Monday, December 26, 2005

Happy Boxing Day......

Okay, I missed a _lot_ of holidays - Christmas, Kwaanza, Hannukah, Winter Solstice and probably a lot more out there I don't know about. Whatever you choose to celebrate, I hope it was good for you. And if you don't choose to celebrate any holidays, well, I still hope it was good for you. As John Lennon said "Whatever gets you thru the night is all right".

I haven't been here lately as I trashed my wrist, a not uncommon occurence for me. I don't think it's carpal tunnel, I think it's arthritis. (Yes, I _do_ wear a brace.) It hurts from the tips of my fingers to my shoulder. This is a direct result of my job, which is typing, typing, typing medical records. The department has been halved, but the work hasn't been halved. It causes a lot of stress to get the work done in time, but we are _supposed_ to have help for next month, so the right wrist shouldn't be trashed.

The Harry Potterish scarf went over well. My sister Bee immediately recognized it as the school colors, which was good. The hat and scarf I made for my sister Dawn also went over well. I had intended to make her leg warmers, but the wrist decided it wasn't happy. So I didn't do that. I put two hats together for my greatnephew and he liked them - my neice kept saying "He won't wear a hat" (he's 18 months old) but I put it on him and he wouldn't take them off, except to swap hats.

As for Mattie's scarf, I don't know if she liked it or not. We do Christmas Eve at my brother's house and it's a mob scene, so sometimes you don't even know if the person _got_ the present. I gave my younger neice and my sister-in-law the Vogue book "Crochet Basics" - I thought they would like that. the stockings I made for my sons' friend Paul was a hit, too, so sound like I did okay for myself.

I got two new (to me) crochet books, "Simply Crochet" and "Answers to Crochet Questions". I think they will be pretty neat. And I also got one of the famed "Knifty Knitter" that's all the talk on Crochet Partners. I am intrigued by it, but haven't started anything on it yet. I need to finish a few things that I didn't make for Christmas. After that, it will be time for a new project.

The most amazing thing happened today - well, amazing for me. I visited both Michael's and A.C. Moore to pick up a magazine and left without buying_anything_. Not that they didn't have stuff I wanted, they did, but I just wanted to get the magazine. I have more than enough stash to work with for quite a few months (okay, a few _years_) ;) so I just didn't want to add to the stash at that point. I'll probably feel differently in a week or two.

If I don't get back here before New Years, I wish you peace and love for the upcoming year. And
more crocheting and less ripping out your projects.

ta ta for now

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Christmas decorating idea;)

Click here: A darned cute Christmas thing... (sockbug.blog-city.com)

No, I didn't steal it from Martha Stewart and I didn't come up with the idea originally, but it's pretty darn cool.

For me, I'd need a bigger tree. and with 4 cats in the house, they'd think the tree was a giant plaything (oh, wait, they think that _now_).

_enjoy_

Link

Friday, December 16, 2005

down to the wire

Well, I have finished _most_ of the items I intend to give as gifts. The "Harry Potter" type scarf didn't turn out as well as I expected. I tried using an afghan hook but my stitches were too loose. I was much too impatient to try a smaller hook. That's not the reason, however, I'm not thrilled with the scarf. I think I needed to study the photo a bit more or have a better photo to analyze. I believe the gold stripes are a bit too wide. No matter, I will give it to my older sister anyway. It's still soft and warm, so it will work.
I had crocheted a simple scarf for my older son. I thought that was fine, just plain black Red Heart yarn. However, he told my youngest sister he preferred a longer scarf. So I defringed it and make it about 2 feet longer. I think it's longer than he is tall, and he's 6'2". I prefer long scarves myself, but since I'm only 5'6", it's difficult to judge how long something is on someone much taller.

I haven't really had much time to think about crochet. I ususally crochet in the car on the way to work, but it's been so cold in the mornings. And of course, it's so dark at night, how can you see to crochet? Plus work has been a pain in the butt, so even when I get home, I don't fell like trying anythinig new crochet wise. Hopefully after the holidays, things will ease up and I'll be able to think of something besides what a pain in the butt work is;)

I'm debating whether to crochet another stocking for my younger son's friend. I didn't realize he would be spending Christmas Day with us and his stocking is small compared to my two sons' stockings. Maybe I'll just crochet a bag or something, I don't know. I don't feel "with it" enough to crochet another stocking, tho I'm sure I could whip thru it. Of course I still have to do things like bake, gather stuff to put _in_ the stocking, wrap presents, send cards - all the millions of things everybody else has to do. It will work out, it always does. Just sometimes I doubt it will.

Link

Friday, December 02, 2005

yarnneko



Link


Link

a new (to me) stitch

I have often tried to create the "basketwave" stitch - you know, the one where you go in the front posts of some stitches and back posts of other stitches, creating a raised stitch effect. For some reason, I have not been able to "get" this stitch.

Until this past Monday - on the way to work, with my younger son driving, I pulled out a hook and a skein of Lion Brand "Jiffy" in an off white color and calculated the stitches. I proceeded to crochet and *ah hah* the stitch made sense to me and it worked up wonderfully. I have finished about half of a scarf in that particular stitch (it's for my oldest sister) and I am quite pleased. I would have done one thing differently, though. I would had approxianately 4 rows of plain double crochet at the beginning (I didn't leave any) and 4 plain double crochets on the sides. I think it would have been neater. But I didn't feel strongly enough about it to rip it all out. I'll just put more of an edging on it than I normally would.

I received my order from Lion Brand's online shop yesterday. I had order the colors to make a Harry Potter school scarf and they look great. I'm going to make up a pattern for the "new" scarf, from the current movie. It should be relatively easy to do. It doesn't appear as if any special stitches are used. Yup, I know the original one was knit, but it should be relatively easy to convert to crochet. Maybe I'll feel ambitious and try the afghan / Tunisian stitch on it.

At any rate, that's where the crocheting stands now. I have finished a pair of the stocking earrings and promptly misplaced them during the preparations for Thanksgiving dinner. I will have to do that again. Of course, I didn't write it down - that would make it _too_ easy;)


Link

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I'm still here

Nope, I didn't fall off the edge of the earth. Just like most people in the U.S., I was getting ready for Thanksgiving. I was lucky enough to have what's left of my extended family come over last Saturday and that was good. I also had an opportunity to give my older neice the skinny scarf I made for her out of Bernat's "Disco" in purple and black (sorry, I don't remember the yarn names.) They are purple and black for the Baltimore Ravens - she's a football fan.

Than I made my older son a black wide scarf out of Caron's "Pounder" yarn. The temperature has dropped drastically and he was waiting for public transportation in the cold, so I thought that would be a good idea. It's fairly plain, just row upon row of double crochet. I probably would have made it in the "Harry Potter" colors, but I didn't have the particular colors on hand. Maybe next time.

Yesterday was Black Friday and I had to work. I don't think I would have been out at 5am at the Wal-Mart* (looks like that was a _good_thing, too). But I would have liked to have made it to A.C. Moore or Michael's or Jo-Anne Fabrics for their early bird sale. Of course, they have a discount for the early birds, but I bet it was _crowded_, too. I did visit Michael's today, as they had a coupon for 20% off of everything up until noon. I like Michael's but wasn't too fond of whatever fragrance they had going on there, a combination of pine and pumpkin pie and something else. At first I thought it was just the candles, but it still smelled strong where the yarn is kept. I can only guess they must be pumping the smell in. It's not for me.

