Friday, April 29, 2011

It's Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday - Again!

OhmyBob, where did the week go? I have been intensely focused on completing my second pattern in three weeks - and here's the result:

I'm calling it my Every Which Way Pillow Cover, because it looks good on either side, and with the buttons either on the top, the bottom, or the side. Nifty, eh? It should be available for download on Ravelry sometime today.

I had sketched out the idea for this pattern about a year ago (the beginning of April, 2010). However, it wasn't until just recently, when I did a major rearrangement of my living space, that I got the needed kick in the pants to actually make the cover. I used cotton, but worsted weight wool would work equally well.

It also incorporates one of my favorite stitch sequences - Catherine's Wheel. Using three different yarn colors for the Catherine's Wheel inset, as well as super-big buttons, gives the pillow cover a bold, graphic look that I really love. And it's completely washable. And I designed it! Can't get much better than that. Nope. No siree Bob.

I hope everyone is maxing out on the Royal Wedding ... and if you're not, or there's a lull in the festivities, definitely check out Andrea's blog to see what everyone else is up to on this Fiber Arts Friday. Cheers!

Monday, April 25, 2011

On Some Things Food and British

My humble sugar bowl is full
at the moment, but ...
 Ok. Food and Brits haven't traditionally been found in the same sentence. Yet, I find I am thinking a lot about both lately.

Initially, the food stuff. Food prices in the U.S. do seem to be going up at about the same rate as gasoline prices recently - which means they are through the roof. There was a time not so long ago, in this here land, when you could buy butter and eggs relatively inexpensively. But now, even when on special, butter for instance, is $3.00 a pound. When did that happen? And why? Forget home economics - someone is making a killing on commodities, and it certainly ain't the average Joe and Jane.

So, I'm going to explore just how far my measly bucks will go in May by partaking in Mumma Troll's Challenge 35 -  for one week, feed yourself on the equivalent of a British pound per day (which, according to today's conversion rate, is $1.64). You can read the complete rules at the link I provided above.

This, apparently, is a very timely idea, because there's a worldwide effort to raise awareness of extreme poverty through this very same food challenge hosted by this organization. However, I'm going to stick with the good Mumma Troll (international solidarity and all), and blog about my food experiences for seven days commencing Monday, May 8th. If any of you out there want to join me in Mumma Troll's Challenge 35, definitely let me (and Mumma Troll!) know.

From my 2009 Great American
Bake Sale. All the mini quick-bread
tins sold.

I should say that I care rather passionately about poverty and food issues generally ... and I've committed to hosting my Second Somewhat Annual Great American Bake Sale on Sunday, May 15th, which is about all the food commitments I'd care to make in a week. I'll provide more information on my Great American Bake Sale a little later. I do think it will be a great way to cap my own personal May food-focused awareness week. 

Of course, all of this leads me to having Britian on the brain. Can we get out of the way of all things British? I have been thoroughly enjoying the new Masterpiece Theater's Upstairs Downstairs episodes. How many of you are planning on watching the Royal Wedding live in the wee hours this Friday? Having a slumber party to boot? And, not to leave out my fiber passion, check out this custom dyed laceweight yumminess Fyberspates whipped up in honor of the nuptial events:

The packaging was rather wedding-like.
They only dyed 1,000 skeins of this royal-blue-with-sparkles amazement. I don't know if there's any of it left, but it's gorgeous and I know exactly what I'm going to make with it. Starting on Friday during that little wedding ceremony happening across the pond. With some early morning nibbles and tea that I spent way too much money on at the grocery store.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday … and an Earth Day Reflection

I have several projects on the hooks/needles right now; a few too many for comfort, if truth be told. So not only am I really pleased to be able to put one in the finished column, I’m thrilled with my first knit project utilizing cables. I present my Giant Cabley Stole:

At 18 inches wide x 37 inches in length, it is a little bigger than the original. I’m not too surprised, since I added a strand of Patons Décor to the Berroco Peruvia when I wasn’t getting gauge during swatching. I really love the color, and those awesome cables, and the toggle buttons in an olive-y green that add just a little more color and pop. I can’t wait to wear it this fall (which may never arrive, given the amount of time spring is taking to get here).  

Today is also Earth Day. As I reflect on how I treat the earth, I am amazed at my own transformation in the last five years. While I certainly can still do better in the consumption department (at least according to my food bill each week), my days of unconsciously buying are so over. Bottled water? Uh-uh. Plastic bags? Almost never. Recycling and composting? Absolutely – I am so fortunate to live in an area where curbside yard waste/composting is encouraged. In fact, I’ve gotten my non-recycling trash down to about one medium trash bag per week, and I definitely recycle and compost more than I put in a landfill. Public transportation (or walking) over driving? Oh yeah. Reuse/upcycle? Yes … but can still do better. Hey, it’s all a work in progress.

