Category Archives: Artist Information & Notes

In Seeking Signs… Part 1


Two weeks ago today was my birthday. And a week ago yesterday was John’s birthday. He would have been 50 this year. And you know he would have rocked this party.

It was our tradition every year to reserve the weekend between our birthdays as our annual standalone date night. With only 6 days between our birthdays, there was usually a full weekend between our birthdays. This year my birthday fell on a Sunday, and John’s fell on a Saturday. We would have spent the entire week doing special things, cooking lots of great meals, all leading up to his 50th birthday.

I decided I didn’t want to be alone for his birthday, so I held a Halloween party gathering of our local friends instead. Doctor Who TARDIS on my front door step and a yard full of spiders and angels and all. John always wanted to get a bunch of angels for us to move around the yard every night. I didn’t have the energy to move them around, but this year 14 angels from 3 different cities graced our yard around the TARDIS. Not every friend or adopted family made it, and some had to come late, but it was really nice to see the ones who came.

It’s been 13 months, 2 weeks, 6 days, and 85 minutes since John left this world. And I’m ever seeking signs that he still exists. He and I met in theology school you know. We both have theology degrees and he could have been a minister if he wanted. (I wasn’t allowed to, being a girl and all. At least not at that institute.) I guess my point is, we’re not strangers to religion, or church, or a lifetime of service or God. My faith has never been challenged as it was during John’s fight. And in the face of death, his never wavered. If there were ever a recipe for comfort after death, you’d think we had it.

And yet the silence is deafening.

The frustrating thing is, I can’t even seem to have nightmares about him, much less dream about him. And while I believe in God, I don’t have the experiences other widowed spouses have reported about their dead loves. I don’t experience the kind of comfort they do.

In my support groups, there are all sorts of stories of people actually seeing their passed away spouses, feeling them around them, hearing their voices talking to them, flickering lights, objects moving, seeing signs from animals, feathers and rocks in the shape of hearts and unknown gifts left for them. One even reported hugging and holding her husband, and knowing it was real. Others report that the broken dishes they find and other things are signs that their loved ones are still around, though I find it bewildering to consider that someone who loves us would run around breaking things after they’re dead.

And let’s not forget the Cardinals. It is said that cardinals are the spirits of loved ones coming to check on you. But my problem with this is that cardinals were my Grandma Dot’s favorite bird. I’ve grown up with families of cardinals in my backyard, and my grandmother’s backyard, my entire life. I watch them bring generation after generation of baby cardinals to my bird feeders. While cardinals are usually territorial, in my experience multiple families will live in the vicinity of my backyard. It is not uncommon for me to see three different male cardinals in my backyard in a single day. It is always been this way. And while I always think of my grandmother when I see them, it’s because they were her favorite. There are always cardinals. And to me this beautiful bird is something John would specifically never use to show me he’s there. Because he knows.

All these stories from other widows… but as usual, I don’t experience any of these things. I’d be happy with even just dreams. I’ve dreamed dreams my whole life. I saw my aunts, uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers after they passed in my dreams. They were detailed and comforting dreams. But I don’t get them for the man I spent 22 years of my life with. The man whose life I desperately tried to save. It really is as if a black hole opened up and completely removed all traces of him.

And I guess as a deeply spiritual person, married to a deeply spiritual person, desperately in love with each other, determined to fulfill a number of missions of service on this earth together… I just expected more.

 

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When waters threaten to overwhelm…


Dealing with grief and trauma…

It’s like handling an onion.

Cut back a layer, more tears.
More “lessons.”
More insight.
New “weaknesses.”
New strength that takes you awhile to recognize.

Sometimes it feels like multiple events chain together.

What I can tell you is that you must invest in more than the “big” things.

You must invest in little moments and little successes.

Humans desperately need to be of service.
They need to be of value.
They need to make a difference.
Life must have a meaning.
And they need more than just a few micro joys.

That is what offsets our darkness.

If there are not enough investments into the bank account of our positive experiences, when the negative and the demanding experiences come (and they always will), we risk overdraft.

There’s not enough positive to offset the negative.

It hurts our psyche. And then it gets taken out of our very organs and cells to try to compensate.

Even when you don’t feel like it, it’s important to invest in the tiny Joys that life can offer.

Find something different. Find something soul feeding for you.

Invest your time with your family. You never know when that’s going to change.

And you don’t want to feel like you ever missed out.

Even when you don’t feel like it, be your own fairy god mother and grant yourself a wish.

Put yourself to bed.

Nurture and reassure the hurting child inside.

Don’t be afraid to talk it out with a counselor. It’s not always appropriate to use family or friends to talk it out with.

Lean on your spiritual beliefs and look for answers in the little things.

Not sure what you believe?  Then begin a pilgrimage to find that.

Take it slow and savor each moment.

Much love. You can do this.

Last thing: write a letter.

Get out everything you want to say, and maybe don’t know yet that you do.

