Monday, January 21, 2008


While strolling through an antiques flea market with my friend Cher, we came upon a booth offering a rare glimpse at the way things used to be. I say "rare" because the glimpse was not into the way homes were furnished or the way people dressed themselves. This was not even a glimpse into the way folks travelled or the things they collected. No. This glimpse was far more important than that.

It was a glimpse into the way folks expressed themselves through their most personal of revelations - their crafts!

Sitting on the floor near a corner of the booth was a box of crafting magazines. While flipping through the books, I knew I had found a new source of inspiration when I saw this:

What the...? Could it be???

That's right. It was a copy of Pack o Fun featuring the "Crazy Hat Show." Woo Hoo!

Now, don't get me wrong. Everyone knows I'm a stickler for details and have even been accused on more than one occasion of being a perfectionist. But nothing makes me feel better about a project going wrong than seeing someone else's project going wrong-er. I mean, the obsessive concern of getting a cable on a sweater to twist in just the right way pales when compared to finding the right grated cheese for a new hat.

(The crafting gods were smiling on me and giving me a sign to not take myself so seriously.)

The lady on the cover looked so proud! Why, she even wore her best brooch for the photo shoot!! Even though I'm sure it made her nosy neighbor just green with envy, it was definitely the accessory when wearing a sandwich on your head.

A quick flip to the credits page inside the cover confirmed my greatest hope. Just looking at the editors, I could tell this magazine was going to rock! Seriously, have you ever seen a picture that so instantly conveys creativity?!?

And I was holding the "Merry Month of May" issue! OMG!!

The magazine is just chock full of fascinating tips and useful hints, but my favorite part has to be the readers' comments page. But even among those jewels, one in particular shone brightly like a diamond among charcoal briquettes.

Rocket Fins? Rocket Fins?!? ::sigh::

That Cappuccio household must have been a blast. Wish I could have known them...


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dusty Miller

The vertical cardigan is now completed. The pattern is Dusty Miller from "Crocheted Aran Sweaters" by Jane Snedden Peever. This is the first of several patterns (including a couple of my own) that I am testing in order to make a recommendation to my local guild for the multi-month project class I will be teaching the last half of 2008. Although there are a few things I would change the next time through the pattern, I followed the written pattern very closely. [This, alone, was a feat of cosmic proportion! Not that I have trouble following a pattern, but more like that I often think I know a better way. Sometimes it does work better. Sometimes not. But I digress.]

Overall, I found the pattern to be very clearly written and chock-full of detailed guidance. The sizing was spot on with guage and in the end, the required amount of materials was precise. (I did add an extra button, making a total of 7 instead of the suggested 6. That's just personal preference/belief and shouldn't affect fit at all.)

The sweater was made in 5 pieces. After the pieces were sewn together, I had this:

After finishing the seaming, the ribbing/faux ribbing is added incorporating the button holes as you go. Simple as can be. And the end result is like a steal. The pattern works up very fast (it is worsted weight, after-all).

That's all for now. I have to go locate the yarn for the next sweater, an Australian superwash.
Yeah. That should be easy...



Monday, January 7, 2008

All Noddied Up

The aran cardigan I started last week has progressed nicely. I have the back, both fronts and a sleeve and 1/2 made and should have it completed and ready to wear this weekend. (Just in time for cooler weather to find us again in North Texas!) I forgot to note on the last post that this sweater is crocheted vertically rather than the customary horizontal rows one normally uses to build a garment. So far, I think the construction will allow for a nice drape without being "clingy"... but like everything else, I'll weigh in on that once it's all put together and I've had a chance to wear it.

Speaking of 'wear it', the Dallas Morning News is coming to a meeting of Crochet Texas, our local chapter of the CGOA. Supposedly, the representative will talk to the members and take some pictures. We've been asked to bring 2 or 3 items that we have made, particularly if it is an item that has won a ribbon in the State Fair of Texas. Problem is, I only have one ribbon winner that I actually made for myself, a sweater. (Here's hoping for chilly weather that day.) The other ribbon-winning items were either things I made for others (sweater, jacket, etc) that have now gone to the recipient or are items that may raise more than a few eyebrows should I try to model them personally.

Case in point: the freeform shawl. Although it won a blue ribbon this past year and I'm proud of it, I'm not sure I could pull off a green and black freeform ruana. Then there's the handbag, also freeform. Again, I could not really model it - I haven't the proper shoes to match!

But I really want to take something freeform. As far as I know, they are the only 2 blue ribbon winning freeform items in recent years (except for my friend Cher's freeform bag, also a blue ribbon winner, but it was felted - so different in a way from these) and this is an excellent opportunity to promote a unique, wearable artform. I don't know. I'm sure there will be an afgan or two and I doubt the creator will try to wear it like a burka, but who knows. Maybe there will be a few items made for a baby. Those always illicit appropriate oohs and aahs, but again, I seriously doubt they will be modelled by the maker.

Maybe I think about these things too much! I can think something to death if given the chance.

That's why I love diversions.

My latest diversion was the niddy noddy. After a short discussion on-line with other crafty types, I decided to make my own and presto bango, pvc and me, I had this:

I cut four separate lengths (in 9" intervals) to be used in the center to allow me to hank up different lengths of yarn. My first project with the new toy was a fingering weight, 100% wool yarn. Shown above is the yarn hanked at 3 yards per round. (I can also do 1, 2 and 4 yard rounds - more on that later) This allowed me to obtain longer color repeats when dying at home.

After a night with the trusty kettle on the stove top, I awoke the next morning to find a dream come true... the tree in my back yard had produced hand-dyed wool!!! Wow!!

But then, after rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I realized I had actually hung the yarn out there to take advantage of the warm and breezy weather. (Dang! So close!)

But then my momentary elation vanished when I remembered: The yarn had to fit onto my swift without falling off so I could ball it up! Oh No!! What if the hank was too big for my swift to hold it? What would I do?!? How could I be so careless?!?!

Luck was on my side, though. The swift, although stretched to the limit, held the hanks... barely.

(I guess this means I need to re-think those 4 yard length hanks, though, huh?!?)

After balling up the fiber (nearly 2700 yards) I had this:

I plan to use it to make a sweater for my sister. The pattern will be my own and I am currently experimenting (read that 'playing') with the color pattern to find a nice stitch that will show it off best. But for now, I hear a cold front is coming and I have a cardigan to finish!


Instructions for making your own niddy noddy can be found here.