Saturday, March 11, 2006

Blogged Down

I am a little behind in blogging this week. Aside from the fact that I haven't actually finished a have only completed one project this month - I haven't been feeling well. After a gi-normous migraine and two weeks of vertigo-like symptoms and little after-thought headaches, my doctor decided to run an MRI/MRA on my brain. Nothing turned up. Well, I do have a brain (a very young looking one according to the technician!) but nothing is wrong with it that can be determined by actual scientific methods. Drat! Now I can't use that for an excuse! I am still awaiting blood tests to see if there is anything amiss otherwise.

When I got home from the test last night, I found that Chloe's mom had sent me a new set of Korean teacups. Aren't they just beautiful?! What a treat to come home to. If there's anything I love more about the Cottage, it's the fact that it is just my style. In the post below you can see where I display my teacup collection - handed down to me by my Italian grandmother who used to go to Vancouver, British Columbia, with my grandfather and an aunt and uncle every year. Each year my grandma and aunt would bring back a teacup to commemorate the trip.

I've added very few to the collection of my own, but I have a few that are very special to me. One was purchased at a friends yard sale that used to be her grandmother's. (I tried to tell her the value of such a piece but she wouldn't accept the price) Another was given to me by a friend who had me babysit her teacups until she had a place of her own to display them. This one was also her grandmother's cup. One was a lovely memento of a Women's Retreat put on by our church. I was one of the speakers that year and what a memorable time it was. I'm sure this cup must have belonged to someone's grandma once - and by the time it gets passed down, I hope I will have been a grandma. Although as young as my brain is right now I'm really not ready for that yet! Posted by Picasa

Where Teacups and Crochet Converge at the Cottage

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Completed projects in 2006

A running list:
    • Woven stitch scarf
    • Homespun Neckwarmer
    • Homespun Shawl/Wrap
    • Jiffy Baby Blanket
    • Checkerboard/Tic Tac Toe Game
    • Sunflower Potholder
    • 'Little Boy's Blue' Homespun Hat

    • B's Valentine's Purse
    • Michaela's Purse
    • Chloe's Purse
    • Beatrice Shrug (for Crochet Olympics)
    • Receiving Blanket
    • Nathan's Blanket
    • Morning Star Doily

    • Fabulous Felted Bag

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Fabulousy Felted!

Doing a little jig for the felting process! I think it turned out nice. Michaela says it's the cutest thing I've ever made (qualified with 'I wouldn't carry it') so it must look alright - she's the fashion guru of the cottage.

Speaking of the cottage - this pic is taken on one of the many rock-themed items in the yard. I took the advice of a CP-er who recommends using natural lighting to photograph one's work and thought this background would highlight the method of felting. Gives it an outdoorsy quality, eh?

About the bag, the off-white yarn did not felt as well as the darker colors (which I had presumed would happen because of the dyeing process of lighter yarns.) But I like that it has a different texture. The textured handle and upper blue portion (woven stitch) made interesting felt qualities which I love. So I will try unique stitches again in the felting process.

While it was in the washer I could hardly stand to leave it alone. I ran it through three times on hot. I agitated it with towels which I think helped it with the friction needed. And, yes, definitely love to felt so you will see more of this in the future! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pre-Felted Bag

I have no idea how this is going to turn out. Whatever happens, I'll be glad to know I tried. I worked mostly in sc, making it up as I went along - I used a relief sc, a woven stitch and finished the edge with reverse single crochet. I hope I didn't get too daring in trying to get some texture to it, but I saw the most gorgeous felted items at the yarn store yesterday and did not want to end up with just a plain piece of felt! I also crocheted a flower to attach after felting, which is what I will do with the strap as well. I don't want to take any chances of some areas felting well and some not. It's off to the washer now - wish me luck!
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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Wool It Felt?

I hope it will! That's why I bought it! I had the most fabulous experience at a yarn store today. For any of you who are in or around A Grand Yarn, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Their website is just now being developed so what they have up right now is a list of classes and a list of brands they carry, but not pictures or prices yet. Even so, the classes list is exhaustive. They teach knitting AND CROCHET! And best of all, their staff was very friendly, very knowledgeable, and when I mentioned I was a crochetier - not at all snooty! I found out they do offer the free use of a ball winder when you purchase hanks - which would have been nice if I'd had the time. They have a club card for $10 that will get you 5% off all purchases. And some of the yummiest yarns I have ever petted!

I chose some pretty pedestrian yarns for my first project (they had some delicious looking wools that would be great for future projects if I find I can do this!) But I just love the colors! I got two hanks of Cascade Pastaza which is 50% llama and has a little bit of a fuzz to it as it is felted. The other two are Cascade 220 - 100% wool. Now I just need a pattern!