I guess if anybody wanted the "traditional" Christmas yarn, they must have purchased it already. They certainly wouldn't find any of it at Michael's. Apparently, the yarnaholics that didn't have to work Friday hit their yarn department pretty hard. Oh well, hopefully that kept more money in my pocket;)

I only have one crochet project in mind to finish before Christmas. Since I haven't started it yet, it should make things a bit more challenging. But I do have the supplies and the pattern, so that's about 75% of the work there. I'm altering an existing pattern to reflect more of what I want to achieve. I don't know how well that plan will work out, but I'm willing to give it a try. Currently I am working on a scarf in the Caron "Rainbow Tones". Interesting effect, but I'm a little disappointed. I'm not really sure exactly what I expected, I guess for the yarn to be more red than rose. But it is working up nicely.

* I get no kickbacks from any of the stores I mentioned. However, if they want to give me a kickback, I'll be happy to take it and I'll tell you folks about it so maybe you can get in on that deal;)
Link

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The sock earrings and other adventures

So far I haven't quite mastered the sock earrings - something about turning the heel isn't quite working for me, but I will keep on trying to get this right. My cat Spike has decided that the little socks are _his_ plaything, but I don't know why.

I've gotten some great ebay deals from arhett, who is selling lots of new Red Heart Supersaver yarn*. I also purchased Carolyn Christmas Savage's new booklet on amiragurami (I know I messed that up) animals. Pretty cool.

I've been working on scarves for "Crocet With Dee"'s challenge of 60 scarves in 60 days. SO far I have 5 done, working on my sixth.

Target has their yarn on sale for a quarter a skein. Look for it in the front of the store where their $1 section is, they also have Halloween stuff on sale if you're interested.

Wednesday I plan to get on a plane and see how security is. The plan is to crochet some preemie hats and maybe a Christmas stocking on the long flight to California. I'm not taking scissors, just one of those yarn cutting medalions. I haven't been on a plane for about 8 years, so I'm sure there have been a lot of changes in the check in process.








*If you don't like Red Heart, that's cool, just don't bother telling me about it. I don't like brussel sprouts but I don't email people about it.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I'm still standing

Okay, I have been away for a while. Between work and everything else going on, I haven't felt like posting or crocheting too much. But I'm starting to get some semblance of normalcy, at leat for a while.

I finished my friend's wrap. It was going to be a poncho, but my brain forgot how to make it work. I tried for 2 days and gave up because I just couldn't figure it out, even when I looked at a poncho I ahad already finished. It's like that sometimes - well, at least for me it is.

I received the Bernat's free "Disco" yarn - it's a rich turquoise color. Some folks have complained, but I am willing to pay a reasonable postage to take it off their hands;) It definitely brightened up my week. My skein came from Mary Maxim's, which really confused me. I didn't remember ordering anything from them for a while. They also include a $5 off certificate for their catalog, which was thoughtfully provided.
I took 2 different skeins (black and purple, for my neice who likes the Ravens football team) and made a skinny long scarf. It worked up very quickly and it doesn't shed as some "fur" yarns tend to do.

Paton's has a contest for $500 worth of Paton's Yarns. You can only enter once a day per household. I, of course, have been entering each day (when I remember) in hopes that I'll get more yarn because I so _need_ yarn . Okay, I don't need it but I want it. But maybe _you_ really need it - here's the site:

Click here: Patons Yarns: Just Crochet it!

I am also working on making little sock earrings. I think I almost have it sussed out, this third sock looks more sock like than the first two. If I figure this out (and I hope to in the next few days, barring any disasters such as overtime from work) I'll post it. I was thinking of making a set baby colors for my sister-in-law because she works in the NICU where I donate my preemie hats. It would be cute to make them in Christmas colors, too. I'll see how it works out.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

getting better

Slowly but surely I am starting to crochet again. I made 2 preemie caps this week, not a big deal, but a start. And I finished half the poncho I am working on, so that's a plus for me. I skipped A.C.Moore's "Moonlight Madness" sale tonight because I really don't need any more yarn and I'd just buy more if I was there. I could probably insulate the house with the yarn I've got everywhere. It might be a good idea with the price of gas these days.

I looked at a lot of crochet blogs as part of my "rehab" - *wow* those people are so talented. It's almost intimidating to see what has been created, but it's also inspiring, too. The photos are great and lots of people post their patterns, which seems very generous of them. I have to tell you, tho, some of the color schemes I don't "get" but I've never been a slave to fashion. Actually, more of a fashion victim;)

Outside of that, nothing to really report. Just the usual go to work, come home routine. SOme days are better than others. I may have more time to crochet this weekend, I'm having a d&c on Thursday and am supposed to "take it easy" the rest of the weekend. That depends on whether the weather is nice. I have a lot of yard work to do before it gets too cold. But one day of crocheting...., well that would be pretty cool.





Link

Thursday, September 29, 2005

crocheter's block & scraps

I've been quiet of late, as has been my crochet hooks. The last thing I crocheted, the lion for my nephew, was cremated with him and the ashes were scattered at a special place. I haven't even made any preemie caps. And the poncho I was working on is just sort of sitting there, waiting for me to pick it up again. There is no doubt about the fact that I have crocheter's block, but given all that has happened in the last few weeks, it's a wonder I even think about crochet.

I've had some very bright moments - Beatriz Medina sent me some gorgeous doilies. She does such great work and to know she was thinking of me really brightened up my whole day. I plan to take photos of them (really this time....I _got_ to learn how to use the camera - the last time I ended up taking a dark movie of my bunny - and I don't mean "dark" as in subject matter, I mean you could barely see it) and post them. They are absolutely gorgeous. My wrist gives me a fit sometimes working with baby yarn, I can't imagine working in thread.

And some kind souls from this site (and a few others) sent me notes of sympathy. I really aprreciate that, it helps to know other people are thinking of me and my family. Other kind souls sent some baby yarn (it was a swap thing), which of course I haven't started using yet.

But since I have a day off from work, I intend to surf the internet and hopefully find some sites to inspire me. If you ever get a chance to look at other folks' blogs, take it. People are doing some amazing crocheting, technique as well as what they are creating. I have a feeling once I start poking around, I may pick a short project just to give myself a jump start.

Did anyone else enter the Lion Brand Yarn slogan contest? I did but I didn't win, so you got to take the next statement with the knowledge that I would have loved to win $100 worht of Lion products. I wasn't too terribly impressed with the slogans - "I crochet, therefore I am" (there's also a knitting variation). "Just one more row". Certainly good slogans, but nothing that really jumps out. But maybe that's just me, too. I am in a funk. It was even easy to go to A.C. Moore and limit the amount of yarn I bought. If that's not a tipoff that I'm not entirely with it, I don't know what is.

But hopefully the next time I post, I will at least post some great photos. And maybe I will share some of the inspiring sites I intend to find. Things _will_ get better....

Monday, September 12, 2005

crushed

I guess I am kind of lucky I crochet, it keeps me from going totally insane. Tuesday was a bad day at work....too much work and not enough people. Wednesday was the most horrible day of all - my 29 year old nephew died for no apparent reason (as of right now - no drugs or foul play, the coroner claims everything is "normal"). And Thursday I decided to have a medical emergency that put me on bedrest all weekend.

I was trying to crochet a poncho for a friend of mine. I had to frog it because the stitches became _way_ too tight. I guess my tension level was up. It went from being about 23 inches long to about _17_. That is not a good thing.

Sadly, I turned to making something to put in my nephew's casket. He was my first nephew, the first baby I made a toy for that I was related to, the first grandchild, the whole bit. I had made him a lion and a baby afghan. (I also made him, much later, a circus train afghan, one you could take the animals out of the cages and play with them.) I made another lion, bright yellow with a white mane and a white tail. I embroidered the goofy smiley face I use for all my stuffed toys. Than I put it to the side. I was hoping by not looking at it anymore that I wouldn't realize the loss that was sustained.

But it became real for me tonight when I placed the lion in the casket. I remembered the little baby boy he was and just broke down. It felt so horribly wrong to be there, to be placing the lion there. I kept saying to my sisters "This is _wrong_, we shouldn't be doing this".

