Archive for design

Classin’ up the Place

I will be a guest instructor at Rook and Brush’s arts seminar series to be held at Advanced Education in Lanoka Harbor NJ next month.

Beginner crochet class will include how to choose yarn, hook sizes and learning a basic stitch enabling you to complete a project scarf. $15/one hour class, materials provided.

Watch this space for more info, or contact the organizer at Rook & Brush – a fun time will be had by all!


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Cobblestone Theivery; also Happy New Year.

I can usually motivate the writing muse with something visual – I had a quick but enjoyable walk in the park with the puppy this morning after the kids were off to school after winter break. There’s a tennis court behind (or in front of, depending on your direction) the park and it’s landscaped with those potato-sized river rocks that have always held some odd fascination for me. Did anybody else love painting rocks as a kid? The melding of art and organic did it for me, plus it was a portable “pretty” to admire wherever the mood struck. I vividly remember a red daisy with a yellow center I made with some too-thick possibly musty acrylic  leftover from a paint-by-numbers set.

I’ve seen a few crochet-covered stones here and there on the interwebs. (Even a flickr pool for them!) And I do love me some crochet covered things. Until just recently I was plagued by a series of creepy dreams involving real pets covered in yarn and faux fur.

So now I have an empty D*nkin’ Donuts travel mug in my right pocket because I can’t get enough caffeine in my system before walking to the bus, my phone in my other pocket, and the dog, who hasn’t been walked in too long and is straining to smell the thousand other animals who have passed by in the time since we’ve been here. I want to pick up a rock but realize, as I have before, that it’s technically stealing (an admonishment that I’m sure I heard from my parents as often as I’ve given to my kids). There are a few seniors gathering for tennis, but I wasn’t too worried, except I was because as I quickly scanned to area for a good one – oval but not too bumpy, granite-y instead of slate and bent down to grab it, I chose too quickly and immediately regretted my haste. How could I go back for another? Surely that would seem suspicious. I start to think about my “new” project – never mind the number of old new projects that are not finished.  I can cover it in the green thread I found yesterday when I cleaned out the coffee table drawers. It may look like moss. Now I’m daydreaming and I know it – what else could I cover in crochet? I could make little yarn leaves on those fallen branches over there. A theme! Maybe I will have an exhibition, a retrospective!  – but I’ll have to learn some type of doily-like pattern. Picots? I think I have some pattern books. Urgh, but I really don’t like thread crochet..oh, what is this now, a roadblock, put up by me? in my mind?  How very unusual…

So we start back and get to the crosswalk and I still have the rock in my hand. Will some passerby or motorist see me and know of my transgression of the pedestrian/park ethics code? I pretend for a second it’s a special dog training device. I wait for the light to change and try to put the rock in my pocket but but it doesn’t fit, and I can’t switch hands with the leash puller so I stand there awkwardly, pushing the walk button a few more times than needed.

Headed home though, a funny thing happens. I start to enjoy the weight in my hand. It’s warming up a bit and the sky looks clearer. Lucy’s caught some scent on the wind, and she looks happy too.

I’m going home with my rock and my dog, because that’s pretty much how far in advance I’ve planned my day. It could be worse.

“Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity” – Jones, Chuck

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Mapping the Future of Craft

craftster button If you’ve never visited Craftster before, you’re missing out on the awesome designs of a lot of very creative people who are on the cutting edge of DIY culture. The mostly young demographic creates hip, modern twists on traditional arts and crafts.

It’s not your grandmother’s craft site. The Craftster forum features topics such as Stitch and Botch, Crafting for Good not Evil, Vegan Cooking, and Reconstructed Clothing, as well as the standard fare of show-and tell boards, tool and supply discussions, listings of local fairs, and advice on starting a business. The tagline, “No Tea Cozies Without Irony” sums it up very well.

Each post includes a “this rocks” button which has a clever icon of the two fingered ‘devil sign’ often flashed at rock concerts. Pressing it enables you to vote on the work, the best make it to the Featured Projects section on the site’s front page. Where else could you find a felt espresso machine, soap the looks like a raw steak or a cross-stitched portrait of Queen frontman Freddy Mercury? Most purported hip, new trends on HGTV or the DIY network have their roots in sites like this one.

Leah Kramer started Craftster in 2003. It now has over 75,000 members and recently received a mention in the Time Magazine article “50 Coolest Websites of 2006”.

NJ Craftster Heatmap

There are many message boards on the site, including a regional-specific NJ one that I frequent (in search of nearby crochet groups – hello TRKnitters!) One of its members, bethiej78, generously provided a heatmap showing the locations of all the participating craftsters in the thread. The map received enhusiastic responses from as far away as San Diego (!); I suspect the author will add more locations if the need arises. I think that the time and effort it takes to create something like this may qualify it as a craft in its own right.

I often think about the increasing overlap of digital and traditional mediums (Crafster discussion here). Digital artist trading cards (ATC’s), knitting graphs produced in photoshop, and online color palette generators are blurring the whole line between technology and craft. We now have tools at our disposal to create a whole new genre (cue the herioc star-wars type music here), equal parts fiber and fiber optic – a bastard child of post-modern pop culture and time-honored folk artistry. It’s become easier to find a voice via “social networking” on the internet. For me especially, the prospect of positive feedback from my community is great inspiration, on all levels. As Sen. Clinton paraphrased the African proverb, it really does take a village. So think globally and craft locally. You’ll be glad you did.

