Friday, January 26

It's a Dog's Life

Good Friday! For some of you that would be TGIF but for me Friday is just another day. I've picked the shrug back up and worked on it a bit. Seems this project is going to take a lot longer than I had originally thought. But then, I'm not the fastest crocheter around and this item is a going out on a limb, make it up by the seat of your pants thing anyway. Besides, even with all this time on my hands I simply cannot sit for too long at a time. In the meantime I've finished a scrap scarf, another new pattern that I will post soon for you readers (with pictures). I call it the 2+1 Scarf.

I think I've finally gone bonkers and probably need to be hauled off to a padded cell somewhere to start basket weaving (which sounds like fun, just not in this context). I acquired Miss Honey, the beagle I mentioned in my first post and I always seem to get attached too easily, but it's done now and I've had her shots and spay and everything else taken care of and bought a few items and of course crocheted her the cutest collar/scarf and crocheted her a doggie sweater as well. Well, you didn't think she'd escape THAT did you?

One thing I can do with Honey that I can't with my other dogs is take her with me. She loves riding in the car, will hang ten in the window all the way down the road. I worry about that though because I don't want her slipping or flying around in the car should anything happen so I went car seat searching. The local chain store had nothing of course, the pet store had a few selections but nothing that worked for me. Besides, the prices they wanted for their items! Oh my! Time to surf! After much perusing I finally chose and ordered a pet carseat/carreir/stroller. Yes! A stroller! And Pink at that! Well, we shall see if I like it half as much when it arrives as I did on the website when I ordered. LOL! I'll be sure to post pics.

Sunday, January 21

Hankerings - Stash & Yarn Acquisition


My hobby has, of necessity, been fed through what I like to refer as The Poor Woman's Guide to Crochet. Through the Grace of God and a deeply held conviction in faith I have never been unable to do whatever I chose to be doing. Life is a simple act of faith and if you can grasp how just being given the next morning can be proof of that faith, then you will truly live. Meantime, it takes a lot of paying attention in order to do it all. It takes making the effort to go that extra step, it means just having enough faith to keep putting one foot in front of the next, to walk into that thunderstorm and know that while you may not escape the rain, you will survive the drenching.

My blogspace today will entail explaining how I continued to create within the realms and confines of poverty, or lack of time, or whatever reared it's ugly head for the day. My Labels area will explain any acronyms and terms that I think need clarification so if you are unfamiliar with a term check there. Outside of that, any other terms or anything else you might need explained, feel free to contact me via the Comments link at the end of each posting.

Stash & Acquisition

The topic recently came up about yarn stashes and how creative we crafters get in finding places to keep ours. Living alone means that I don't have to be creative in hiding it from any One in particular, but I still have to give thought to where it will sit. How will it function, where is its place in the house, or how will I function, interact with it? How best to create an environment where it's accessible for me, readily at hand without looking so. A large part of creation with fiber is compelled by a desire for the tactile and whether we are touching lives as mothers, as artists, as women or as crocheters, be it acrylic, fur or cotton slub the need is as pressing as the next breath, because it's a deep passion that infuses our souls. In part, it is definition of ourselves.

Crochet is a part of our history, a tool for our sanity, a space for our individuality and stash is one of the tools of our trade, just as the musician has instruments, the painter canvas. It's a rite of passage into our actively creating selves. I thought I might share with you just a bit about my own stash. I started with no stash, just buying yarns needed for patterns I picked out. As those projects got completed I took the leftover yarn from them and tossed them all together into a crate and stash was born.

Shortly after I started crocheting again I ran into a few women who had quit, or had daughters who had quit and had yarn they handed down to me. I gratefully accepted this boon and added it in, found I needed a larger crate so I replaced the smaller one with three of those large Dollar Store, put-together-yourself, cardboard boxes, using the original smaller crate to hold my project yarns as I worked.

