April 2011

Memorize A "Benchmark Yarn"

It can be incredibly useful to have a "benchmark yarn" memorized. I am continually surprised at how handy it is to have memorized all the key Cascade 220 stats!

Scenario 1: Browsing knitting patterns. What will the finished product be like? Will it drape loosely, or be thick and squooshy? You can read the yarn stats and examine the pictures, but being able to compare it with your benchmark yarn will give you a gut-level understanding of what kind of garment the pattern is going to produce.

Scenario 2: Buying a new yarn. It's easy to get overwhelmed at the yarn store (it's the wool fumes). We've all been there - you pick up a beautiful skein of yarn and stare at it adoringly. You want it, but what would you knit with it? It can be surprisingly hard to evaluate a yarn's real weight when you're in that shopping frenzy. And shopping online, of course, can be even more difficult.

Art Makes Science (And Everything!) Better

The Science Blogs website has an awesome article about the connection between art and science, and how scientists who make art become better scientists.

This kind of lateral thinking, the celebration of creativity in any realm, is sadly lacking today. What does it do? What is it good for? Why should I bother? How is this useful? Why should we spend money on it? And the next thing you know, schools' art class budgets are being slashed across the board.

A lot of people don't think of themselves as creative. Their disdain for artistic pursuits springs, most often, from a sort of bitter sour grapes. But we are all creative. It's coded into us, along with the ability to speak and walk and the desire for more. As children, we let our creativity roam free. We don't draw distinctions between what is and isn't art. Look at the classic childhood science fair project, the baking soda volcano. Crafting the display takes as much art as science; there is no fixed boundary, the way there is in adulthood.

Somewhere along the way, we lose that freedom. We start tamping down our creative urges. We become too critical - of ourselves, and of others.

But the truth is, making art will set you free, in the way that no other pursuit can.

"I don't have time for that kind of thing!"
"What a waste of time!"
"That person obviously has way too much free time."

Let me drop a number on you. It is a number which has been much on my mind lately:

Easy Easter Crafts for the Whole Family

Whether Easter in your home is about an ancient fertility festival, the resurrection of a god, or simply ducks and bunnies, the following Easter crafts will be perfect for you to do with both young kids as well as older children. In fact, even if you don’t have children these crafty projects would still be a lot of fun to do!

Egg Decorating. You can do it the way you’ve always done it, or you can blow out your eggs by inserting tiny holes into both ends to make them hollow. Then, decorate as you’d like—we do everything from gluing on foil and sprinkles to adding stickers, glitter, and whatever we like—and they will last practically forever if you take care of them. We add ours to jars every year and still have eggs in them from over three years ago.