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?

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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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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.

Todd2-05132015

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.

Wha...?

Wha…?

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!

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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

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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?”

“NO.”

“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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Flight…


“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.

Congratulations!

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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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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A Blast From The Past…


I got a chance to go back in time a bit today.  I learned that my old piano teacher passed away earlier this year.  Dr. McCollom was my teacher for two years in college and an advocate before that through a keyboard camp I attended at our local University. I came to him as a self-taught pianist and he enriched my life with training. He was instrumental in helping me become a college piano major at age 15.  And I remember how he’d shake his head and tell me, “I’m going to break your bad habits if it’s the last thing I do!” Because, you know, I was self-taught, et all.  He was really good for me.  And he helped get me some music scholarships too.  (Some of you might remember that a good part of my early life was spent as a musician, playing piano, composing my own works, competing in performance.)

Thinking on old days of piano and music theory brought me to memories of the 2nd college I attended and music performances on stage for dances.  And I’ve found myself listening to the work of fellow musicians I went to school with. Seeing how far they’ve come.

So, I was thinking that tonight I wanted to introduce you to some of the piano talent I know.

Meet David Michael Bilowus, my choir director from college 25 years ago.  (When I headed off to my 2nd college and spent a year in CA, I also joined choir.)  Mr. Bilowus was a great choir director for us, has always been a talented pianist and one of the kindest of gentlemen I’ve ever known.  Later I worked for the university Music Department and got to know him further.  I haven’t really seen him since those days, but a fellow college bud alerted us to his YouTube channel. 

Mr. Bilowus’ music has a nice easy style and I just can’t get over how beautifully filmed this particular music video is.  Kudos to the director and much jealousy on my part.  Now I want to set up my piano outside in the woods to play.  Only I don’t think the prickly pear around here would seem quite as romantic as his backdrop.

This next video is from a fellow student and friend I went to college with, Rachel Currea.  Rachel is incredibly beautiful and talented.  In school, I couldn’t help but be jealous of her training and obvious command of technique.  Just incredibly talented and trained.  I’m so happy to see that she has truly continued her art and performs and records her music today.  Take a listen, you’ll see instantly what I mean. Rachel impeccably stands out among the rest.  If you’re having a tough day, I dare you to listen and see how you feel after.  If you like this and want to hear more, you can find Rachel Currea’s music on Amazon.

So there you have it, I present beautiful music.  And head off to bed pondering about other fellow musicians and the repairs my two antique pianos both need.

It’s time I get those fixed and sit down to the keys again.

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TARDIS, Hand Mines and More…


OK, so back to the TARDIS.

Because, you know – ALL IS TARDIS.

Well, OK, maybe not.  That would be BORG, or CYBERMEN or something of the like.

But you know you want to see pics of our Halloween setup with our TARDIS!

As you might recall, last year I turned my front door into a TARDIS.  Our house is stone and blue already.  So putting the life-size TARDIS in front of our front door really fit well with the coloring.

And of course, you know I’m going to include my spiders.

And thus, the Halloween Spider / Doctor Who TARDIS mashup is born.

TARDIS and Giant Spider Web - Halloween 2015 - by Aberrant Crochet

The thing to note is -> THAT is a LIFE-size TARDIS.

My head might barely come to the bottom of one of the windows.

Knowing that, now look at my giant spider.

YES, it really is that big!

The TARDIS is really neat to see all lit up at night in particular.  Wish I could truly capture what the scene looks like at night to the human eye, but I tried to get close.  Here are a few shots to give you an idea.

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It’s a pretty dramatic and cool view!

Oh, but hey! Did you notice something lurking in the first picture up top?  If you’ll look in the lower left hand side, you’ll see a patch of something in the flower bed under the spider web.  Here’s a more angled, closer view.

Doctor Who Hand Mines For Halloween Props Next To My Crochet Spider Web - by Aberrant Crochet

Hand Mines!

If you have not seen any of the episodes from this season of Doctor Who (Season 9), then you really must go see the first 2-part episode, which initially aired Sept. 19th.  It is right during the very first few minutes of the episode that a new weapon is introduced – the Hand Mines.  I won’t spoil the story, but DO go watch the show.

We knew, the instant we saw the hand mines that we HAD to come up with a way to make some. 5 weeks isn’t a lot of time to pull something like that off, but we immediately got to hunting down hand props we thought we could cannibalize and use.  There wasn’t enough time to make as many as we wanted to, but here’s what we came up with.  All the eyeball sculpting on these that you see here was crafted by my daughter Jack. The rest of the hand props are eyeball-less and stuck in the mud with the rest to lend to the effect.