For the next couple years I happily worked from this acrylic stash, making scrap afghans, scarves and hats, and various small projects I whittled down half of the stash, then my mother, no longer able to knit or crochet, passed along all her yarns. Well now I was in a spot where I either had to come up with more tubs, or something as useful. I chose to transfer my yarns into Avon boxes because I have a friend who sells Avon and I could get the boxes free. They're wonderful; just wide enough to take the length of a skein of RH, oblong, not too big, not too small, with lids. They stack nicely and you can write the contents on the outside so you know what's there. I heartily recommend them and urge you all if you have that source available to you to utilize it. You won't be sorry that you did. Once again, I happily transferred materials and made a space in my study where I could stack the boxes. By now I'd accumulated about 12 boxes, all of it donated acrylics that I'd sorted and tried to box by colors.

I hadn't at that time acquired the dreaded YAS, but it wasn't to be much further behind. I fell in love with a few patterns from the Internet (where I get all my patterns, eh, make that 98.7% of my patterns, there again, the poor woman's way to acquire materials) that called for yarns I hadn't any familiarity with and thus began a yarn quest which took me to yarn lust. Making a special trip out to the yarn stores in town, I went through the couple in my area and noted the yarns, petted the yarns and cooed over them. At the time I could only look with envy; I didn't have disposable income for such luxuries.

Being the sort of person who hasn't money for luxuries, I would scour the discount shops in my weekly cycle, sometimes I would find acrylic worsted weights at discounted prices (which I bought gladly), but nothing else. In challenging my skills I would find patterns via the Internet that offered me the chance to learn a new technique or stitch, or that gave me the opportunity to learn a new type of crochet or try patterns that called for various yarns, but I could only go so far in these, I certainly couldn't substitute a worsted weight for a bulky chenille. I just bypassed the cute ponchos and thick sweaters and delicate lace tops with a wistful sigh.

My downfall came when the closeout stores finally started carrying the novelty yarns, then both novelty and specialty yarns as they began receiving them in closeout lots. Suddenly what was unattainable became a temptation and an opportunity to let my imagination out to play.

That simple stash stacked in the corner of my room has slowly evolved until today it incorporates a closet stacked full of fru fru yarns packed away in cardboard boxes, content marked many times over. A spare room (eventually destined to be the craft room) holds a couple tubs and some boxes filled with acrylics of various types, a few old suitcases with thread and a crate of plastic bags earmarked for yet another project as soon as I collect enough of the ones I want. Of course, meantime I'm collecting them all so I can practice with colors that I don't particularly want to use when making my own bag!
My current workspace gives easy access to the closet of yarns and has a 4 drawer filing cabinet of which only one drawer holds patterns printed from my Internet searching. An armoire, with several overnight cases full of items to aide my craft stashed beneath, is filled with supplies, tools, books, a few WIPS, and my cotton yarns. Beside the armoire is a plastic wheeled cart containing PIGS and beside my lamp and chair, right in front of my end table is a large tub and a small one with yarns that I'm pulling from for a project. Eventually those will end up back in with the other tubs in the aforementioned future craft room.

Now you may think this is an awful array of materials, but though I think that myself most of the time, I so often find myself looking for something in particular to make a pattern and cannot seem to find just the right item in there that it speaks to the relative deficiency of my hoard. Never enough yarn. Never enough time!

I have to say, at least I know where things are since this transition in my stash has been a recently achieved, albeit transitory, goal. I also managed to find a craft box, wicker, rectangular box on slender legs that I settled in front of the filing cabinet and a vintage vinyl-wrapped box on rollers, actually a sewing box but I'm using it to hold projects. It does double duty as a footstool. Once we set up the craft room, and the sewing machine, we will see if its use shifts since it has racks that hold spools of thread. I somehow doubt it because it's just the right size for me to elevate my feet while crocheting. So relaxing!

Monday, January 15

Such an interesting life, given to reflection, creation and wistful imagining

So, I discovered today that the technique I dubbed "Loose Ends" is actually called Magic Ball. It's an interesting and colorful technique; my friend loves the "back" side (the one without the tails) maybe more than she does the right side. I find it one of those fascinating and interesting things to do, but there's a part of me that needs more symmetry in my creation. For information on the technique you can go here.

