Category Archives: Art

Mixed-Stitch Madness

Hi, my name is Katie. I’m a yarn addict, and I’m constantly hooking to feed my habit.

P1020310.jpgBut in all realness… when I look back on the sheer volume of what I’ve crocheted in the past four months, I’m stunned. I’ve completed a total of 3 afghans so far, with a fourth one 3/4 of the way done. And that’s having taken a break to make the oh-so tedious dragon for my Halloween costume. That’s a LOT of crocheting. If I had to make a guess, I’d say that’s at least 40 skeins of yarn (you’re welcome, Hobby Lobby). People always ask me how much time I spent on each piece, and that’s really hard to say. The first blanket took me at least two seasons of House of Cards, plus other miscellaneous time when I picked it up at work or while watching something else. I don’t know! It does make me curious though; maybe next time I start a project I’ll punch in on a timer and see.

Like so many awesome, crafty ideas, mixed-stitch crochet found me by way of Pinterest. A long time ago I stumbled across pictures of the colorful, seemingly random, chaotic patterns that somehow looked so neatly designed. I took a stab at it on my own and failed miserably- the edges were beyond warped, and I put it aside for a while.

I picked it up again a few months ago, this time sitting down with the amazing instructions I found here. Having never mixed random stitches before, I didn’t realize that different ones required different hook sizes to make the edges straight. It took trial and error– and a whole lot of frustration with counting to 24 eight times plus 1– but I finally got it.

12105882_10100165885880739_4457990446597664563_nThe first blanket I made was for Micah, the little girl I nanny. She actually went to Hobby Lobby with me and (with some guidance) helped to choose the colors. When she saw me working on it she would ask, “is it almost done?” which I jumped on as an opportunity to teach her what “patience” meant. I decided it looked best without a border, since the edges were a little off.

To correct for the zigzagging edges on Micah’s blanket, I started using stitch markers to make the counting process a little more diligent and learn how to work each row of stitches onto any other. Once I got it down, the edges were as straight as any could be. The second blanket got a black border on all four sides, which I thought would really tie its color scheme together. I gave it to Jewel 🙂

2015-09-23 21.18.07.jpgThe next two blankets are for me and my dad; I put mine aside to try and finish his in between his birthday and Christmas. I got it done the day after Thanksgiving, so I succeeded! It is extra big, based in greens and purples, and it has a border on the two long sides. He loves it so much he doesn’t want to use it, and freaked out when my dog was sitting on it. Little does he know, Duchess was using that ol’ rag as a bed from the moment it was big enough. But I washed it (even though that freaked him out too) and the blanket is as good as new– and as good as it always will be. It might be the most perfect thing I’ve made yet.

But wait until I’m done with mine!

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Katie & Duchess – A Self Portrait of Love :-)

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Recuerdos :-)

Memories of Mexico. A few little drawings I made recently.

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El Museo Del Mundo Maya

I just reached 100 followers on my blog! I’m flattered 🙂

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Today was amazing. I learned a lot of cool stuff about the Mexican president from my teachers. Congratulations, Mexico, you have your very own George Bush now! I should be careful, because it is illegal here for foreigners to participate in any political protests– but I highly doubt this counts, even if they were to read it. The President’s name is Enrique Pena Nieto, and the locals absolutely hate him. He campaigned against an intellectual, stole the election, and put all his friends in power– sound familiar? He then sold international rights to Mexico’s national energy reserves for the first time in 80 years, making gasoline here now more expensive than in America. The Mexican youth protested for a good six months after his election, and his government responded with imprisonment and threats. Recently Time Magazine ran a cover story on him under the headline “Saving Mexico”, and the people here are furious with us for it. When asked to name three books that influenced him, he first named the Bible (!), and then after floundering a bit came up with another title but couldn’t “recall” the author. His first wife died in a mysterious “accident” which, when pressed for details, he is vague and changes the subject (he’s now married to a very racy Telenovela star.) Just like Mitt Romney doesn’t know the cost of a gallon of milk, Enrique doesn’t know how much tortillas cost at the store. When he was asked, he said “that’s his wife’s job”– DISGUSTING! He’s young, dumb, and his attempts to speak English are almost as funny as George W’s. Please, please, PLEASE– watch this video on YouTube NOW!