Patch of Doctor Who Hand Mines In The Flower Bed For Halloween

Of course, these hands are not as muddy as we initially made them to be –  thanks to the rain (and floods) we just experienced here in Central Texas during Halloween weekend. But you get the idea!  Just wait.  Next year we’ll fill the yard…!  hook_smiley

Stay tuned for more pics and some insight into our process.  Not to mention some details about the TARDIS you don’t yet know.

In the mean time, I need to go scour Halloween clearance for potential hand props!

 

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I’ve been working on a Christmas Elf Hat Pattern…


So, I’ve been terrible about updating anyone on what I’ve been creating of late.  And while I want to tell you more about the TARDIS, I also want to share photos of the latest crochet related projects.

As it turns out, the Christmas Elf Hat photos are more easily available at the moment to show you.  So tonight, I’ll fill you in on this.

See, a friend of mine asked me about making a red elf hat for her grandson.  Seems he’s a big fan of the Elf on the Shelf.  And he’d like his own elf hat.

I went digging across the net, but just wasn’t really satisfied with any of the crochet patterns I came across.  And, of course, who am I kidding anyway.  I never stick with a pattern I didn’t write.  I don’t stick to recipes as written, I don’t stick to sheet music without modifications and I don’t stick to any crochet patterns as written either. Often not even my own.

So, I started playing with ideas and working out how I wanted the shaping to work out.

The main thing I noticed while looking at elf hat photos for various patterns is that they don’t always pay attention to how the pointy hat slopes.  And the Elf Shelf guy specifically has a hat that’s generally quite tall and “dunce” like cone in shape.  It’s a gradual incline, and it takes a bit of doing to make sure the lines are subtle in their increase, while also having to contend with a completely different kind of material to make said hat than a little toy with a felt cone on his head.  So I wanted to pay attention to that detail while making something that will actually work on a human head.

Also, I want there to be options.  I haven’t published a ton of patterns mainly because I prefer to write patterns with variations.  There are several in various stages on my computer and in my notebooks.  I like options and I want my fellow crocheters to enjoy those options too.  So I wanted to figure out, what about a brim, what about without, what about this tall, and what about not tall at all?

Right now, I’m working on a toddler size hat.  With variations just for that size, it’s been a lot of work to bring everything together according to international yarn and pattern standards.

Toddler Christmas Elf Hat - By Aberrant Crochet

I’m also getting some help finally from a friend who is a photographer.  I don’t have toddlers at home anymore, so I need to test my design out on someone else’s kid(s).  And I need good photos, not just my cell phone snap shots.  Hopefully I will  be dropping hats off to her for a photo shoot next weekend.

Here’s a sneak peek of one of the variations I’m working with.  It’s getting there.

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So Just How Does One Manifest A TARDIS? – The Saga Part 1…


I’ve wanted one since I was a little kid.  A TARDIS.

But that’s not all there is to the story.

Growing up watching Tom Baker as the 4th Doctor is somewhat integral to why I crochet.  Or at least why I continued to crochet as much as I did, the way I did, in my young crochet evolution.

It was that scarf.

I was fascinated by that longer-than-history, giant scarf of The Doctor’s.  A caricature of an otherwise mis-matched and uninteresting piece of clothing.

An exaggeration that taught me magic and got me thinking.

It’s what got me out of serious and into making fun and unusual styles of every day things, out of crochet.

“There’s no point being grown-up if you can’t be childish sometimes.”
– The 4th Doctor (Doctor Who)

I mean, after all… The 4th Doctor’s scarf is just as useful as a whip is to Indiana Jones.

But while I could make a scarf, a TARDIS was hardly within reach back then.

Today, I’ve become more and more interested in making a TARDIS of my own.  Though I have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to learning about building with wood.  It was my brother who gained knowledge of such things from my father and grandfathers, not me.

Not to mention, uh, a certain number of tools that I am missing.

So, I do what I do well.  I seek.

I’ve read forum after forum and gathered ideas and saved pics and links.

TARDIS Builders is actually a really useful forum for people who want to share details about their projects. Similarly, the Dr. Who Scarf Support Group on Ravelry is also a great place to go for help in recreating The Doctor’s scarf.

