Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Yarn Diet, or How Many Weight Watchers Points is in a Ball of Koigu?

After successful forays to Ireland and the Yarn Lady bag sale, I think Wendy Knits has the right idea.

Wendy is encouraging personalization of the rules for Knit from Your Stash 2007 in order to make it easier for each knitter to stick to her/his own special needs. Here are the rules I have come up with for Hipp Crafts:

1. Hipp Knit from Your Stash 2007 will start January 1, 2007 and run through December 31, 2007 -- a period of twelve months.

2. I will not buy any yarn during that period, with the following exceptions:

* If someone asks for a specific handknit gift that I really and truly do not have the yarn for, I may buy yarn to knit that gift.

* If I am knitting something and run out of yarn, I may purchase enough to complete the project.

* If I am traveling in an area with locally produced or otherwise geographically special yarn, I may purchase some of that yarn as a souvenir.

* I am allowed to receive gifts of yarn and/or gift certificates for yarn. (Pay attention, Mr. Hipp!)

4. Necessary knitting supplies (needles, stitch markers, etc.) are exempt.

I have tons of gorgeous, beautiful, yarn just waiting for me to use it. I was excited when I bought it and get re-excited when I see it in my stash baskets, so why not be excited about knitting it?

Will you be participating in Knit (or Craft) from Your Stash 2007? What are your rules?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

If You Can't Afford It, Make It Yourself

While waiting from Mr. Hipp to arrive for $20 rush seats to a night out with Molly Ringwald, I took a window-shopping stroll into the fancy shops at South Coast Plaza and unabashedly fondled things that I cannot afford.

I stumbled upon a sweet little handknit tote bag with a surprisingly tart price tag -- like enough for Mr. Hipp and me to have four nights out with Molly Ringwald, plus a meal at In n Out. The only picture of it that I could find online is here -- it is the fourth picture that scrolls by in the "Pure Holiday" montage.

The rustic, handmade look charmed me. I made some quick mental notes on the construction and sent a silent thank you to The Designer (or her unnamed designee) for the idea. Luckily, I had just the right yarn in my stash already: Patons Up Country in an icy blue. It is 100% wool, barely spun, with the occasional bit of dried grass or twig embedded in it.

I made a rectangle for the bottom, then picked up stitches on all four edges and started knitting in the round for the body. Single purl stitches in the corners create right angles within the plain stockinette body and help maintain the rectangular shape. The inspiration piece has an interior zippered pocket which was also knit but at a much smaller gauge. I think instead I will give it a fabric lining to protect things from poking through the stitches -- it must still be functional in the end!

The thought that this project might be a last-minute holiday gift briefly crossed my mind, but reality quickly set in. So now I will just enjoy it for what it is and hope it comes out nice enough to give to someone, someday, maybe.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blog Shout Out!

Ahhhh! I am so excited. Hipp Crafts has been mentioned on another blog - the fabulous Nubian Craftster. Just a few weeks after adoring her Sunrise Circle Jacket in my first blog entry, I ran into her at the Yarn Lade bag sale. (75% off...drooooool.) Shrinking violet that I am, I interrupted her yarn shopping with an embarrassingly loud, "Are you the Nubian Craftster?" You would have thought I had just seen Brangelina with all three kids in tow.

Go check out her blog -- there are some breathtaking photos of her recent trip to Indiana.

I wish I had had my camera with me during the bag sale (had to keep my hands free for grabbing the yarn) because she was wearing the Sunrise Circle Jacket and it was even better in person. The yarn she used looks a lot thicker than what I got in Ireland. I might have to double it to get the right gauge. Do you think I have enough yarn to do that?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Pebbled Mirror

Knitting is a wonderful, challenging, and fascinating craft. But in my impatient hands, even small projects can just be too darn slow. There are times when I need a little filler, something quick and satisfying and brainless. Enter the Pebbled Mirror.

The pebbles are from Crate and Barrel, the mirror from Ikea (home of all things great and cheap). I think the pebbles are intended for use as decoration in vases and around candles, but each one had a nice flat surface - perfect for this project.

The 15% of me that is anal-retentive decided to sort the pebbles by color, then lay them out on the mirror without glue to see if I had enough pebbles. Sure enough, I needed to add a few green glass marble-things to finish off the edges. Unlike the Ugliest Hat in America, this last minute addition of something green actually seems to work.

The Pebbled Mirror is a bit small to be truly functional as a mirror, but I am happy with how its mellow colors contrast with a beautiful and brightly painted box from Peru -- a gift from one of my mother's global mountain-climbing adventures -- on top of a cheerful blue bureau.

I don't know if it was the soothing joy of arranging pretty pebbles or the fumes from the industrial-strength glue, but working on this project realigned my crafting stars...the knitting mojo is back. If only every frustration in life could be solved so simply.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

The Fringe Benefits of Crafting

Mr. Hipp and I went to Disneyland today and took a ride on the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters - easily the best ride ever. You get to shoot targets as you go through a battle against the Evil Emperor Zurg and your shooting scores are tallied along the way. The ride snaps your picture in the throes of battle and makes a composite image with your scores and some images from outer space.

I beat Mr. Hipp by 9,400 points. Perhaps all this crafting, especially knitting, has given me superior forearm strength and finger dexterity. Or maybe I'm just way better at this game than him!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Inspiration for New Knitters

A friend, Dr. Anna, has just started knitting. Yay, Dr. Anna! Word is she's making a scarf for her husband as a first project. As inspiration to her and other new (or soon to start) knitters out there, I would like to present my first ever knitted object - known in some circles as The Ugliest Hat in America.
This hat design is knit flat, with decreases at the top to shape the crown. The sides are then sewn together to make a cone and *poof!* a hat is born. The first iteration, however, was too small, so I decided to knit up a wedge-shaped piece and sew it in place to increase the hat's circumference. "Ingenious!", I thought. "I am a master of knitting and geometry!" I also decided that it was too short, so I added additional length to the whole thing.

