Friday, December 27, 2013

The Final Romantique Design ...

Lion Brand Amazing in
the vineyard colorway and
Romance in the merlot
colorway - very apropos.
Alright my fellow fibery crafters, we're at the last design installment from my Romantique collection - the Brix Coat. Again, there was no particular reason for me to leave this for the end, but I must admit, it is a great note upon which to anchor the collection.

The basic design came to me way back in March (when I was working on Fleurs et L'eau, which is definitely the way with me), but didn't get sketched out for another month. For those who may be interested, brix is a wine-making term (the sweetness level of a grape prior to picking), and once I saw the fibers and colorways in which I wanted to work the coat, the name instantly popped into my head. I am pleased with the balance of fur - just the right amount around collar and cuffs - and I do love Lion Brand's Amazing yarn. If you've never worked with it, I urge you to give it a go; it's brushed so it's soft and warm, and the long color runs ensure great tonal stripes. These photos are very true to the colorway in real life - isn't it just super? The Romance (also by Lion Brand) is a very silky fur. It requires use of a rather honking big hook, so be warned.

And, of course, I needed to make a great button statement. That's a 2" diameter button, and I love it.

The coat comes in just three sizes, and each size fits a wide range. I've shown it here in the second size, but these models could have easily worn the first size. The goal is to provide an easy on/off topper for a multitude of potential winter layers underneath, or a great warm topper with some sass on a dressy night out. And of course while I love these colorways, I can easily envision this in a winter white/gray/brown treatment or any number of other knock-out color combinations. 

By the time you read this (or very soon thereafter), all of the Romantique patterns will be in the Ravelry database, along with the entire e-book. The collection is going to go on a very brief (!) blog tour, ending the first week in January. I will be hosting a CAL in my Ravelry group mainly (although not exclusively) for the collection starting in the new year and running through mid-February. There will be prizes (hint: yummy yarn!) and fun. I hope you'll join us.

Now don't forget to hit The Wonder Why Gal's site to check out the end-of-year fiber doings. It's been another amazing year for me. Wrap up soon.

Add a great black dress, and you're ready for a
rockin' New Year's Eve on the town.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hey, It's Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday ...

... and to totally confuse everyone (because I do have one final pattern from Romantique to introduce), let's jump ahead to ... spring, shall we?

My latest publication design has just been released - it's the Boxed Flower Coverlet:

This coverlet (it's a duvet cover, really) is great for anyone looking to inject some new life into an old but otherwise perfectly fine comforter. The tone-on-tone treatment Crochet! Magazine chose makes the coverlet look very rich and classic - but the color combinations are just about endless. Gotta love bold, graphic designs.

Worked in Universal's Uptown Worsted, it's also easy-care. We definitely love that.

I cannot tell you how thrilled I am with this design, and how pleased I am that it has made it safely out into the crafty wild. If you'd like to see a preview of the entire spring publication (which is available electronically now, and on newsstands January 7th), head on over to Crochet! Magazine's website.

2013 is definitely ending on a high note.

Now do please head on over to Wisdom Begins in Wonder and check out what everyone else is working on right before the big day. To each of you, whether a regular reader or just visiting for the first time, I wish you a holiday filled with peace, joy, light, and definitely plenty of good food and laughter.

Boxed Flowers in process. Don't the motifs
look a little like Italian cookies?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Romantique Extra: A Few Fun Photos

Before I post the last design in this collection, I thought I'd take a moment to post a few of the funnier photos from the various photo shoots. None of these are meant to embarrass any model (who all did a fantastic job - I cannot thank each of them enough); nevertheless we all have unguarded moments ...

Capturing a funny comment mid-word (and
check out the precarious hold on the martini glass)

Hilarity ensues when models give hand
placement tips and suggestions.

Oh, isn't the ring just gorgeous?

Charlies' Angels fun.