I only crocheted one square today as my friend's appointment went so well she didn't have to have the 3 hour procedure done that we thought she would. Good thing DH has a meeting tonight or I might not get in as much time crocheting! Hmm, now do I keep working on WIPs or find a felting project? Which would you do?! Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 06, 2006

Real Time Blog Photos Are Back

The girls are back from the state tournament (the boys got 2nd!) and so is the camera. So here is a current photo of what I will refer to as the Bye Bye Birdie Blanket - since I will be working on it primarily during rehearsals while I wait for the girls! At home I am working on the Granny Grid Bag and that will go with me tomorrow as I am off the city again. That is where I hope to stop at a "real" yarn store and maybe buy some wool for felting.

I missed the new Oxygen Network show yesterday - Stitchcraft with Lily Chin. It is supposed to air again Friday. By all accounts on the CP List, it was interesting although this episode was not very hip to crochet. It sure would be nice if there were more out there for the serious crochetiers.

This week marks the three-month countdown for Michaela's graduation and Chloe's leaving. I know the time is going to fly by and I haven't started a project for either of them. I want each of them to have something that is a visual reminder of mom with them and since I rarely have a day without a hook in hand, I'd like it to be crocheted. I know that Chloe will cherish anything mom makes her but Michaela is a little more - shall I say, discerning. She won't want anything that is not functional (did I mention she's joined the Navy?) or that will clutter her life. Maybe I'll just make her a nice watch cap! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 04, 2006

OK, Maybe I HAVE Done Free Form Before

These are my two youngest daughters, Chloe and Brianne. (Note: Chloe is our Korean exchange daughter who has won our hearts as completely as our own daughters!)

Notice Brianne's cute little bolero? I made that Free Form (?) by crocheting a honeycomb pattern and holding it up to one of her favorite shirts for shaping. Ultimately it didn't turn out how either of us had imagined but Brianne humored me and wore it to Homecoming anyway. (Thanks, B!)

So I guess I have done a 'form' of Free Form, made possible by the understanding and experience that I have with sewing. What I really would like to try is something that is not a stitch pattern but really free-formed.

You may have noticed that the only pictures I've posted lately are older, more personal pictures than my usual "This is what I'm doing. This is what I've done." Well, my girls have the camera (which technically belongs to Michaela) at the state basketball tournament where our boys' team is playing for the State Championship tonight! Go Bears!

This is the first year DH and I haven't gone for a long time. The past two years we went as Pep Band Director and Cheer Coach. But our school cut the band program last year after a levy failure and I didn't have the energy to volunteer for a position I had been paid to do for two years. We could have gone - but it was nice not to HAVE to. We're listening to the game on the radio!

So I spent the day organizing and taking an inventory of my pattern books and magazines. I culled out some of the ones I won't use and will raid my stash to put together a package of yarn and patterns to donate to the CP Recycling Contest. I definitely have more thread patterns than yarn but I notice a broadening of my interests lately. Some of my most beloved patterns are a Tissue Box Cover in an old Women's Household Crochet magazine and Clothespin Angels in a leaflet from Leisure Arts. I have a few patterns that were my grandma's even though her true love was knitting.

Well, I've spent slightly more time blogging this week than I have crocheting this weekend, so I think I'll go put my feet up and work on some WIPs, with a cup of tea and the game in the background. Happy Crocheting for now! Posted by Picasa

The Superior Craft?

Is it just the debate of the craft world or is it a conspiracy theory based on the behavior of yarn shop owners? Knit vs. Crochet - which is the superior craft? Horror stories of snobbery and condescension abound - most recently on CrochetWithDee's journal - Needing to Blur the Line. Shop owners who ignore the needs/wants/desires of crochetiers while pandering to the whims of knitters. Granted there may be an huge misunderstanding of the needs/wants/desires of crochetiers. But what is the truth about which craft is superior?

We all have an opinion, right? And that opinion is probably biased - in large part by which craft we each gravitate to. You know where I stand - and if you're reading this I may be able to guess where you stand. But for the sake of argument lets examine a few facts:

Knitting: two needles that make noise when you use them
Crochet: one hook that silently glides with the yarn (ok that might have been a poke at knitters, but after all I'm using a blunt tipped crochet hook!)

