12 Brilliant Ways To Create More Time To Crochet!

1. Sleep in your clothes. You’ve probably heard about laying your clothes out the night before to save time the next morning.  But I say heck – why not cut the time out altogether?  Go to bed dressed for tomorrow.  That way you don’t have to dress when you get up in the morning, thereby saving you even more time.  Note: T-shirts, jeans and knit items work the best.

2. Eat breakfast in the shower.  How long do you take to eat breakfast in the morning?  I’m guessing you probably scarf something down in 5-10 minutes tops, don’t ya?  Well that’s still 5-10 wasted minutes you could be crocheting instead!  Multi-task by eating in the shower.  I know, brilliant right?  Hello smoothie! Instant Breakfast shake! Just pop it in a spill proof container and voilà, suck that puppy down while you rinse and you won’t even taste the suds.

3. “Services will be down for scheduled maintenance.” No seriously! Send this notice to your boss, put it on your website, place a sign on your desk and then get to your scheduled crochet maintenance! Trust me, the world will be amazed at how much better everything seems to work!

4. Skip the makeup. After all which is worth more – Maybeline or Malibrigo. Obviously, when your priorities are straight, there’s no contest.  Use that time to pretty your crochet instead.

5. Have a Cro-Go Bag.  Seriously, I don’t just mean your emergency go bag essentials that you should always have tucked away in the trunk.  I mean get in the habit of keeping a crochet bag packed and ready to go – to take in your car.  *Crochet in the drive-through, crochet in the pick-up line at school, crochet at the red lights.  Crochet in the waiting room at the county tag office.  You never know where you might be delayed and there are moments to be caught anywhere.  Especially if you’re a Mom Taxi.  And if you suddenly find yourself having to wait on someone – no worries, you can be productive.

12 Brilliant Ways To Create More Time To Crochet - photo and article by Aberrant Crochet6. Crochet on the phone.  Blue tooth and speaker phone were made for crochet, unless you need to count.

7. Let Amazon deliver.  Seriously. More and more you can find anything on Amazon.  Even Malibrigo.  Save your gas, let them deliver goods to your door and use that time to crochet!

8. Skip lunch.  Well, is your crochet important to you or not?

9. Cover your end tables with crochet projects and WIPs, thereby eliminating the need to dust.  Ergo, more crochet time.

10. Store your clothes in the dryer. Seriously, why fold and put them away?  You’re just going to put them on again before you go to bed.  So leave them in the dryer, toss them if they get cold and save that folding time for crochet!

11. Better yet, barter for laundry service.  You wash and fold my clothes for me, I’ll totally crochet for you.  Oh here, this one has a wine stain.

12. Barter for meals.  You want more time to crochet anyway, right?  Well cooking eats a lot of time!  Covert that time instead into crochet time.  Find the best foodie cook you know and offer to trade them your time, hour for hour, in crochet.  Make sure they have lots of pot holders.

And there you have it!

12 BRILLIANT ways to increase the #crochet quality of your life.

Do you have an idea to add?  Share it in the comments below!

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Do them a favor and SHARE this post with them!

World peace will thank you later.

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Diversify or Specialize: You Can’t Do Both – Right?

“Austin is a smaller version of New York city.”

This is what a friend of mine (from New York) told me once. I’ve heard that Austin and Seattle are similar in personalities, but I hadn’t heard it being anything like New York before.

Granted, I have not yet been to New York.  Still, I’m not sure that I can agree with her.  And certainly, it would probably be best for her to never repeat that to a native Texan who didn’t already love her. In fact, I’m not sure a native New Yorker would appreciate the comparison.

Still, if you stop and think about it, both cities are incredibly diverse in culture. Pretty much every kind of food, every kind of belief system, every kind of hobby can be found in both places. I never think about Austin’s unique nature much until I travel to other areas and suddenly realize that wait – something’s missing. Or when a friend comes to visit and comments on it.

Oddly, my friend’s comment got me thinking about competitive marketing in the Austin area.

Austin is a colorful and amazing city with a lot of talent to offer. And all of the surrounding cities take on a similar general personality. We’re laid back and friendly here.  We don’t take anything too seriously, except our food and our friendships.  And our social demographic is influenced by the fact that Austin/Round Rock is considered one of the most educated cities in the US.

There are so many diverse and interesting things that can be marketed or written about here. I figure working for Austin Monthly magazine must be a great job as a writer. Surely fun and rarely boring.

But then I was thinking about niche businesses. How marketing (and writing) changes when you specialize instead of diversify.

Austin’s happenings and culture seem like bountiful writing resources, where there’s a plethora of colorful possibilities – pretty astounding. There’s so much texture and color to explore here, all unified by the fact that is all quirky Austin.

But if I were to try to switch things up, and dedicate a specialized magazine to say – crochet in Austin – suddenly there is no diversification. Because in spite of our colorful and rich stories, Austin is still essentially a small town community.  We don’t have the kind of population you see in other cities.  Which also means that the amount of crocheters in Austin is pretty small. And hard to find. Or a least, when you need a substantial support system to justify such an endeavor.