The rain is still coming down, weather channel keeps telling me it's almost over, some heavy downpours periodically today and then a waning tonight. I will be grateful when it's over because, though we may get cold next it won't be freezing rain and we've had nothing more than snowflakes this year so overall it's been a mild winter. Still with the rain comes the aches and pain therefore today I've plans to nurture myself, having started already with heat, and intending to go through stretching, hot soak, stretching again and then the radiant heat device.

The dogs are restless, they've been kept in too long by the rain. They dislike having to stand in the sopping grass, they're only going out for bodily necessities so they have become whiny with me and raucous with one another, especially the puppy.

I've finished two more squares on the pastel afghan. Have been giving some thought on how I'd like to put it together. I was thinking I might like to do a lacy weaving of each square with the others. This would produce an airy, delicate piece with the light colors. I was also considering using the flat braid method ( even though if I make it that way I'll need to make more squares. This will create a more solid piece, that will still have some delicacy due to the method of joining used. Wow, so many ideas, so little time to put it all into practice! I've already collected more patterns than I would use in two lifetimes and enough yarn to last me at least fifteen years I do believe and yet, I still want to finger it or thumb through it, pick it up and bring it home!

With that thought in mind I'm off to reheat the pads wrapped around my back, finish reading mail and then stretch and start that hot bath water. I hope your day is lovelier than mine, that you stay warm and content for today. I hope you enjoy the links in todays journal, let me know what you think on that afghan. You can leave comments at the link beneath my entries, so you can actually tell me why you think I should use either method I'm considering, or even a totally new method. I'm always open to suggestions.

CrochetPoet doing peachy keen and not floating down the river yet!

Sunday, January 14

Crochet, travel and staying up late

Tonight I sat up late, let the rain drench ground already sacrificed, watched a couple movies with a friend, crocheted and considered myself lucky to have such great company.

She crocheted on her blanket. She's making one of those Loose Ends afghans. You know them, the kind where you take the leftover yarn and tie the pieces together. She decided she wanted to make one and is now planning to give it as a gift to her daughter's friend.

I sat and worked on a bucket purse, finished it. It's actually a piece I did, that I had to redo. A bucket purse done with chenille and Boa yarn. My friend is going to line it for me. Then I tried to go through and refile the patterns I'd drug out, all the ones I'd completed, and all the ones I didn't think I'd be making this time around.

I take crochet very much like I do writing. In waves. When the urge hits me, I have to be thinking, working on something. I find myself distracted, deep inside my head, constantly, constantly thinking. I feel a sense of urgency to be at the keys or to feel the hook, and an excitement that leads to insomnia. I believe that all creation and creating demands from us, both as people and as artists. We effect social consciousness with the action of creation and for some of us, this alone is enough reward.

My crochet goal for this spring is to clear out ufo's before I can move on to some items for myself. I don't have that many ufo's which is a very good thing for my nerves. I'm itching to move on to these new projects, but if I do this before I've clearned out those pesky ufo's well, then I'll have no room to place the new pieces as I finish them out. I've recently acquired a few new books and I'm wanting to make at least a dozen of the patterns for myself. It's strange to think about making clothing for myself and I realize that for the first time I get to think about only myself when it comes to the patterns unless I choose to make something for another person. For the first time, I get to think about only me when it comes to everything in my life. I've never felt so selfish in my life. I've never BEEN so selfish. This is a whole new morning, when I finally have that opportunity to come full circle back to the woman. I am not sure I've quite grasped that yet.

Saturday, January 13

Tut, tut, it looks like rain...

Today is a lazy day. It's pouring cats and dogs periodically outside, the back yard is starting to swim away, the weather is still tolerably warm and all this combines to make for a day when I should be sleeping to the rhythm of those raindrops as they bounce off the metal cage of the air conditioner still hanging in my bedroom window.

