I want to start off by thanking Karin for asking me to make a guest appearance on her blog (that makes me sound super fancy… I’m going with it). Karin and I met about seven years ago (holy crap… it’s been that long?!) and bonded over a story about sparkly bloodsuckers and the desire to rewrite that story over and over again.
Another thing the both of us have in common is that we can do interesting things with our hands.
That sounded inappropriate.
Anywho, like Karin (though, not nearly as amazing as she clearly is), I’m a crafter. I enjoy creating things with various types of string, icing, and the occasional pixel. In my family, the crafting bug goes way back. (“Way back” is about as specific as my ADHD-addled brain will allow me to get at the moment.) I’m pretty sure my great-great-great-great grandpeeps constructed some sweet rock collages, and the occasional scarf made from prehistoric-critter wool. My mother is quite skilled with crochet hooks, sewing machines, and buttercream. My Grammy, equally so. Naturally, I wanted in on these shenanigans.
My mother discovered that a single strand of string (usually those red-and-white bakery-box ties) would keep Baby Claire happily occupied for hours. Mama would tie them in varying lengths on drawer handles and doorknobs throughout our apartment and I would crawl around from one location to the next and play with them. Now, before y’all start mentally lecturing Mama on strangulation hazards and the like, I feel it’s worth mentioning that these String Adventures occurred in an era where infant car seats were considered luxury items and it was perfectly normal for Junior to enjoy a car ride to Grandma’s house contained in nothing more than a laundry basket in the backseat.
ANYWHO… strings were my thing. I’ve dabbled in embroidery-floss friendship bracelets, crocheting, and a tiny bit of sewing.
Many moons ago, probably around second or third grade, my bestest buddies taught me how to use embroidery floss to make friendship bracelets. My sister and I quickly became hooked and at one point, we sold them at a “Jewelry Stand” on the front lawn. When I spent two weeks in bed the summer before I started high school (pneumonia is nothing to screw with), my mother took pity on my bored state and bought me a pattern book and enough embroidery floss to properly mummify a small child.
Not that I tried.
Apparently, “diagonal stripes” wasn’t the only pattern you could make with knotted string! Armed with new patterns, I spent most of my conscious time making bracelets. When school started back up, I’d gotten together with some of my crafty friends and we started showing up to every class with lengths of string pinned to our pant legs or clipped in binders, knotting bracelets when teachers weren’t looking, and selling them between classes. We were floss dealers getting the kids hopped up on thread.
Despite our entrepreneurial spirit and our bangin’ string skills, we didn’t make the fat stacks we’d hoped for. Mainly because we were (are) nerds with the ability to completely destroy even the tiniest spec of one’s street cred and were avoided/picked on more often than not. As far as money went, we more or less broke even and made enough to keep buying floss so we could feed our obsession.
Before moving across the country after graduation, we had a massive yard sale. I used that opportunity to peddle a few bracelets and contribute toward gas money for the fifteen-hundred-mile drive ahead of us.
I still make bracelets when time allows. I like combing through designs on Pinterest and I occasionally enjoy copying stuff I see sold on Etsy. Like the bit of amazingness to the left.
My version to the right wasn’t quite as amazing, but it was still fun. And if you look closely, you can see where I drew out the pattern so I had something to follow. I needed all the help I could get!
These are alpha patterns, and I’m not all that skilled with this particular style. As evidenced To the left by the Doctor Who-inspired bracelet I made for my fiancé (the man responsible for getting me hooked on The Doctor). In all honesty, my TARDISes look more like Space Invaders. Still fun, though. I’ve also used alpha patterns to actually spell out things, like Teen Wolf character last names in Beacon Hills school colors because why not?
Lately, I prefer the skinny “wrap” designs because they’re quick and cute in a minimalist sort of way.
I’ve also used the wrap design on headphone cords. Oddly enough, my reasons were more related to health than aesthetics. I’m allergic to All The Things, including, apparently, whatever coats most headphone cords. It took me far too long (three years. Shut up.) to connect my “random” hives breakouts on my neck, shoulders, arms, and legs to my headphone cords, but better late than never, I guess? The earpieces weren’t a problem, but I would break out in painful, itchy hives anywhere the cord touched my skin. I didn’t wanna buy new ones and wondered if wrapping them in embroidery floss would help. During an afternoon of binge-watching Sense8 on Netflix, I wrapped these suckers in pretty #PansexualPride colors. Not only did it stop the hives, but they also no longer tangled! Bonus!
