Archive for technique

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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Necessities and OCD

After a fairly productive morning (I moved 2 courses of landscaping rocks in the yard, came in, baked a dozen healthy muffins from scratch and started a weightwatchers-friendly cauliflower soup), I looked at the godawful mess I just made in the kitchen. I peeled garlic for the soup and wondered what to do with those few loose cloves that always fall off the bulb. I usually keep them in a cheapie purple easter basket in the pantry with potatoes and other root vegs, but they always fall to the bottom and dry up or get moldy. I needed a little container, but someting flexible that wouldn’t tip perched on toppa the spuds. I suddenly got very excited about finding some yarn and a hook, but composed myself, finished the soup and sort of cleaned up.

Detail of “Myrellen’s Coat”

I get jazzed about being able to make something that I need, and not having to wait for it. It makes me think of colonial times or maybe the great depression, when the tenet was to make do or do without. I occasionally go overboard with hoarding (my basement “craft space” holds way more than just my yarn stash) and I freely admit to being an active thrift shopper (making new buttons for an old coat in my Ravelry queue) and sometimes, when I need to clean out the closets, I recall a trip to the John Waters-esque American Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore.

The museum of “outsider”/self taught art was closed for renovations save one gallery. I saw the embroidery of a woman named Myrellen from Knoxville, TN. Her husband committed her to a psychiatric hospital in the 1940’s, there she saved tiny pieces of thread from clothing, sheets, etc. to stitch artwork and messages, her entire autobiography onto a denim coat.

Though the coat was similar to the long dusters that the burnout girls in my 8th grade class wore in 1981 (you know, when dinosaurs roamed the earth between classes), more memorable to me was the frame of mind this woman was in to unravel rags to obtain materials for her work.

Myrellen was later treated with electroshock and thorazine and retained no memory of her work. She denied ever making it.

Now how can I throw out that old sweater with the hole in the neck that is under a pile of workout clothes in my closet? Because I’m not insane, you would answer.

I crochet, therefore I have therapy. I spy a nice big addi turbo hook and some jewelry making hemp sitting in a drawer in my coffee table, waiting for this moment to come along. I used hemp once before for a coin purse and that stuff hurt like a mothertrucker in sc at a small gauge. But this I could handle.  I had previously toyed with the idea of fashioning a little catchall for the bathroom sink or dresser like (a. recent. pattern. I. saw. that. I. can’t. find. now. that. I. need. it. the. story. of. my., so I had a maybe 2’x3″ dc patch started. Boy was I like the wind. You have to understand, my 4 year old’s favorite pastime is climbing all over my lap the instant I plant my butt on the couch, yarn be damned; but I persevered. Tadee tadah, lookee here!

the garlic nest…

I hdc’d around the edges of the bottom, adding an increase in each corner on every row. After about four rounds, I wanted to tighten it up so I went 2 rows sc, then a sc with decreases. And since I just learned crab stitch edging, I finished it off nice and purty, ‘n even wove my ends so I could show it off  fill it up and put it back in the cabinet.

So I got’s me a garlic nest, in about 20 minutes or less. The kitchen will probably look the same after 2 hours, though. One thing I’m not obsessed with is cleaning, unless you count my obsession about not doing it. My husband often tells me he wishes I had the “good OCD”. Like him.

Britney hooked.

“Oh, this old thing? Just part of my “creative rehabilitation”, ya’ll!”
* Link over to Extreme Craft’s photostream for images from the Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, MO or check out a gallery of works by Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching fame for a modern “outsider” look at traditional embroidery.


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Left-Handers Day

With all apologies to A Lefty Crochets, I should change the name of this blog to “Sinister Crochet” , muhahahha.

Because of course, I always have an evil plan brewing (kidding!) I’ve always been a lefty and always crocheted left handed. I was just a kid in the mid seventies when southpaws got their “official” holiday. My Grandma, who seemed to constantly travel, hit the motherlode in those days when it came to bringing home gift-shop items. No more giant pencils or vinyl coin purses for me. Didja know that the slogans on coffee mugs and pens were designed to be read while holding them in your right hand? I wore my lefty tee-shirts with pride. (“If the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body, then LEFTIES are the only ones in their RIGHT minds!”) – that was a gym class favorite. (If I didn’t stand out enough being freakishly tall with giant glasses in sixth grade – a bright yellow shirt announcing another reason I didn’t fit the norm was just the icing on the pop-tart of adolescence.)

Some notable freaks (dexterous fellows?) we’re in company with include Ringo Starr and Kurt Cobain, Tom Cruise and Benny Hill, Picasso, DaVinci, Julius Caesar, Bill Clinton and the POTUS GHW Bush. Not to mention Ned Flanders of Simpson’s fame, and a host of sports figures too numerous to mention, none of whom crochet, to my knowledge. I know Rosie Grier did needlepoint but I don’t know which hand he used and I refuse to dig any deeper on the subject. Unless you want to note that there aren’t shovels designed for left-handed people, but there is a football pass called the “left hand shovel”.


When I first copied my mother’s hand movements when learning to crochet, and we figured out I wouldn’t be able to do it righty, I sat across from her. Then we tried instruction books balanced with a hand mirror. Somehow, with repetition and just being able to watch how she moved the yarn with her fingers and the hook, I was able to grasp the basic technique. Must be one of those left-handed spatial ability things. Yet, I still can’t wrap my head around basic garment construction. Go figure.

I leave with a video of an attempted plastic-bag coaster-cum-hotpad some time before I realized that even crocheted plastic will melt if you try to grab a 325 degree cookie tray with it. It’s being punched and spun by my (look for it) right-handed child.

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