Friday, April 29, 2011

Bunnies, Eggs, Children

Have you heard of Operation Bunny Drop? I hadn't. The first and second-graders at Ashwood, including Sylvan, are crafting bunnies for Japanese children through this project. There were several pairs of adult hands to go around and I was invited to take some photos.
The small hands holding needles and thread were precious. The focus and intention. The capability of these young crafters. The emerging personalities of each little rabbit. These gifts coming from one child to another.
"Children, when you are stuffing your bunnies, remember that they are not fat polar bears, just plump little bunnies."

"The stitches may not be perfect, but they were made with love."

"Can you imagine losing all of your toys?"

"I didn't even know I could sew this well!"


There were also riddles and jokes that were shared, mostly made-up. "Imagine you're in a golden room. No way out. No windows, no doors. How do you get out?....Stop imagining it!!!!"
There was a wild two year-old rolling a hula hoop around and spinning himself into circles. Did it distract from the sewing? Not too much.
And of course there was Easter and a party with friends, with lots of activity on the driveway for our pavement-deprived children: scootering, pedaling, ball games, chickens wandering about, kids and grown-ups, and once a small fairy girl sitting in the midst of all the chaos using chalk to create a mandala. You know. Just because.
~favorite photo of the day~
Lots of little girls in Easter finery to be seen.
And a really thorough exploration of a flower, by a one year-old, until the stage of complete disintegration.
~favorite photo of the day~
An amazing face painter was on hand who patiently transformed many young faces. Sylvan is ready for the Lion King. Oh darn, he was actually a tiger.
Next up: baseball season...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Hat for Me and Knitters' Math

You already know about the angst I experienced with the Husband Sweater this year. But you have not been privy to the shorter-lived angst that has been the Wife Hat. He found the pattern on Ravelry (Mini Mochi Fair Isle Hat, knit with Mini Mochi in blue and variegated rainbow); I helped with the color choices, since it's good to know what you're good at, and color choices and naming things are two of my acknowledged strengths in the family.
no dainty sewing scissors for trimming the tails
for THIS knitter
I will tell you that Mr. Crafty was not daunted by the tiny needle size (2-3) or the Fair Isle carrying or the number of stitches required to cover my large head circumference. The stitches are beautifully even on both the front and the backsides.
He only quailed a little when he realized that the original pattern suggested a finishing technique that wasn't what he wanted, but then concurrently understood that if he was not going to pursue that particular finish to the hat, that he would have to take out a couple of inches worth of hard-won knitting. Yes, friends, a couple of INCHES of Fair Isle, two-color knitting on tiny needles, which you cannot just tear out but have to pick out, stitch by bloody stitch, and THEN untangle your two strands of yarn. This is the finish he chose, which is lovely:
At about 200 stitches per round, this was a significant commitment from a knitter whose attitude is usually more towards "living with" mistakes and incorporating them somehow into the design. It takes all kinds of knitters to make this world go round, I say.

And my Mr. Crafty is also a Math-Teacher and has, I think, finally succeeded in explaining the principle of Inverse Proportions to me, as it applies to gauge and needle size and total number of stitches. (This was the one personal obstacle that would prevent me from ever working in a yarn store.)

Here goes: You have 10 stitches per inch on some ridiculously tiny little needles. You have 4 stitches per inch with some thick needles and bulky yarn. Even though your needles are fatter, your yarn is bigger, your fabric is thicker...wait for will have FEWER TOTAL STITCHES for your bulky project.

Taking this principle a little further, and I'm testing myself here, if your hat pattern has you casting on 200 stitches with a suggested gauge of 10 st/in, your total circumference will be 20 stitches. But what if you're getting 8 st/in? (Yes, this is the real question that would have stumped me before.) If you're getting fewer stitches per inch YOUR HAT WILL BE BIGGER than you want it to be. In this case, by a lot: FIVE whole inches! Wow. My huge head is not even that big.
on the April Fools' Day blizzard
we all wrote letters
So, if there are any gauge-doubters out there, I hope this brief entry on applied math will convince you. EZ says "Check your gauge or end in a rage." (I did both on that sweater, as you may recall.)
Mr. Crafty, you've made me a brilliant, gorgeous, rainbow hat that is executed with precision and fits me perfectly. Thank you. (And I hope I never lose it.)