Just trying to stay warm at the end of busy day
of modeling.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Day 7 of 8 Days of Designs: One Awesomely Quick Pullover

Well, everyone, I am up to the penultimate design of my Romantique collection for autumne/hiver 2013, and we have come upon my pullover for the season - the Moody Bleu:

This pullover may have a rather detailed pattern, but it is actually quite simple to put together: it's bottom-up construction, worked in the round to the underarms. The sleeves are also worked in the round to the sleeve cap, so finishing is minimal. Intuitive, intuitive, intuitive.

What surprised me the most about this design is my final choice of fiber. The body of this is worked up in Red Heart  Boutique Eclipse, and people let me tell you this yarn is incredibly lightweight and springy. And look at those colors! I used two different colorways (carrying both but using one each on alternate rows) and I absolutely love how it turned out. Combined with the Berroco Cirrus I used for that spiffy collar, and I am completely pleased with the color play.

This is a pullover that will do well with a lightweight, very sproingy yarn - something with a tight twist, or with some amount of nylon. The chainette construction of the Red Heart also makes the texture of this almost crunchy, which I just love. Can you tell I'm completely bowled over by this yarn? Really, I had no idea.

Blogger is giving me fits this evening, so loading more photos will not be possible. However, look for more on the Ravelry pattern page as well as in the online preview book. I am just so thrilled with this pullover, I didn't want to wait any longer to post. :)

Ok, just one more to go. Let's hope Blogger behaves better later.


EDIT: Moody Bleu Part Deux

What a difference a good sleep can make - Blogger is now back to its ole' self, and uploading photos of the Moody Bleu pullover is easy as cake.

To the right is a back shot - I love how these colors and textures play together. The lace is a very easy stitch, picked up around the neck edge and worked in successively decreasing hook sizes; there's also one row of actual decreases, which gives a nice fit at the back of the neck. It can also be folded down for a slight shawl collar effect.

I am also a big proponent of Tunisian 1x1 ribbing - the other knit/purl ribbing, as I like to call it. I love its great stitch definition, although it behaves rather differently than it's knit counterpart: there's really no stretch to speak of, so whatever gauge you work the stitches is how it will stay - no expansion or contraction.

Nevertheless, I think it provides a neat finish to most edges, and is especially intriguing with this self-striping yarn (I used only one color at cuffs and hem).

Thanks so much for sticking with my Romantique collection roll-out. If you haven't yet seen the pattern preview book, feel free to check it out here.

And happy holiday making!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Day 6 of 8 Days of Designs: Motif-a-Rockin' Shawl

Hello my fellow crafty ones, here I am at day 6 of my Romantique: Autumne/Hiver 2013 roll-out. My apologies for being slightly tardy with this day, but it was unavoidable.

Now everyone who reads this blog knows how much I love shawls, so this second shawl of the collection not only has a special place in my heart, it is just downright drippingly gorgeous. It is far and away the most beautiful thing I've ever designed. Please welcome into the designing wild my Forged Joy shawl:

Using just two skeins of Neighborhood Fiber Co.'s Capital Luxury Lace (a merino/ cashmere/nylon blend), this became the project of the season for me. The motif came to me fairly quickly way back in early spring, but the edging ... well, that's a whole 'nother story. Less than 36 hours before I shot these photos, I ripped back about half of it because I did not like how it was developing, and started again. I am sooooooo glad I did ... but I was sweating it right up until I pulled it off the blocking pins.

It's a v-shape, which really stays well on the shoulders. While all the motifs are the same, the placement of the center motif (seen on the left arm of the top photo) is a real show-stopper, especially when worn on the side. And, of course, the beads on the final edging row add just the right amount of bling and weight to keep the shawl pretty and in place. It's also long enough on each side that it can be folded over in the front and worn almost scarf-like, yet because of that awesome center motif, generously hugs the shoulders. Doesn't it almost look like a tattoo in the photo on the left? I do love a good graphic design. :)
This project is definitely for advanced crocheters that want a challenge. Nevertheless, the crafty person will be rewarded with a most amazingly stunning shawl. At least I think they will be rewarded.

