Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Robyn's Michelle-dontated Isabella Wrap

I’m *so* excited to start this wrap! I’ve eyed this one forever. Now that the weather’s changed I’m going to be working furiously on shawls. I can’t wait to finish this thing and wear it all the time.

Last week Michelle (EvanstonMichelle) graciously gave me Blueprint Crochet, along with another bunch of yarn. This project is brought to you and me by that book and yarn.

The theme of my life for the past 3 years has been being grateful for the awesome, amazing, generous friends I have in my life. It’s exciting in cases like this where I’ll literally be able to wrap myself in that love.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Here Comes the Invitation

Opps. Um. I forgot to blog. I finished the Ladybug Afghan and the Star-ghan for Mosaic. I attended the Midwest Fiber and Folk Fair a few weeks ago. Instead of back tracking, I'm going to post about my current project, which I'll finish today/tomorrow.

Asha, a friend since junior high*, is getting married on Sept 5. The ceremony and reception are going to be at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and I think that it'll be amazingly beautiful. Her bridal shower is tomorrow evening. One of the wedding gifts my parents got was an invitation keepsake. A picture of them on their wedding day and the wedding invite were mounted on what that looked like an open book. Since Asha is the kind of romantic girl who has probably been dreaming of her wedding since she knew what a wedding was, I thought an invitation keepsake would be perfect. I'm crocheting a trim out of 2 strands of size 8 perle cotton, including beads. I'm not sure if I'm going to mount the trim to the card, or how that will go, but it's working up to be perfect. I have the math all done, so when I start the final project after I post this, it should work out relatively quickly.

I'm excited about the feedback I've been getting as I've been working the kinks out of this project. Originally, I planned on using 1 strand of thread instead of 2, but it was just too small for me to work with. I used a strand of ecru and a random brown I had on hand at a crochet night, and just as I was about to scrap the project, my friends were oohing and aahing. They convinced me that using the darker brown and ecru would be perfect. I wasn't sure about the beads, but they helped me with the colors. So, I firmly believe that crocheting in public, with other yarn crafters, is so essential to creativeness.

I'm also excited because I plan to make a pattern for this project. I've never written a pattern for any of the things I've designed. This is the first thing I've created that took so much trial-and-error to work out. I was thinking about submitting it to Tension Magazine, and last night in one of my dreams, they accepted it.

* time has been kicking my ass, and the fact that we've been friends for 18 years blows my mind to bits.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

my top tip

Lion Brand yarn asked for top tips for new crochet/knitters. Here was mine:

Pictures, pictures pictures! Develop the habit of documenting your WIPs and FOs by taking pictures -- make it a step of your project finishing process. I sure wish I had pictures of some of the first stuff I made! At the end of the year, it's powerful to look through your albums and see how many awesome things you've done! Plus, yarn crafters give away so much of what we make, that without documentation, it's easy to forget half of our FOs.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Crochet Classes

Saturday was the first of a two session Amigurumi class. It went so well! The project we're working on is the Owl in Ana Paula Rimoli's book Amigurumi World: Seriously Cute Crochet. In the first session we started crocheting the body of the owl. Before the next class I asked them to crochet the eye roundies, wings, and to complete the body until the decrease rows. Next week we'll attach the pieces, stuff 'em, and close 'er up.

There are 6 women in the class. The skills they brought in varied, but they all knew how to single crochet. The things I taught included: the magic ring, crocheting in the round, increasing, color changing, and decreasing. Everyone picked up new skills easy peasy.

My favorite method for starting to crochet in the round is the magic ring. Some people have a hard time with it, so I wasn't sure how teaching it to a group would go. I was so excited they were able to catch on! I think it set a nice tone for the session, since starting out frustrated is never fun.

Prior to the class, I started 3 bodies, each using a different method of starting (6sc in magic ring; ch2, 6sc in the first ch; and ch4, sl, 6sc in the ring). It was interesting to see how much tighter my tension was compared to the owl I made months ago, and how much tighter my tension got with each owl body I started. I need to crochet 2 more sets of wings, 3 sets of eye roundies, as well as finish the bodies to the decrease rounds for the class on Saturday.

The class was capped at 6. There's already one woman on the waiting list. I hope the class runs again, because I think it will continue to be popular. Amigurumis are just so darn cute. When the class was over, even though they only had half the body done, they all thought what they had so far was cute. It was exciting to see how much they were enjoying it!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

ladybug, ladybug

I monitor several craigslist queries with google reader. My $35 table loom was a steller find last year. The other searches are for a spinning wheel, binding machine, and (obviously) yarn.

Last week an offer of $50 to finish an afghan popped up. A woman started this blanket for her granddaughter, which she can't finish because of arthritis in her wrist(s). She already has all the yarn and the pattern. My job will be to crochet and block the piece.