That got me thinking.  That in marketing you can be specialized, or you can be diversified, but it’s near impossible to be both.

Unless perhaps if you walk the fine tight rope of specializing in being diverse.

Welcome to Austin Mural - Austin's Famous Street Art

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Stop Salting My Chocolate!

I’m the poster child for “Ick, that’s too sweet.”  And I love dark chocolate.

The darker the chocolate the better.

Mmmmm... Chocolate....My husband jokes that one of these days he’ll come home to find me huddled in a corner, gnawing on a bar of baker’s chocolate.


It’s that serious.

And it’s not a new thing.

I love chocolate.  But I am not a chocolate slut.

I am a chocolate snob.

Which is also why it is unlikely that my dear hubby will ever find me gnawing on baker’s chocolate.  Most of it doesn’t make the cut for that kind of treat.  And I should know.  Because making chocolate deserts is a hobby of mine.

I’ve been a fan of good dark chocolate, since childhood. I’m not sure if it started because my Grandma Leona also preferred dark chocolate, and so maybe I decided that because Grandma was cool, then I preferred it too.  Or if it was part of my ingrained <ick – I can’t stand über sweet things quirkiness> all along.

The thing is, dark chocolate wasn’t that readily available when I was a kid.  Or at least not in my area.

There was Hershey’s Special Dark, which I could sometimes get in a bar, but usually could only find in a bag of Hershey’s Miniatures.  Those Miniatures were one of the few types of candy bags my Grandma would ever indulge in.  (At least that I ever saw at her house.)  And usually only for the holidays.

Special Dark was better than milk chocolate, but it still wasn’t all that good.  Maybe the caterpillar that I once found wrapped in a Special Dark bar is what set me seeking in a different direction.  (No kidding.)  I took it back to the drug store, showed them the worm and his little cocoon inside the wrapper and got my money back.

And maybe I’d already decided that I could wait for better chocolate.

In general, I preferred Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips.  Which, by the way, I swear used to have more cacao than they do today.  I mean today, now you see semi-sweet morsels AND dark chocolate morsels for sale at the market.  Today they seem much sweeter.  And when I make the same deserts I made 18 years ago with the semi, I don’t get the same results.  Baugh.  Seems I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Then somewhere in my teens, along came Dove and the world became a little brighter.

As I grew older, I explored many brands and flavors.  Dark chocolate and chipotle, dark chocolate and green tea, dark chocolate and pomegranate.  Among my favorites?  Dark chocolate and pecan, dark chocolate and hazelnuts, dark chocolate and caramel, and the ‘ol stand by of dark chocolate and almond.

I know.  Not quite as exotic as the others.

And I learned that chocolate, like coffee, has different flavor nuances depending on where it is grown.  Guatemalan chocolate is different than Costa Rican chocolate.  And btw, I think Godiva is overrated.  Except the liquor.

But the ickiest flavor to me is salted chocolate.  The only salt that should be allowed in there is the salt in any butter used.  That’s it.

And here’s the thing.  I recognize that salt can be used to help bring out a flavor, or even to create a spark of interest that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

But today, it seems most ALL the dark chocolate sold in store is salted.  If it’s dark, then by golly let’s salt it too.  Ugh.  And most of the caramel too.  If I want dark chocolate covered caramel, I’m extra out of luck.  Either the chocolate is salted, or the caramel is.  Either one tastes bad.  Ocassionally I can find it without.

I supposed I should count my blessings.  The flooded market of ocean-water flavored chocolate keeps me from indulging most of the time.

But still, leave me some options people! Those who like salted dark chocolate will still like unsalted dark chocolate.

It’s a binary system.  Those who like salted chocolate and those who don’t.

So leave options.

It’s a win-win.  And everyone gets to have chocolate.

Hopefully one day I’ll be telling stories to my grand-kids about how all the chocolate companies used to salt dark chocolate candies all the time. Kinda like how Coca-Cola tried to replace a winning product with New Coke.

And the kids will be all like, “Ewww, Grandma, for real?”

“Yep,” I’ll say, “For real.”

“But Grandma, how did you survive it?”

And I’ll simply say, “Well kids, therein lies the lesson.  Learn to make your own.”


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Ordinary People…

Today a friend shared her experience with reuniting a lost dog with his family.

She noticed him on the side of the road on the way to the store and again on the way back.

So she stopped.

He was exhausted and dehydrated.  He’d run his pads off.

She called the local shelter, who contacted an owner looking for the very same dog.

And she stayed with him until they were reunited.

An ordinary person. Making a difference to an ordinary dog and his family.

It’s easy to think that we don’t have time.

Or to think that we have no real impact in the world.

If I were to disappear tomorrow, the world would continue without me.
So why be bothered? Why worry?

But small random acts of kindness by ordinary people can make a difference to other ordinary people.

It is such as these that make for heroes.

Because now someone’s life and reality is different.

Now that future has shifted for the better.

And they’ll never forget the experience of kindness.

This is how we teach and mold a better society.

And this is why ordinary people matter.

I know I shan’t forget my teachers.