Embroidery floss doesn’t get all the love here, I swear. I also adore yarn.
At the age of ten, I bugged Mama relentlessly to show me how to crochet a blanket for my soon-to-be-arriving baby cousin. She finally gave in, and taught me some basic stitches. The resulting “blanket” was so comically warped and small that I ended up using it as a throw rug for my Barbies. I was frustrated because I wasn’t immediately awesome, and gave up.
I didn’t start hooking again for another decade.
Wait… I… that’s not what… oh, never mind.
Fast-forward to my twenties and all my friends were bringing tiny humans into the world. I became a crocheting madwoman. Granny squares were my thing. Mainly because they were easy. It just so happened they were also cute. When my own micro people began arriving, I moved beyond the granny square. I was still no Vanna White, but the resulting blankets were leagues better than my Barbie rug. Regardless of the end result, they were fun and relaxing to make.
When a friend flew from NY to Louisiana to visit me shortly after Christmas of 2001, my Grammy and I drove to Texas to pick her up at DFW airport. Security at that time was understandably intense, and there were National Guardsmen everywhere. My friend’s flight was delayed, and I anticipated having to wait, so Grammy and I hung out near baggage claim. I’d taken up residence in one of the airport rocking chairs (yes, there were legit rocking chairs in the airport) and worked on a baby blanket. Grammy, on the other hand, was busy surreptitiously stalking the pretty military guys making their rounds. At one point, she declared, “I wanna put one of these boys in my purse and take him home.”
Let me put this another way: Picture a 21-year-old woman crocheted a blanket in a rocking chair at an airport while a 65-year-old woman tried to score with a soldier a third her age.
Grammy clearly had her priorities in order. I was distracted by yarn.
Fast forward a few more years and another Baby Wave occurs with friends and family popping out mini persons every time I turned around (I decided there was something in the water, so for a good while, I drank nothing but Diet Coke and wine for my own safety). I wanted to break free of granny squares and regular-worsted weight yarn, so I dove into Pinterest, and found this adorable pattern for making a baby turban. I fell in love with some super-squishy bulky variegated yarn at Walmart. The first ball of bulky yarn I grabbed had a baby-blanket pattern inside the wrapper. I modified said pattern (read: screwed up and just kept going), and ended cranking one out in three days. I started it on Halloween (seen below). I’m nothing if not a multitasker.
I made the pink/green/gray blanket below for my new niece. She’d gotten so attached to it that my sister asked if I could make a spare so she wouldn’t go ballistic whenever it had to be washed. The purple/gray/white one took me four days to complete. Clearly, I’ve become a slacker. I’ll just blame that on the fact that I actually followed the pattern to the letter that time.
The afghan that took me the longest to finish? This pattern here. The stitches were simple: virtually all single and double crochet. This was, however, the first time I’d ever used more than one color yarn at once. I started it in October of 2014. I finished it just over two months ago. It was freaking worth it, though. Another Doctor Who gift for the fiancé. This one, I took everywhere to work on, including doctor appointments, DMV, and my job.
And didn’t I mention cake…? Because cake happened everywhere. My fave was the one Mama and I made when my boys couldn’t decide between Spongebob and Scooby Doo for their joint birthday.
Last, but certainly not least, I occasionally dabble in “digital” crafting. The simple flag designs in the Jurassic photo above I cranked out real quick through GIMP.
Occasionally, though, I make digital things for therapeutic reasons.
I made the above graphic on May 20, 2010, the day my best friend would have turned 29 were it not for him losing his battle with cancer. It has only been recently that the mere mention of his name wouldn’t bring me to tears. I do, however, think about him and fiercely miss him every day. With that in mind, my next project is to crochet a mini rhino in his memory. Maybe something similar to this little guy.
That’s all from me this time! Thanks again, Karin, for letting me ramble on and on about crafty stuff! And thank you, Fans of Karin for reading. Happy crafting, everyone!