Monday, October 27, 2008

Baby Boots and Big Hair

Hi Folks!
It has been awhile since I last posted and sooo much has happened that I'll try to just hit the highlights...

Let's start with October~

For this year's Crochet Texas! charity project, I joined the "threadies" and made a couple of pieces for our baptismal set. I did the bonnet and booties... (Insert various "Awwwws" here.)

I went to Braintree, MA to visit where Fred was spending the majority of his business hours at the time. During a weekend adventure, we went to an old church and saw the underground crypts of John Adams and John Quincy Adams:

But the greatest find was all the crochet I discovered throughout the church "above ground."

October also marked the end of the State Fair of Texas. I was fortunate enough to have had 3 pieces displayed this year:

[The green pillow (also referred to in tones of animosity as the "8-hour pillow" went to Stephen. The pink tank went to my niece Chelsea and the Aran sweater went to Mom.]
For Halloween ~ THE most under-rated holiday of the year ~ I donned a big ol' wig and some scary usual. (Funny thing~I did not win the costume contest this year ~ because the judges thought I was wearing a store-bought mask... Freaks!!)
You know, sometimes being too good is just too bad!

Scary? ... Yes.
"Store bought?"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And then there's Meg!

So, I went to the 2008 Knit and Crochet Show in Manchester, NH last month. It was my first national event and I had a BLAST, but I made one little mistake - inviting "Meg" along.

Don't get me wrong - Meg is a great Muse, but travelling companion? Not so much!

But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning...

I had a great time at the convention; I went up early to attend the Professional Development Day and learned alot from the "Industry Established." The first night, I went to dinner with friends while wearing my crocheted vest... yes, the one snubbed by the State Fair of Texas... and received several compliments from established designers. Margaret Hubert , being one of THE 3 "Old Broads" introduced me to the other two, Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss. Here's us at the PDD:
The rest of the day was CHOCK-FILLED with information and I went back to the Hotel with my head spinning-full of information. Meg was preoccupied with the MinorLeague ball game going on right outside our hotel room, so I escaped any interrogation from her about what she had missed:

But that didn't last long...

The next day, when I returned from classes, she was livid!

It seems that when I invited her to accompany me to the conference, she expected to meet people. I (hesitantly) agreed to introduce her to "the players" as she called them, only after she promised to be on her best behavior. In Meg's defense, she was a natural - no fawning or gushing - and she met several "players."

She met Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss:

She met Drew Emborsky (The Crochet Dude) and Robyn Chachula from the PBS Show "Knit and Crochet Today"

She met Jennifer Hansen, The Stitch Diva:

She met Jenny King (from Australia). (And those are Jenny's travelling companions, Lizzie and George):

She ran out and practically accosted Myra Wood for a picture in the sun:

This is my new friend Patsy H. from Tampa, Florida. Our local chapter adopted her since she was the only one from Tampa: (insert appropriate prayer here)

These ladies had the most wonderful merino at market; They are Decadent Fibers:

My friends Pam and Yvette had to get in on the action:

And my loyal friend Jan:

As well as several vendors and shoppers at market:

And in perhaps the strangest display of solidarity, Meg and her Matching Auntie Molly:
Never before had there been someone to whom Meg was so drawn!

All in all, I thought Meg was appeased enough to safely pack into the bag and head to the airport. But once we were on the plane, her lamentations began again. Seems she didn't like leaving while the Party was in full swing... me either !

But finally she settled in for a peaceful flight, thankful for the opportunities...

Me, too, Meg. Me too!



Sunday, July 13, 2008

Long Time, No Blog!

Call off the hounds; I'm here!

I realize how long it's been, but you know how these things go... first you're "a little" behind, then "a little" becomes "alot," then "alot" becomes seemingly "unsurmountable," but I'll try to catch up on what I've been up to.

I made a wool bag... a BIG wool bag... Big enough before felting that I could actually fit in it!
After felting, it's still large enough to hold even my most ambitious projects; in fact, I could use it for luggage!I experimented with dying Fisherman's Wool (by Lion Brand) and felting it up in various other shapes:

There was the intermittent jewelry. This one was for Mom:
There was a couple of trips. While in Manhattan for a long weekend, I was able to go by the office I worked in for 6 months and had a great lunch with my former supervisor, Tanya Marie. Everyone say "HI" to Tanya:

Fred and I went to Galveston for my birthday:

And we went to one of our favorite places, Puerto Vallarta, for vacation. It was a week of relaxation and great meals that was looonnnggg overdue:

And during the whole time, I was STILL working on "that one project." You know the one. The jacket that refuses to be finished!! That's right. I am still working on the basket-weave jacket whenever I can stand it. So far, I have the back, 2 sleeves, and almost all of one front piece completed, but it seems like I will never reach the end!!


