Thursday, November 8, 2012

Playing by Ear Part II

It makes me proud to know that I can buy a doily at an antique store and then use it as a template to make one myself. I bought this variegated crochet thread on a whim, it just seemed to fit this pattern. I'm pleased with the outcome, but seem once again to have failed to write down the pattern. Perhaps next time.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Is plastic ok?

Whenever I go shopping I am asked, is plastic ok? No, it isn't, is it? But still I smile and say yes, that's fine. And so to assuage my guilt I have begun to obsessively collect these bags. I then began to request that my coworkers give me their bags. My office is stuffed to the gills with newspaper and grocery bags. At home there are bags crammed into every closet, corner and under the bed storage container. My garbage can sits upon a plastic yarn rug. Somewhere in a box or bag or closet there is a partially finished kitty rug made of plastic yarn. I use a bag made of grocery bags to hold other bags, and another bag made of newspaper bags has served as a purse, when needed. But still I cannot keep up with the deluge of plastic.
Still I am determined and that combined with my dogged and obsessive need to crochet will see a great many plastic bags recycled into something useful or even delightful. After all, does't it seem appropriate to create plastic sea creatures? For example this squid... Who admittedly begs for a Nautilus to attack. Perhaps I will get to work on some jelly fish... Right after I make some more progress on my plastic yarn laundry bag.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Playing by Ear

My niece can read patterns. It took me 15 or 20 years before I figured out how to read patterns. I was content for that long to just single crochet.
I recall my grandmother telling me once that I could discern a pattern by looking at a finished piece. At the time I couldn't even fathom following a pattern that was spelled out. To think that I could play a pattern by ear, as it were, that seemed like the stuff of fantasy.
Well talent and time progresses and I've learned to read patterns, but better yet I've learned to play by ear. These days when I see a pattern for sale I will just work it out, staring at it at length and mimicking it- undoing and redoing until I get it right. Maybe it would be easier to just buy the pattern and follow it, but where's the reward in that?
Recently my mother requested a doily for grandma's lazy Susan. I made one that ended up being too small- it was placed under a lamp in the living room. While visiting I spent time staring at the doily that currently occupies the lazy Susan. I took a few pictures for reference and set about to make it myself. I think it turned out ok, now if only I could remember to write down the patterns...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Baby craft project 5: Layette

This project felt like maybe it took forever.  I started and completed multiple projects while this waited to be finished.  Perhaps it had something to do with it being a 3 part project.  Once I got to the blanket I was just tired of using a shell stitch.  That can happen.  Is stitch fatigue a thing?  How about color fatigue? 

At any rate, at long last it is done, and my weird reborn doll gets to model it.  Say hello, Esme...

If you like this, you can purchase it at my Etsy shop.

When I finished I had just enough yarn left over to make this little guy.

(He's pleased to meet ya.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Did you see the Sunrise?

When I am crocheting I am content to watch pretty much anything.  I depend upon my roommate to determine our entertainment.  This could mean a long forgotten classic film from the 1940's, a laughably bad B movie from the 80's or a sci fi serial from the 30's.  When forced to decide for myself it usually means Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because I don't have to think about it, and there seems to be an endless supply.  Recently however I found myself happily hooking to Magnum P.I.
First we went through a list of the top episodes, then through the ones with intriguing description, then from the first episode forward, and so on.  Early on my roommate declared that Tom Selleck had the "eyes of a kind wolf" which delighted me to no end.  I finished several projects during the Magnum P.I. obsession, and thought, "I would like to in some small way pay tribute to this nostalgic jaunt into 1980's Haiwaii.  And so I set about creating a Magnum P.I. commemorative blanket, to honor that beloved, laid back Viet Nam vet, who goes from light hearted jesting to cold blooded killing faster than you can say "The Curse of the King Kamehameha Club", and his precious if not vaguely homosexual relationships with Higgins.
As I set about to create this blanket, I received a surprising amount of advice.  I decided in the end to keep it simple, my tribute to the intricacies of Magnum's relationship with Higgins will have to play out in some other medium...perhaps finger puppets.  I do not have extensive experience in patterns that require frequent changing of colors, so, I figured I had enough of a challenge with the Detroit Tigers logo, and didn't wish to figure out how to work Rick, TC, and Higgins into the pattern.  So with graph paper and pencil I laid out a simple design.