Instead I'm here, comparing cell phones and wondering first if I even want to give myself this headache, and second if I even need a cell phone. I seem to have gotten along fine without it for 47 years, why do I suddenly feel the need? Ok, I got rooked into my first one, and still don't know how to utilize all its functions. The thing is, you see, I really got spoiled on being able to pick it up and call, whomever, from wherever I happen to be at that time. It's not that I make many calls with it, it's just nice to have if I want to use it. Another of those services that modern society has afforded us, that while making life seem more simple, and freedom more at hand in reality just ties one down tighter, what with people having access to you at every turn you can't avoid whomever you wish these days. Modern life seems to have its drawbacks, just like those good old pioneering days did, it's just that they are different delimmas.

On to better conversation. I'm able now to post a picture of the 7" square I created and have dubbed the Sunup Square (mostly because of the color yarn I was using). I am also enclosing a pattern for anyone who would like to try it. I don't care what you do with the pattern, outside of selling it or claiming it as your own work. I think I really would just be flattered that anyone liked the square enough to want to copy it.

Here goes the pattern:

Sunup Square
Size: 7"

Materials used: G hook, small amount of ww yarn.

Ch 6, join.

Row 1: ch 2, 15 dc in chain, join at top of ch 2, turn.

Row 2: ch 3, trc in same st at joining, *ch 1, skip 1st st, 2 trc in next st, , ch 1, skip next st, 2 trc in next st, ch 2, 2 trc in same st (corner made)*; repeat from * to * twice, ch 1, sk 1st st, 2 trc in next st, ch 1 sk 1st st, 2 trc in next st, ch 2, join to top of chain 3, turn.

Row 3: ch 3, 2 trc in corner sp, *+ ch 2, hdc in next sp twice, ch 2 +, 3 trc in corner* repeat * to * twice then repeat + to + to next corner. Join at top of ch 3. Do NOT turn.

Row 4: ch 3, trc, ch 2, trc in corner, *+ ch 2, hdc in space, ch 2, sc in next sp, ch 2, hdc in next sp, ch 2+. 2 trc. ch 2, 2 trc in next corner. Repeat from * to * twice, then repeat from + to + once, 2 trc, ch 2 in next corner, join w/ sl st to top of ch 3. Turn.
Row 5: sl st into space , ch 2, hdc in next sp, *3 dc in next 2 sp, 2 hdc in next sp, sc in each trc, 3 sc in corner sc in eatch trc, 2 hdc in next sp* repeat from * to * 3 times, join w/ sl st to top of ch 2. Do NOT turn.

Row 6: Sl st into first hdc, ch 3, *dc in each st across to corner, dc, ch 2, dc in corner, *. Repeat from * to * around, join w/ sl st to ch 3.

Row 7: Repeat row 6.

Row 8: ch 2, *hdc in each st across, hdc, ch 2, hdc in corner*. Repeat from * to *, join w/ sl stitch to ch 2.

Friday, January 12

Honey, I'm home!

Went this morning and picked Honey up from the vet. I've been beagle sitting since. She's feeling a bit puny, but i do think she'll be bouncing about in a couple days. I've just got meds to keep feeding her until she gets better. The biggest chore though is keeping her from roughhousing with the other dogs.

I sat last night and created a square that I've dubbed the Sunup Square for the pastel afghan. Will have pictures and I'll even post the pattern soon as I test it for accuracy. first pattern, (at least, the first that's actually written down and going to be tested). I just love the creations I'm seeing in crochet these days and itching to create my own. Patience, I tell myself, I'm still learning, which I suppose will be ongoing as long as I crochet, but I'm thrilled that I've begun to understand how to write patterns.

There's really little else to say, today was one of lethargy, pup-nursing and relaxing and I didn't even pick up a hook! I have done so much this past year though that I was ready for a short break. Lol, it's funny that taking a break now means that I'm sorting yarns and getting ideas, looking through patterns, looking for new books at the library to check out (my tried and true method of deciding which crochet related books to buy), and sifting through patterns I have on hand, trying to decide which one I'll do next. I need to sit down and plan a list of presents for next Christmas and start working. Hey, I already told you I have a huge family!

Till next post...

