coupon for the local yarn store A Good Yarn, and because it was Mother's Day weekend, Steve was a great sport and patiently followed me around the store for a couple laps. 

I would normally have never bought this hand dyed chenille yarn in a bazillion years, but I felt the need for a splurge, Steve egged me on, and the store owner tied me down and... ok she didn't, she's very nice and actually gave me a Mother's Day discount (very clever actually, 'if you are a mother, have a mother or know a mother, you get the discount'). 

I have since run my fingers through it like it was made of gold coins and made workable balls of yarn out of it.  I think it will be PERFECT for the Invisibility Cloak I'll be making next month as a part of Hallows or Horcruxes on HPKCHC.  If I can just stay away from it until the first of June when the game begins!

Friday, May 6, 2011

May flowers for Mom

I know... again?!  I promise this is my last one for the week.  After all it IS Friday.  Here in the US, Sunday May 8th is Mothers Day.

I am unable to make the drive to visit my Mom this weekend, but it doesn't mean I won't be thinking about her.

My Mom did all the things most Moms do, from fixing my boo-boos to driving me nuts.  Sometimes we remember those moments - and sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we just look at each other and agree not to go there!  :oP
But most of the time when I think about my Mom, I think about the things I've learned from her that I really enjoy, my love for the garden, music and the ability to 'play' when the time is right, my confidence in my intelligence and willingness to try something new even though it terrifies me. 

I also learned to have a spiritually open mind from Mom.  She was the first one to teach me to think for myself in church and not just follow blindly what the human being in front of me was saying.  She introduced me to astrology, psychics, and the power of positive thinking.

I learned to love reading from Mom.  I still love disappearing into a good book, and spent many an afternoon stretched on on my bed, right in front of the window, reading until it got too dark to see, and then reading just a little more.  Now I sit in the windowseat and do the same thing!
In fact, one of my favorite memories is when my 8th grade English teacher (Mrs. Johnson!) caught me reading a book in class when I was supposed to be listening to another student giving a speech.  She gave me a stern look and I put my book away. 

Soon after, I came home from school one day and stern looking Mom said, "I received a note from your teacher today."  I wracked my brain - what had I done?  I never got in trouble at school!  She continued, "I understand you got into some trouble in English class."  Still stern.  Damn, I got busted AND she told my Mom.  My heart sank and I waited for her to continue.  Was that a twinkle I just caught in her eye?  Seconds lasted hours and she finally said "Yes, it was a thank you note.  She was so pleased that she caught you reading Jane Eyre instead of one of those trashy romances the other girls read, and wanted to thank me for given you a proper book to read!"

There are a million other things I could share about my Mom.  Now I can also see in my daughters the things they've learned from me (and therefore from her).  I can see the things I hope my grandchildren learn from them(and therefore from me, and Mom) too.

It's quite a legacy when you think about it.  Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  This bud's for you!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - yarn style!

I've had a few people ask me what I'm talking about when I mention Hogwarts on Ravelry so here we go!

First of all, Ravelry is a community of yarn crafters.  Not just crocheters like myself but knitters, spinners, dyers and weavers.  it's a place where we can share our projects, ask questions and generally feel comfortable in everything yarn related.

When you have people who love to play with yarn AND love the Harry Potter books, its amazing.  Not only do we tend to flock together around Ravelry, but we tend to talk about the same things and get excited about the same projects.  It's a match made in heaven.  You might remember when I had to make my school supplies.

I currently participate in three groups on Ravelry: Diagon Alley, Hogwarts on Ravelry and HPKCHC (otherwise known as Harry Potter Knitting & Crocheting House Cup).  Each one has a distinct personality although they all revolve around the same interest in HP and yarn.

Some sort participants into 'houses', some don't.  Some are laid back and chatty, some are more competitive.  All in all though, it's just a way to have fun enjoying what we love to do.

Here's how it works.  Each community sets its own ground rules for earning points, just like they do at the real Hogwarts (oh come on, you don't think JKR could just make up a place like that out of thin air?).  There are 'classes' where your 'homework' (yarn project!) has to meet certain criteria in order to earn points.  The more creative you get with your story on how that project fits the assignment, the more points you earn.

I've only had one term participating so far, but here are the assignments I turned in:

Charms:  The assignment was to 1. research a charm, describe how it works, and make something that iullustrates the charm, 2. create our own charm and make something that illustrates it, 3. create an amulet to carry around our school supplies, 4. make a charm to wear.  Here's what I turned in:
1: I studied the engorgement (engorgio) and reducing (reducio) charm in hopes I could have my cake and eat it too. The problem is that I never really get around to reducio!

2: Since I live in a small town, it’s hard to go anywhere without being recognized. Rather than using a stinging jinx, I thought I should create a disguising charm - whiskerio! In a flash, I have a beard and beanie… and can get my errands run quickly and anonymously.
3. I’ve been diligently practicing my charms, so I thought I could use a small amulet with an undetectable extension charm and still hold all my stuff! I loved it so much I had to have several colors.
4.  I am constantly bother by nargles… probably because I sit by Luna in Potions class. I made a repelling charm butterbeer cork necklace, using macrame knotting to attach my chain to the charm.