::insert prayer for perseverance here::



Sunday, April 13, 2008

Spring Accessory Sprung!

I am finally getting some semblance of regularity in life after last weekend's Fiber Fest. Whew!! What a blast! - An exhausting and sometimes overwhelming blast - but still, a BLAST! I would say that I can hardly wait until next year, but I and the other board members (Hi MK, MA, MS and ML!) have ALOT of work to do before then. Good thing we have a full year!

I acquired additional fiber at the Fest (big surprise!) along with a great bag I found on clearance! Here's a pic of the haul:

With so much beautiful fiber, where's a fiend to begin? I started a sock with the "Acero" I bought from Brooks Farm but that's still in the "tweaking" stages. I began a wrap with the pastel "Harmony" lace-weight I got from JoJoLand. I absolutely love this yarn, so airy and light. The long color color repeats make it a dream ~ the pattern I chose, though, a nightmare!! After only a couple of hours, I scrapped it for a pattern of my own design. Now I just might have the patience to finish the piece. Being so fine though, I find I can work best on it in good lighting, daylight preferably, so have decided it will not be a piece I do in the evenings, when most of my crafting time is.

So what's a fiend to do? You guessed it. Start yet another piece. The idea of the finished felted bag jumped to the foreground of my mind fully formed. I used the Himilayan wool with recycled silk, also gained at the Fest - choosing to ignore the label that read "60% wool, 40% silk." Any good fuller knows that this combination normally spells disaster in the fulling process, but I proceeded on blind faith. The yarn seemed like wool, true enough, and I could see the multi-colored silk throughout, but I could scarcely believe it was 40% silk! I would take my chances!!

I finished crocheting the bag in one evening and spent only a few hours on the felting process. Normally, I like to felt everything by hand, in the kitchen sink. Afterall, with a front-load washer, it's kinda hard to add boiling water to the machine mid-cycle. But just the thought of all that sqeezing and pressing hurt my hands, so this time, I started the piece in a machine at a laundry mat. (You can imagine the stares of all the people doing it "right" as I squirted dishwashing liquid into the washer like it was only natural...) Three "hot" wash cycles later I returned home and let the bag dry overnight before completing the process in my kitchen sink.

After a few beads and a handle, I now have this drying on the craft table:

I LURV It!! The yarn (which started out Texas Burnt Orange in color) had lost some of the dye in the process and the resulting bag is a bit more bright orange than I had hoped, but it's beautiful, nonetheless!

Besides, all the fashion mags say bright colors are IN this spring. Just in time...



Monday, March 31, 2008

Look Ma... A Sleeve!

Ok. Maybe this sweater project is bigger than I expected it to be...

I bought 10 skeins of yarn; I charted it out; I swatched, like a good fiber-fiend...

I even estimated the time involved. ::Surely 4000+ yards would be enough!:: I should be able to finish it in about 4, 5 or 6 weeks tops!:: I foolishly guesstimated less than two months to complete this project...

Long story short, I have now increased the total yarn needed by an additional 4 skeins of the sock yarn (making it 14 total) ... and have just now reached a half-way point in the actual crocheting. I now have a sleeve to go with the back of the sweater. That's right, ONE sleeve down, one more to go. (::sigh::)

Seldom have I ever spent so much time on just one project and not been at least close to finishing it. I swear, I am going to wear this thing until the threads give out and it will no longer hang upon my body. People that know me will be sick of seeing it. I will be described in ways like "You know, Jerry. The one with the gray sweater." "Ohhh. Him."

As you can imagine, I was in desparate need for a fiber diversion! (As much as for the sake of those around me as for myself, I asure you!)

I had come across a yarn in one of my favorite color combinations (black and green - remember the ruana?) and for several days was trying to decide what the fiber wanted to become. Then it hit me!