Filed under NaBloPoMo, Random Thoughts, Writing

Penny-Wise Porterhouse Steak

I thought it’d be interesting to share a recipe from my Grandma Dot’s collection.

She was born November 20th, 1919.  And my Grandpa Jack was born the very next day on November 21st, 1919.

96 years ago TODAY.

And I guess if I stop to think about it, Grandpa Chester was born August 27, 1916.

99+ years ago. 

Wow.  No way. He was 55 when I was born.

Anyway, I have a pile of recipes from both sides of my grandparents that I am going through.

This one was interesting to me as a sign of the times, stretching every cent.

Penny-wise Porterhouse Steak

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 egg
2 T. grated onion
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 c. very fine cracker crumbs

Combine meat, egg, crumbs and seasonings. Mix well. Shape to resemble steak, about 1 1/2″ thick. Preheat broiler pan until thoroughly hot. Place steak on broiler pan so that surface of meat is 3″ from flame. When brown, turn. Again place surface of meat 3″ from flame and continue to cook until steak is well browned. Serves 5.

Seven simple ingredients.

Simple recipe.

Feed a family of 5.

Just make sure you get the shape right.


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The True Meaning Of A “Buttload…”

I try to learn something new every day.

And while today has most certainly been a weird day, it hasn’t been lacking in introducing me to new data.

I have finally been able to put to rest my un-ease about the word “buttload.”

As a kid, it always seemed like such an odd descriptor.

What the heck did it really mean?

Was it an insult to someone’s backside?

Was it related to loads carried by Buoyancy Operated Aquatic Transports?

Turns out, it’s from the Roman or Greek word buttisa large cask for wine.

According to Wikipedia’s Glossary of Wine Making Terms (and a few other sources), a butt is “an old English unit of wine casks, equal to about 477 liters (126 US gallons/105 imperial gallons).”

Revealing new perspective to the word “buttload!”

I’m not sure if it’s smaller or larger than what I originally thought.

But there you go.

Go forth into the world one word wiser. :)



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The Fruit Fly Gnat Trap – Part 2…

Because you asked…

So I perked up this morning when I came downstairs for coffee, remembering my gnat trap.  Wanting to see how many gnats it had caught.

And then my face fell.

Because I realized that I moved the trap to a cabinet far away from the fruit bowl, while trying to get a good picture.

And I forgot to put the trap back.


You’re supposed to place the trap wherever the gnats are frequenting.  And I’d left the thing over by the mostly empty dry cat food dish.

On top of that, an actual cold front moved in last night and we accidentally left a window open downstairs.  It was super chilly (might get our first freeze this weekend), so there wasn’t a gnat to be seen in the air.

I checked the dish and sure enough, nothing new.

I was in a hurry this morning (crazy day), and the high was supposed to be in the 70’s, so I put the trap back together, stuck it by the trash can and rushed out the door.

When I got home tonight, I was pleased to find 11 little gnat bodies floating in the trap! Not sure if you can see them well, but check out the picture below.

So I’d say this is definitely working!

I’ve placed the trap again (by the fruit bowl) and we’ll see if it gets anymore overnight!

If you want to get one of your own, find it on Amazon here.


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My New Fruit Fly Gnat Trap…

I’m pretty excited tonight, as my new gnat trap arrived in the mail today.

I make smoothies every morning. And I buy what organic fruit I can.

But along with the territory comes gnats.  And the last batch of bananas I picked up at Whole Foods brought a bunch in.

And because I’m using fruit every single day, the problem doesn’t go away so easily.

Thank goodness gnats don’t bite, but still!  Done with them!  Want them OUT.

I looked into some of the homemade traps.  Make a paper funnel, stick it in a little glass or vase with apple cider vinegar and a drop of dish soap. And supposedly catch all the gnats.

Nope, didn’t work for me.  And for my friends who’ve used it, it seems they never get more than a couple gnats when they do it.

So I finally took to Amazon, the King of Product Reviews.  And I found a trap with great reviews from a company called FlyFix.

So I ordered it and it arrived earlier today.

However, tonight we had friends over for dinner.  And little gnats visited everyone at the dinner table.  Ugh.  Thankfully our friends are really down to earth, but everyone was clapping, trying to kill the buggers. Not my preference for entertainment. We’d been so busy getting ready, that I hadn’t opened the package or even thought about it.

Finally I remembered the package and ran to get it.  We cracked that sucker open, poured some apple cider vinegar into it, closed it up and set it on the table.  The instructions state to allow a few hours for the gnats to find the trap, but in less than an hour, it’d already caught a couple! :)

So I’m thrilled. This is already as good as trying the DIY method.  So as far as I see, it’s looking promising.  And it blends in with the apples well!

I can’t wait to see how many gnats it’s trapped by morning.

Gant Fruit Fly Trap - Aberrant Crochet


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My Hack For A Yarn Slave, er… Feeder Stand Control Box Thing…

I had to kill some time today while getting my laptop looked over at a repair shop.  Seems my fan is about to go.  I thought it was flat-out dead at first, but it’s come back to life a little bit.  In its death throes for sure, but for now, zombie fan is spinning.

A ribbon storage box turned yarn slave.

A ribbon storage box.