I do hope you make it on over to Andrea's at the Wonder Why Alpaca Farm (whose lovely yarn I used in the skirt which you can see peeking in a few photos above) to see what everyone else is up to this Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday.

I am getting to the end of my collection introductions. Just two more designs to go.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Day 5 of 8 Days of Designs: A Play of Fiber & Texture

We are onto Day 5 of the design introductions from my latest collection: Romantique - Autumne/Hiver 2013, and I thought we'd lighten the palette up just a bit with my cowl design for this season - the Lush Looped Scarf:

I am a pretty big cowl fan. I have cowls in most colors, and I love designing them. This one was especially sweet because it's just slightly over-the-top - both in terms of length and the amazingly beautiful yarn choices. 

Initially, I used Tess' Designer Yarns Silk and Ivory for the main body of the shawl. A 50/50 silk/wool blend, I cannot relate to you just how soft this heavy fingering/light dk weight yarn is. And with 665 buttery soft yards in every skein + amazing custom colorways, what's not to love?

This cowl is slightly different than my other longer length cowl designs in that the main body is worked lengthwise. Getting through the initial first row might seem a little, shall we say, long? - but once done, the easily memorized stitch pattern makes this a great evening project. You'll be so engrossed with other things, you won't realize just how quickly you'll breeze through its main portion.

Then, you'll need only one more ball of laceweight mohair - in the case of my sample, I used's Silken Kydd in the baked apple colorway (doesn't that just sound yummy?). It's held double, and the edging goes quickly. The subtle lines created by the edging stitches (as well as the fiber content) are a textural counterpoint to the main body lace. If you're not one for mohair, definitely feel free to choose another fiber blend with a halo - angora is another great choice.

This lush piece falls so nicely around the neck and shoulders and provides excellent, stylish warmth. It's a great added bonus to be able to work with great fibers that are so soft next to the skin.

I'll be back on Friday with another installment - we're getting down to the designing wire.

And a final, small update: I'm now whole hog (well, almost) on social media: I'm @DeniseVoiedeVie on Twitter, and DeniseVoiedeVie on Instagram. Do feel free to follow along.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Day 4 of 8 Days of Designs: The Ripple Stitch Reimagined

Hello my crafty friends - here we are at the midway point of my Romantique: Autumne/Hiver 2013 collection, and I'd like to talk a little about the oft-maligned crochet ripple stitch. It inhabits a well-worn place in the traditional crochet stitch pantheon, which also means that it gets its fair share of knocks. We all know someone who has a ripple stitch afghan, right? On the other hand, there are those mavericks over at Missoni who leaned into it and just made the stitch pattern figuratively vibrate with color and new life.
Well, I wanted to put a somewhat unique spin on the ripple stitch. I see it as almost tweed-like, and in a solitary, saturated color in fibers that have drape and good stitch definition, downright fantastic. Paired with a fresh take on a crocheted skirt, and you have all the elements for my New Wave Skirt:

This design actually became a favorite at the photo shoot - much to my surprise and joy. It actually looks good on most any body type, and the length can be customized, although I admit I do tend to like most of my skirts above the knee (with exceptions, of course). This one has a zipper in the back (and yes, it really looks great!) as well as a simple twist on foundation stitches that gives a fun little effect along the hem:

I worked this up in Wonder Why Alpaca Farm's sportweight alpaca/merino/silk blend, which provided such great definition to this ripple stitch pattern. And the colorway - well, what I can say about wine on the vine? It was definitely sweet music in the skein.

The Wonder Why Farm's yarn is on the left.
Really yummy, no?
This skirt is amazingly easy to put together - just two pieces, and other than the zipper and some folds prior to working the waist, incredibly straightforward. I'm looking forward to working one up for myself. Yes, yes indeed.
If you'd like to see a few additional photos of the skirt, feel free to access the Romantique preview booklet here. 
See you tomorrow for Day 5. Which pattern will it be????