By the way, I do want to point out a distinction.  It isn’t “Dr. Who.”  It’s always “Doctor Who.”  He’s The Doctor, not a Dr..  Long time fans know this.

SO.  Back to the TARDIS.  How does one manifest something so geeky, and for that matter, something rather uncommon – that simply isn’t just lying around for one to pick up and take home?

I knew I could build one (at least in theory), but I haven’t the skills, tools, time, shop, etc. right now.

Occasionally I see one at A-Kon or the like, but even that is not common place.

But I wanted one so bad.  I mean bad.

Then TechShop happened.

TechShop is a beautiful entity borne of The Maker Movement, and straight out of Maker Faire.

Btw, if you haven’t heard – Barnes ‘N Noble is hosting a Mini-Maker Faire event this coming weekend, November 6th – 8th.  If not a world-wide event, it’s nation-wide at least.  You should totally check it out.

And you might remember that I participated in the first two big Maker Faires that came to Austin back in 2007 and 2008.  Along with a Mini-Maker Faire in my area in 2013.  My people, I tell ya.

Maker Faire is all about the joy of simply making things on your own.  And TechShop is a membership based community workshop – complete with workspace, classes and industrial grade tools for you to make just about anything you desire with your own two hands.

Literally, anything is possible if you have TechShop in your corner.  Just ask Jack Dorsey, who made his first prototype for Square – at TechShop.

So what does that have to do with my coveting of a Time And Relative Dimension In Space machine?

A man named Paul Spracklen made a TARDIS at TechShop in Austin.

Jack n TARDIS - at TechShop AustinAnd it just so happened that he decided to silent auction it off for charity at the 3rd Anniversary Open House for TechShop in our area.

And it just so happened that the kids and I were at that open house, helping out.

And it also just so happened that I won that silent auction.

Because after all, there are a lot of things I could spend a couple hundred dollars on.

But just how often does a TARDIS cross your path, looking for a loving home?

I feel like a proud adoption parent.

More to come….

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NaBloPoMo And Halloween: And So It Begins…


It’s that time of year, when the Halloween Universe collides with the NaBloPoMo World on my blog.

Both hold such special places in my heart.

And this year, a Crack in the Universe allows the Time Lord Reality to bleed through more than ever before.

I’ve been dying to post pics and show off what we’ve been up to, but I didn’t dare spoil the surprise for our friends who were coming over this weekend.  Though agonizing at times, the decision paid off in spades.

One day, it will come.  And I will be ready.

The season started off for us pretty much as usual.  The yard began first with a trickle of spiders and webs.  Hubby and Dear Son got creative with the webs as we got closer to the big weekend.

The giant webs are up - Aberrant Crochet - Halloween 2015

How many spiders do you see?

But we wanted more.

So much more.

Because – you know.

I manifested something Doctor Who - Aberrant Crochet - Halloween 2015

#DoctorWho

And October’s Dear Hubby’s and my birthday month.

So I manifested something….

I’ll resist the urge to explain every backstory here.  Just click the links to get filled in on the years long back saga of what is my Geekdom.

And stay tuned for new back stories.

‘Cuz we gots some catching up to do.

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Social Media Is Sharing…


Life is rich.  Life is risks.

And sharing it with others, even for a brief moment on Facebook or Twitter or elsewhere online, helps remind me of that every single day.

It helps me stop and “smell the roses” as it were.

To slow the moment down and savor it just a little and celebrate it with the kindred spirits I’m blessed to know.

Some say that the virtual social world is a fake one.

I don’t think so.

In some ways, it’s a lifeline for me, in a daily schedule that even a chiropractor would not keep.

We get out of the social experience what we want, what we put in, and how we choose to see that world.

I would argue that you get an authentic experience when you invest one yourself.

But if you’re the kind of person who prefers to put on airs, to alter the tune before you let anyone hear, then that is all you’ll see in the people “around” you too.

Today, thanks to social media…

My day was made because…

  • a 19 year old kid doesn’t have cancer
  • a toddler I used to babysit got married
  • a mom is getting a well deserved vacation
  • a fellow artist met her goal with selling a clever t-shirt campaign
  • and a family reports that their local water park really is the bomb

And so I’m smiling….

     Life enriched…

            And getting back to work, late as it is…

…with gratitude in my heart.

 

Social Media Is Sharing - article and graphic by Aberrant Crochet

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A Mother’s Surreal Moment #5847…


“Oh!  Mom! Mom!” my sophomore son says to me.