So while I waited for the tech to look things over, I headed over to a nearby closeout store to look around.

I had hoped to find some bath sheets, but instead I found something (almost) better.  I found a promising crochet helper/enabler.

I found THIS!

It’s a “ribbon storage box” for ribbon spools – you know – for a wrapping paper station.

But I took one look at it and thought YARN.


5 Ft Leaping Dear Tapestry - Aberrant Crochet

5′ Leaping Dear Tapestry

I use multiple yarns in almost all my projects.  It’s rare when I don’t.  Projects like my 5 Foot Leaping Deer Tapestry or my CLF Flaming Hook are extreme examples that required multiple balls of yarn to be attached and going in the same project in each row.

My Flaming Crochet Hook design for the CLF First Ever Book

Mostly because they were a mix of tapestry and faire isle techniques. (Read my Ravelry notes linked above.)

But even my simple projects like my version of my Grandma’s potholders use multiple yarns together and apart, depending on the look I want.

Potholders by Aberrant Crochet and Grandma

Potholders by Aberrant Crochet and Grandma

Wrangling all that yarn for a single project can get, well… “less than neat” shall we say.

So I’ve looked into ways to control the yarn I’m using.  For like ever.

I’ve used tall deep vases to keep yarn balls at bay.  I’ve used (clean) kitty litter buckets and 5 gallon Home Depot buckets.  I’ve used yarn bowls and soda bottles.  I’ve used decorative baskets and laundry baskets.  I’ve used special “made for yarn” project bags with little feeding holes and I’ve woven ends through the back slats of chairs to help keep yarns straight.

And aside from maybe the one large deep floor vase that was really heavy weighted that I used for a while until it broke, I wasn’t too satisfied with any of them.  Nice ideas, but in the long run just not enough help to justify the problems they brought to the table.

Friends have suggested I try things like this DIY Yarn Holder made from a toilet roll stand.  I just want to laugh, because if I can pull over a kitchen chair with what I do, a toilet paper stand that hasn’t been concreted into the ground hasn’t a chance. It might work for someone using just one lace weight yarn, or for a slower crocheter than I, but not for me.

I’ve had some thoughts on designing something, but haven’t had the time to give making something a try (yet).

Present Day

Yarn feeder stand hack - by Aberrant Crochet -2

A ribbon storage box turned yarn slave.

So today when I found the ribbon storage case, I saw opportunity.  Because this has spindles already to go.  This is a smooth painted box, ready to go.  And with just a look, I could tell that this would be perfectly sized for my cake balls (talking about yarn here for the uninitiated).  And with some modification, it might even work for my hand-wrapped balls too.

So I grabbed a couple cakes and voilà! I tested the spindles a bit.  They seem to hold. The box is sturdy and weighty.  Guess it might work!

Now to actually crochet on something to test this control box out…

The cherry on top?  It was $4 on clearance, at the closeout store.

Thanks yarn gods.


Filed under Crochet Ruminations, NaBloPoMo, Yarn

Nothing Lasts That You Don’t Feed…

Relationships. Goals. Values. Love.

It all matters. And it all requires nourishing.

I was struck last night by an article titled, “Don’t F* Up The Culture,” written by Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb.

I’m not much into use of profanity for shock value, except in distinct circumstances where it really helps illustrate a point.  And here it definitely does.

Brian touches on the sentiments of an investor who sees that all too often, a great thing goes wrong when it gets too big. Brian then presents his own exploration into how he could make sure that his own company did not fall into this same pit of disappointment.

And he brought it all down to culture.

While I agree that culture is the vehicle, it takes the values at the core to create a culture around.  A point he illustrated well.

Brian had some striking things to say.  Here’s what stood out to me most:

…Culture is what creates the foundation for all future innovation. If you break the culture, you break the machine that creates your products.”

“…We build culture… by upholding our core values in everything we do. Culture is a thousand things, a thousand times. It’s living the core values when you hire; when you write an email; when you are working on a project; when you are walking in the hall. We have the power, by living the values, to build the culture. We also have the power, by breaking the values, to f* up the culture. Each one of us has this opportunity, this burden.”

“The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing. People can be independent and autonomous.”

“Ever notice how families or tribes don’t require much process? That is because there is such a strong trust and culture that it supersedes any process. In organizations (or even in a society) where culture is weak, you need an abundance of heavy, precise rules and processes.”

– Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb

A thousand things, a thousand times.
It creates the foundation for the future.
When it’s strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing.
When it’s weak, you need an abundance of rules and strict processes.

And it struck me how perfectly this illustrates our human need to:

  1. Hold ourselves to a life code, one that we never violate – whatever it is.
  2. Nourish the unity and relationships within our families, within our circles, within our culture as a society.
  3. And for simplicity through responsibility.

Everything in life is cycles and flow.  But it all requires nourishment and commitment to keep going.

Our relationships.  Our skills.  Our bodies.  Our money.  Our society.  Our trust.

Everything requires investment in order for it to be anchored and remain.  It requires loyalty to ideals and to each other.  It requires flexibility for flow and breathing room, while still maintaining a core of strength that is never compromised.