But it would be _wrong_ not to have done that for him. There's nothing more I can physically do for him, it's the only way I know how to show my love, and for that, I guess I am kind of lucky I crochet.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Yarn Whisperer

Lots of people will buy the yarn winders that they sell on Ebay - they even have electric ones as well as "old fashioned" ones. They range in price (currently) from about $2.76 (American - that one is coming from the UK so the postage might be a bit much) to about $150, with most prices currently in the $30 range.

Herschners (as well as other needlework shops) sells them
http://herrschners.com/products/product.aspx?sku=011600

I was lucky because my brother picked up for me at a thrift shop. I've never used it yet. I keep saying "oh, next time I'll use it" but I don't. But my favorite yarn winder, the one that I could count on making sure the yarn was wound with just enough tension, was my dad.

Apparrently, my dad did not always live with his mom, but with friends/relatives of his mom. One couple he stayed with I only know as Aunt Lil and Uncle Herb. I never met them and I have no idea if they were related by blood to my father or that was just what he was taught to call them.

Aunt Lil must have done a lot of needlework. She taught my dad how to wind a ball of yarn _perfectly_. No knots, no frays, no tangles. He also enjoyed winding embroidery floss so it could be easily used. His goal was always to wind the yarn with no knots - that was a point of pride with him. He'd tease out the yarn slowly and methodically. If it wouldn't unravel from one end, he'd start at the other. He said it relaxed him to wind yarn.

Of course, I loved it. "Back in the day" there weren't too many pull skeins of yarn. Whoever came up with that great idea was, well, brillant. So before I would start a project, Dad would wind the yarn for me. He'd drink his coffee and I'd drink my tea and we would talk about anything and everything under the sun. I never realized how much we communicated over that simple act. We'd talk about anything from what the yarn was going to be used for to the feasibility of life on other planets. Sometimes he seemed disappointed if I bought the pull skeins. I was a_spoiled_brat_.

I thought of this recently when I came across some yarn that needed to be wound. It would need to be placed over a chair and carefully wound. My sons wind the yarn too tight. My hubby has _way_ too much to do. And my dad has been gone for over 24 years. (No, the yarn hasn't waited _that_ long to be wound;)) I'll get around to winding one day, when I'm tired and I want to do "something" but feel too tired to work on or begin a project. And when I do, I'll drink tea and think of those evenings spent with my dad. And that will relax me.


And by the way, no kickbacks from any of these folks to me.....

Friday, September 02, 2005

Hurricaine Katrina

I'm a big believer in helping others out. Hurricaine Katrina has destroyed a huge chunk of the gulf coast area and those people need help. But be careful - there are always "scam artists" trying to get rich off of some tradgedy. So what can you do?

Some folks suggested sending yarn, hooks, needles to the areas the survivors are being housed. I disagree simply because if my whole life was destroyed by an act of nature, I'm living in a shelter and have no idea if I will ever be able to go back to my hometown, the last thing I want to think about is crocheting. Yes, it _is_ soothing. But between the stifling heat, the crowding and the anxiety, I wouldn't be able to crochet.

If you choose, you can donate to the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org) or the Salvation Army (
http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/). If you are planning to donate money, you may want to check with your employer - some employers are matching funds that are donated to the relief effort.
You can also choose to make something to sell for money - you can contact Etsy.com (
CraftRevolution.etsy.com)
and see what you could sell (or buy) to help support the relief effort. There are some beautiful items on that list - some is jewelry, some knit, some crochet. Any donation, no matter how small you think it is, will make a big difference. I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do - it's overwhelming to see it on the tv. But I got to do _something_.



Sunday, August 28, 2005

revisited: the world's fastest crocheter

This is a great article about Lisa Gentry, the current world's fastest crocheter.
http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art34316.asp
Eva Owsian does an excellent Q&A with M's Gentry. I've never seen that particular website before, but M's Owsian has interviews with various crocheters that are great - she asks the questions I would ask if I were given the opportunity.

I didn't realize I had done business with M's Gentry before, thru her website, http://www.caneyladyscreations.com/

I have purchased several of her patterns and they are very clear and concise, just what you are looking for in a crochet pattern. I just wanted to revisit this lovely lady and through the article on BellaOnLine, I did.

I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Free patterns until September 1, 2005

There's a great website that has some very cool free crocheting (and knitting) patterns. THe company, Solutia, intends to pull the plug on it on September 1, 2005. I suggest you get your mouse over to
http://www.acrilan.com/patterns.html
before they close it down. A lot of great designers (Katherine Eng and Melissa Leapman among them) have patterns posted there. One of my favorites is the daffodil afghan. The stained glass quilt afghan is also posted there. But there's a lot of other patterns might interest you more.

Go check it out - you know you want to;) And just think, the money you save on patterns could go towards more yarn or thread....you're actually _saving_ money by looking at this;)

Robin





Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"Family Circle Easy Crochet"

First off, none of these people / companys mention give me anything for mentioning them.


It's out! You might find it at Michael's or A.C. Moore or maybe a bookstore such as Barnes and Noble or Borders. Some newstands carry a variety of magazines, but not the ones around me. Or else I go at the wrong time. The last time I was at one particular newstand, the clerk _grilled_ me over my magazine choice, I think it was "Crochet Fantasy". She did not believe anybody read those magazines or made the projects. I stopped going to that particular newstand.

Anyway, it's got some interesting patterns, a few that look sort of familiar, some pictures of some great hooks from http://brainsbarn.com/
and of course a lot of great looking yarn. But one of the most interesting ads are for a free skein of Bernat's Disco yarn http://www.bernat.com/
It's not often you get a magazine and _free_ yarn. You've probably seen this yarn, it looks like a metallic garland, sort of what you'd put on a Christmas tree. It would be quite stylish as a scarf or maybe as a trim on something special. And you can't argue with the price, unless you really like to argue.

I am hoping they make this magazine as maybe twice a year (or more) but we'll see what happens. Right now I think the powers that be are waiting for the financial results.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

crochet calendar :(

I got the pattern a day crochet calendar. It's got some wonderful patterns in it - no, really it does.
I'm just a tad disappointed in it, though. I submitted a pattern, got the acceptance letter and thought my pattern would be in the calendar. It wasn't. I emailed the nice lady and she explained that there wasn't enough room. And somehow the email telling me it wouldn't be inthe calendar never got sent. :( It isn't really a "pattern a day" - some patterns run over 2 or 3 days, but there is well over 300 patterns in the calendar. I was told it could be in the next one, if I wanted it to be. I feel kind of silly because I told people "yup, I got a crochet pattern published". But that's the breaks of the game, isn't it? I know of designers who are having their work held up for a very _long_ time, so this is not that big a deal. okay, I wasn't a happy camper yesterday, it has been an ugly week, but in the whole scheme of the world, it really isn't something to get bent out of shape about.

The patterns are _truly_ amazing. There are thread bears, some fascinating granny squares as well as an assortment of hats and scarfs. I was really impressed with the gloves, they look so _cool_. All the work looked terrific and congratulations to everybody who had a part in putting this calendar together. It's supposed to become a tradition and I hope it does.

One thing I don't care for is that all the pages are loose. I don't normally get a day by day calendar, so maybe this is how they are set up. I would have preferred a wire bound calendar, but that's just _me_. It does come in a box that allows the paged to "sit up" and I guess you put older pages in the back of the newer pages. If you're interested in the calendar, they do sell it at major book stores as well as Amazon. (nope, no kickbacks for me)

While we're on the subject of crochet calendars, I have a story to share with you. A long time ago, "Annie's Attic" would put out a crochet calendar, a pattern per month. I thought this was a _great_ idea, bought one and hung it up where I was working at the time. It's really cool to be able to look at something other that a computer monitor all day and the patterns, as of all "Annie's Attics" pattern, were generally good. Other people had their calendars up - my youngest sister, who worked across the aisle from me had her calendar up - "The Men of Chippendales". Not a big deal.