“I forgot to tell you! Today in PE, Coach was frustrated with the little kids, so we got to rip the squeakers out of their rubber chickens.”

I blink at him.  My kids attend a K-12 school and often help out with the lower grades.

But the phrase “rip the squeakers out” presents a picture of some rather strange carnage.  Maybe even some mayhem.

“PE? Rubber chickens? Why do the little kids have rubber chickens in PE class?”

“I don’t know, to wave around or something,” he says to me, clapping his hands and grinning mischievously from ear to ear.

“And look!  I got to keep some!”

He whips something from his pocket and holds up a fist full of white tubes.

“And guess what?!”

He declares more than asks.

“I figured out that they all make different notes. So I labeled them and…”

And while I’m still blinking at him, he holds the tubes together in his hand like some sort of modified pan flute and…

…begins to play Smoke On The Water.

With squeakers stripped from the necks of rubber chickens.

That, my friends, is metamorphosis.

And my musically talented son.

#ThisIsMySurrealLife

#AndILoveEveryMomentOfIt

Rubber chicken squeaker pan flute - graphic by Aberrant Crochet

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To Hold…


The birth of a child does funny things to a parent.

The instant they are part of your life, you can’t image life without them.

It’s like it always was

and was always going

to be.

Those first years are the time you get to know your child in a special way.

One that they will never remember and will never see the way you do.

As they grow up, gain confidence, mature, and remember this or that about their lives, those are the years and triumphs you will always secretly know better than anyone.

You will always hold their beginning.

– Julia M. Chambers
04/26/2015

Mothering, from the beginning.

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Hold Coffee Dear To Your Heart And It Will Prop You Up


Aberrant Crochet Coffee - Sunshine In A Cup

Once upon a time, I used to do the right and proper thing by coffee.

Putting it in a travel mug when I needed to drive the kids to school.

But not anymore.

Coffee has tamed me enough over the years, that we can now travel together in peace.

Clutched to my heart, I ride today with my favorite morning beverage in a mere mug.

I think it tastes better that way.

What a visage I must be, pulling up to the school.

Hunched over the steering wheel.  In my plaid pajamas and winter coat.

Mug clutched to breast bone.  Crochet hook pinned back in my hair.

Thankfully neither my kids nor their friends seem to mind.

Piling out of the car I call to them.  “Have a good day!”

“I will endeavor to try,” my daughter smiles and wryly returns.

“There is no try.  There is only do!” I say.

“Ugh! Go away Mom,” she giggles.  “I love you.”

And off she goes, books in hand, chopsticks in hair.

I love you too dear.

Coffee pressed to breast, I pull away smiling.

A little more alert and with a full heart.

I’m such a geek.

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Happy New Year Everyone!


Well, it’s 2015.

19 years and 2 weeks ago, John and I got hitched.

I can’t believe it.  ::sniff::

Life flies too fast y’all.

Hug your babies tight.

Savor every second.

Don’t let a day go by that you don’t appreciate something and invest in one more memory that matters.

And don’t get so sucked into survival that you hold back from living.

Happy New Year everyone!

Plan to have a spectacular New Year!

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It’s The Principle Of The Thing…


It’s the last day of NaBloPoMo, and our internet has been out all afternoon.   The cable company’s automated message still says the same thing now that it did when I first called. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience. Our technicians are working as fast as they can. Our account representatives don’t have any further information.”

Those who don’t understand might just say, “See? So you can’t get your post done. It’s Sunday night. Why stress yourself out about it? You got all your other posts done on time this month. That’s good enough. No one would blame you.”

But that’s just it. This was never about anybody else. This was always about me and my commitment, to myself,  to get it done. To write and post every single day without fail. 30 days straight of blogging and posting and writing without reservation, regardless of how smart it sounds, and without quitting.

It’s true that nobody else would hold me to the challenge. No one else would judge me for my circumstance. But I know where there’s a will, there’s a way. And as long as there’s a way for me, there’s no way I can give in. As long as I haven’t tried everything I know to do, then I haven’t won. I haven’t won a thing.

It doesn’t matter what somebody else knows or sees.

It matters that I know.

So I’m outside with my cell phone and my WordPress app, standing underneath my giant trees. I’m using the Christmas lights we just put up today to see what I’m doing and poke away at my keyboard, while seeking a better cell signal. I’m not very good with these phone keyboards, but I’m hacking away at it anyway.