Knitting: uses less yarn per project
Crochet: uses more yarn per project

Knitting: patterns and magazines more widely available
Crochet: patterns and magazines harder to find

Knitting: uses yarn in a variety of textures and fibers
Crochet: uses yarn in a variety of textures and fibers

Based on the facts it seems that there is a slight bias toward knitting, evidenced by the fact there are fewer patterns and magazines geared toward crochetiers. Knitters may even try to convince you that it is more economical to knit - you can get more projects out of an equal amount of yarn - but I submit this to you:

On page 46 of the BHG Learn to Knit booklet, knitters are encouraged to pack a small bag with the tools of their trade. Interestingly enough, of the 14 items listed - one is a CROCHET HOOK - and an explanation is offered for its use (for picking up dropped stitches!) Oh, and did I mention that the BHG Learn to Crochet also recommends a kit for crochetiers? Seven items on the list - nothing specific to knitting that could be used in case of crochet emergency.

So, clearly crochet is the superior craft - evidenced by the fact that crochetiers require fewer tools (we're lower maintenance) and knitters mistakes must be fixed with the one tool a crochetier cannot live without! (I admit that was a Python-esque stretch of logic but it sure was fun!)

Seriously folks, it is a bit ridiculous to imagine that one craft is more superior than the other. If we all think hard enough, we can come up with appreciable qualities for both mediums. I agree with Dee that there must be a blurring of the lines - why must either craft be looked down upon by the other? I only know about the recommended tools because I have BOTH books. I am trying to blur the lines in my own home by learning to appreciate a craft that frankly has left me somewhat dissatisfied in the past. I think if I give it half a chance I might come to appreciate it much more than I do. In honor of National Crochet Month, let's all get along - teach a knitter to crochet! (Considering they already have the most important tool in their bag!)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

"It's a Wee 'umble Cottage"

I thought you all might be interested in how my page got it's name. This is where I hang my hooks, so to speak. Today's title is a line from one of our favorite movies - The Quiet Man. This picture was taken back in the Spring and hopefully, will look this way again real soon. Right now things are a little brown and dreary from the end of winter.

Regarding yesterday's post, someone over at CP posted a link to a tutorial about the seamless finish or Hidden Ends. Another link calls it Invisible Finish Off (IFO) has different pictures, same basic instructions. I think either way you can use it for more than just Granny Squares. I plan on finishing all my work this way! Wish I'd learned it sooner.

I've decided to try my hand at crocheting some socks for Christmas this year. I emailed my friend over at Flying Hooks to get a few pointers on patterns and yarn choices, so don't be surprised to see Sock WIPs in the future. I'm going to test a pair for myself first to see how easy that would be doing that many pairs this year.

I'm taking my friend back to the doctor next week and am hoping to make it to the yarn shop that I've discovered is quite close by the doctor's office. I looked it up on the 'net and found that an acquaintance from my hometown teaches knitting classes there. She'll actually be there the day we're going so I hope to get to say Hi! (And to buy some wool for a future felting project!) Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened

on the way to Walmart. I had to take Chloe to play practice 30 miles from home - just so happens that's the where the closest Walmart is too! =) So we planned to go to Walmart and then grab a bite to eat before practice. Well, on the way out the door we got two very important phone calls. In all the hustle and bustle I FORGOT MY CROCHET BASKET! At Walmart, I had planned on looking at the yarn anyway but now I want HAD to buy something because I was going to be at the practice for 1-1/2 hours with nothing to do. So I looked at the patterns and chose a Leisure Arts Little Book, Granny's Delight Afghans. Then I wanted to pick out the yarns. They were out of several colors of Simply Soft, which I now HAVE to try because of the discussion on the Crochet Partners List, about the propensity toward splitting, especially with Boye Hooks. So I chose a different colorway and bought yarn, an extra hook (like I didn't already have 3 "I" hooks at home!) and a basket to tote it in - all for about $25. Of course I forgot to buy scissors too, but the yarn in my teeth is a different story.

As we were heading into the practice Chloe says to me: "Mom, I can tell you can't go anywhere without crocheting!" Well - yeah - if she had to wait an hour and a half for me somewhere she'd want something to do too, right? At the practice I got 11 squares done. I noticed that the yarn is wound rather loosely and could split if not careful but even though I was using a Boye Hook, I had no problems with it. I'm thinking that the looseness of the wind is part of what makes it so soft. (The opposite could be said of RH - the tightness of the wind is what makes it so stiff)

I also figured out the seamless finish on the Grannies that Dee was talking about on her blog on Monday. That was exciting! It really does make a wonderful finish - a real professional look.

So yesterday my promise was that I would not start a new WIP before I finished the Granny Grid Bag - but circumstances beyond my control (hee) - caused me to break that promise. (Hangs head in shame) Oh well, such is life at the Cottage: Grant me the serenity . . . and if I can't tell the difference - Crochet on!