Category Archives: Digressions

Winter blahs…

1257711931I’m from Seattle originally but for the past 10 years I’ve lived in So Cal and the Southeast. Sun is now my “thing”. The turn in the weather this last week and a half is giving me SAD I think! So, to perk myself up I’m posting my favorite picture from this summer.

I was walking down Pac Hwy toward my local library and I saw the most amazing thing: a bush of fully blooming hydrangeas with a random rusty mailbox poking through the blooms… but what really made it strange was that the bush and mailbox are situated in front of a vacant lot with a fence around it. No house or building in sight.

I thought it was lovely and I snapped it on my camera phone so I could remember how sweet and random it was when I most needed it. Winter.

That time is upon us. I sometimes wish I could skip all this cold and dark and straight to the sweet spot of summer… but alas, I have no time warping capabilities. I guess I have to live through it and make lots of sweaters!

 

Gotcha covered.

complete gd to needlework by readers digest

My grandmother had, my mother had, and I have it.

A few weeks ago when I was looking for a sewing machine on Craigslist, I came across a listing for a used copy of the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Needlework. I sent an email to the seller and voila! I got the book in the mail yesterday.

I literally jumped up and down when I opened the box. I know it seems corny but both my Gram and my Mom had this book (they both crocheted back in the day) and I remember sneaking this book and spare yarns, hooks, and needles and make these random swatches from the knit and crochet stitch pattern sections.

I intend to put this good book to use shortly and I’m going to take the opportunity in the near future to use the knitting section to see if I can re-teach myself how to knit again. I’m really looking forward to delving into this classic again.

After I finished my initial look through, I remembered some other books that will be helpful to me that are along the same lines. They are the Harmony Guides published by Interweave Press.

basic crochet stitchesBasic Crochet Stitches

crochet stitch motifsCrochet Stitch Motifs

crochet edgings and trimsCrochet Edgings & Trim

The Reader’s Digest is pretty much an introduction to the basics of the most popular needlecrafts but the Harmony Guides really give you a comprehensive, though not exhaustive, overview of stitch patterns, motifs, and edges. It’s enough to get you started doing some very fancy work. I’ve got one down and four to go. I did get a chance to browse through the first two Harmony Guides listed as check-outs from my local library and I saw a lot of beautiful patterns in both. They definitely could help a fledgling designer come up with some interesting ideas.

I am a total book nut and I probably don’t need to add anymore books to my already sagging shelves but I hope to own all three before the end of the year.

Also check out my new additions:

dominobookThe Domino Book of Decorating

Domino. RIP. I adore this magazine. Even now that my favorite shelter mag of all time is no longer being published I still cherish the style and design ideas that radically changed the way I look at interiors. Beautiful, affordable, and stylish interiors could be had if you knew the right people and places and lucky for us, Domino was that friend. I’m glad this book is on my shelf right next to a nearly complete collection of Domino magazines. I’ll pick up the rest as I can and pull this book and the mags out whenever I’m needing inspiration… and not just for decorating!

diy clothesDesign It Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch

This is sort of a preemptive strike for me. I want to be able to make my own patterns eventually. So I got this book because it’s the easiest and most user-friendly instruction manual for pattern making and grading that I’ve ever seen. I’ve done a cursory read through and am pleased that I spent the money. It’ll come in handy when I’ve got my sewing machine all set up and humming to go.

That’s it for today! Hopefully it wasn’t overload! I’m going to try and find some more Cool Crochet for you all to take a look at. Hope everyone had a great weekend.

As Jen says: Ciao, for now!

Cool Crochet.

Seems like an oxymoron to a lot of people, myself included at times. It’s rough for me to reconcile how exceptionally cool knit patterns often are with how uncool most crochet patterns are.

Luckily for me and many other crocheters out there crochet is having quite the resurgence and the designers out there are upping the ante.

I’d like to share some things that are on my queue or favorites list at Ravelry… to fill in the gaps in me actually not working on many projects right now.

bernadette ambergrin capelet front

Front of capelet...

Designer: Bernadette Ambergen

Pattern: Asymmetrical Capelet

This one actually looks pretty simple to make and it’s so pretty and feminine but modern at the same time. It would be an extra special touch for a crafty bride… I bet it would be no problem at all to dress it up with a shiny or metallic yarn and bead and a beautiful broach instead of a button.

The pattern is $5.00 or buy one already made from the designer’s Etsy store.