Around the middle of March, I was called into the office of my supervisor. Apparently, somebody had complained _long_ and_hard_ about my calendar, claiming it was "sexual harassment". I thought this was a big joke. Than I was told I had to take the calendar _down_. I asked why. Seems as if a guy who was working there was "offended" by my calendar. I went back to my desk and showed it to my supervisor, asking him to show me the offending bits. He couldn't. But I _still_ had to take it down. Not one to go gently, I pointed out my sister had a Chippendale calendar, surely he must have meant _that_ calendar. No, my supervisor said, he said "Robin's calendar". So I took it down and put it in my desk at work. No more could I look at intricate stitches when I should have been thinking about work. No more would anybody be offended by seeing "mile-a-minute" afghans or *shudder* half double crochet stitches in all their sensual glory.

As for my sister's calendar, well, it stayed up the whole year. _Nobody_ complained about it, leaving me to wonder what kind of fruit loops I worked with - apparently those who were turned on by crochet. Good thing they didn't know I had a pattern book in my bag most days - I can't imagine what would have happened to me;) But one thing I learned - I never hung up another crochet calendar at work, it's just too risky;)


Link

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Organized;)

okay, so I didn't get it _all_ organized. I did find out I have at least 2 totes of yarn in the living room. I wonder how we found anything;)

I used some clear plastic pencil cases from Wal-Greens (nope, no kickback) to store such things as embroidery needles, yarn needles and sewing needles. That cuts down on finding them in the rug in my bare feet. I used a plastic food container (Glad? maybe) to store the "daisy looms" that I have. I keep thinking I'm going to do that and I probably will, but just not right now. And I got something pretty neat at big lots, it's like a huge zippered pencil bag. It has two pockets. So far, the steel hooks are living in 1 pocket, the larger hooks in the larger pocket. I will probably get a pencil case like I used for the needles for the steel hooks. I probably will also get another large zippered bag for the afghan hooks & the cro-hooks. I haven't figured out how to store the huge tunsian crochet hooks yet.

This is a good time to get organized because of the school supplies being sold everywhere. Pencil bags can be decorative or clear. I like decorative, but clear is better for me so I can see what I have in the bag. You can even pick up what I have heard called a "retro PDA". I've been using this for years and never heard that term. It's index cards! Yup, just like the ones you'd get at Office Depot, Office Max or Staples. You can get a small plastic box to carry them with you. That way, if you're at the grocery store and the way the eggplant looks next to the squash, you can make a note to yourself about it, maybe even jot down a design. I like the index cards that are in a wirebound notebook. The index cards stay together and makes it harder to lose them if they are bound together.

*sheesh* all this organizing and nothing about the actual act of crocheting! That's the problem, organizing takes away the time. But it also gives the time back to you. That way you're not searching everyplace for your "H" hook or your yarn needles. It's a definite trade off.

As always, I receive _no_ kickbacks_ from any of these companies. Really, I _can _be bribed;)
Just nobody tries to;)

Link

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Scrips and scraps

I have been lucky the last couple of days - I hit the used bookstore and found a _lot_ of old crochet patterns. A lot of the patterns are in thread, which I don't do very well, but they are still _beautiful_ to look at. Plus I may give them to somebody who _does_ do threadwork. I have an absolutely _beautiful_ doily made for me by a great crocheter (Beatriz) in Brasil. I have it in a very special place, under the teddy bear my older son gave my mom on my older son's first Christmas - that was his present to his grandmother. I keep it on a special shelf, with the doily displayed around the bear. It really soothes me to look at both items.

Here's something else for you - a barefoot sandal pattern
http://freecrochetpatterns.lionbrand.com/patterns/cms-barefootSandal.html
It's really nifty looking and if you're able to wear that type of sandal, a lovely pattern. (nope, I don't get a kickback form Lion Brand for mentioning it.)

But speaking of Lion Brand, they have a newsletter and in it, they mention having blogs. They have 2 already, but both are about knitting. They ask "what kind of blog would you have?" and I gave the info on this blog. If I'd been a little slower starting or they'd been a little faster, I might have been posting there instead of here. Not a big deal.

I don't want to brag (okay, I do) but I got a lovely gift from my beloved today. We celebrate almost anything around here, but he's the _real_ romantic and gave me a gift for the anniversary of our first date. I got 2 pairs of crochet hook earrings and a crochet hook key chain. These hooks are small, but they are _fully_ functional and very pretty. Here's the info for them http://stores.ebay.com/Jans-Hooks-and-Needles
(nope, no kickback from them, either. I can be bribed;) but I'm not that important for anyone to bother bribing me;))

It's been _too_ hot_ for afghans, so I've being working on preemie hats. They don't lay in your lap and make you warm like an afghan does. And the hats work up quickly, so I feel as if I have accomplished _something_ in this heat.

I really don't have too much more to say. Tomorrow I'm going to try something new - organize my hooks by sizes and types. I have many aluminum (mostly Boyes) and some steel (oh wait, they are _Boyes_ too;)). I am hoping that will make it easier to find the right size hook instead of digging thru the pencil case bags I've been using. We shall see.


Link

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

another turtle

I _must get some pictures taken and loaded. I see other folks' blogs and am absolutely _amazed_ at what they have created. I doubt anybody would be amazed at my work, but what the heck, I'd post it anyway.

I finished another turtle, this one is cream & yellow, to go with a "mile-a-minute" baby afghan I just finished. I'm not sure how much I like it - it's pastels and a lot of people like that for a baby, but I'm not really a "pastel person". I'd like to try the turtle that was on the "Crochet World" cover, I think it was in June 2005, the turtle is wearing a diaper. It looks really cute. But my head is giving me a fit (probably allegeries or sinuses, something like that), so I have been making preemie hats. They are pretty quick to make and give me the satisfaction of getting something done.

I am also reconsidering doing the curtains I planned. I had originally intended to use a filet pattern, a lion in profile, to do this project. I used worsted weight and the pattern to make an afghan and it turned out great. But now I'm thinking I should try to match the valance a little better. I think I'm just making the project a little more difficult;) I have to ponder it a bit more. When I was younger and had more time to crochet, I'd jump into projects, trying to work them out as I go along. Now I want to have a pretty clear idea of what I'm trying to accomplish - "frogging" 10 rows definitely does not appeal to me and would cut into the time I have to crochet. And of course since I'm older, I don't work on a project after midnight - that's when I make _all_sorts of mistakes. I had to learn that the hard way, but at least I remember it now;)

If I could only learn how to crochet with my feet, I could crochet at work....




Saturday, August 06, 2005

You only get what you give & other scraps of yarn

First, some fun stuff. This comic strip is "Pickles" and this particular one has to do with crochet. I thought it was funny so here is the info:


http://www.comics.com/webmail/ViewStrip?key=38625826-e7df60b5f4-FF

This disclaimer: I get no kickback from anybody mentioned here.


That being said, now for the other part - "you only get what you give". I won't bore you with my religious beliefs, except to say I have them. One thing I definitely believe is you have to "serve somebody", that if you can, you should give back to the world / community anyway you can. Maybe it's teaching crochet to kids. Maybe it's donating yarn to "Warm Up America" (http://www.warmupamerica.com/). You can pick a charity such as "Project Linus" (http://www.projectlinus.org/) to make blankets for kids. Or maybe you would prefer "Hugs for Homeless Animals - the Snuggle Project" (http://www.h4ha.org/snuggles/). I've dealt with all of these organizations at one time or another and feel I can recommend them to you, if that's what you're interested in.