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After class I came home to eat, and then hopped in a cab to meet a fellow Texan, John, at El Museo Del Mundo Maya (The Museum of the Mayan World). The building is a stunning work of modern architecture, the exhibits covered everything from the history of the Yucatan, to science, to the Mayan way of life today. Fun fact: the Mayan’s didn’t “just disappear”, as many people say. In fact, many rural Yucatecans don’t even speak Spanish. The Mayan language and culture not only didn’t vanish, but remain thriving today.

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Fun times!

Waking up in Paradise

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100% Natural

Seriously- this place is paradise. The other day the high was a relatively low 80 degrees, and Tere wouldn’t let me out of the house without a jacket. My commute to school is absolutely gorgeous: flowers and bougainvillea trees everywhere, a “buenos dias” from every person you pass by, music streaming out of cars and bodegas. The city is alive, busy yet tranquil, colorful and fun. One day after school I took a bus to the mall, Plaza Altabrisa. It’s giant and modern, with air conditioner and Beyonce streaming out of the ceilings. Some shops I recognized from back home and skipped over them immediately, others were strange and foreign and begged a look around. There are also arcades here, and CD shops, two things you don’t see much of in the states anymore. I happily found a 100% Natural in the food court, a miniature version of the Feingersh’s favorite restaurant in Playa del Carmen. I had chicken and veggies and a fresh fruit smoothie before heading back home.

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My Neighborhood

On Sunday I took a bus to El Centro again. Feeling more confident with directions, I wandered farther this time than I did last weekend. And WOW. You wouldn’t believe the toy stores, five-and-dimes (todos a $4.00!), and shoe stores here. They’re chaotic and crazy and have so much stuff I’ve never seen. I don’t see many tourists here, and the locals must not either, because after helping a little boy reach the soap in a restaurant bathroom, his mom asked if he could take a picture with me. He’d never seen a real blond before (color me flattered).

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Sculpture Exhibit in El Centro

School is tough, but its going great. I’m really good at understanding Spanish, but not that good at speaking it yet. When I come home in the afternoons, Tere and Milo sit and talk to me in Spanish. We talk about politics (they like Obama, hate the new Mexican president) and culture; Milo tells me about the history of the Yucatan, and how much he loves the Latin American CNN report. They look over my homework for me and point out the missing accent marks. I have a TV in my room, and I can watch American shows dubbed over both well (The Simpsons) and poorly (everything else). The made-for-Mexico TV is probably the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. They run “The Soup” with Joel Mchale, but they also have “La Sopa” with some other dude, to showcase the crazy Mexican stuff. The girl who dubs Kim Kardashian has an equally-annoying voice.

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La Verdad Newspaper

Spanish has some amazing idioms and colloquialisms. Instead of saying “between a rock and a hard place”, they say “entre la espalda y la pared”, which means “between the sword and the wall”. Makes sense. They say “happy as a worm”, and “clear as water” (in Spanish, of course). In the course of all this I’m also learning a whole lot about ENGLISH grammar; for instance, I now know what “preterit” and “participle” mean. Tomorrow I’m meeting up with a fellow Texan, John, to go to the Mayan Archaeological Museum. He’s here from San Antonio doing environmental research. And on Thursday- Miguel is taking us on a trip to the Cenotes! I’m very excited– will post about it afterward, of course. That’s all for now, signing off!

Exciting Life Updates & Mexico Bound

It’s been quite the eventful week for me… A year ago I decided to go for a Texas Real Estate license. After overcoming a few challenges along the way, I’m proud to say I’ve finally earned one! My liberal-arts-educated mind didn’t take so easily to all the rote memorization of legalese required in the Real Estate courses. Write an essay on indigenous ontology? Sure. But memorize laws regarding agency and promulgated contract forms? Please no. But I stuck with it, completed all the classes, took a review course, and finally passed the exam last Wednesday. I got my fingerprints taken, and as soon as my  background check clears I will have an official (yet inactive) Texas Real Estate Salesperson License!