The perfect system.

I don’t know. Seems Brian strikes an important tone to give attention to.

Maybe you’ll agree?

Check out his article here.

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Memories: Double Haiku…

I would bake a cake
We’d rent a cheap video
One hundred plus came

Pickup truck hot tub
“But bunny rabbits don’t bite!”
Best times forgotten

Written 11-15-2015, 10:50pm
Copyright © 2015 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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Friday the 13th….

There was a lot of sadness around the world yesterday.

Sad week even.

The attacks in Paris.

7.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan.

And a graduate from the kids’ high school committed suicide this week.

His friends are hurting and wondering why.

So many tears out there.

Much love and prayers for all.

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The Cutest Things I Saw Tonight…

Tonight was homecoming for our little geeky school of overachievers.  This year the homecoming game was dodge ball.  My son played and their team was 2nd in the finals.

Before the tournament officially began though, they announced the homecoming “court” for every grade in highschool.  Basically a king and queen for each high school grade.  Which of course is interesting for a small K-12 school that maxes out at around 375 kids.

Well, dear son was voted homecoming king for his junior class.  And it was obvious that he was surprised! But that wasn’t the cutest thing.

The cutest thing was the grin on his face as he stood between pretty girls while they took photos of the whole “court” of homecoming winners for each grade in high school.

After all the years of early school strife for him as a dysgraphic kid who couldn’t really see well, and who struggled in sports, because no one realized he couldn’t really see well…. Yeah.  It did this momma’s heart good!

After the tournament, dear hubby and I took off to enjoy some snacks and drinks at a new favorite restaurant in Round Rock called Verde.  Our kids are spending the night with friends, which left us some time together for a quick date.  I’ll have to tell you more about it another time, but rest assured – Verde is tasty!

After our drinks and lite “meal” we headed over to Barnes ‘N Noble.  We’ve had a tradition for years that when we do go out, we often like to head to a book store after dinner.  It’s a great top off to a pleasant evening for us.  In fact, most of our early dates (geeze we’re at 20 years ago) were to used bookstores.  But then, we realized it was getting kind of expensive to keep up with – because we are both book geeks and neither of us can say no to each others’ book purchases!

Anyway, so though we don’t go all the time these days, when we do get to go out, we often still enjoy stopping by the book store.  I usually grab a coffee and peruse what’s new.

Tonight, I stopped by the information desk to check out the 3-D printer they had sitting there.  Last weekend was the (inter?)national Barnes ‘N Noble Mini Maker Faire, but we missed it thanks to our weather.

While I was looking over the 3D printer, though, I suddenly became aware of a request from little curly-headed boy approaching the information desk.

“Hey there! What can I do for you?” said a tattooed information specialist as he greeted the approaching boy.

“Um, yeah…” the boy (about 10?) responded.  “Where can I find a book about how to get a date?”

I watched the cool, confident, tattooed guy go from confident to quite unsure in an instant.

“Um, what do you mean?” the specialist asked?

“Well,” the boy went on. “I’m pretty popular in school and everyone knows me. So how do I get a date?”

I about lost it right there.  I gotta hand it to the information specialist, because while he was obviously stumped about how to respond to this request for information, he remained professional and even carefully respectful as he responded to the request.  “Well, I honestly don’t know what I could find for you that would be in your age group…” he started.  I chuckled and moved on, before I could get caught rolling on the floor busting a gut.  That was darling!  What a hoot!

Toddler Christmas Elf Hat - By Aberrant Crochet - Photo by Caroline Gukian and model child Smith

Photo taken by my friend Caroline Gukian and willing test model is daughter of my friend Laura Smith.

The third cute thing tonight was getting to try my Christmas Elf Hat design out on a real live little kid.  Because, you know – I don’t have little ones at home anymore, nor do I generally have easy access to anyone else’s.  I’ve been aiming for a size 18 months to 2 year old toddler range.  But the sizing seems to be coming out more preschool age.

Still, I’m pleased with how the shaping is working out and the ability to pose the hat.  It sure looks cute on her.  Don’t ya think?


Filed under crochet, Friends and Family, NaBloPoMo

If You’re Coming To Austin, Try The Pizza…

Austin’s definitely a food loving town.  The more thoughtful and creative, the better.  And there’s lots of it.

Everything from Korean to Japanese, to Tex-Mex to Italian, to Southern and Mediterranean… whatever your tastes – it’s all represented in some way here.  After all, we’re one of the most incredibly diverse communities anywhere.

Of course, anyone can argue about how “authentic” each “cultural” food is.  I’m not sure if “Americanized” is the word for it, but definitely a lot of foods are “Austinized” here, where we celebrate creative new ways to put foods together that aren’t typically thought of.

A little restaurant in Round Rock, just on the north edge of Austin, called La Cocina is a great example.  Their entire menu is inspired by the owner’s ties to both Mexico and his classical chef training in Italy.  Hence, a menu full of both Tex-Mex (is it really though?) and Italian dishes – plus a flavorful salsa with fresh basil as an ingredient.  Unusual presentations and unexpected ideas, but great food!  Completely an Austin kind of approach to “let’s get creative with food and see what else we can do!”