I also make preemie hats for the hospital my sons were born in - no, they weren't preemies but my sister-in-law is a NICU nurse and there's always a need for that sort of thing. Lion Brand Yarn website has a free preemie hat pattern available (http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/cja-preemie.html) Sometimes I donate items for craft fairs where all the money is going to support a particular charity. Those invitations usually come over a crochet list - if I can, I try to support these groups*.

For those of you who have a competitive edge, I suggest "Bev's Charity Challenge" (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bevs-charity-challenge/). I participate in this group and I am amazed that thru the challenge, I was able to accomplish more than my original goal for this year. No one forces you to make a certain amount, you set your goal and you chart it. Occasionally, there will be a challenge for "how much can be made" by a certain deadline, but you choose whether you want to participate in that challenge. I find that keeping track of what I am doing helps me do more.

One final group I'd like to mention is "The Chain Gang" (http://www.thechaingangs.org/), a group of kids with various problems trying to earn money to go to the Special Olympics. I have donated some items for them to sell thru their craft fair and they sent me a very sweet thank you note with a granny square attached.

You can pick your own group, go off and do your own thing or even start your own group for charity crochet. You can only crochet so many afghans before your family pleads "No more" as the afghans tumble around them. I hope my little essay / rant has inspired you to pick up the hook for charity. Even if you only make _1_ hat, that's one more person's whose head will be warm because of _you_.


*Suggestion for those soliciting for donations from other crafters. Please be sure to send a thank you, perhaps with a few lines on how the item received was handled. Yeah, I _know_ it sounds petty but it lets the crafter know the item(s) were received and put to good use, as opposed to beung worn by the gnomes on a remote, windswept Wyoming guinea pig ranch.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Lily VS Lisa

The great race has been completed and a winner decided. No, I don't mean the "Tour De France", I mean the world's fastest crocheter race. Here's the link:

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/news/072205_nw_knitting.html

First off, I get no kickbacks from either of these ladies, but I have purchased and used some of Lily Chin's books. I don't know Lisa but if she has published patterns, I probably have some of hers, too.

Lisa won with an impressive 107 stitches to Lily's 82. I'm not sure of the time period this encompasses, I think 3 minutes. That's pretty _amazing_, I wonder what kind of hook she used? I bet it was a Boye hook, but I'd say that because they are my _favorite_ hooks. The Addi hooks are supposed to be fast, but I've never tried them yet. Yes, even though the Boyes are my favorites, I stray from time to time. But I always come back to my beloved Boyes;) Perhaps Lisa will get a crochet hook deal? Lily Chin already has her own brand of yarn out, as well as several pattern books. At any rate, I wish both parties the best of luck in their future endeavors (and if they want to give me some yarn or something, that's cool too;))

A lot of people feel speed is not something that should be considered for crocheting. After all, crocheting is fun and you probably shouldn't hurry fun. But I can tell you when you start crocheting, it's _all_ about picking up speed. I remember the first afghan I made (okay, I sort of made it. My older sister Bee helped a _lot_ with it). It seemed to take me forever to get a row done. It wasn't even a hard afghan, just stripes of double crochet. I never thought I'd finish it. Now I could whip right thru it, providing there was enough on tv I wanted to watch. I'm not saying everybody should strive to be superfast - that's up to you. But becoming accomplished in your field of interest is a good thing.

That's part of the reason I have so much trouble with knitting. It seems to take me forever to knit a scarf, and again, a simple garter stitch pattern. And when I drop a stitch - well, it's not a pretty site. I will rip it out and begin again, this time crocheting. I imagine if I tried harder and practiced more, I'd get the hang of knitting. But crocheting is so much more_fun_. You can immediately see where you're going with it and what shape your object is taking. You're making a hat, you can see what shape and how big the hat will be within a few rows. Knitting takes longer to get to that point. Crocheting to me seems to be a more fluid art form.

Oh, yes, I said "art form". Crocheting is an art form - maybe a wearable art if it's a sweater or even functional art if it's mittens. A beautiful doily is a truly a work of art. It is art in one of the purest forms - the artist, the medium, the tool. Unless you figure paint or use your hands to sculpt, you can't get much closer to creating art than fiber arts such as crochet and embroidery. (Yeah, I know knitting, sewing & quilting are in that catagory, too, but this is_my_blog - I get to emphasize what I want to.)

So there you go, future speedy crocheters - the number to beat is 107. I don't think I'm capable of going that fast, but I wish I could. It would give me an excuse to buy more yarn;)

Monday, July 11, 2005

playing with loops & copyrights & patterns

I was in a Barnes and Noble bookstore checking out the craft books recently. I got a really neat one from Carolyn Christmas, it has the "tumbling blocks" baby afghan pattern. (nope, no kickback from either of those two mentions.) I also spotted a knitting book that used an idea I was kicking about in my head - it has items (I presume more than one, since I didn't pick up the book) made from loops. I was surprised, I just had presumed I was the only one kicking it about in my head. Actually, I still am because I am talking about crochet loops, not knit ones.

This brings up a very intriguing thought - who is copying who? Obviously, the writer put the book out _first_ so the argument could be I was copying the writer. But since I don't knit that well and I thought of crochet _before_ seeing the book, I couldn't be copying from the author.

That's where copyright gets kind of weird. There's tons of patterns for granny square ponchos, but they fit the same basic directions - lay the squares out in a certain way and sew then or crochet them together. So who owns that pattern? Who could claim it, anyway, since granny squares seem to have been around forever? Or how about the big deal about Martha Stewart's poncho? There's at least 3 different versions of that floating around the internet. You could create the same item at home, not realizing a designer is creating it someplace else.

I won't pretend to be an expert on copyright. You can surf the net and learn about these things. But the most important thing is if _you_ think it's wrong, it probably is. That goes for copying patterns for your friends or selling copies as your own design. You can't sell the item you make unless the author gives you permission to do so. (Some patterns state you can sell the item, as long as you don't claim the pattern. If you are in doubt, don't use somebody else's pattern.)

You can avoid this problem by making up your own patterns. And it's really not that difficult - all you need is the time to create an a general idea of what you want to make. FOr me, I sketch what I'm trying to accomplish on paper. Okay, scrawl would be the better term, but it helps me see how the item will turn out. Sometimes I actually make a paper pattern (out of old grocery bags or newspapers) so I can clearly see what shape I am trying to make. I would guess this helps me because I used to help my older sister cut out clothes' patterns and I could clearly see the shape the garment was taking. So I have been scrawling loops and such to make this scarf come out how I picture it. It's working up fine, using Lion Brand's Homespun (no, no kickback from these folks - I just _love_ their yarn). And while I play with it, I get more ideas of what to do with my loops. I plan to write them down and try them out. ANd I think I will try to post some pictures when I get finished, so you can see what I'm tinkering with when I should be cleaning my house;)

Robin

Thursday, July 07, 2005

a lot on Ebay about crochet stuff

Sooner or later, if you're surfing the internet, you will happen upon Ebay. Ebay is loaded with things to purchase, but I'm going to talk about crochet stuff to buy.I have purchased a lot of great crocheting items and have had no problems so far. (no, I get no kickback from Ebay or the products I'm mentioning.)

If you're looking for a fancy crochet hook, there are plenty available. There's specialty hooks that are beautiful - Graydog Hooks, Clark Carved Hooks, Sonshapes Hooks, SilverGoose Hooks, UnclePawPaw hooks, BearCrazyMan hooks, AJ's One of a Kind hooks and Sharky hooks just to name a few. These are hand turned hooks, decorated with such things as lampwork beads, cats, bears and fish just to name a few. I don't own any of these (yet) but they are gorgeous looking.