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IMG_20140130_200916The next day my girl Alisia came over to cook me a celebratory dinner… and what she made was too incredible not to blog about. After stuffing chicken breasts with prosciutto (!) and gruyer cheese, she breaded them with crushed up pork rinds and baked them. They were phenomenal; Alisia is the bomb. 🙂

On Sunday I had a nice get-together with some friends for the Super Bowl. We ate some of my guacamole and awesome pig-in-a-blankets that Melissa brought, and watched the Seahawks murder the Broncos (before switching back to the Puppy Bowl, of course!) It was a nice chance to say goodbye to some friends before heading to Mexico. And now I’m busy getting ready for that, and I couldn’t be more excited! On Wednesday I head to Houston to spend a bit of time with my parents before they take me to the airport on Friday, and then off to Merida I go! I can’t wait.

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One thing on my to-do list this week was to find a gift for my host family in Mexico. The school recommends bringing your host family a small present symbolic of where you come from. I wanted to get them something that said “Austin” and not just “Texas”, and something they might actually be able to use. Luckily I found this at a gift shop: an Austin-inspired cutting board, with the “Greetings from Austin” graffiti printed on the underside. Cute, huh?

Well that’s it for now. All I have left to do is pack, and spend some quality time with my boyfriend, dog, and parents before I leave on this adventure!

About that Crochet Project…

IMG_20131118_230634About that crochet project— you know, the one I started about a month ago? My goal was to stitch together an afghan for the winter. And so I dove headfirst into doing just that. But as it turns out, afghans are no easy feat. Big, knit blankets are among those things in life that can be simple enough when you first begin, but the idea of completion seems increasingly impossible as time goes on. After whipping up a seemingly endless amount of squares– only to then realize how many squares I still had yet to make– it dawned on me: I was climbing crochet mountain. Making this afghan was a long and uphill battle, but there’s nothing like the view from the top. It took a lot of time and work, but I couldn’t be more proud of the blanket that I made.

Here are some pictures of Duchess, who has already claimed the blanket for herself. Even when I’m still working on something, she’ll take any opportunity to curl up in softness that she can. And how could I complain? Look at that faaaace.

I’ve been crocheting for as long as I can remember, and then some– I don’t even remember when I learned to use a hook. Every couple years I get the yarn bug and pick it up again, each time learning new skills and improving my technique. This was my first time making granny squares, and my first time joining separate pieces together (and yeah, there was a lot of yanking out the previous row to fix mistakes.)

IMG_20131102_205423But the most important lesson I learned this time around is this: do not mix yarns. They may be identical in color, and appear similarly thick to the naked eye– but they aren’t. Stick to one brand of yarn, especially when making multiple pieces for a blanket. I learned this the hard way, and even though the two yarns appeared to be identical, the slight difference in their gauges made the squares way larger than the other ones, and thus out of place in the afghan. I had to remake roughly 16 of the 89 squares AFTER I had already completed them, because the size discrepancy was too large for the perfectionist in me to let slide.

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If you want to make an afghan of your own, I highly recommend the book 200 Crochet Blocks. Unlike most crochet books, where you might only find a few patterns that appeal to you, every page of this book is a winner. I have come back to it again and again. Its all square block patterns, and lots of them too. But its also the book that taught me how to crochet in the round, make flowers and designs, and think “outside the box” when it comes to stitching design. There is also a great guide to designing the layout of squares in your blanket, as well as fringe patterns and a basic stitch reference in the back.

Blog Updates & Art Gallery

pink-hairI haven’t been posting much lately, but I have spent a bit of time on this blog in the past few days. I finally got around to tasks I’d been putting off, and even a few more. I’m studying about how to host a WordPress blog independently; apparently it provides way more opportunity to mess around and tinker with the layout. Hosting it on your own opens up the door for plugins, and there are literally so many of them its incredible. It all seems very open-source and democratic, and I really want to dive in and see what it’s all about. My own blog is simply a hobby, and I never needed more than the free services provided. Luckily I’m helping to create a WordPress website professionally now, so I’ll be able to sink my teeth into all the details. Who knows- if I really love it I may not be able to resist self-hosting my own blog… 🙂

I’ve finally added a few pages to the site– still no “About Me” section though, I just can’t seem to get started on that one at all. I added a category tab for chickens, which will pull up all posts related to the big, fat, flightless birds. I added a page with a link to all my recipes. I also added galleries: my Instagram photos, by month, as well as a few scans of artwork I’ve created over the past couple of years. I hope to add more to them in time, but this was good enough for now.