There is something else that is bugging me on this Earth Day. Rachel Carson is widely credited with jumpstarting the environmental movement with the publishing of her book Silent Spring in 1962. Given what I know of her, I find her to be incredibly courageous and a woman ahead of her time.

Ironically, I came upon this essay yesterday, discussing whether or not women have really fulfilled their leadership potential in the 21st century. If one looks at the female presence at the highest levels of academia, business, law and politics as a measuring stick – that answer is a resounding no. While the existing power structures and modes of operating within those structures were definitely set by men, women can be their own worst enemies. A woman willing to speak out and seek cooperation instead of competition will be silenced – by both men and women. Demanding true partnership and equality at home is still a very dicey deal (to wit: the MLB (Major League Baseball) is finally providing paternity leave to its players – for a grand total of 72 hours! Let’s hope Mom didn’t give birth via cesarean section.)

I don’t necessarily want world domination through craft (but, hey, if you like my designs and work, it’s a plus for you and definitely spread the word!), but I do want global cooperation. Humans are hardwired for it. I hope this Earth Day gets everyone to shift their competitive drive into neutral and set their cooperation speed into overdrive. Respect the earth and your fellow citizens, ok?

Oh, and let’s get crafty out there, folks! And since it's Friday, check out Andrea's blog to see what other crafty endeavors everyone is up to.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Around-A-Town #5

Alright - a little on this latest installment of AAT: While it will be a challenge for some to identify this location, the day I took these photos is emblazened permanently in my memory. It was, in two words, simply amazing. I'd welcome all questions and guesses (!) in the comments section below.

Friday, April 15, 2011

An Especially Wonderful Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday

And it’s especially wonderful for me because my first pattern is done and released (well, let’s hope it’s showing up in the Ravelry database!) – The Melina Clutch. It's perfect for spring (which I know is going to make an appearance in these here parts very soon):

It’s a quick crochet project made of 100% cotton. I used Tahki Cotton Classic, but any dk or worsted weight cotton would work well (and I can think of several organic cottons that would be perfect for this project).

This bag has been in my mind since I did the research for the article I recently published on U.S. crochet history. In my head, it looked like this:

Then I started to work it up using a particular stitch pattern and it wasn’t going anywhere. I was none too pleased with it, or myself, so I set it aside and started working on a few other projects. While working on one of those other projects, I had the face/palm moment when I figured out how to get around the stumbling block on the Melina. It always works that way, doesn’t it? Plan B appears when you least expect it!

I had wanted to publish this pattern closer to the date of the article’s publication, but no matter. What’s a mere 14 days in the life of a clutch – nothing, really.

Happy fiber arts Friday, and definitely check back with Andrea's blog to see who else is joining in on the madcap Friday fun.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Joyeux Robert! Happy Bobmas! OhMyBob!

Bob, all decked out for 2010's
Ravlympic doings 

What is “Bobmas,” and just who the heck is Bob? Well, glad you asked.

April 11th is Bobmas – the date in 2005 that two somewhat unsuspecting suspects – Jess and Casey – initially dreamed up the idea for that yarny online phenomenon known as Ravelry. For any knitter, crocheter, weaver, spinner, yarn dyer or textile artist of any stripe, Ravelry is the place to be. It is, in equal parts, a social media site, a place to keep track of hand-created projects, show your veritable handcraft prowess to the rest of the yarny world, get tips on anything even remotely related to yarn, check out the latest and greatest in knit and crochet design, start a small, fiber-related business … and well, just about anything else you can pretty much think of. For a peek at Ravelry’s genesis, I provide a link to Jess’s old blog entry – frecklegirl on April 12, 2005 – to give you an idea of how it has progressed.

And who is Bob? Their inimitable dog and the best yarny mascot ever. Really.
My second project in 2009, and my
first (and for now only) attempt at intarsia

I joined Ravelry in July, 2009. I only posted two completed projects (one knit, one crocheted) and hardly spent any time on it. Then 2010, and the 10 shawls in 2010 challenge hit, and I haven’t looked back since. Interacting on Ravelry has led me to conversations, insights, laughs, design, and people that would not otherwise have happened. The sight recorded it’s one millionth member late last year, and shows no signs of stopping.

This is an especially wonderful celebration for Jess and Casey (and, well, for Bob too, one can guess), since they are expecting their first child. The child will undoubtedly be born with yarn tightly wound around one perfectly pudgy fist and hooks and sticks in the other.