Or maybe you're looking for the mass production hooks - you're also in luck. They have Boyes hooks, Susan Bates hooks, Lion Brand hooks, Coats and Clark hooks, Brittany hooks and Aero hooks just to name a few. Looking for a hairpin lace fork or afghan hooks - Ebay is likely to have them.

But_before_ you bid the grocery money on the hooks, take a close look at the description. Are you bidding for _one_ hook or all the hooks that are in the photo? Is this a hook that you may not be able to get locally or maybe it would cost more locally? Check the seller's description carefully. SOme people make the mistake of lumping knitting needles in with crochet hooks. That's fine if you want both, but if you only get 2 hooks out out a 15 "hook" offer, you may be disappointed. You also want to make sure you're not getting 15 size 10 steel hooks as opposed to 15 different size steel hooks.

I can't help you on the "vintage" hooks. I know nothing about them and so I don't buy them. If that's your interest, check out the description for dates and manufacturers' names. That way you have an idea of how "vintage" the hook is.

Be sure you check the postage and handling. A $1.25 hook isn't such a great bargain if you're paying $8.50 to have it shipped. And sometimes the sale is restricted to a particular country - some people won't ship overseas.

Last but not least, check the seller's feedback. You'll get an idea of how long the person has been selling and if the person is prompt in sending out orders. Remember a lot of times the "Ebay store" is a "mom and pop" type of operation, they don't have dozens of employees just sitting around waiting for your order. All the sellers I have dealt with have been very good - most of the sellers on Ebay are good. But if you do have a problem, try emailing your seller _first_ with your concern. THe package may on the way to you, if you contact the seller you will know when it was shipped. By contacting the seller directly, you can make sure there wasn't a problem with the package.

So now you have to excuse me. They have some fantastic yarn (all sorts - silk sari yarn, Berocco, Lion Brand, Paton, Red Heart, Caron...and more) on Ebay I want to get.


Have fun!

Monday, July 04, 2005

How can it be July already?

That's what I'm wondering, how did it get here so _quick_? I'm not ready.

Anyway, I have been working more than usual and only been working on scrunchies and preemie hats. Not the most exciting thing in the world, I'll admit, but I'm stitching along.

Click here: Submit a Slogan!

Currently Lion Brand Yarn is running a comtest to pick a new slogan for their coffee mugs. The current one is "So much yarn, so little time" or something along that line. It's a good one. If you submit a winning slogan, you get $100 worth of Lion Brand merchandise. (and if you win, I will cry _real_tears;))I wish I could think of a great slogan, but my mind is like old applesauce right now. $100 worth of Lion Brand merchadise, I think I'd have a hard time stopping at $100. I used the "Thick and Quick" chenille to make a poncho, it is _great_. (No, I don't get a kickback from them.)

Luckily, I got quite a stash of yarn, so even if I don't win, I can continue to crochet. When I was _much_ younger, I didn't have much of a stash and would have to rip stuff out so I could crochet again. There is something very soothing about crocheting, the repetition of the stitches, the smoothness of the hook - and the texture of the fabric that is being created. When I work on preemie hats, it's as if my hands are on automatic and the hat gets created without a lot of conscious thought on my part. It wasn't that way when I first started making them - with any new pattern I have to get used to the stitches and the shaping. But now, it's almost like a meditation to create the stitches.

I even find looking at yarn catalogs soothing. Reading about the various fibers and the colors makes me think about different projects I could make. This, believe or not, helps me sleep at night. I don't fret about the price of the yarn - mostly because I know I'm unlikely to buy it unless it's on sale;) And I think one of the best jobs in the world has to be naming the yarn - there's "Manhattan", "Paris" and "Moonglow" among others. I don't know how they come up with the names - if the particular names actually are related to the yarn or just the advertising department's creations. But they are fun to contemplate.

And I just remembered I was supposed to write down a pattern for somebody, something I was playing with......

Robin

Monday, June 27, 2005

The world's fastest crocheter, link

http://thenewsstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050626/NEWS01/506260318/1002

sorry, somehow I didn't post this to the original post about the world's fastest crocheter.

Robin

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The world's fastest crocheter

The link given is for the newspaper article about the new world's fastest crocheter - 170 stitches per minute! That's truly amazing. Now Lisa Gentry is the "Guiness Book of World Records" fastest crocheter. According to other groups, Lily Chin is the world's fastest crocheter.
(http://www.nyccrochetguild.org/Articles/NL200305/LilyChinonLateNightwithDa.html)

I presume there will be some sort of showdown between the two to figure out who _really_ is the world's fastest crocheter. THere's definite advantages to speed - you can get your projects done quicker, and as a result create more projects. It's easy to "whip something up" when you need a quick gift, provided you are willing to dip into your precious stash.

I do wonder if Lisa Gentry will receive the kind of press that Lily Chin has received. I also wonder if M's Gentry will have her own line of yarn, as M's Chin does. This should be interesting to watch, and hopefully, bring more attention to crocheting.

One interesting thing is both M's CHin and M's Gentry knit as well as crochet. I wonder if doing both arts would increase the speed for both.

And now I will wonder upstairs and try to figure out what kind of trouble I can get into next.

Robin

my leave

I was a bit under the weather of late, so I haven't posted anything. I also haven't _crocheted_ anything, so that tells you how bad I felt - still feel, but I'm better.

I did drop off the afghan & turtle today, as well as a shawl for my sister. I'm glad to get them out of the house, not because they take up a tremendous amount of room, but because now it feels like I finished those items.

THe project I am gearing up to work on is the filet lion curtains. I am using the pattern from "101 Filet Patterns" for the curtains, it's of a lion in profile. I've made some notations on it and I've got the yarn, just trying to get psyched up for it.

ah, well. Another weekend coming to an end (boo!) and another work week beginning. Hopefully I will be working on some preemie caps on the commute to work. I've felt too yucky to work on anything.

Enough of my whining for today.

Robin

Saturday, June 18, 2005

just a little rant

I watch tv and I am always surprised at the lack of hobbies of the females in the sitcom / drama type shows. For instance, "7th Heaven", the mom character is almost always in the kitchen chopping up vegetables. I know she's got about 127 kids living there, along with the various folks that wander in just in time for a meal, but *sheesh*, can't she do anything else? Her daughters or sons for that matter do not seem to have any hobbies (besides their "wacky plans" that always seem to self destruct).
Can't people have hobbies on tv?

One show I particularly like when I was a kid was "The Addams Family". Morticia (played by Carolyn Jones) always seemed to be doing _something_ besides being a wife and a mom. She tended her huge, strange plants. She also was seen knitting what appeared to be a very long scarf. She was always doing _something_ creative. I didn't really "get" knitting than (I still don't) but at least she was producing something.

Wouldn't it be _funny_ to see Rob Petrie open up the closet door and instead of walnuts falling out, it would be skeins of yarn? (What did Laura do all day?)Or how about Mrs Brady - she had 6 kids, but she also had a housekeeper. What did she do with her free time?

How about seeing somebody trying to hide their stash from their spouse? The spouse could think the other has some major item hidden and it would turn out to be yarn? e Or even produce something useful, that somebody would like to use? I would think it wouldn't be that to incorporate needlework into the fabric of a show. Supposedly there are lots of actors and actresses that do various types of needlework, so just slip it in there. I think a lot more shows would be more interesting if you were checking the progress of somebody's work - you could even tell if the shows were being aired out of sequence by the amount of work on the project.

I know it's silly to rant on this particular theme. After all, I'd be expecting the writers to think more about their characters than what they normally seem to do. But instead of seeing the same old plots played out the same old way, you could have the hubby get jealous when he found out wifey made a sweater for the old boyfriend. You could have wifey get mad because hubby builds a beautiful crib for a co-worker. And you can reverse the genders, just to have a bit of fun. But than you'd have to give these people enough intelligence to be able to follow a pattern and most tv characters are _not_ portrayed in that way.

enough of my rant for tonight.