Or the little family owned sushi place on 620 that my husband loves. Where they make sushi rolls with jalapenos.  Not necessarily what you’d expect, but the taste is spectacular.

Everyone can pretty much agree that Austin dining is overall done very well in terms of quality and taste. If you visit Austin and don’t find something good to eat, then you really didn’t get out.

Put this on your list…

There are definitely some iconic, artistic places to consider visiting though. And when it comes to pizza, a little place on South Congress fits the bill for both iconic personality and art AND for crafting one of the best pizzas around.

And that place is Home Slice Pizza. My daughter and I love the Margherita pizza, which you can get both as a white and as a red pizza.  My son prefers straight up cheese or pepperoni.  The atmosphere is fun and eclectic Austin.  And it’s fairly economical as well.  You can get a large slice for $3.50 – $4.00 and a whole pizza is ready for takeout or dine-in usually in just 20 minutes.  They’ve got a system going over there and it works.

Mr Rogers mural at Home Slice - Austin Texas - by AberrantCrochet 2015

The Mr. Rogers mural at Home Slice Pizza.

Home Slice is also home to some of the most recognizable iconic mural art that Austin has become known for.  It’s conveniently located on popular South Congress where you’ll find other great food and interesting art and shopping as well.

My favorite mural on their building is probably Mr. Rogers, sported outside on the parking drive side.

Add it to your bucket list and let me know when you’re in town! We’ll go crochet in public together!

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Quick Tip: Improving the Quality of Your Cell Phone Photos

I’m playing around with BandiCam today and thought I’d use it to create quick tutorial for my NaBloPoMo post today.

We all take them, but are we always happy with our cell phone shots of our crochet work?  I bet not!  Here’s a super quick tweak you can use that often instantly improves the appearance.

OK, so it’s my first BandiCam video, but what d’ya think?  I hope you find it helpful!

Btw, the girl in the middle of that photo is my daughter! She made her costume and the costume of her friend Alex on her left.

AND she made that narwhal sword!  Along with her other best friend Beckie (with the tail), the three girls are dressed as characters from the graphic novel, Bizenghast.

Seriously, my daughter is cooler than me!

Until next time…

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Filed under Crochet Education, Education, NaBloPoMo

Today You Get Kittehs: The Todd Chronicles…

Repairs were being done on the house awhile back.  We were having some flooring replaced.  And a section ended up needing repair, some bracing for some studs, and everything that goes with that.  All this was taking place upstairs right next to my office.

I currently use a dining table as a desk in my office.  No kidding!  Gives me a plenty big surface to work on.

What can I say?  After all those years with just my kitchen dining table as my only available work-space, I don’t know how to condense to a tiny desk surface anymore.  I like to spread my work out.

Meet Todd the Wonder Cat - Aberrant Crochet's baby

Meet Todd the Wonder Cat

So with my table/desk butted up to the window, there’s a nice pocket my furry baby enjoys.  Along with the chin rest.

This is Todd, and out of the 5 cats I have (3 of whom are geriatric), Todd is my baby.  He’s a Bengal mix and he has quite the personality. But then again, don’t all cats?

I guess when I think about it, we’ve had Todd about 6 years. Some renters moved out down the road from us at the old place, and left him behind.  For awhile he visited John while he worked out outside.  Or visit the kids and I outside, teetering across window ledges and whatever tiny strip he thought he could balance walk, while playfully pawing for attention.

In a way, I think he was interviewing us.

Then one cold night after Halloween, he just up and walked into our house.  Without batting an eye at our other cats.  Who, by the way, FREAKED out that some strange cat had just barged right on into their home all calm and cool like.

He found a spot, fell asleep and claimed us all.

And that’s where his stories begin.

As you know, Halloween is quite popular at our house.

And spiders are kind of a thing for me.

And while he doesn’t enjoy the guests, Todd loves the new gear each year.

Truthfully, these are all over our house. I have to explain to every new visitor that it's not a real infestation.

Todd’s favorite.

Truthfully, these Halloween spiders are all over our house.

And one day, someone installing a new oven is probably going to have a heart attack when a bunch of these tumble out in the removal process.

I have to explain to every new visitor that it’s just a prop, not a real infestation.

When people are coming over, I generally try to take a quick scour of the house and toss the plastic critters into corners under the pianos, so they won’t be in the middle of the floor, staring people down.  But that’s really all I bother with.

I suppose I should care more, but… I don’t usually.  And I still haven’t taken down the magnetic ones (that I made last year) off all my doors.  In fact, my yard is still full of crochet spider webs and spiders.  We have not taken them down.  And there is still a TARDIS in front of my front door too.  So truly, the inside and the outside are reflections of one another.  Signs of spiders and The Doctor are everywhere.

Eh, most people know us by now.  My neighbors leave their Christmas lights up.  I leave my spiders up.  It evens out.

And then there’s Todd, usually dragging one of the little plastic buggers out of the corner for someone to see.  My perfect pranking companion.

Floor Repairs

I don’t know if it’s because of his beautiful lines, or what, but Todd has the most expressive face.