Happy Bobmas, Jess and Casey! May you enjoy all that this year’s Ravelry season brings. I’m giving you a virtual cache of sleep to be used, at your discretion, in the very near future.

To leave your yarny good wishes on this most auspicious day, simply head on over to Ravelry (you'll need to sign in) and post in the appropriate thread in the For the Love of Ravelry discussion group. And (of course!) feel free to leave your Ravelry thoughts here in the comments section.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Back to Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Fridays

Well, even though I’m still recovering from last week’s blogging extravaganza, I did manage to continue working on one of my latest stoles – based on Loop’s Burly Spun Grey Owl Cowl. I’m not certain why they consider it a cowl since it’s a big rectangle (a stole) with toggle buttons at one end. I really like the ability to secure the stole comfortably around my neck and shoulders. I am not a big one for fussing with my clothes. But I am, it seems, becoming a big one for Loop patterns. This is the second one I'm making (I completed the Crow's Waltz Rectangular Shawl last year) and they both are just the right speed for this still-novice knitter.
See how much darker the
Berroco is on the left?

Things I’m liking about this project so far: the cables (aren’t they just awesome?), the quick way it’s working up (I’m already about half-way done), and the color of the knit fabric using these two shades of teal held together.

I knew I wanted to use Berroco Peruvia Quick, but when I originally swatched with it I wasn’t quite getting gauge. While gauge isn’t critical, I nevertheless started swatching with more than one color held double. The first two attempts (with different shades of green mohair) looked like I was getting ready for Mardi Gras. Which might have been fine if I had been getting ready for Mardi Gras. But … since I wasn’t, in the ditch went the green mohair. I then found some Patons Décor in teal from an earlier project, swatched with it and the Berroco, and voila! It’s amazing to see how teal can look so different given different dyers and fibers. And, held together, the Berroco Peruvia Quick almost looks navy.

I hope a great fibery week was had by all – and don’t forget to check back with Andrea's blog to see what everyone else is up to!

Monday, April 4, 2011

It’s Over …

Well, most of it, anyway. The second annual Knitting and Crochet Blogging Week, that is.

I know it’s going to take me some time to process the event. However, some things I can rattle off right now:

    1.      Wow!

    2.      Wow.

 3.      OhMyBob wow. I cannot believe all of the bloggers  who participated. I’m surprised Blogger didn’t go kaput.

4. Yes, I absolutely realize that not everyone who blogs uses Blogger.

5.      I am so thrilled I found some new blogs to read, and new bloggers with whom to connect. Some of them I already have connected with, and that’s really super.

6.      I am interesting in seeing how I feel about following blogs written by people, and leaving comments on said blogs, when those bloggers either don’t follow me, or pretty much don’t respond to my content. I know I blog for myself, first and foremost. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t like making connections with my blog, so to see that connection be a one-way street is a phenomenon I’ll need to contemplate.

Of course, I’m not a big one for blindly following most anything. So this connecting-with-others out there raises some intriguing authenticity issues to be sure.

7.      Blogging takes a whole lot more time and effort than I expected. Doing it everyday won’t be for me.

8.      I love my blog and the writing outlet it provides. This past week hasn’t changed that one iota.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say later, as well as a recap of the blog entries that made me smile, laugh or otherwise emote the most. Once I’m done reading them all.

Crochet Languishing in the Media Attic
Mixed media on canvas
March, 2011
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your high (or low) lights from last week (or on most any other thing for that matter), so leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Finally, an article of mine on U.S. crochet history was published last week here. If you haven’t visited the Crochet Insider website, now is a great time to start! It’s chock full of intriguing articles and great interviews – and this quarter’s entries are no different. At least I think so.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

This Week? Knitting and Crochet Time?!!! (2KCBWDAY7)

I have barely gotten any crafting done this week – I’ve been writing up a storm, and reading everyone else’s writing storms! No complaints, since I do love to blog. However, I’ll look forward to getting back to more crafty time.

I can’t say I really have a set crafting time, but it’s usually dictated by whether or not I want (or need) to get something completed. Of course, I enjoy crafting in the evening, especially if I'm watching mindless, guilty-indulgence television. If I do craft in front of the television, it’s a safe bet that George Bailey, the devil wonder kitty, will be around. He’s good about not getting into the yarn, but bad about always wanting to be in my lap.

Crafting on the Paris metro, anyone?

I absolutely will craft on public transportation. I take a lot of it (am committed to public transportation, actually), so trains and planes provide a great time to get some hard-core crafting completed. Travel schedule delays are always another great time to craft – and the crafting has the added benefit of calming what might be an otherwise tense situation. I always have reading and crafting material with me whenever I travel. 