Monday, December 2, 2013

Day 3 of 8 Days of Designs: A Little Jewelry Music

Alright, we're up to day three of my 8 days of designs, and we've hit upon one of my favorite designs in the collection (even though I do love all of them) - The Channeling Gabrielle Necklaces:

These are gorgeously delicate, yet made strong with the use of LB Collection Wool Stainless Steel. The small amount of stainless steel also provides a certain "memory" which is very much appreciated when crafting jewelry. As a result, these are soft enough to wear next to the skin, yet can withstand more wear and tear that one might think from first glance.

Both necklaces take advantage of very simple motif work, but are worked up differently, and the pattern contains a schematic explaining the joining points of the shorter necklace.
I also thought this a good opportunity to mention how color changes in context. I photographed these necklaces against the backdrop of two different portions of one of my paintings created for this collection, and the necklace color really changes depending on the background:

 Do you see how the cerise colorway of the LB Wool Stainless Steel almost becomes neon-ified up against the blue values in the painting? Against the more neutral portion of the painting, the cerise (along with the beads) just lights up.

I love both of these, and expect I'll work up a few more in different colorways, either in the LB Wool Stainless Steel, or perhaps Habu Textile's Stainless Steel. I will need to study the colorways before I decide. I will also say that either of these would look super in Habu Textile's copper version of its stainless steel. Hmmm ... so many great materials choices, so little crafty time ...

Do stay tuned for tomorrow's design installment. And if you're hankering to see the pattern preview book for all of these designs, just scroll up to either the first or second day, and then just click on the linky.

A cone of LB Wool Stainless Steel -
there's several pieces of jewelry
to come from it!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Day 2 of the 8 Days of Designs: Hat Fun

Welcome to my second design from the latest Romantique collection, and they are 
decidedly on the fun side of romance:

Say hello to two slightly different versions of the Persephone Hood. Since I'm always so warm (just color me polar bear), I don't wear hats all that much. However, this one I'd probably don - and yes, they're warm, but they also sit lightly on the head yet stay in place because of the shape. It's inspired from a bob haircut - slightly shorter in the back and longer in the front. That extra little bit of weight in the front (and the pompoms on the left-hand side version also helps with weight) allows it to stay on the head.

And of course, there's no accounting for the pompom fun factor, as well as the fur trim on the purple version - just perfect, in my biased estimation.

These were the last projects to be photographed during this shoot and it shows, not only in the smiles and silliness of the models (we'd been at for a few hours and a few locations at the site) as well as the lengthening shadows at day's end. I like that it makes the hoods become an even more integral part of the scene - one of the hoods remained on the model during shooting of a different piece, and it just worked.

And if you haven't yet seen the pattern preview book, I provide it again here for your easy viewing:

I'll see you tomorrow for Day 3. :)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Let the 8 Days of Designs Begin!

Yes, all you crafty ones, it's finally here - my fall/winter collection! You have no idea how happy a dance I'm doing right now. Really. I have been bursting at the seams just waiting to show off these designs, so this is a pretty exciting day for moi.

I'm going to introduce each of the designs in the collection over the next 8 days, wrapping up with a wee little surprise at the end. So, first up (and in no particular order, really):

Pommi and Pearls Shawl

It just so happens that this design made it to the cover of the e-book and I'm introducing it first. Coincidence, maybe - but a happy coincidence? Definitely. This crescent-shaped shawl (with a slight batwing shape) is a design I've had in the pipeline since almost the beginning of the year. Worked up in Tess' Designer Yarns Cultivated Silk and Wool in the medium rose colorway, a light worsted weight yarn, not only does this beauty work up quickly, but it's also incredibly warm and snuggly. The shaping actually stays easily on the shoulders, and the slight point of the batwing can be folded over right at the back of the neck for additional warmth against those drafty winter days.
Because this shawl incorporates both traditional crochet lace and broomstick lace, I'd rate it an intermediate level project. However, there's only one row of broomstick lace, so if you love your knitting needles as well as your crochet hooks, I'd definitely give this project a try. I am particularly pleased with the final edging row (and it was, in part, inspiration for the shawl's name).