 

Crochet Today! pattern by Elena Malo

Layering Cardi by Elena Malo

Designer: Elena Malo

Pattern: Layering Cardi

This pattern was featured in the Jan/Feb 2009 Crochet Today! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to figure out how to lay hands on back issues of this mag… so if anyone knows how, please leave me a note. I’m really interested in taking a crack at this one.

While I was cruising the project profiles for this cardi, I noticed that a few people made it with long sleeves or put more buttons on the yoke. Either way it’s a cool looking sweater and a big step up from Big Bow. 

 

madamecam's Supervillain Sweater

...if only I were a pattern!

Designer: Madame Cam

Pattern: Supervillain

This is one of the coolest sweaters I’ve seen in a crochet pattern; it’s modern, edgy and retro-cool at the same time. This sweater was designed by a teenager (!) who is only really designing stuff for herself but it was too cool not to share in this post about cool crochet. She’s on Ravelry under madamecam and her Urban Armor design is killer. I think it would look better in a solid or better yet a tone on tone (say black velvet and silk) but the bones of an awesome freaking design are there. This young lady give me hope that crochet really can be as killer cool as knitting always seems to be. She could be crochet’s answer to a knitwear design giant like Wenlan Chia.

I hope that more designer’s come up with some really edgy, modern stuff for us crocheter’s because doily sweaters are not it.

NaNoWriMo.

nano_09_blk_participant_120x240_pngThis month is National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel during the thirty days of November. You write roughly 1,667 words a day to stay on goal.

I am participating again as I have every year for the past couple of years. Because of that I probably won’t be posting a lot of stuff on crocheting or other yarn related things. I am still giving my Mom’s sweater a go. Nearly finished too… Only the left sleeve to be done. I’ll get to that this weekend.

In the meantime… if there is anyone out there actually reading my blog (I have deep moments of doubt about that!) the reason I’m so terribly inconsistent of late is that I’m NaNo-ing.

Happy writing to those who are doing the do. Happy crocheting, knitting, felting, or weaving to the rest!

Personal Fabric

I was working my crochet on the bus today and my hands were dry… It seems like dry hands cause you to feel every twist of thread in a strand of yarn, doesn’t it? I know I did… and it got me wondering about something I thought about a few days ago while I was working on my project at home.

I was watching one of the CSI shows  and they were talking about epithelials, the skin cells that slough off our bodies when we touch things, and how they were found on some object that was relevant to their case.

It got me thinking this:

Every time I touch this skein of yarn and wind it around my hand, pulling up loops to create the fabric, I’m leaving a little bit of me behind. It’s not just my skill (or lack of it!) as a crafter that goes into, not just my time, not just my effort – but actual small bits of me that hold my very DNA are being woven in as well.

That might gross some people out… but not me. I was kind of awed by the thought. I don’t think anyone who picks up a crochet hook or a set of knitting needles ever thought of what they do as being anything other than personal. To me those little skin cells are physical reminders of the love, the heart, the soul we put into every project our hands touch. And yeah, they probably all get wiped away when we wash or block those projects but I’d like to think that just a little bit of me is locked in and will stay with whoever holds or wears that piece.

There is nothing more personal than that.

Digressions.

The good thing about taking a break from something is usually that you gain some much needed perspective.

I took my break with New Moon, the sequel to Twilight… Edward, Bella, and Jacob kept me up so far past my bedtime that there was no point in sleeping at all.

On an non-craft side note: I saw Twilight yesterday with my friend Jen. Ultimately, I was disappointed in the quality of the film (I think they traded characterization for schlocky sensationalism, some of the casting was questionable, the make up was horrible, etc.) but I’m glad I saw it. It makes me appreciate how well Stephanie Meyer created her characters. I think I’ll just stick with the books and be content with her writing and not getting caught up in all the hype surrounding the movies. Though, (and this is my last comment about Twilight this post…) I’m a little more confident in Chris Weitz’s ability to pull off something approaching quality than  Catherine Hardwicke did.

But enough about that!

The good news is that all that escapism had the effect of totally calming me down about Big Bow, and now I can continue without tearing out my hair out. I got my gauge under control and I’m continuing on with a little more patience than I did when I began. I forget to cut myself some slack sometimes… I mean, I haven’t crocheted for a while and it’s going to take a bit before I can actually really get back into the swing of it!

In the meantime, there is no better way to fill the hours than with a good craft project or a good book. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity, and frequently, to do both.