Thursday, January 11

Days Past Epiphany

Well today is the first post in a first endeavor to give voice to this creator and her soul. What impassions this writer, poet, mother, woman, artisan, girl-child, princess, bread-earner, spirit, sprite, fiercely independent woman fluxes with the growth or stagnation of body, mind, spirit and soul. The expression of these facets is ordered by a combination of circumstances and generational history. Until recently my focus, my resolution was to circumvent the generational disease, to take that history, release, relearn and produce a set of dynamics as a family legacy with sense of place and sense of value and to leave that to my children and live it myself. Sometimes we live the dream, fulfill the design, sometimes we fall short but through it all I firmly believe we are giving ourselves hope, vision, and inner peace; a sense of final resolution for our souls.

With this post I find my life shifting into a new phase; a major shift that offers me the opportunity for self-discovery, maybe for the first time since I was a young girl. I find myself pretty much, completely free. I have time and space, have moved a few steps from the wolf's door and feel that I actually have options now. The feeling is simultaneously thrilling, releasing and scary and I am embracing it with all my energy.

Today I had to take my newest little girl to the vet for spaying. I am missing her already and keep remembering how scared she was when she was taken. I pick her up tomorrow and while I know it's not really a big deal I just keep thinking about her. I have two other dogs, but Honey is the baby. She's a little beagle, a rescue, 7 months old, smart as a whip, eager to please and just a baby doll. Her favorite position is on her back in your arms, snoring away. She lays there belly-up, with her bottom legs splayed and her forepaws perched and when she wakes up, she snuggles into your chest, looks up at you with those clover honey eyes and melts your heart.

I have one other smart as a whip dog. He's a mix of Husky and Pitt Bull, black and white, sleek and lean, all ears and feet; that's Baby. He's the only dog I've ever chosen for myself. I got him at five weeks of age; picked him from a litter a friend's dog had. He was the runt of the litter, the whiner and the only one that wasn't like his brothers and sisters. My friend's daughter carried him around from the time he was born, playing with him, talking to him and just loving him up. She called him Marshmallow. He's now over 7 and getting to be an old man but can still run like the wind which is exactly what he does whenever he gets the chance. He's dug holes all around the circumfrence of my fence so I have to keep him on leash or chain when he's outside.

The third, Zoey, is another rescue. She's got a huge square head and the personality of a Lab, the fuzzy undercoat of a Chow, along with purple markings on her tongue and the brindled coat of a Pitt. Overall, she's beautiful. She is funny, thinks she's a lap dog as does Baby, lol. Her favorite pasttimes are drooling on your leg as she's getting her ears scratched.

So, those are my children for the immediate future. Any plans I make have only the three muttketeers to dictate them. I spend a lot of time at home right now, and that gives me a great deal of time for one of my many passions which is a very good thing because this passion takes a great deal of time to create. That is crochet. I learned as a young child to crochet and knit, did it a few years then moved into sewing and gave up the needlework. Some 25 years later I picked up a crochet hook again, because one day at work I found a pattern for a Christmas tree skirt and I loved it. I ended up making six of those skirts that year. Hey, I have a large family!

This past year I've begun crocheting clothing and though I'm still basically following patterns, I'm learning the art of designing while learning to make the clothing pieces. My most recent clothing project is Caron's Open Weave Skirt. I have the skirt completed, it's done in Jewel Box, Obsidian, according to pattern. I am creating a shrug to compliment the skirt, in the same yarn with the same stitch pattern as the skirt. It's given me fits for about three days and so I frogged for the last time, put it up and am taking a hiatus from the project. Will post pics as soon as I finish the piece. Meantime I've been working on creating squares to add to some pastel squares I'd collected from various exchanges, with the intent of turning them all eventually into an afghan. I also have a collection of blue squares that I'm accumulating, aspiring to create a blue granny and two more UFO's that are hand-me-downs from my mom, a box with small grannys (approx 3x3) some in white, some in white with flowers atop, that will eventually become a lapghan and a bag of thread motifs that I haven't gotten to consider long enough yet to figure out what they'll become. These are just the large UFO projects, there are plenty more on my shelf. We'll save those for a different post.

I'm going to close out with a couple shots of the pastel squares and save photos of other items for later. I certainly hope you've found this a refreshing and interesting read and perhaps a bit of inspiration for your own craft. Happy crocheting all!