Friday, June 17, 2005

*what I forgot to say

I forgot to say I don't get a kickback from Big Lots or any of the other companies I might mention. I'd take one if they were offering, I can be bribed with yarn, but so far, no offers.

I made one preemie hat today. I had been putting little curli-cues on the top of the hat, but some people thought that meant it was a "girl's hat" and didn't want their boys to wear it. It did look cute, but you can't always tell how many boys or girls or going to need a hat, so I stopped doing that. I'll probably do one once in a while becaue it's fun.

I think I should learn how to crochet with my feet. I certainly have enough hooks and yarn to be able to do that. But probably my feet would want their_own_hooks. or I'd say that just as an excuse to buy more hooks;)

later

Thursday, June 16, 2005

the turtle is finished

yes, finally I finished hin last night, embroidered the face & stuffed the little reptile. I don't quite like the face, the mouth is the wrong shade of red to me, but if I waited to find the right shade of red, the kid would be having a kid of his/her own.

I didn't crochet anything today, just sort of took a break. My right wrist is not happy when I crochet a lot. I could cure that by not working but how would I be able to afford yarn?

I see Lily Chin has her own line of yarn out. I wonder who is putting it out for her? I know she has done some design work for Lion Brand before, so maybe they are. Certainly she just didn't buy a yarn factory - or _did_she? hmmmmmm She will be on the "Do it Yourself" network which my stinky Comcast cable doesn't have, poor, poor, pitiful me;)

anyway, that's it's hot & sticky (that's the weather forecast for the rest of the summer for Baltimore and vicinities) and I got to go to work tomorrow. I think I will begin on the preemie caps again, but I just got all that great yarn from Big Lots*

decisions, decisions, again I wouldn't have this problem if I just stopped working....oh well.

Robin

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Almost finished

I've almost finished the baby afghan - 2 more rounds and it is _done_. Then there's the turtle, but that will be pretty easy.

A co-worker asked me about making a doll for her and how much would I charge. I told her I had to see the doll first before I could say anything about it. I'll be interested to see what this doll looks like and what's involved in making it.

Remember I was so proud I was using my stash? Well, of course I corrected that by adding more yarn to the stash. Big Lots had some fancy yarns (eyelash, fur) on sale for $2 a skein. Much better than $5 and upwards for the yarn. I never heard of the name brand but it feels great to touch. I thought I had enough but now I wonder if I should have purchased more in certain colors. There is _no_ satisfying a yarn addict.

That's it for now, it's late and I should go to bed. Later

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

a day without crochet

is like a day without sunshine;)

Remember I said I was "between projects"? Not too long after that, I got a call from my youngest sister, wanting me to make a baby afghan for one of her co-workers and she'd pay for it. I have no idea how much I'd charge (or even how much I'm likely to get;)), but I started on it right away. It's basically a white granny square, edged with one of the varigated bright yarns Red Heart* has out. I'm about halfway finished. After I finish the afghan, I will make a turtle to go with it. It's easier to use white and a bright varigated because at this point they don't know the sex of the baby. I should start taking photos of what I do, just so I have some sort of record of it. That way if I ever get stuck for an idea, I'll have inspiration right in front of me - or at least a way I solved a problem in the past.

I didn't buy new yarn for this afghan, I am using some of my stash. Yes, it's incredible, I am actually trying to reduce how much yarn I have. Or maybe I'm just making room for more yarn;) I_almost_ feel virtuous for using my stash yarn . Therefore it's as Martha Stewart would say, "a good thing". But I bet Martha Stewart doesn't have totes and totes of yarn everywhere;)

enough, it's too darn hot, and the night is young but I am not.

Robin

Sunday, June 05, 2005

a pause between projects

I am currently inbetweeen projects, which means I feel sort of aimless. I'm working on a granny square afghan, just one big granny square, but it's not for anybody in particular and it's sort of mindless work, which is probably what I need right now.

My next project, however, I got to do a little research on. It's going to be a filet lion standing in profile, to be made into a tier for the Kimba curtains we already have in our dining room. I've got to copy the pattern (it's in a filet crochet book, just the symbols) and make my notes on it. This one will require a bit more concentration on my part and hopefully, that will be what I need at this point in my life.

Before kids, I usually had a notebook crammed with projects I intended to make - Christmas gifts, birthday presents, all sorts of stuff. I'd have references on colors, yarns and patterns. That went out the window when I had my first son over 25 years ago. I know other people are more organized then I am, but I still don't know how they do it.

But I exchanged the planning and deadlines for something else - a spontinaity I didn't know existed. Sometimes I'd come home from work and a teddy would have to be repaired. Or maybe one of the boys would think of a new toy that I could make for them. And of course, I became the "Bob Mackie" of the stuffed animal world. I did make clothes for Barbie(tm) for my neice, but not as frequently as coming up with something new for some furry friend. I enjoyed this because I'd use socks when I was a little girl to make clothes for my dolls. Now I could create clothes and now get into trouble with my mom;). Somehow, mom's don't like it when you cut up the baby's socks to make clothes. They don't seem to understand the importance of it.

There's only 1 small child in the family to make something for and that's my grandnephew, who I hardly ever see. But I'm making a mental list of what I want to make if I am lucky enough to become a grandmother. And I continue to make crocheted toys to give to friends.

And that wil have to hold me until such time a grandbaby shows up.

one of my favorite stitches

I happen to like the half double crochet very much - it's not used in a lot of patterns, but I use it when I'm making something up. If you have a varigated yarn and alternate a single crochet and a half double crochet, you get a very nice effect with the colors. If you have a nicely textured yarn like Lion Brand's "Homespun"* and use the same technique, you get a nice effect with the texture. All you have to do is have an uneven amount of the foundation chain, so you are always putting the half double crochet on top of the single crochet & vice versa.

I know, nothing really earth shattering or insightful, just singling out a stitch that doesn't get used that much.

Robin

Saturday, June 04, 2005

a must to avoid

Crocheting gifts teaches you that not everybody appreciates a crocheted gift (or knitted for that matter). Visit any thrift shop and you'll normally see a few afghans, scarfs as well as some doilies. Yeah, some people are probably cleaning out estates, but _not_ that many.

I learned this lesson the hard way. So I'm going to share it, in hopes you have more sense than I do and will learn from my mistakes in judgement.

I'm embarressed to say it, but here it is - at one point I had a crush on an unworthy man - boy , actually, but age is not important here. I made the mistake of making him a crocheted tiger. I did my best and thought it was cute. At all times, my gut instinct was "Don't do this!" but I didn't listen. I made the further mistake of mailing it to him. *whew* was that an idiotic thing to do! Why didn't I just say "here's a chance to make me feel really rotten" - it would have been much easier.

Anyway, time passed and I heard_nothing_ about this tiger. Not that it arrived, that the post office destroyed it or even he threw it in the trash. This is _not_ a good sign, for those of you taking notes. A gift should be at the very least aknowledged, even if it doesn't produce pounds of praise for the giver.

Finally I seen this man, with the tiger sort of out of sight. He told me I should have know better than to send it to him, he didn't know what he should say or do about it. I was stunned. I never had that reaction to anything I made before and it really hurt to think my efforts were for naught. I offered to take it back or throw it in the trash or even give it to the cats to play with, but for whatever reason, he decided to keep it. I _wish_ I had taken it with me, but I didn't have the presence of mind to accomplish that task.

But I didn't learn anything from _that_ particular scenario. Oh, no - I _had_ to keep in contact with him, despite the fact that he really didn't seem that interested in me. I kept the relationship going out of stubborness (and probably a touch of midlife madness). Finally, thru lots of talk and tears (on my part, not from him or to him), I decided I'd let _him_ contact me if he chose to contact me. The funny part is that seemed to make him _want_ to contact me more.