I'm excited! We're meeting at a Starbucks today so that I can get the materials. This will be my first contract crochet work. I'm working on my second project for Mosaic right now, but unlike this ladybug afghan, I'm not paid cash for completing display items.

wire necklace

Yesterday I worked with wire for the first time. JoAnn had a killer sale on beads, so I stocked up. I decided to go with 4 different beads: a pack of clear, black, and grey crystals in 4mm and 6mm; white, round, resin beads; donut-shaped, black beads with a colored sheen; and green glass, cube and chipped. I just poured the beads into a custard dish, stirred them around, and stung them in whatever order they fell into my hand.

After I beaded the 26 gauge wire, I had a hard time working with it. I was worried that I strung all those beads for nothing. Turns out that the real problem was not using a large enough hook. I only used a chains and beaded chain stitches. I started out with several plain chain stitches. After that I'd do 2-5 beaded chains, a chain or two, and then 1-2 plain chains. Most of the beaded chains only have 1 bead apiece, but sometimes when there were 2 small beads in a row, I'd chain them together.

Originally I was going to make a matching bracelet, but I wasn't sure how long it should be. So, I decided to use all the beads in the necklace. I made one long strand to be wrapped around the neck 2 or 3 times. It's probably about 5 and a half feet long. At the end, I did several plain chains and added a lobster claw. I wasn't sure how to hide the end of the wire so it wouldn't poke my neck, so I hid it by flattening most of the chains with pliers. It seemed silly to add a jump ring to the other end since the claw can grab onto any chain stitch so I didn't bother. I might cut the claw off and join the ends, since it's long enough to fit over the head wrapped 3 times, but I haven't decided.

I like the end result even though it looked funny when I put it on. The trouble is that I'm not a jewelry person; for the most part, I haven't worn jewelry since junior high. I had the same problem with the choker I designed: I'm not sure if it's ugly, or just ugly on me. In this case, I know it just looked funny since I'm not used to seeing something around my neck (the t-shirt with a high, round neckline didn't help).

Next time I plan on working with 28 or 32 gauge wire. The stiffness of the 26 gauge wire made crocheting tricky. I had to use an H hook, and I think smaller chains would be prettier. I'm thinking of contacting a jewelry making high school friend to see if she'd teach me how to work with wire. I feel clumsy with pliers. I know that some of clumsiness with fade with experience, but I'm sure learning proper technique will help.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I need a kick in the pants to get this going!

I really want to be a crochet blogger. That means actually posting to my crochet blog. And I suppose I really, really ought to upload project pics and post them and add them to ravelry. Oh this new-fangled technology (since i haven' t been blogging for7 years or anything...).

There have been 2 Crochet Guild meetings since my last post. The April meeting was redirected to the Knit Out Crochet Too event held at the Northbrook Court Mall. I spent the day sitting at a table with other guild members, crocheting away. I taught a few knitters how to crochet and was able to help a woman stuck on the last parts of the Fat Bottom Bag in Stitch'n'Bitch Happy Hooker. I also participated in the fastest crocheter contest. I was overly caffeinated and my hands shook horribly, so I had a rather poor showing. The winner was a fellow member of our crochet guild. Yay! I bet next year's KOCT will be even bigger and better.

Our May meeting featured our 3rd annual Crochet Buffet. I'd never witnessed the Crochet Buffet before, but I participated. I sat with Devona, who had baby items, showcasing amigurumi. I brought all the amis I had on hand, which was 8 plus a bunch of otamas. Since every meeting I've brought amis for show and tell, everyone seems to think I specialize in them. Other displays included bead, Irish Lace, fashion, Tunisian, free form, doilies, motifs, and shawls. We had a great turnout, including several new members. I loved having an easy way to go around and meet my fellow guild members, since it's hard for me to talk to strangers.

Right now I would rather be at Panera with the Cooler by the Lake crochet meetup, but I'm sick. I think a bowl of soup would do my throat good, but it doesn't seem fair to bargain with my friends' health on a holiday weekend. So, instead, I'm going to go catch up on my soaps and craft away. I may work on the Starghan I'm working on for a future crochet class at Mosaic, a trash bag for my car, or maybe my entry for September's NIC Chapter Challenge. I'm also feeling like doing some embroidery, so I might start on something there. Who knows what I'll be in the mood for until I do it?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Good Crochet Weekend

I had an excellent crochet weekend.

Friday I finished the Soft and Simple Choker by MaryKate Newcomb from Jewelry with a Hook. Version 1 used size 8, ecru perle cotton thread and glass, silver-lined E6 seed beads in a rainbow of colors. I did all the beading on Thursday while watching a movie. The pattern called for 214 beads, but after I counted 210, I strung a bunch more just in case. I did the actual crocheting in a few hours, making the beading the most time consuming part of the project. It was my first experience with bead crochet. The hardest part was stitching into the foundation of beaded chains, though I'm not used to working with thread, so that could be part of the struggle. I managed to get the bead closure and ends woven in before I left the house for a Crochet/Knit meetup, so I was able to wear the necklace out. I got compliments on it before I told the group that I made it. Score one for me!

