Category Archives: Crafting

made yarn. made a hat.

Spun this 2-ply yarn on a Kundert 1.3 oz. spindle out of a 2 oz. of Spunky Eclectic Falkland roving in the “Jamming” colorway.  This is my very first handspun! It took a lifetime (okay, a month) of intermittent effort, but in the end, it was so worth it. Sure, it’s a little thick-and-thin. Sure, it’s only 100 yards of a worsted weight yarn. But, hey, it was enough for the most beautiful hat I’ve ever made:

Maybe it’s so beautiful because I know I made the whole thing myself, start to finish. Because I can look at it and see the work my hands did to convert from a delicate raw material into an object to keep me warm. Or maybe because it has a neat crown (I designed it and forgot to take notes, or a picture) and it striped in a fun way (unintentionally). Anyway, I love it.

confused? no, just in awe.

Illusion Knitting

I’ll be back later this week with a more substantive post, I promise!

Knitting: Darkside Cowl

The cold has returned to Brooklyn, and I needed a proper scarf. I hadn’t ever knitted one for myself, so I went ahead with it.

This Darkside Cowl was fun to knit and quick–it took less than a day. It keeps me warm quite sufficiently.

The yarn is one ball of Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran in a lovely soft grey flecked with pink, green, blue, black, and white. My mom gave me several skeins for Christmas, with the instruction that I make something for myself with it, which I think is the sweetest thing. Though my mom taught me how to knit, she doesn’t know the first thing about it (a story for another day, I guess), so the fact that she sought out her local yarn shop and picked this yarn out for me is just about the most thoughtful thing ever.

Knitting: Selbu Modern Tam

This Selbu Modern tam is my second colorwork piece (the first was a tam as well), and, while I still need practice to get the tension perfect, I am definitely hooked. It makes a simple stockinette piece oh-so much more interesting.

It took me a while (almost two months) to complete, but I was working on several other projects at the same time and took a long hiatus around the holidays.

This picture shows the true colors better than the others.

I can’t stop wearing it! It’s out of Berocco Ultra Alpaca Fine, a delightfully soft yarn and a pleasure to work with (even if it is a bit splitty). The colors are Turquoise Mix and Blueberry Mix, both slightly heathered and wonderfully deep, saturated colors.

Small Crafts

I took the time today to wrap four of my hangers in leftover lengths of cotton yarn. It reminded me of the importance of small crafts, those which are wholly unimpressive. I spend quite a bit of time working on things meant as much for others as for myself–the intricate fair isle/selbu hat I just completed, for example, which, as my fingers became fatigued and my eyelids twitched, I pushed through by imagining all the compliments I would received once it was finished and paraded down Smith Street. Small crafts, like these “Nanny hangers,” as we call them in my family, are meant only for their owner. Rarely are guests in my home invited to peer into my closet–but when they do, they always comment on the rainbow inside.

The often-crazy color combinations are not usually trendy, nor are they generally classic. They represent the random balls of scrap yarn my grandmother, Nanny (or Sophie–though even some of her peers call her Nanny) pulled from her stash contained in plastic bags (“Nanny bags”, as we call them). She isn’t a crafty woman–she was much more content to scrub floors and watch the kids than sew hems or iron curtains–but she made an art of Nanny hangers. She gave them out, six at a time, to anyone who asked for some. And everyone who saw them asked for some. We would help, six years old sitting next to her with a hanger squeezed between our knees to keep them upright like she did, but she had to start them–that was the trickiest part. Usually we just picked out the color combinations for her–purple and hunter green, lemon yellow and ketchup red–and enjoyed the fruits of her labor.

Nanny is the one grinning on the right.

Every time I open my closet, I smile and thank her for the dozens of Nanny hangers she made for me. They’ve held up remarkably well. They add an unexpected burst of color and handmade to my dark and often dreary closet; they don’t squeak when you slide them across the bar; and (the most coveted quality) nothing ever slips off them, not pants or camisoles or silky boatnecks.

This is a quiet craft, modest and unpretentious and workhorse, much like Nanny. But it makes life just that much easier, that much quirkier, that much happier–just like, you guessed it, Nanny. I’m glad I paused to make a couple, the way Nanny taught me, and remind myself that the payoff of hand-making things is not always about the praise.

*Note: I would have used this opportunity to give you a lesson in making wrapped (or Nanny) hangers, but my amazing little sister is working on developing a consumer-charity (think Tom’s Shoes or Warby Parker) in Kenya based on them, and I didn’t want to jump her shark. I’ll talk it over with her and, with her okay, share with you.