As you can see... if you've been watching, these are all projects I made for other reasons, but I made up a reason why they fit the assignment... so sneaky!
Next was transfiguration.  As much as I like Professor McGonagall, I had some trouble with this one.  The assignment was 1. practice transfiguring something and show how it all went horribly wrong. 
I tried to transfigure goats and ended up with these hats, some with horns, some with beards. Good thing my muggle sister in law says she can use them in her kindergarten class when they do a play of the Three Billy Goats Gruff!
And last but not least was Flying class.  The assignment was 1. create quidditch supplies, 2. Create a muggle form of flying transport, 3. Create a non standard muggle form of flying transport (along the line of the altered Ford Anglia in the book).  my homework:
1: I had to make an extra cape for my quidditch robes… just to give me extra balance and control in the air. I need more flying practice!
2. Muggles have been known to fly in ‘rocket ships’ to get to the moon and outer space. Seems to me it’s like being catapulted through the air in a tin can!
3. This muggle hat is meant to proclaim an affinity for Star Wars characters… but with a pinwheel charm, small fans pop out of each of the horns, creating enough lift for the wearer to fly around!
Now take a moment to quit giggling.  :oP  Yes, it's silly.  Yes, it's realllllly silly.  Yes, it's hard to believe grown people actually spend time doing this, silly.  But it's so much fun! 

So, while you are off doing something boring... I need to get my class schedule organized for this term.  Do I take Potions or another term of Charms?  History of the Paranormal?  Goes without saying.  Astronomy?  I can ace that one with one star tied behind my back.  Care of Magical Creatures might make me sneeze, but I love Hagrid so maybe... Ancient Runes, DADA (Defense Against the Dark Arts, geez!), and Muggle Studies are a must.  Where IS that time turner?  Oh!  And last but not least... I simply have to make room for Arithmancy, where I just might be able to work in my affinity for numbers, equations, and another of my favorite characters!

Update:  Here are my awards for this term...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Love and hate

Many of you will not be surprised when I say I was inexplicably drawn to crochet in red, white and blue last week. 

This stars and stripes tote is the perfect size for attending Prescott Frontier Days events in July.
As it turns out, this choice has interesting timing... considering the US is in the global eye this week in the news about the killing of Osama bin Laden.  It has brought up the patriotic feelings so many Americans had in 2001 when the twin towers fell, the center of our strategic command was attacked, and everyday heroes lost their lives in a Pennsylvania field.  It has also brought up a lot of other feelings that I think are part of what makes our country great.

In the US, we call ourselves the "melting pot" even though there are divisions.  There are political divisions based on who's hungry for power, there are racial divisions based on geography, there are spiritual divisions based on philosophies, and more.  But... we are all Americans.  Even as we drive each other crazy in picking apart the details, we are in it together. 
It's a lot like any typical family.  There are crazy aunts, repressed fathers, desperate teenagers thrown in with all the 'normal' family members.  But just like any family, they are OUR crazy, repressed and desperate family members and we love each other just as much as we complain. 

So, this week is no different.  I see one side rejoicing about a death.  I see the other side condemning the rejoicing.  But just like you and crazy Aunt Tillie, we're just a little mixed up in our communications.  We're all saying the same thing in our own way - "I'm glad it's finally OVER!"  And that is the common ground we stand on.  We can continue to pick it apart, or we can finally take a deep breath and move forward.  (Which will you choose?)

There have been a few points I find interesting in the timing of all this, and not just my choice to pick up patriotic colors.  Last week, the entire world was focused on the royal wedding in London.  Love it or hate it, you probably heard something about it every day for weeks, right?  It still planted ideas of weddings, love, new beginnings, and bright futures in the back of your mind.  We were globally focused on an event that fostered fundamental change, growth, and love across borders.
Is it really so surprising then that on the heels of that kind of energy, an event happens that has the potential to put a long standing 'hate' to rest? 

Several people have been sharing this quote: "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."  (By the way, it's NOT MLK)

This seems to be a great example of the inner conflict the US is dealing with in general. It's difficult to have ideals when the reality of life can be so harsh. But isn't that the point? To hold on to our ideals? To have hope and believe that one day we may be able to 'rise above'?

Then again, while this is a great ideal, is it practical in the real world we live in?  Is the real trick to find balance between the two?  Ideal and reality?  Do we have to pick one or the other?    Why can't we have both?
I put it to you that sometimes in order to drive out darkness, we have to go into it knowing it is dark, knowing we cannot bring the light with us (or it would be light and not dark!)... in order to bring out that which thought it was lost in the darkness, back into the light.

In this particular circumstance, it was not our president or our military who chose this end for bin Laden.   He chose it himself.   He could have allowed himself to be arrested 'quietly'... which the US would have done if he had given any indication that was his preference (like Saddam Hussein).   No, this guy supposedly used the only (and unarmed) woman in the compound as a human shield.   He made his choice.   I do not rejoice in his death, but I also do not have pity for it.

That said, bin Laden was not the devil incarnate. He was an extremely intelligent human being who truly believed that the US has irreparably interfered in his homeland (and we seriously have, read your history). He believed he was doing the right and honorable thing, righteously fighting a formidable enemy, standing up for his people against the US.

Americans did the same thing in 1776 when they declared independence from England and started destroying property and killing each other.

And yet, we only see our own side of the story in each case, don't we? Food for thought.

Perhaps the point of this quote comes down to compassion. Whether you understand another's reasoning or not, it's important to consider that THEY believe they are doing the right thing, just as you do. If we can keep in mind that everyone one earth is just a human being doing the best they can, perhaps we can find a way to resolve our issues with each other without having to resort to hate.
I actually think this death could be the end of the hate.

For 10 years, the US has been waiting waiting waiting for some closure.... For 10 years, we've lived in fear that this man is plotting something else, 'perhaps in my town'.   For 10 years, those who grieve their personal losses on 9/11 have seen no personal justice for their loss.   That's a lot of 'energy' hanging out there that has now been put to rest.   I think now, with the loss of just this one man, many many people will finally be able to move on with their lives.

I don't see hate in that possibility, I see hope.