You would have thought that would make me happy. But it didn't. It annoyed the hell out of me because I had a lot of other things going on and I needed to get my life straightened out. So the contact dropped off to maybe once a year - around _his_ birthday (how conveinent!). Now it's just "hi, happy birthday, bye" though I imagine at some point that contact will stop.

So what are you supposed to take away from this little story? Of course, you wouldn't be stupid enough to make something for somebody who lacked the ability to appreciate a gift. Hopefully you won't be - you'll listen when your gut instincts tell you "No, don't _do_this". But if you do find yourself in this situation, remember that you did a kind thing by offering a gift. If the person you have given it to can't appreciate it (and by extension, you), this is not a person you should spend time with or offer another gift. It isn't your fault and there's not a darned thing you can do to change that person. But you can change yourself. You can pick up the gift and walk away. Or you can just walk away. A lot of people out there appreciate a lovely gift(and by extension, you) but you won't meet them by hanging around somebody that's not capable of being considerate of your feelings. Crochet for charity or for your bunny or your sister's dogs - just don't waste any more time on a person that won't be grateful for your gift.

That's it for now.

Friday, June 03, 2005

the tale of the lion

This is the story I spoke of yesterday.

Over 23 years ago, I was separated from my (now ex) husband, had 2 small boys, a full time job, volunteered at the National Aquarium, but I didn't know any male adults I wasn't related to or didn't work where I worked. I decided to answer a City Paper personal ad. I was really just looking for somebody to go to the movies with, have an occasional burger, that sort of thing. I wasn't looking for a relationship, I had 2 small kids to raise and more than enough to worry about with a potentially ugly divorce.

I answered a personal ad in the local City Paper and met a wonderful man and started dating him. In the first part of the romance, I had to have surgery (already planned) and stay home to recuperate for a few weeks. I knew this man liked lions - I had seen his drawings in his apartment. So I decided to crochet a lion for him.

Now this is a risky business, crocheting a toy for a man. Especially a man that I didn't know that well, a man who I had no idea would even accept a crocheted lion. But I figured "what the heck" and made the lion anyway. I made him out of the Dazzle* (Dazzle-Air?) yarn, which is soft and silky and works up wonderfully. (By the way, the company stopped making that yarn, I have no idea why, it was great yarn.) I took this particular toy apart about 6 times. I fussed over the embroidery of the eyes and the nose and especially the mouth. I prefer the toys I make to have a big smile on their faces. But I usually start by embroidering the eyes. If I can get the eyes just right, then I advance to the nose and mouth. I finally was satisfied with the lion - not _perfectly_ satisfied, but I can only take something apart so many times before it makes me nutty.

And then I had to wait to see him for a date. Wow, that was difficult because I was already fairly certain I was in love with him, but I didn't know how he felt about me. And how would he react, a little toy from a woman he barely knew? He could have laughed at me, or worse yet, made an unkind remark about the little lion. So to "sweeten" the deal, I baked some banana bread to give him. I mean, who doesn't like banana bread? I'm sure somebody somewhere doesn't, but I don't know anybody _personally_ that doesn't like banana bread.

Finally we had our date. I nervously presented him with both gifts, trying to act more confident then I really felt. The lion, of course, had a lot riding on his shoulders. The banana bread, well, that's just a recipe from a cookbook, but the lion was from my heart. If that was rejected...well, I just didn't want to think about it.

Luckily for me, he loved the banana bread and the lion - and me (but I didn't know that last part at the time). He was quite taken with both gifts and I was quite taken with him. The relationship grew more serious and we married almost 22 years ago. There has been ups and downs, all relationships have them, but it's been mostly ups. Along with the first lion (which was yellow & tawny) I gave him, he now has a white lion that I made and a small white lion ornament that I tried to fashion to look like "Kimba"** and a white lion afghan. It's great to be able to use my skill, my hobby, to create something for somebody I love and have it work out so perfectly.

I would advise anybody who creates something (crochet, embroidery, draw) for another person to carefully observe that person's reaction. As long as you didn't create something hideous - a harvest gold and avocado green poncho made out horrible scratchy yarn, or smush rabbit feces on a canvas and claim it's "art" - the person should be happy to receive the gift. If the person acts as if it's a huge bother to have what you made or basically tosses it aside, this is _not_ a person you should consider investing a lot of time in. If you choose to ignore this reaction or misinterpret it, you will be letting yourself in for a lot of hurt.

And that's another story for another time.

*no, I _still_ don't get a kickback from the yarn company.

** "Kimba" is the name of a Japanese cartoon seiries about a white lion (see www.Kimba.us for more info)

Thursday, June 02, 2005

creating a panda

Since today is my recently deceased younger sister's birthday, I want to write about the panda I created to put in her coffin. Why a panda? She _loved_ pandas.

Or maybe I should start earlier, by saying she was one of my younger sisters and I taught her how to crochet - and swim, ride a bike and all those zillions of things older siblings teach their younger siblings, good as well as bad. But it's really too soon for me to discuss it.

As to the panda, I wanted to make something special for her to ease her passage into the next world. I know, it sounds crazy, but that's what I wanted to do. I selected the Caron Simply Soft yarn and began a pattern I had around the house. No matter how I worked that pattern, I was _not_ satisfied with it. I ended up ripping it out twice before I gave up on that pattern.

Then I remember a pattern for a toy, one I had made a lot of a long time ago and my younger sister & I sold at a fair. So again I used the Simply Soft (which, by the way is _great_ yarn but no, I receive no kickbacks from them) and reworked the bear about 4 more times. I wondered if I even wanted to finish it, because by finishing it I would be admitting to myself that she was dying. And I was afraid that something weird would happen and she'd die when I finished it.

I finally finished the small panda. I stuffed it, including a heart pendant inside of the panda that had belonged to my grandmother. I put it on my bedside table and fearfully waited. She didn't die immediately after I finished it, so I was quite thankful for that. I found it very difficult to discuss with anybody why I made the panda. When I journeyed to the funeral home with my older sisters, I presented the panda to be placed in the casket, along with some coins and a few stones. My sisters acted as if I was the goofy one. Or maybe I just felt goofy and oversome with emotions I couldn't explain. Either way, the panda went into the casket and I was satisfied with that.

I very seldom take apart my crocheting, especially so many times for such a small thing. But I wanted it to be _perfect_. I wanted it to express that the love I have for my younger sister did not stop with her death. I wanted it to express all I couldn't say and should have said. Tall orders for a small object made of yarn and stuffing. But the panda would have to do.

Only one other small toy vexed me as much as this panda did. It was a lion I made about 23 years ago. That little lion had to carry a lot of weight, too. But that's another story for another time.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

What it's about

I have been crocheting for over 30 years. Once in a while I stray away, try knitting or play with embroidery. I even had a long fascination with rubber stamps. But I keep coming back to crocheting. There is something almost trance inducing in crocheting preemie hats the same way, day after day. There is something inspirational about taking some yarn and creating something cool with it. And of course, I love the compliments - who doesn't?

But I don't intend this blog to be about "here's how to hold your hook, here's the yarn you _must_ use". I intend to use it to express the joy of crocheting, the thrill of creation, just the peace it has the power to grant a troubled soul. Sounds a little crazy or "out there"? Just maybe it is. Or maybe you can pick up a knitting book or a quilt book and see how those folks rhapsodise about their particular hobby and you won't think I'm so weird. (Or maybe you will still think I'm weird - whatever works for you.)

Of course, I will talk of my favorite hooks (I'm a "Boye" girl) and yarn (too numerous to mention) and whatever projects I'm working on - but right now I'm thinking of writing about the spirituality of crocheting.

And that's where I'll leave it at tonight.