So on this particular morning, while I was drinking coffee and debating on webmastering solutions, he was enjoying his drowsy perch.


Working hard with mom.

Over all, as long as he can have his spot somewhere, he doesn’t care about visitors showing up at our house. People can go about doing whatever, as long as he gets his mommy time at some point in the day.

But then the Skil saw came out.



I don't understand....

I don’t understand….

OK, I'm not dreaming.

That’s not nice, I was napping.

This is your fault.

This is your fault.

I gotta hand it to Todd, he didn’t panic. But he wasn’t too happy!

Still, what can I say? It was worth all the work and noise and I love the new floor.  No more carpet in the hall!  Easy to mop and clean, bare floor.  It’s been wonderful.

And guess who can’t get away with peeing on it now?

Gotcha kiddo!


Filed under Friends and Family, Humor, NaBloPoMo

Squid In The Bathroom…

Yeah, no kidding!

My daughter ran right smack into a squid, left flopped over the edge of a toilet seat in the bathroom at her college.

No one seems to know where he came from.

Though I wonder if anyone checked the ceiling…

And I bet Biology has an idea…

The funny thing is, my daughter mused thus:

“Now, no matter how bad your week ends up being, whether you have tests and papers and work to do… It doesn’t matter, because you’ll end up thinking about that squid and you’ll start laughing. Because, you know – SQUID! There was a squid in the bathroom, and that’s ridiculous.”  – Jack Chambers

See you on the flip side Mr. Squiggles.

Jack Chambers saw a Squid Today - Aberrant Crochet


Filed under NaBloPoMo, Random Thoughts

The Best Food I Had In Barcelona And Other Adventures…

Tonight I’ve been busy tracking down information about places my daughter and I went in Barcelona, Spring 2014.

Turns out a friend is there and I’ve hunted down some details to send her. Thought I’d share with you too!

There were a few lesser known places of note.

Bosc del les Fades Cafe

The first was recommended to us by our tour guide, Fran.  It’s called Bosc de les Fades Cafe.  With Jessica’s interest in art and stories (Fran had noted how she carried her sketch/notebook everywhere), he believed this was a must see place for her.

Fran said it was one of his favorite places to go when he visits Barcelona.

“Really?” I asked. “Is the food good?”

“NO.” He replied flatly.

“So the drinks are good then?”


“Is it the Cola?”

“No,” he said. “But you must go, and when you do, you will see why I say you must go.”

So we went.  And it was a fabulous experience.  Even though the Sangria was not very tasty.

The reason to go is because of the atmosphere.  It’s hard to explain and I don’t have photos processed ready for you, but the place is magical.

Click the link above to go to their website and see some photos, but I’ll have to revisit this with our own photos for you too.  Honestly, I think mine are probably better.

La Pizza del Born

La Pizza del Born is a quaint little hole in the wall restaurant we found in the Born District, right across the street from an art market.  I don’t know what the name of the art market is, but look for the area of town that the Picasso museum is in and head there.

Empanadas from La Pizza Del Born in Barcelona

Empanadas from La Pizza Del Born in Barcelona. OMG, so yummy!

We had their empanadas.  Which were to die for.  And while they call them empanadas, they don’t taste like anything I’ve had in Austin.

I. still. crave. them.

The reason this was such a find for us was simply this: I’m extremely allergic to pork.  And my daughter has inherited this sensitivity.  It’s not as bad for her as it is for me, but the last thing anyone wants to chance on a trip abroad is getting a hold of something that causes you to puke up your guts and worse for hours.

Needless to say, this made the trip difficult for us in many ways. Because in Spain, they celebrate their pork.  And they don’t just use a handful of names for their pork dishes either.  Many of the places we had our dinner were all pork, all the time, kind of places.  Like the Museo del Jamon in Madrid for instance. Great for pork fans, but I was pretty hungry for the trip.

You know how here in the States, especially here in Texas, we have a ton of different names for every kind and cut of beef?  We know that Angus is beef. As well as sirloin and top round.  Brisket is a staple here, as is back strap and other pieces. They are all names for beef.  Well, OK – back strap can be cut from any animal and we mostly eat venison back strap here, but that’s another story.

In Spain, they have the same sort of thing going on for names for pork.  And with me not speaking a lick of the language, it didn’t help.  They really just haven’t heard of someone allergic to pork.  And it took forever to figure out how to ask someone if they cooked with lard.

Our tour guide, Fran, was funny though.  “Lard?!” he’d exclaim. “We don’t cook with lard here – that’s Mexico. We only cook with olive oil!”  It was like an insult to even suggest it.  However, when we stopped in La Mancha, I found out they may not cook with it, but they do sometimes bake with it.

Oh man, but that’s a totally different adventure story.

The Born District

According to our guide, the Born District, aka the Gothic Quarter, is essentially the art district of Barcelona.  He knew that my daughter and I were artists and that we were interested in finding something made locally to take home.  So much of the stuff sold in touristy gift shops is made in China!  And no matter what part of Spain we were in, it seems everyone carried the exact same stuff.  :P  And so Fran pointed us to the Gothic Quarter during our free time, so we would have the best chance of finding something made by a local artist that we could fit into our bags home.  And he didn’t steer us wrong!

