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Monday, June 27, 2005

The world's fastest crocheter, link


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


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.

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.


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.


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;)


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.


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.


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.


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.