One of the lovely ladies in my book club had a baby earlier this summer, and so I offered to host a baby meet and greet. Just for the hell of it, I called it an ice-cream social, because I’ve always liked the sound of that, and lo and behold, the universe gave me this gift: Three-ingredient no-ice-cream-maker-required ice cream. Where one of the ingredients is sweetened condensed milk, aka the best food in the universe. And the other is whipping cream, and the other is whatever your little heart desires.
Ice cream in progress
My choice for flavours were: Nutella, banana, nectarine-cherry (pictured above), and popcorn (because why not). They came together in about ten minutes flat, and only took that long because I used the hand mixer rather than electric. They froze pretty hard, and greatly benefitted from a fifteen-minute thaw on the counter, but oh my were they good. Nutella was far and away the most popular flavour because Nutella, but popcorn ran a close favourite.
Yeah. So that’s my new favourite dessert.
done like dinner
Ta-da! It is not in its final stage – this is pre-blocked, and I am in the process of sewing on a fleece backing to hide all the stranding – but I am quite pleased with how it turned out. I’m so impressed with the KnitPicks DK Swish yarn (my new go-to for EVERYTHING); I washed this blankie and it turned as soft as soft can be.
I over-bought when gathering supplies so I think I’m going to do another with the colours reversed – so dark bunnies on a tan background. Unless it looks too blah when it knits up. But yay for a project completed!
I shouldn’t go to Michael’s because there is always a sale on something that I didn’t think I needed until I saw it. But then I see it and I have to have it, and I can justify it because it was on sale.
An example: when getting the embroidery floss for the Prank Craft , I found out that Bernat’s Baby Blanket yarn, which is this great chenille-feeling super bulky, was 30% off. And it comes in super-cute variegated colours. And there was an easy-looking pattern on the label. All these things came together, and I thought to myself, You know, it’s a shame that you haven’t made Baby Bear a blankie of her own. You make blankies for everyone else’s babies, but not for your baby. What is up with that? I bet she would love a snuggly chenille-feeling blankie in Peachy.
20 minutes later I am walking out of Michael’s six balls of Bernat Baby Blanket richer, trying to ignore the fact that the bunny blanket is waiting patiently to be completed before its August deadline.
Fortunately for the bunny blanket, Baby Bear’s project is whipping up nice and quick:
It is indeed an easy pattern: corner-to-corner seed stitch. I still managed to screw up a couple row (don’t knit and watch Criminal Minds, apparently), but the yarn is really forgiving and doesn’t show.
The pattern can be found on Yarnspirations, the new site for the Bernat/Patons/Caron/Phentex family of yarn brands. I hadn’t realized that they had put all their brands together under one site and do I ever appreciate the redesign. Much more user-friendly, and nicer to look at to boot.
I don’t even want to get into how long it took me to realize what a wireframe was. Suffice to say that I did indeed figure it out in time to do the assignment, which was find examples of three different types of navigational layouts and then create a wireframe of one of them.
For anyone who is ignorant like me, a wireframe is a sketch of a website’s layout. Wireframe is a specialized technical word for web design, which sends me down another trip down memory lane back to undergrad linguistics. Specialized technical language helps create communities of expertise and helps people in the same field identify one another and keep non-experts at arms’ length.*
At any rate, I chose a couple of faves: Smitten Kitchen for vertical and Knitty for horizontal. What really struck me was that many websites now have multiple ways of navigation. Which can be useful as it offers the user multiple ways of exploring the site; however, having too many choices can be confusing and ultimately as frustrating as having too few. One more for keep it simple.
In terms of finding an experimental navigational website, I had to turn to my old friend Google because all of my favourite websites are pretty standard navigation.
I then used Gliffy to create a very, very basic wireframe of Smitten Kitchen that I will not add here; suffice to say that I would much rather have the logo guru’s little Moleskin journal to sketch in. And also it’s kind of interesting that you always have to start from a sketch. No one can just produce something fully formed without a rough draft (bar Zeus/Athena). No matter how well-developed it may be in the mind’s eye, there are always multiple attempts and do-overs before it’s just right.
*My definition may be somewhat coloured by my experience of the sociolinguistics class, which may or may not have involved dozing off in the back row/gossiping with a friend.
I am a firm believer that gag gifts show love. The more elaborate the gag, the more time (and love) is invested in it. To whit: a friend of mine recently learned how to cross-stitch. She has an extremely photogenic cat. These two things seem unrelated until: Stitch a Photo. And then this glorious birthday present was born:
I never knew there were so many shades of ecru.
It kind of blows my mind that you can take a picture and have someone convert it into a cross-stitch graph, including the right colours of embroidery floss. Well. Convert using a fancy-pants software designer. A very far cry from olden times when it was more or less freestyling – which also blows my mind. Seriously, sitting down to create this:
so many hours of work in such poor light
Now that the course has forced my hand and I am blogging, I also need to have content for said blog. Tempting as it may be to stuff it full of links to other people’s content, that’s not really going to get me that far.
The creative brief exercise was surprisingly effortful. The clever thing to do would have been to create a blog that I could use professionally, adding it to my LinkedIn profile (rarely used) and my resume (ditto). But what on earth do I have to talk about?
I’ve seen library blogs and non-profit snarks, and they’re great, but I don’t think it’s in me to do one.
I don’t feel authoritative enough to have a tips and tricks site on, well, anything.
I don’t have some grand journey that needs to be shared.
Everything that I do is fairly small-scale. My hobbies are modest. I never get into anything enough to get all the gear. I’m a dabbler. And so there will be my blog: my dabbles, my fun, by me for me (and perhaps a select few family and friends to whom I will confess the existence of this blog).
And now for the links to websites that have content I love:
Have fun designing, that is. Design is supposed to be fun – it is a creative endeavour that allows you to really push your boundaries and be playful. Like the design guru in the video that Amos shared – Aaron Draplin is clearly doing what he loves. He is having fun and doing work at the same time.
I am not good at letting go and having fun when it comes to work. I want things to be right. I am not sure when fun drained away and being “correct” became all-powerful, but here we are and here I am in a course where messing around and trying different styles/colours/fonts/whatever is encouraged.
On one hand this is exciting – no wrong answers! This is a work in progress! I can foozle around until it feels right!
And on the other hand it is terrifying – of course there are wrong answers! Think of the user experience, dummy! Good design means you get it right and have a consistent product that people can recognize and appreciate!
At any rate, so far with this website I have changed the layout three times and edited all my posts on average of twice. So it’s a good thing that at this point it’s just for me.