Last week, while trying to escape the clutches of a cluster headache, the idea popped into my head, with the design nearly fully-formed! What about a sleeveless turtlekneck? My sister would like that! When I ran the idea by Fred, his reaction was, well, let's just say there is a reason we fiber-fiends seek each other out. The so-called "normal" folks don't get it. Fred is no different. (In fact, he looked at me like I had two heads.)

I told myself that since this garment was going to be worked with a larger hook and thicker yarn, it should be relatively fast. Surely I deserved a break from the sweater that will not die. Surely the Fiber gods would understand...

They did. And three days later, I had this:

This was made using 8 balls of On-Line brand yarn, "Punta" (balls are approximately 88 yards each) so it went really quickly! I'm even thinking of doing a few more in different colorways, you know, just for those times when the fiber gods want to reward my perserverance on that other project of mine.




Don't miss the DFW Fiber Fest this weekend, April 4-6 at the Addison Conference Center!

Friday, March 14, 2008

19,912 Down, 40k+ To Go!

Fred and I recently went to Boston for a long weekend to attend a fundraising event for the Fenway Medical Center. Let me just insert a reminder here - Jer and cold weather do not get along! So the thought of going to New England in winter did not thrill me. Except of course, it was a chance to dress up with a few thousand strangers and a few new friends.

The event was emceed by Kate Clinton and Senator Ted Kennedy was getting and award. Ted spoke, then was gone. Kate hung around for the party. Here's me and Kate:

Here's some party:
But I digress. I needed a project to take on the trip, so a few days before we left, I designed a new sweater for myself. I designed it to be made with that great new sock yarn I found by Berocco, their Comfort Sock yarn. (I can hear the tsk-tsking. I know it's guaged at "1 - Super Fine," I know! But I thought, what the heck!) I decided on a relatively simply stitch pattern to better highlight the gradual and subtle color changes.
With most of my sweaters, I start with the back piece so I can get a good feel for the stitch pattern before beginning the more complicated shaping involved with the other pieces. After the plane ride with a size D crochet hook (3.25mm) and one full, 447 yard skein, I had this:

I knew the sweater was going to take ALOT of this yarn to complete, but some quick math using the time it took to get just this far gave me a better idea of exactly how aggressive this project was going to be.
I'll admit, I seriously thought about scrapping the idea of a sweater, right then and there. But afterall, I already had all the yarn in matching dye lot and being a good little fiber stash monger, I wasn't about to return it all to the LYS! Not to mention that the thought of a dozen pairs of socks with the exact same yarn was almost more than I could bare. So...
So, I perservered.
I crocheted.
I crocheted and crocheted. Then, I crocheted some more.
3FPDC, 3BPDC. Over and Over. 3FPDC, 3BPDC. Again and Again! 3FPDC, 3BPDC. Finally, after about 4 skeins ( nearly 1800 yards) I finally had the back of the sweater completed!
Yes! Sweet success!! I cannot explain the sheer joy of experiencing this particular completion. 131 rows - Done! 152 stitches per row! And that's not counting the turning stitches! Why, that's 19,912 stitches!! Woo Hoo!! And the resulting fabric had such a nice hand! I was so glad I hadn't given in, that I saw the mountain and decided to -
uh oh.
Then I remembered - the sweater would need a front. ::sigh::
And sleeves, too. ::double sigh::

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Free the Doilies!!

Let it be known. The Princess Doily has officially been usurped!
No longer will our doilies be required to bow in obedience to the pineapple motif; circular patterns - be gone "before somebody drops a house on you!"
Enter the new, the free, the doily as art:

The freeform doily above was worked in #10 crochet thread with a #7 (1.65mm) steel hook. I was directly inspired for this while reading Myra Wood's new book, "Creative Crochet Lace" which is available here. Myra is one of my favorite contemporary fiber artists and her book is just beautiful! Check out her website for additional inspiration. (As a side note, I completed my piece without ever cutting the thread or "travelling" over a space - a personal challenge of my own.)

On another note: I finished Mom's sweater. ::insert cheers here::

You may remember that I was making yet another crocheted aran sweater. While I was using this one as visual aid for recommendations to my local CGOA group for our multi-month project, I sized it so it would fit Mom. Afterall, she's in Indiana and the winters can be fierce!!

Here's a few pics of the sweater, both "in progress" and finished:

I just love it! (I think, Mom will, as well.)
To all who are reading this:
Sound off and let me know you're there! A blog should not be a one-way street and I would love to hear what you think!