It begins with a sketch.
I began to crochet a Magnum P.I. themed blanket.  I do not doubt that there is a serious dearth of Magnum P.I. related crocheted material, although I can't imagine why.  I suppose what with the show ending nearly 25 years ago it ceased to be en vogue and for some reason the DIY movement has not yet learned to appreciate the veritable bounty of potential in this untapped source.  I'm not saying I'm going to start a new trend in DIY...but maybe just maybe before too long we'll be seeing a cross stitch pattern on Etsy stating, "Lads, Patrol."

A mustache begins to take form...
And at long last, behold...the Magnum P.I. Blanket.  and perhaps the world is a better place for it.

Addendum...I submitted the blanket to the Fan Art section of Magnum Mania, and and proud to share the link, as I am now part of an elite group of artists dedicated to honoring this great show.  Furthermore the blanket was sold immediately when put up for sale on Etsy. A short time later I received a request for another Magnum P.I. blanket via Etsy. I shared updates with her as the project progressed, and she was kind enough to send me a picture of her boyfriend who received the blanket as a gift.

Sometime later I was discussing the blanket with a friend who told me that her husband thought that Magnum P.I. blanket was pretty much like printing money. If only it didn't take so long to print that money!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Squirrel Baby Costume

I was on my way to the liquor storage at work to take inventory with a co-worker.  We had to stop in the way to drop off table number holders for the Deputy Director.  As I waited in the hall the Director shouted out my name and waved me into his office.  He was there with two curators.  He praised my work in the staff show.  I thanked him, humbley.  I've never felt too comfortable with compliments.  One of the curators asked if I took commissions.  She requested a squirrel costume for her daughter's 1st birthday.  This was the same curator who a year ago requested a a squirrel doily, which I made. 

We spoke briefly about what she wanted, and I can only hope that it suits her needs, and fits her little girl.  When I finished it, I was a little surprised at how cute it was.  I think I can also count this toward my goal to make a baby item from one of each of my pattern books and magazines, since the sweater and hat came from two seperate magazine.  I had to embellish the patterns a bit to add the tail and ears, but it's close enough.

I also got a chance to use my reborn doll, Esme, to model the outfit.  She swims in it, but you get the idea.

And here is the costume on its intended recipient. She seems pleased with it!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Norse myth in which Thor dresses as Freya

One morning Thor woke up to find that his hammer was missing.  Well, this was a problem because his hammer is the most powerful weapon in all of Asgard, and in the wrong hands, well that would just be terrible.  Thor asked Loki if he could help him find the hammer.  Loki agreed, he suspected he might know who did it anyway.  Loki went to the giants and asked about the Hammer.  Thrym, one of these giants said, "Yeah, I stole the hammer, and you guys aren't getting it back unless you send Freya to marry me."

When Loki returned he told everyone, "look I've got some bad news.  Thrym has the hammer and he won't give it back unless we send Freya to marry him."  Freya was like, "Oh hell no." and the other gods agreed, they had too much respect for her to do anything like that.  Just then Loki had a plan, "What if we dressed Thor as Freya and sent him instead?"

So, Thor put on a fancy wedding dress and a veil and went to meet the giant Thrym.  When he arrived Thrym was super jazzed to get exactly what he had asked for and immediately handed the hammer over to Thor (who he thought was Freya).  At that moment Thor tore off the gown and bludgeoned the giants to death.

At this point in the telling of the story my sister snorts with laughter.  I am glad that she shares in my delight with this particular myth.  It is a story I tell as I explain why I am working on a rather elaborate doily- to make a veil (the pattern of the doily was chosen because it resembled a spider web...because, oh what a tangled web we weave... and so on).  I wondered many times during the process of making this worth it?  Now that I've finished I think I can safely say, yes.  Yes, I think it was worth the frustration, the cramped hands, and the frown lines that were etched on my face as I worked on this beloved project.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The quiet sadness of doilies

This weekend I enjoyed a trip to Antique World. While my friend perused the vintage paperback booth seeking treasures in pulp and science fiction I planted myself in the booth containing doilies and buttons...among other things including, but not limited to vintage shoes and clothing, and Spice Girl dolls.  I spent enough time poring over the doilies that one of the women working that day stopped to ask if I needed help.  I told her thank you, no.  I was just admiring the beauty of the doilies, and imagining the hard work that went into making them.  I went on to tell her that I made these kinds of things myself and was looking for pattern ideas.  Perhaps I offered too much information, and she might have preferred a simple, "no thanks," but   I found myself oddly touched (in that way that indicates slight insanity) by these doilies.

