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Making Time

If you have a recipe or pattern for making enough time for your hobbies, patent it. You’ll make a fortune.

The reason I haven’t added a blog post in far too long is that I haven’t had much time to set aside for my hobbies, which means I haven’t had any new projects to post. And when I did have a few spare hours, dry cracks and sores on my hands kept me from working with yarn.

But when my niece asked if I could make a baby-sized version of the cupcake hat I made her for Christmas, how could I say no?

Baby Cupcake Hat

Baby Cupcake Hat

The pattern is deceptively simple, so the adorable little hat shouldn’t have taken me so long to knit. If it weren’t for the cracks in my hands, I could probably have finished this beauty in two days.

Even before I started that cupcake hat, I finally cast on for a sweater coat I’ve been wanting to make for a couple of years. I’ve actually had the yarn since way back when I was a knitter-blogger for Patons Yarn. You have to commit a lot of time to such a large project, and I never had the time to spare. But earlier this year I decided to start anyway. This is where I was at six weeks ago…

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…and I’m still not quite to the 21.5″ point where the next pattern step kicks in. You’ll also notice at the left of the photo that a couple cables are twisted in the wrong direction. By the time I spotted the mistake I’d invested too much time to rip it out, so the flaw will remain. After all, handmade does not mean perfect.

Knitting is like any other hobby. You have to make time for it. Thankfully, unlike a lot of other hobbies, knitting can done while watching TV (although you might risk the occasional twisted cable, ahem), chatting with friends, or while waiting for someone.

Another reason to wish I had more time to knit? An ever-growing backlog of projects I want to make – several to use up scrap yarn from past projects. Yet I keep finding new patterns to try. Like a pattern for a cowl I spotted when looking up links to include in this post.

I’m sure it’s the same feeling people get no matter what their hobby is. There’s always something more to do or make, a new skill to perfect, and more joy to feel with that next level of accomplishment. Do you have a hobby? How do you make time to pursue it?

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One Reason Plans Always Go Awry

Earlier this month, on I Love Yarn Day, I said the color work cowl I made for my sister was my final non-holiday knitting or crochet project of the year.

Yeah, um…I got lured in by an interesting new pattern.

I can’t justify spending $80-90 on the gorgeous yarn the pattern was designed for, especially when I don’t know if the project will turn out well. Luckily I had plenty of a much cheaper (but nice!) yarn on hand from an abandoned project. I compared the weight, yardage, wraps-per-inch and gauge of the two yarns, and they were close. Very close. I had the right needles, so I cast on. This is how far I was by day three:

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The pattern is fun. After a border of alternating sections of garter (knit every row) and stockinette (knit one row, purl the next), the “mixed texture” repeats begin: a simple arrowhead-like lace pattern followed by a few rows of seed stitch. I have a couple more repeats to go before any shaping starts.

The structure looks simple. Start at the bottom and knit the back and sides as one unit — no piecing, hooray! — and eventually divide the block into sections to form the shape. The tricky bit will come when the main piece is done and it’s time to “evenly” pick up 200+ stitches from the front bottom edge on one side, all the way around the neck, and down to the bottom of the other side. After that you knit a wide border like the one you started with.

One trick to knitting any complicated pattern, like lace, is to add a lifeline every few rows. A lifeline is just a piece of contrasting yarn or string that you run through each “live” stitch. (Live stitches are the ones on the needles.)

Look closely. There are two lime green lifelines through each lace section,

Look closely. There are two lime green lifelines through the top two lace sections.

If you make a mistake and need to rip some rows out, the lifeline will keep all of the stitches on that row from unraveling. You can slide them back on the needles and continue knitting. It’s a good idea to note which row your lifeline is in, so you’ll know where to resume the pattern.

The sad thing? I only learned about lifelines a few years ago. Before that I’d usually give up when — not if — I found a mistake.

What are some “I can’t believe how easy that is!” tips that make your own projects, of any type, a little bit easier?

With all this snow I forgot it was March

With all the snow outside, it’s hard to believe March is here.

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View from the front door. This is the neighbor’s car before it got plowed in. Taken mid-way through a storm that left another 11 inches of snow.

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The growing pile of snow out back. After the storm and final shoveling, the pile nearest the camera was about 4 feet high. Even Doggie Lily walks around it.

You also wouldn’t know it’s March by looking at my last blog post. It’s from February. Shame on me – especially considering March is once again both National Craft Month and National Crochet Month.

I wish I could say I’ve been so busy crafting and crocheting that I lost track of time, but the truth is I’ve been knee-deep in both snow shoveling and work lately. When you’re self-employed you have to tackle assignments as they come in, even if it means 10- and 12-hour work days and working through weekends and/or evenings to stay on top of things.

The other day I realized I haven’t knitted, crocheted or done any fun crafty stuff in weeks. While I’d love a day off, I’m glad to be this busy. It’s so much better than those dreaded lulls when you find yourself with no paying assignments. (Of course, freelance lulls are busy, too, since it takes effort to drum up new business!)

Stay tuned, though. I have some fun ideas for future blog post. I just need to find time to try those projects. What’s keeping you busy these days?

Sometimes the biggest creative challenge is simply finding time

Funny how many creative ideas I get when I don’t have time to do any of them.

In the past two weeks the only crafty work I’ve done is work on a couple of the worsted pocket nets for my cousin’s pool table. Work on the pockets paused because I haven’t had much free time lately, but it turned out to be a good thing – last week my cousin’s wise wife pointed out the corner pockets might be shaped differently than the side nets. Their task this week is to compare the corner nets with the side nets.

At least now I don’t feel guilty for not having started the third pocket net yet!

Normally I’d try to squeeze in a quick project while waiting for the corner net data. This week, though, I’m not jumping into anything new. I’m taking a mini crafting break. Maybe it’s withdrawal, but every evening – no matter how tired I am after a hectic day of writing, interviewing, transcribing, researching, editing and marketing (actual writing is only a fraction of a freelance writer’s job) – I feel restless, as if I’m squandering time by not making something.

Funny how the great ideas always tend to pop up when you’re not looking for new projects. (Thanks a lot, Pinterest!)

I’ve never been great at juggling multiple projects. If I set one thing aside to work on another I lose momentum – and sometimes interest – in the first project. Right now my focus is on the pocket nets. Once those are done I can think about new projects.

Then again… maybe I can whip up a dishcloth or two while pondering how the corner nets should differ from the side nets…

How do you find time for your creative endeavors, and how many projects can you handle at once?

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