To read more about my inspirations for this collection, have a look-see at the preview book:

I want to heartily thank not only the wonderful models in this e-book, but also those yarn companies/independent yarn producers who generously provided me with yarn (including our own Wonder Why Gal, which design we'll get to in a few days). I sincerely hope they think I did them proud. I know I love the end result! Yes, I'm beaming with pride like a proud parent right about now.

Patterns will be added to the Ravelry database and my Ravelry shop over this entire weekend. Enjoy - and definitely support all those small businesses on this Small Business Saturday.

Tess' Designer Yarns Cultivated
Silk & Wool used for the
Pommi and Pearls Shawl

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It Seems Such Slow Going ...

... the newest collection that's almost ready for prime time. However, it's not really all that slow going, but it has stopped all other projects in their tracks. I am feeling like I've abandoned my Tunisian Meets Tartan CAL, but what's a designing gal to do?

Then there's this year's NaKniSweMo, which I was really all set to join in, but haven't yet (although I have donated prizes for those that do participate).

I've been wanting to knit the Evergreen Sleeve Tunic pretty much since I bought the book in which the pattern is published, like, four years ago. And I even have the yarn (in fact, I have several options in stash that will work for this pattern). I might not make it for NaKniSweMo, but I'm definitely going to give it my best effort.

After my latest collection is published. About which I'm really excited and can't wait for everyone to see. And over which I plan on drinking several cocktails.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Damn The Office Torpedoes

For better or worse, I am a product of public school education. Where I attended public school, there were few schooling options –the private, parochial school where the financially better-off sent their kids, or the public school. There were a few elementary schools dotted throughout the city neighborhoods, and then one public middle school and one public high school.

Back in the day, we were offered a public education that included elective “vocational” courses. General art class and band, while not technically considered vocational, were open to every student (and I won’t discuss what transpired when I came home with the violin; conversely, I was rather proud of all the hand ceramics I created while listening over and over and over to the Best of Bread album), as well as typing (yes, on an actual, manual typewriter) and the basics of business finances - spreadsheets and the like.
Then there were those courses that were gender segregated: sewing and cooking for girls, woodworking and shop class for the guys. While I wasn’t too interested in the latter, I also wasn’t too keen on the sewing class, but it came part and parcel with the cooking, in which I was very interested, so I struggled through seaming a pair of pants that no self-respecting teen would ever wear, and counted the class sessions left until the measuring and rolling could begin.

It was fairly well established that one took the vocational courses (especially shop and woodworking) if a student wasn’t on the universally agreed-as-better-for-future-prospects college-prep track. Since I was whizzing my way through AP English, French and Latin (oh, the verbs I conjugated), my time in cooking class was seen as pure fluff. Such is the long and winding (and expensive) road of the designer.

We internalize the popularly expressed value of work at a very early age. What all the adults pushed was the grand and glorious benefits of college, and then only a certain type of college experience, one which didn’t (and still doesn’t, really) include getting one’s hands literally or figuratively dirty. Enter Matthew B. Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft, a brilliant polemic against the prevailing wisdom that everyone must be an information worker in order to have and engage in work that has societal value.

Crawford, with a Ph.D. in political philosophy and ownership of his own motorcycle repair business, makes the argument for the “useful arts” – his classification for carpentry, plumbing, electrical work and mechanical repair. Using his own rather colorful personal story, Crawford recounts his disengagement from that of information worker to transformation to shop owner where he shoulders the responsibilities of, as well as fully engages with, the uniquely complete sense of accomplishment felt when he accurately diagnoses and repairs a mechanical issue. As someone who solves construction problems almost daily (and then memorializes those solutions for the general public – you know, pattern writing), I readily identify with this sense of accomplishment.