I have also used my time on public transportation to strike up conversations with those who I think might be wearing hand crafted articles. It's always turned into a good conversation.

Oddly enough, I have had students craft in class, and it has done wonders for their respective concentration. While texting and other activities can detract from one’s ability to focus, knitting and crocheting can have the completely opposite effect. Go figure.
I want to thank Eskimimi for putting together this second annual Knitting and Blogging Week. What a whirlwind! I also want to thank every reader that stopped by my blog, and especially those who took the time to provide comments. I have attempted to get to your blogs, too, but know I’ll still be reading long into next week. Please let me know any final thoughts to cap this awesome crafty blog week, and may I see you around these parts again. Happy crafting and happy blogging.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Aspirations? Oh yeah! (6KCBWDAY6)

A portion of my
projects wish list
When it comes to my fiber pursuits, there are so many patterns I’d like to make, and so many skills yet to explore (especially knitting skills), that I wonder whether I'll get to them all!

I have created very little knit lace, and virtually nothing with knitted cables. I have a project with each on the needles right now, so hopefully I’m on my way.
The beginnings of my Falling
Birth Leaves, a Linda Choo
knitted lace shawl pattern

However, it’s a far more systematic, wardrobe-like approach based on several sessions last year in which I tried to identify what style elements I was drawn to. For instance, the Vogue KnitBook I created has 20 projects – cardigans, hoodies and pullovers, skirts, a bag and some mittens – that I would truly love to work through. I don’t know how long it will take, but it’s filled not only with lace and cables, but many classic lines and shapes.

Of course, that’s only the knit side. There is still hairpin lace, broomstick lace and sweaters I have yet to explore on the crochet side. I feel much more confident about my crochet skills and abilities, though, so this just doesn’t seem like such a huge mountain to climb.

The big hurdle will be issuing my first pattern – which I am working on right now. You'll find below a sneak peak at a portion of my hand-drawn idea. As I wrote on someone else’s blog yesterday, it’s a lot of work and a very involved process, to get from an idea in one’s head through to a completed FO. Nothing like this pattern process has shown me more that Plato was onto something with his theory that perfection can only be in the mind. The real world is a mere, imperfect imitation of what we can come up with in our heads.

A sneak peek of my very first design, in the
drawing and art stages

No more perfect ideas were ever thought.

I’d love to hear your take on this or any other design dilemma you’d like to share with me in the comments below.

I hope each of you are surviving and enjoying your participation in the imperfectly real, yet oh-so-fun second annual Knitting and Crochet Blogging Week.    

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Boogie-Woogie Beading Gal of CST (2KCBWDAY5)

A Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday disclaimer: since I have several FOs that will be ready next week ... and this is the second annual Knitting and Crochet Blogging Week ... there's very little fiber content in this week's post. I hope you enjoy it anyway.  When you're done, definitely check out Andrea's blog and see what everyone else is up to this week on Fiber Arts Friday!

I bring you a tale of a Crochet Small Talker  - many in the group will fit this tale -  to the melody of that WWII-era classic The Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B:

(FYI - The Crochet Small Talkers are a crochet group on Ravelry.)

The Boogie-Woogie Beading Gal of CST

She was a crafty gal from old Ravel-ry way
She had a boogie beading style that no one else could play
She was a top gal at her craft
And then her number came up - she was bedazzled by glass
She's crafting shawls now, and edging constantly
She's the boogie-woogie beading gal of CST

They made her craft a shawl directly from a book
It really brought her down because she couldn't hook
With any of her beads
Well then what do you know, she ditched that dreary look
And now Ravelry loves when she breaks out the beads
She's the boogie-woogie beading gal of CST

A-toot, a-toot, a-diddle-ee-ada-toot
She beads it one a picot – in crochet rhythm
She can't bead an edge unless yarn and color
Are stylin' with 'em
And now Ravelry loves when she breaks out the beads
She's the boogie-woogie beading gal of CST

She edges all with yarn and beads most every time
And whips up pretty shawls with beads shiny ‘n bright
They clap their hands and stamp their feet
Because they know how she beads
When she hooks shawls so sweet
And now Ravelry loves when she breaks out the beads
She’s the boogie-woogie beading gal of CST

And now Ravelry loves when she breaks out the beads
She’s the boogie-woogie beading gal of CST

So ... maybe a little embellishment ... but not too much. :)   Do you embellish? Definitely share ... and leave me a comment.

I hope everyone is enjoying this Friday of the second annual Knitting and Crochet Blogging Week. Only two more days to get your crafty blog energy fix!