Unfortunately, I was out of the original yarn.
At the time, the dark green yarn seemed like a nice, coordinating color - brown, orange, a walk through the woods on a brisk Fall day. Upon further reflection, however, it just looks like crap. Notice also the odd hump formed by the top of the green wedge - evidence of my poor (aka absent) geometric calculations.

You may be saying, "This is supposed to be inspiring?"

Yes! Take heart, noble novice knitter! No matter how many stitches you drop or how uneven your gauge is, your first project is bound to be better than this!

Mr. Hipp, dear soul that he is, actually loves wearing this hat. He puts it on when he is sick and claims it makes him feel better. He also likes to wear it when playing flag football or Ultimate Frisbee on chilly nights, mostly because it can get trampled in the mud without looking worse. Here is how he usually wears it: green wedge in the front (to mask the odd hump) and a patient smile on his face.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving 2006

Happy Thanksgiving! Mr. Hipp and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our little home this year, partly to bring together friends who are far from their families, and partly to satisfy Mr. Hipp's desire to cook a big ol' feast. He made turkey, oyster dressing, sweet potato casserole, chocolate pecan pie, macaroni and cheese, sausage balls (shown below) and rice - one of the surprisingly many food items shared by Filipino and Southern cuisine.
Our charming guests also brought food and drinks - apple nut muffins, pumpkin martinis, baked ham, and so much more. You would have thought 40 people were eating dinner at our place instead of just six. We finished the evening with board games and laughter. We are so thankful to have good friends, plentiful food, and a safe place to have fun.

Back to the crafting - I want to share the prettiness of the yarn I got at Purl. Clockwise from upper left: Koigu multicolor sock yarn, two skeins of white/olive Lornas Laces, and blue Koigu. Homie at Purl was a bit sloppy in winding the yarn into balls.
And because someone noted that my first two posts were about buying yarn rather than actual knitting of yarn, here is one of my current projects:
It's an entrelac scarf using Noro Big Kureyon. It is just me, or does it seem to be getting narrower? Either the yarn is a bit thinner here (Big Kureyon is not a consistent thickness) or my gauge has changed (I am not a consistent knitter!). I think a little blocking will even things out the end. And if it doesn't, oh well - no one can tell when it's wrapped around my neck. Many Noro yarns change colors within the same skein. This color change usually results in stripes, but in entrelac it ends up looking like pieces in a stained glass window.

I love it! Once a few necessary household chores are done today, Mr. Hipp and I are going to plunk down on the couch with "The Office, Season 1" on DVD, some candy, and the entrelac scarf. Hurry, laundry, hurry!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Squeeze the Yarn

We recently traveled to Connecticut for a family wedding. While there, we spent a night in NYC to see some friends. (Thanks again for the excellent hospitality, "Mrs. O'Bannon"!) I was lucky that Mr. Hipp's college roommate and his wife were visiting NYC as well - she is a crafting fiend from a crafting fiend family. She had a long list of wonderful craft stores to visit. Men in tow, we skipped happily in and out of stores to see thousands of buttons and endless spools of ribbon. Photos of the spoils to come soon.

Of course, I had to add one more place to her list - Purl in Soho. She had already asked Santa for knitting lessons, so it was fun to see her get excited by all the colors and softness at Purl. I sense a future yarn addict in the making. Here we are - caught in the act of squeezing some sock yarn.

A visit to Purl would not be complete without checking out their Lorna's Laces sock yarn dyed in colors just for Purl. I got some in white and olive, along with some lovely blue Koigu for the heels and toes. All the socks I have made in the past have used thicker yarn. I hope I can make a pair out of this yarn on US1 needles in time to wear them this winter. I am a fairly slow knitter with an unfortunate amount of other priorities in my life - work (bleh), scooping cat litter (bleh), being nice to Mr. Hipp (not so bad really). Then again, yarn this lovely may prove to be as good as a big, hot, cup of coffee...sip sip sip and next thing you know it's done.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Welcome to Hipp Crafts

After many months of gaining inspiration from other people's blogs, I have finally started my own. This site will be home to all Hipp Crafts, from knitting to sewing to DIY home improvements. I hope you enjoy it!

Let's start with some recent history. Mr. Hipp and I traveled to Wales and Ireland in September. We met up with other Hipp family members in Dublin, then traveled together to Killarney.

Does this picture give you any indication of how much I enjoyed the trip? That's right, two huge spools of amazing, 100% wool, tweedy-licious yarn. I purchased it at the Muckross House gift shop. They have all sorts of traditional crafts, including a working weaving studio. I guess this yarn was intended for a loom, but no reason it can't be knit instead! The orange yarn has bits of blue in it so the two yarns should go together nicely.

I am thinking of making a Sunrise Circle Jacket with this yarn - orange as the main color and blue inside the hems for a little pop of fun. This knit-along has shown some great examples of how this jacket looks on "real people". I especially love the one completed by the Nubian Craftster. Seeing her completed jacket made me think, "Okay! This can really work!". Of course, goodness only knows how long it will be before I can actually start on this project. I have a long list going already, so the Sunrise Circle Jacket will just have to wait patiently for its turn.