Crawford is at his most sarcastically brilliant in the chapter “The Contradictions of the Cubicle,” devoted to his short time as an articles indexer.  The opening paragraph pretty much lays it out:

The popularity of Dilbert, The Office, and any number of other pop-culture windows on cubicle life attests to the dark absurdism with which many Americans have come to view their white-collar work. Absurdity is good for comedy, but bad as a way of life. It usually indicates that somewhere beneath the threshold of official notice fester contradictions that, if commonly admitted, would bring on some kind of crisis … it is impossible to make sense of the [modern] office without noticing that it has become a place of moral education, where souls are formed and a particular ideal of what it means to be a good person is urged upon us.”

As someone who has spent most of my adult working life in offices of many stripes, I read this chapter and kept wanting to hit the imaginary solidarity bell and yell out “ding, ding, ding.” If truth be told, I probably did do that on several occasions. And if I am kneeling at the truth altar, I must admit my brief complicity with and performance in this absurdist dance while a design school instructor. How many former students groaned at the mention of the dreaded group project? Yes, that was me attempting to instill a particular value – damn the torpedoes, and all that.

Neither Crawford nor I are in any way suggesting a disengagement from society and community – far from it. In fact, Crawford makes the convincing case that as a small business owner in the business of dealing with the real-world mechanical problems of his clients (most from his very own backyard), he gets to see the consequences of his work up close and personal just about most days. This provides him an opportunity not only to get better at his art, but to reap the benefits of such a community presence.

Of course, Crawford writes what he knows – he is a white guy and the book reflects that fact, which leads to my biggest criticism of it. In many passages, he describes his willingness to learn at the hands of those with more experience (of course, other guys), yet makes many derogatory references (backhanded and otherwise) to maternalism and catty female attitudes and behaviors. I wonder if he would have been such a willing student if the teacher had been an attractive female, or if a woman telling an off-color workplace joke at his expense might not make him just a tad uncomfortable. I do note that his references to maternalism stem more from a place of raising the status of self-reliance over dependence as opposed to someone dissing a perspective based purely on gender, yet that independent spirit he wishes to foster - which has a very rich history in this country - has been held and espoused by (mostly) old white guys.
In the end, Crawford is advocating a particular kind of agency and freedom - one which fosters thinking for oneself as well as true diversity of mind and action, no stifling office trappings attached. He describes it as a sort of neo-republicanism. I'm certain my terminal degree informs my stance that I'm not willing to use such a loaded classification, but of course I do not possess a Ph.D. in political philosophy. All I know is that once you strip away all the jargon, Crawford lives a life that just makes sense, and accessibly describes it in Shop Class as Soulcraft. It is a way of being in the world that deserves its rightful place amidst what we value.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It's coming ...

... my latest collection, that is. We're in the production home stretch.

Now if only I had more time to finish up my Tunisian Meets Tartan bag. Need.More.Hours.

Monday, October 14, 2013

More Notes From the World of Pinterest

Pinterest is definitely a very intriguing place: you just never know what will strike people. I only follow a few boards, and have only a few followers, so these numbers came as a complete surprise to me:
1. Scandinavian Interior - originally pinned from Sea of Girasole blog

I love the circular metal fireplace thingy at the back of the room, as well as the clean lines and palette. I thought I was the only one, but apparently not - more than 150 people have repinned it from my board alone. Who knows how many others have pinned it from elsewhere. Scandinavian-inspired interiors are hugely popular.
2. Egg Poachers - originally pinned from this retail website

Now I love poached eggs, and it seems so do a few other people. These egg poachers have been repinned over 45 times from my Pinterest food board. I do note that a reviewer pretty much trashed it on the retailer's site, but I think they have potential. Here's why ...
3. My Food Pin Remake: Sausage Potato Mushroom Gratin
I made this recipe over the weekend (Sunday brunch), and I must say it was rather tasty. I made a few ingredient changes, which I'll cover at the end of the post, and then I added two poached eggs on top. I poach my eggs freeform and while I do a pretty decent job, I think those egg poachers and I are destined to become friends. Here's what the recipe looked like on the plate:

And here are the ingredients I used:
8 oz. bulk mild italian sausage
5 oz. organic cremini mushrooms
1 1/2 lbs organic red potatoes, washed, unpeeled, diced
1 large red onion
kosher salt to taste
generous sprinkling of cumin
1/2 c. chicken stock
about 2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup
3 heaping fistfuls of monterey jack + cheddar cheese (it was the cheese I had on hand, no swiss as the original recipe calls for)

I found I didn't need all the other spices the original recipe called for - the italian sausage was quite flavorful all on its own. The big addition was the maple syrup, and it's worth it. It adds just the right sweet note to make this dish good-morning-sweet-salty good.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tunisian Meets Tartan Bag Progress

Happy late Friday, everyone. We're on the eve of celebrating Columbus here in the U.S. (a very weird holiday indeed these days), so I hope people are about ready to have a long, restful three days off.

I'll have just a few ends to weave in
As for moi, you can see my progress on my Tunisian Meets Tartan Bag.

I am loving all of these colors together. The plum is far more subdued than I expected, and the natural is really stealing all the pop thunder. But that's the way it goes with color, it's all about context.

I thought it might be nice for people to see how the fabric is transformed once the tartan vertical "stripes" are added:

The fabric is just ho-hum with the horizontal stripes, but then the magic happens with the crochet hook and some slip stitching, using the vertical channels of the tunisian crochet fabric as a perfect ruler. I hold the yarn between my index and middle fingers of my left hand underneath the fabric, place the crochet hook in the space between each next successive horizontal row (with the vertical lines, it's actually just like a mini check-box), yarn over the hook and then pull up above the crochet fabric and through my loop on the hook. Because the yarn is taught between my fingers under the fabric, I usually can pull up the yarn without needing to look beneath the fabric's surface.

This has been my mindless crochet project at night, and I should definitely be done with this portion of the bag by early next week.

Have a great weekend everyone, but not before you head over to Wisdom Begins in Wonder and see what everyone else is cooking up this week - and if it's fall where you are, enjoy the colors of the season. I so love autumn!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

On Quicksand and Gifts for Guys

Just a man and his fiber
 I have been participating in the Knitchat Twitter conversations, which are now hosted by Angelia Robinson (@quaternityknits, as well as her website) every Saturday morning at 8:00 am pst/11:00 am est/ 4:00 pm UK time. (Btw, it's a great way to share tips and tricks, as well as bridge the gap between designers and those who stitch purely for fun, and the hour seems to fly by. If you log onto and search under #knitchat, you'll find all the conversations.)
This week's topic was knitting/crocheting for men. I arrived about 30 minutes into the conversation, and my initial tweet exchange went something like this:

@quaternityknitsAngelia Robinson @DeniseVoiedeVie, good morning! What have your made for your guys? #knitchat
@DeniseVoiedeVieDenise Voie de Vie @quaternityknits - not one little thing. EVEH. Too large a minefield for moi. :) #KNITCHAT
Initially, I must apologize to Angelia - didn't necessarily mean to shout the "eveh," and I'm certain it might have been strange to see me entering a conversation concerning a topic on which I seemingly have little to discuss.

However, I actually do have a thing or two to say about this (like, you couldn't tell). Angelia made an earlier vague reference to "the sweater curse," and those of us who are NPR devotees also know the flap about those "scratchy hand-knit sweaters." Knitting for guys is like stepping into quicksand - the more you try and escape unscathed, the deeper into the muck you sink.

I haven't knit anything for any guy because I'm not one for surface gestures and no guy has ever asked me for a handmade piece of clothing or accessory. (Of course we won't discuss all the historical baggage associated with crochet and knit designs for men ... but I digress.) I will also flat out tell you that if any man has ever seen me as that gal who'll patiently sit and knit him socks ... well ... he (and the rest of you) can just forget that. Banish that homespun-Little-House-On-The-Prairie scene from your minds. Especially since it involves ... socks.