Saturday night I spent a while working on part of what will be my entry for the Northern Illinois Crochet Guild's contest. The theme is summertime, and for the purpose of this post, I hope I'm not supposed to keep my project a surprize. I'm going to crochet a scene of a dude laying on a beach. I worked on the dude. So far I've got his legs, swim trunks, and 1/2 his torso complete. The trunks don't come off; I used a joining technique that makes the body come out of the trunks like a real body would. He even has a belly button. I thought about working on other parts first, but I need to know his size to have everything else in proper scale.

Today I crocheted up version 2 of the Soft and Simple Choker. I wanted to see what it would look like on a heavier yarn. I used a black sport weight microfiber with the same beads. Stringing the beads was much more difficult because some of the beads' holes were too small for the thickness of the yarn while stringing, though I was a bit faster at it since it was my second go. I used a G hook, which was quite a bit larger than the C I used with the thread. Crocheting into the foundation of beaded chains was easier this time since the chains were bigger, but the microfiber is always a bit splitty so it still felt slow-going. I didn't have the pattern with me, so I did it from memory. I sat there for 1.5 hours and almost finished the crocheting. Since the chains with a G hook were so much bigger than they were with a C, I used fewer pattern repeats for approximately the same length. I'm sure I'll be pissed I see how many beads go unused when I'm finished, but better to have strung too many beads than too few. I think it looks too bulky, but Victoria said that it was pretty. It will be interesting to compare them when I'm finished.

There are 2 other things I did, unless I forgot something. Friday I wove in the ends of the All Shawl I finished a few weeks ago. I did my first blocking, even though it was a cheater block. Since it's synthetic, I just wet it and put it through a spin cycle in the washing machine. I laid it out on the table down there to dry. I could tell that the mesh opened up a bit and the pineapple edging became more defined. I'll check it out tomorrow. The second unexciting thing is a pink and white block I'm making for charity. At last month's NIC meeting a woman came requesting 7"x7" blocks for an afghan(s) she'll be selling to raise money for (i think) Breast Cancer. It'll be done after another row or two and a few border rows.

In conclusion, given the amount of sleeping I did Saturday and Sunday, I feel quite accomplished.

Enough is Enough!

One time I was out to dinner with my grandparents and I used "y'all." Since I've lived in the Midwest my whole life, my grandmother asked what was up. I said that a greeting of "hi, guys" has always bothered me. She agreed. Since she thought "y'all" was silly, I asked her what she prefers. She said that she preferred "Hi, folks!" because "hi, guys" sounded rude. I have to admit that I thought there would be more to it for her, since there's much more to it for me.

My degree is in Women's Studies. The first WST class I took was a philosophy class. I'm smart, but reading philosophy is about as easy for me as reading legalese. The only thing I learned from the class was about language. It's generally assumed that when the old philosophers say "man" and "mankind," they meant "human kind." However, when they talked about women, they were very specific. When they said that women were misbegotten males, they meant just that. Thus, the use of "man" and "mankind" also meant just that.

I also took 3 linguistic classes which included the politics of English, language and culture, and an independent study on language and gender. To greet a group of men, you say "Hey, guys." To greet a group of women you could say "ladies," but it's more common to greet a them as "guys." If you referred to a mixed-gender group as "ladies," the men would consider it an insult. If that group was womanless, the men would totally flip out. I'm well aware that this is a pretty minor example of patriarchy, but I hate it hate it hate it. I believe in the politics of language. People made fun of me for using "y'all," but it was a political choice.

At this point I know you're thinking to yourself "Robyn, what is this political post doing in your new crochet blog?" Well. I think it's high time that crocheters finally get our fair share of attention. I have nothing against knitters, but I am so over the knitriarchal system whereby crochet is the other yarn craft. Just as I'm sick of being "you guys"ed, I'm sick of going to "Open Knit Nights." At first I rebelled against the knitriarchy by meekly calling yarn crafting events "Knit and Crochet Nights" so I could include myself. Then I got a little prouder and switched the order to "Crochet and Knit Night," even though knitters always outnumber crocheters.

I feel that now is the time for the next step. Fellow hookers: if knitters can lump all the yarn workers into the "knitter" category because more concise, why can't we do the same? The only rationale I can come up sounds a lot like why "hey, guys" and "hey, ladies" are not interchangeable, and I think that that is unacceptable.

I hereby pledge to give myself, my fellow hookers, and our craft due credit. While I respect all yarn crafters, it's time for me to respect myself, and my kind, first. I vow to replace knitriarchal phrases with crochet-loving ones. From this point forward, I will focus on myself and refer to all yarn events with phrases such as "Crochet Groups" and "Open Crochet Nights."

Um. I think it's time for me to bind off... this skein is out of yarn.