The weather is perfect. The lighting romantic. I can see the cable trucks on my street working away. And the neighborhood’s Christmas lights are just as pretty as ours. Somewhere above, a half-moon hides behind the clouds, and I feel blessed.

I’ve completed the challenge. The Christmas season is here. And I’m ready to begin a new week.

Thanks for tagging along on my ride. Thanks for all the support. And thanks for being who you are, doing what you do, and for being that light you are in the world.

Carpe equito y’all. Seize the ride. And maybe a margarita too. Cheers!

Talk to you soon. Hopefully with a little more planning next time! :)

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Gratitude: The Key To Saving Someone’s Life?


I was listening to part of an interview on the radio last night about Gratitude.  It was obviously planned for the Thanksgiving season, but I found this one interview compelling and honestly better than many other messages and even sermons I’ve heard.

I don’t know who the man was, but he was a psychiatrist and he talked about gratitude as an essential part of healthy Life and our human makeup.  And that it was the key to happiness.

He didn’t talk about how we should be grateful.  He didn’t talk about gratitude being essential to save your soul, or anything like that.  He didn’t even say anything about how it’s a spiritual principle in the cycle of give and receive.   Though it is.  Or that it was a bad thing to not be grateful.  He did mention that it was a key to happiness, but I thought it interesting how he explained it.

He said that gratitude isn’t just about the fleeting feelings of “YAY!” we feel when something we love happens.  He said it’s also a state of being, giving and service.  And he said that it’s the key to happiness, because that service adds value to our lives.  Not just in hey – the experience of serving was good for me.  But as in the fact that our psyches’ desire to matter.  And when we serve, our psyches’ realize – we matter.  We just mattered to someone we helped.  Even if we don’t think it’s a whole lot, our psyche recognizes this and sees value in its existence.

And that it’s important to respond to those things that we naturally feel inspired by, or appreciate the value of.

He mentioned that one of his primary methods to treat depression and suicidal thoughts was to give his clients the homework of doing good deeds for others.  It didn’t have to be big.  It could be making a point of thanking someone, or making someone smile at the grocery store, or buying a cup of coffee for the fellow behind you.  The point wasn’t about worrying how or anything like that.  The point was to just simply start doing it.  And then increase to more and more times per week.  And soon, that person who once saw no value in their life and no reason to live, no longer felt the same.  And often no longer needed medication.

I thought it was really interesting.  Because it wasn’t about guilting people into service.  It wasn’t about shoulds and sins and the oft spoken clichés of how good it is to see the misfortunes of others so you would appreciate what you have more.   It was simply a matter that our psyches CRAVE to be of value.  It’s part of our very makeup.  Whether you believe that makeup is ordained by God or not doesn’t matter.  And in order to correct the malfunction of devaluing ourselves and our lives, the answer is to show our inner selves that we do have value.  And if what you’re doing isn’t convincing your inner self of your value, then you shift to doing what will.  The key was to do something that you could see made an impact.

I thought this was really interesting, because I think this bleeds into so much more.  Not everyone is suicidal, but many of us live lives we don’t feel are of much value or aren’t satisfied with.  We throw money at things without getting involved, which often removes us emotionally and physically from the experience.  We get too busy and cut more and more out of our lives.  And while we need a balance in everything, it seems that we only value that which we invest our souls into.  Including our communities, our country and ourselves.  I can tell you from personal experience that every time I go through dark periods, I throw myself into service somehow.  I hadn’t really analyzed it too much, but it’s always given me light when I needed it most.

I don’t know.  It’s not like this subject isn’t talked about in so many ways.  And it isn’t like the thankfulness clichés aren’t trotted out every single November.  I’ve heard and studied and parroted these things again and again myself.  But somehow this struck me a little differently this time.  Maybe because there was simply a tremendous lack of judgement in the whole way this guy presented his thoughts.  It wasn’t about right or wrong.  It wasn’t about whether we’ve lost our way as a modern civilization.  It wasn’t about depression being a disease to manage or Thanksgiving being an important time to be thankful.  It wasn’t about sadness or saving the world.

It was simply a loving statement of fact.  We humans need to be of value.  We need it like we need sleep and nourishment.  It’s a need that we are responsible for feeding ourselves.  No one else can give it to us.  It drives what we do and who we are.  And without it, we’ll never be healthy, happy or prosperous.

Know Thyself.

As a man thinks, so is he.

We’ve been told these things all our lives.

Do we understand what they really mean?

Gratitude: The Key To Saving Someone's Life - Aberrant Crochet - NaBloPoMo

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