However, if my guy was evolved and self-assured enough to point out a design he liked and asked if I would make it, I absolutely would do it. In.A.Heartbeat. I would also hope he'd be open to researching fiber colors with me (and online is fine, I wouldn't subject him to an actual LYS trip) so he could get the piece in colors that would make him happy. Because, you see, dressing and body adornment is a very personal thing. I admit I don't want anyone telling me what I can and cannot wear, so why would I subject someone I supposedly care about to the very thing to which I am so strongly opposed?

So, I will sidestep the fibery quicksand, and if my guy wants something handmade, all he need do is ask. Nicely, of course. And no socks.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fiber ... and Some Pinning Notes

Happy Friday everyone! On the fiber front, here's where I stand with my Tunisian Meets Tartan bag:
The three pieces of the bag were whipped up fairly quickly. Now I need to add the "tartan" (and I'll get to add that pop of heathered plum) and then commence finishing. However, my JAL participants requested more time, so we'll be at it through the end of October. If anyone is interested in joining us, there's still plenty of time. I probably won't pick this up again for a week or so, as I have a very full design plate at the moment.
As I blogged a little while back, I have a Pinterest account. I have been enjoying pinning things that catch my eye and inspire. Most of what I pin is by and large inspirational or fanciful ... except for ... well ... the food. Since I love to cook and eat (!), I've pinned many pins to my food board with the intention of trying the underlying dish. Recently, I did just that, and I thought I'd share my results with you (your results may, of course, vary):
1. Lemon Crinkle Cookies: (originally pinned by someone else from


To the right is what the cookies look like in the original pin/blogpost.

I repinned these onto my food board because I love citrus, the cookies look darn delicious, and sounded too easy to put together. I expect the last point should have been the tip-off for me, since 2 of the 4 ingredients are highly processed (box cake mix and whipped topping). They were, however, as advertised - super easy to put together, as you can see in my before baking photo:

My finished cookies actually looked pretty good:

However, then there's that eating thing. While I am not opposed to convenience food (especially boxed cake mixes), I usually doctor them up after baking, because they are a little ... well ... bland. These cookies look far better than they taste. If I ever made them again, I would definitely punch up the lemon flavor with some fresh zest or even a little squeezed juice. Ultimately, though, I didn't really like the texture of them - they were a little too cake-like for me. But, again, you might want to whip up a batch and check them out for yourself.

2. Chicken Broccoli Casserole (originally pinned by someone else from

Now, folks, I love me a good casserole - one pot, in the oven, resulting in several meals - oh yeah. I had roasted a chicken earlier and after having two meals with the dark meat (my eating m.o. when it comes to chicken), this seemed like the perfect way to use up the white meat plus the fresh broccoli I had in the fridge. But again, the recipe calls for canned cream of chicken soup. I haven't actually used canned soup of any kind in quite a while, and even though this dish came out perfectly fine:

I don't think I'll be making it again because of the processed, flavorless taste of the soup mix. There were some intriguing comments on the original blog entry, one of which noted the cook used alfredo sauce; another added curry. I think the massaman curry paste I tested recently for America's Test Kitchen would be a fantastic substitute here, omitting the cheese and probably subbing in a different veggie (although I did like the fresh broccoli in this - it was a great bright note amid the flat sauce), since there's a lot of ginger in the curry paste. As you can see, I'm pretty much remaking the entire dish.

So, while these pins will come down from my food board, there's one really good lesson learned - if there's too much prepared or processed food in the ingredients, I should skip it and move on. I don't begrudge any cook convenience but for me, my tastes have just radically changed. C'est la vie.

A totally gratuitous George Bailey photo ... and,
yes, he really was sleeping "on" the chair just like that

Now don't forget to head on over to Andrea's at Wisdom Begins in Wonder to see everyone else's tasty fiber plate this Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday. May your weekend be filled with flavor ... and of course, fiber.