Because I have logged countless hours, hook in hand, lovingly creating project after project, I have a profound appreciation for the art of the craft.  I have been told repeatedly- you should sell your work.  When I hear this my thoughts go immediately to the racks of afghans at thrift stores, and to the doily basket at Antique World.

I have always been overly sentimental.  For years I did not throw away shoes, even after they had broken down beyond wear-ability.  They had served me well, and deserved better than a flippant toss into the waste bin.  While I have worked to be more practical (with the expressed interest of not appearing on the television program "Hoarders") it still breaks my heart to think of the time, and love that goes into a handcrafted item like a blanket or doily, only to find it in what is essentially the waste bin of commerce- the second hand shops.  I want to buy all of these forgotten creations, give them homes where they will be appreciated.  Perhaps a Doily Rescue Mission is not anyone's top priority, but at the very least, let us recognize and respect the work that went into making them.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Epic Hats

It is that time of year again, time for the Staff Show.  This year I found myself scrambling to come up with something.  Although I have been busy all year crocheting enough to have made a house cozy, I realized that none of it seemed Staff Show worthy.  As I racked my brain trying to come up with something, my Darth Vader bust stared forward in silence, shrouded in a second Gilgamesh hat (the original was given as a gift to my sister).  Sure the Gilgamesh hat was all well and good, but there was something lacking...a yinless yang.

When I was a child my family would vacation in DC.  We frequently found ourselves at the Museum of Natural History where my sister and I would enjoy a little stop motion film in the Ancient Cultures section.  The film was an adaptation of the Epic of Gilgamesh and Enkidu.

It made an impact on me, and I assume my sister, who seems to share my brain waves in frequently erie ways.  I was impressed by the idea of the love that grew between these two men and the beauty of a story of transformation that ends with the bitter sorrow of loss.  It spoke volumes of the human condition...which has remained true for as long as we have shared stories. 

The Gilgamesh hat needed a companion, and so the Enkidu hat was created.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?

As I lay in bed one morning I thought, "I know, I'll make a Hamlet doll".  I had earlier attempted an Ophelia scarf, which ended up being a crochet fail.  I'm not sure what was missing, or what might have saved Ophelia (so to speak).  The scarf was ultimately dissected and repurposed for other projects.

At any rate, I set about to create Hamlet at the point where he discovers Yorick's skull in the graveyard.  I did not follow a pattern. He stands in my living room, contemplative and melancholy, keeping company with other crocheted sculptures born of my ennui.  

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Baby Craft Project 4: Berry Baby Hat and Booties

This Baby Craft Project just might make my head implode from cuteness.  Number three nearly killed me, but when I finished the booties for number four I wanted to scream until my throat bled, they were so damn cute.  I have never made booties before, and now, its pretty much all I want to do.

This particular pattern was found in Crocheted Gifts: Irrestible Projects to Make and Give.  The book is edited by Kim Werker, but this design was by Chloe Nightingale.  The pattern is found on pages 31-35. 

I chose a fairly chunky purple for the "berry", I might venture to say that mine is a bit more eggplant than berry.  Regardless, it is still cute.

Baby Craft Project 3: Little Bo Sheep Hat

An over abundance of naps, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the excitement of completing part three of my Baby Craft Project kept me up to the wee hours of the morning.  This one came from the Sept/Oct 2011 issue of Crochet Today magazine, pp 82-84 and was designed by Noreen Crone-Findlay.

This was the first issue of Crochet Today that I received.  I thrill at its arrival, and wish it were more frequent.  This particular issue had Halloween items, and this baby hat was a particularly adorable one.  I did not have the right size yarn, which altered the gauge, and instead of a toddler hat it came out an infant cap.  That's ok,  a fuzzy white coat of sweater and baby is a little lamb.

This particular hat found a home with a dear friend, and her little lamb.