This is the part of town where you’ll find the Picasso Museum and a bunch of small shops that honestly remind me of the spirit of South Congress in Austin.  Colorful, full of personality and flavor.  It’s also the area where you can still see parts of ancient Roman walls and a gate for the original town of Barcino. Apparently there’s a tour you can take of an underground, sunken part of the ancient Roman city ruins that is underneath this area of Barcelona.  They say it’s the largest in the world.  However, we didn’t have time to do that too.  Next time!

It’s in this district that we found a nice little pottery shop full of pieces made by local artists.  We picked up a couple of colorful pieces, but unfortunately one got broken. I wish I could remember the name of the place.  I picked up their business card because they had a sign stating they’ll ship around the world.  But I have not since been able to find the card.

Best Yarn Store In Spain

Aberrant Crochet visits - All You Knit Is Love - in Barcelona SpainHowever, it turns out that little pottery shop is just around the corner from the best yarn store I found in Spain during our trip, right there in the Born District.  It’s a little place called “All You Knit Is Love” and it’s owned by Jennifer Callahan, a fabulous knit designer from Arizona!

Aberrant Crochet visits - All You Knit Is Love - in Barcelona SpainLooking for yarn stores along our journey through Spain was interesting.  Little locally owned yarn stores were certainly around in half the places we visited on our school tour.  I didn’t always have time to leave the group to go visit one, but of the ones that I visited, there was something they distinctly had in common.  All the yarn was kept in shelves behind the check out counter and under glass.  It’s like walking into a jewelry store and I had to ask a clerk to see something, generally only one or two pieces at a time. (And this wasn’t easy without being able to speak the language either!)

It was a completely surreal experience!  Our tour guide says the yarn is kept behind glass and away from buyers because they want to keep the yarn clean from people touching it.  But I just don’t think that’s why it’s a trend there.  I never got any vibe that someone was concerned with how clean my hands were.

All You Knit Is Love - in Barcelona SpainStill, in either case, Jennifer’s shop is much different as you’ll see from my photo.  When you walk in, the walls are colorful, there are baskets of yarn and fibers everywhere, lots of crochet hooks and knitting needles available – and most everything can be touched.  Just like we’re used to in the States.  It’s pretty sweet and she carries some gorgeous stuff.  Here’s me and Jennifer after a really pleasant visit in her shop!  No matter where you travel in the world, we yarn people are just – some of the coolest people around!

Well, that’s it for now.

More Spain stories later!


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Filed under Crochet Community, NaBloPoMo


“I am a leaf on the wind; watch how I soar.” – Wash, Firefly

This is me.

But not in the way you probably think.

I am the chronic overachiever.

The one who commits to too much.

Who steps out and says – sure! I can help you with that!

I can take that on! I’ll be happy to sit down and help you figure this out.

I barely realize my actions, because I’m so into the heart of it.

I catch the current and hitch a ride.

And then I’m Super Man for a while.

Soaring over Capital “T” in a single bound.

Awing even myself with what I’m capable of handling.

Of the difference I can make.

Until I can’t.

Until I’m burnt up like an offering to the gods.

What a sweet savor my smoke and ashes make.

Scattering in the wind like snow.

“You know nothing, John Snow.”

Diffused, I lie dormant for while, unable to breathe, unable to move.

Finally everyone backs off because, well… what can you ask of ashes?

Until one day I gather strength and arise reborn.

Only to repeat the cycle.

Each time I am wiser, but to what end?

The pattern reboots.


I level up, with now more zombies to overcome.

The problem is pretty simple actually.

I don’t know how to say no.

I always think I do.

But if that were true, I’d be a race car instead.

Written 11-08-2015, 11:55pm
Copyright © 2015 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

You know nothing John Snow...

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Filed under NaBloPoMo, Poetry, Random Thoughts, Writing

More about the Christmas Elf Hat design that I’m developing…

So today I finished up the hat for my friend’s grandson.

I’m really pleased with it!

I’ve been working on variations for this design.  However, this started largely due to my need to tweak the shaping.

In order to get a hat that behaved more like the one worn by everyone’s favorite elf, I needed to experiment and play with the shaping.  Because there’s a big difference between how the fabric from a tiny felt cone hat on a doll behaves, compared to the fabric of a larger hat crocheted in yarn behaves.

One of the keys to its shaping is in what type of yarn you use.  And if you don’t use the right kind, you have to make up for it by changing the stitches.  So it looks like my pattern variations may be more involved than I first thought.

Which brings up something. I’ve come to realize that the way I prefer to write patterns is as teaching tools.  It’s not enough for me to write every step in terms of “Row 1; Row 2” without a holistic approach.  I want people to succeed at replicating what I’ve come up with.  Which takes some explaining when it comes to technique, yarn and tools.  And depending on your materials, it might require some problem solving too.

So that means more photos and writing.

Anyway, here are some quick shots I took of the final hat before my friend whisked it away tonight.  What d’you think?

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Filed under 'Tis the Season, Crochet Patterns, NaBloPoMo