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Rabbits, rabbits

Crocheted easter bunny magnets for goodie bags at my 1st grader’s school party. They took a lot longer than I thought (I made 24 total).

Acrylic worsted with an E hook, 2 round sc circle and ch 6 up and sc/hdc down for each ear. Dimensional fabric paint with rexlace/gimp for the nose and whiskers; glued-on eyes and a ceramic magnet.

I started them on Monday morning and thought, “Great, these should be a snap
to finish in time for the party on Thursday!”
Famous last words.

The crocheting was easy enough, I could do them watching tv; and I was able to play with the ear length and spacing until I was happy with the last dozen or so. The ears were curling, but I quickly decided that was part of their charm. I could have done them a lot faster if I wasn’t experimenting with the faces in the middle of things.

My original plan was teeny pompom noses with pipe cleaner whiskers. But try looking for pink pompoms and white chenille 3 days before school lets out for Easter. Luckily I brought one of the little guys with me to the local craft emporium so I could size up my supplies (and let me tell you, I felt like a princess there, proudly clutching my own creation as I wandered the store.)

Since the faces are less than an inch and a half across (imagine a slice of pepperoni), the bigger poms were definitely out, and black whiskers were not going to make the cut on these cuties. I knew I didn’t want to do any sewing or embroidery for the features – just weaving in the ends makes my eyes ache. I don’t know how many times I crossed the aisles before I hit upon the magical combination of modern plastics that would make for a suitable bunny snout.

Features in hand, I put the first one together.
I found out that I’m not so much a fan of the whole assembly process – Elmer’s school glue was not “making the grade” (heh). Too much slipping and sliding and general unpleasantness. I had used Aleene’s tacky before, but I must have been traumatized by some kind of Christmas bazaar nightmares involving googly-eyes popping off their ornaments before I got them home to my mother, because I did not want my son’s friends to think he had the Mom who made crappy gifts that fell apart in their backpacks; I wanted some industrial strength adhesive, one that wouldn’t let the magnet backs pull off and stay stuck to the refrigerator either.

It turns out that “Craft Bond” takes quite some time to dry, which led me to my patented makesixpiecesatatimeandgluethembetweentwoheavybooks system. The nose/whisker combination took on a life of its own as well. Since the gimp has a slight curve due to the way it’s packaged, it wasn’t “behaving” on top of the bumpy crochet. The fabric paint is pretty viscous when wet, so globbing on a dot wasn’t really sticking the two crossed pieces to each other. Ultimately, I made them separately on waxed paper and affixed them with another dollop of paint once they dried.

Home stretch: Wednesday evening, son helps me fill the eggs and make a few sample goodie bags. Some buns are eyeless, others smushed under weights, and I have a whole tray of twitchy noses mocking me. Not to mention I didn’t have enough circle magnets and have to switch to that flexible adhesive magnetic strip that comes in a roll. My anxiety swells because all I can think about is the curling magnets coming off, or worse, not even sticking to anything. Which of course defeats the whole purpose of a fridge magnet, and I certainly wasn’t planning on making bunny pins.

We forego the traditional treat bag (holiday shortage again. Note to self: please plan ahead – these things should be 75% off or more by next week…) in favor of a big square of saran wrap which I wanted to use up because I bought it at wal-mart and the dang box is too wide to fit in my kitchen drawer. Yes, a real bargain that was.
It’s already after midnight by now and some of the poor things are not even started. I know some of the glue isn’t dry yet, but I put them in the bottom of the bags anyway, hoping that no toxic gas will be released once they’re in an airless environment, and tightly pressed up against plastic pastel easter eggs containing candy…

Whew. 3am and the last bag is wrapped, everything looks sturdy enough and the haz-mat team hasn’t paid me a visit. There are no extra bunnies. I wanted one for me, one that he could give to the teacher, plus some that I wouldn’t have to give out, like Mr. Bigface on the left up there who ended up with a few extra stitches somehow and some friends who were either crosseyed, fish-eyed or similarly out of proportion and who wouldn’t have won me a blue ribbon for consistency in design. I no longer care. Thank gooodness I didn’t volunteer to do this as a craft for the class because I’d be NUTS if they didn’t turn out right and someone got upset. The good news is that I actually did actually get one back. My darling boy had made a bag for himself, so one of the sweeties made it’s way back home to me.

The last I saw it, it was at the bottom of the toybox.

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Kuler = Cooler Color


Not directly crochet related but definitely of interest to anyone planning a color scheme for a project. Follow the link above and choose from different “rules” such as Analogous, Complementary, etc and play with the colors until you make a scheme you like. The combinations are endless! Browse other themes by popularity or rating. With names ranging from Japanese Garden and Cherry Cheesecake to Watermelon Stomp and Tech Office, you’ll no doubt be inspired by the creative input of other users. Register to save and publish your palettes, as well as download them for use in several Adobe software packages such as Illustrator and Photoshop.

I’m starting a ripple afghan this week and I’m definitely going to try this along with the random stripe generator at Kiss Your Shadow.

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