It’s not for others to see. You can even burn it later. But say in that letter everything you wish you could out loud.

I promise it helps.
::hugs::

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Sonorous abyss…


The gap amplifies.
Dear God.
I fear I falter.

April 2, 2016
1:08am

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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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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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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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Worried About Paying For College? I Might Have Some Help…


With my kids ( a sophomore and a senior in high school), the reality of college funding has loomed on the horizon for us for some time.

With multiple deployments, layoffs and medical emergencies, just the thought of college for my kids has been depressing.  They have amazing grades and goals in life.  They both have big plans for useful careers someday.  John and I were Liberal Arts majors.   And neither of us work in any field we studied.  What were we thinking.

Our kids?  Much more practical.  They both want engineering.

The Sophomore

Our son has built complex machine structures since he was 18 months old.  I remember the day he built his first.  We had just found a thick plastic version of Tinker Toys (for toddlers) for him.  And in the living room floor, our toddling baby built a giant complex geometric-like structure with every piece in the box.  Even demanding to be picked up to be able to place the last pieces – you know, because the structure was taller than him.

John and I just gaped and stared at him and each other.  “Oh my god…” we quietly whispered to each other with worried expressions.  “What do we do?”  Having competed in national mathematics in middle school, and having a father who’s a genius in electronics, I can kind of follow our son’s brain, but only a bit.

And that was only the beginning.  On into his school years, he was the kid the teacher was frustrated with – building spaceships out of paperclips and pencils, instead of paying attention to the lesson.  Thing was, he really had a knack for it.  They really did look like spaceships.  Every oddball scrap of something he found could become a part for some creation of his.  “But Mommy,” he’d complain when I talked to him about paying attention in class, “the pictures in my head won’t stop.  I have to get them out.”

Legos came along and they became his next go to for invention. And while he’d sometimes build the kits as they were designed, usually he instead turned all the parts into new things, generating ideas I would never have thought of.  Occasionally I’d get a note from school – he’d been caught with Legos in class again. The pictures in his head didn’t stop and his inventions became more and more detailed and complex. He’d run out of parts before he could get a new design completely down.  Scrapping other brilliant designs he’d already made, he’d recycle them for the sake of whatever kept him awake at night.  I tried to get photos, but he’d claim they weren’t perfected enough, or he’d recycle them faster than I could try to get to them.  I’d scramble to find garage sales and eBay lots where I could get him more pieces cheaply enough.

I knew something amazing was taking place for him, but for a long time I worried my son would forsake the ideas of college for Legos.  I even called the Lego company in desperation once, when he was 11.  I asked them if they had scholarships or programs for kids, or SOMETHING.  Because I wasn’t sure my son would ever go to college if Lego wasn’t involved somehow.  They didn’t know how to take my queries.  As his friends stopped really caring about Legos and building models, his interest only deepened and intensified.

And then I met a local adult Lego enthusiast group, made up of engineers who all love and build with Lego.  They often get together to share creations, do charity projects and build giant structures for events like SXSW.  And I learned that some engineering classes actually teach with Legos, and that apparently it’s a great way to help think about building complex structures.  That some people prototype with them.  And I heard a bunch of other stuff that went over my head.  I remember the first time we attended one of their gatherings and I watched my son speak a whole different language – with people just like him.  They understood him perfectly!  They spoke on the same level!  He’d found his people, his tribe, and they were excited to meet him and see his ideas.  “Do you have any idea how brilliant [his creation] is?” one of them commented privately to me once.  Yeah, I think I do.  That kind of thing has kept me awake at night for years.

I stopped worrying about him after that.  In fact, I think he’ll love college.  And graduate school.

The Senior

Our daughter…  she’s ambitious.  She loves drawing, writing and costuming, as you’ll know if you follow her blog.  She volunteers, works as a teacher’s assistant, studies martial arts.  She’s the kid who first makes every new kid feel welcome.  She’s the comic who breaks the tension in the room, loved by little kids and teachers alike, and coveted by everyone who gets to work with her. Since she was born, people have been drawn to her sunny disposition.  “Do you have any idea how different your daughter is?  How capable and talented?” people would ask. As if I had no idea and wasn’t appreciative enough.  Yeah.  I think I do.  That’s why she’s in an accelerated charter school environment.  So they can keep up with her.

But her main goals in life?  Well… Engineering.  She was angry when the NASA space shuttle program was cut.  She wants to design machines that solve problems, put together teams of geniuses to change the future and own her own space company some day.  She also figures she might hire her brother some day, if he ever stops teasing her.  She’s the kind of kid who’s always taken education seriously.  From the time in 2nd grade when she decided to pull out a higher grade science book to study instead of doing her math assignment in class, because she felt the assignment was boring, pointless and a waste of her time.

She’s carefully orchestrated her direction in education for the last 10 years on her own.  I’ve never pushed, except to organize her time when we had family things to worry about.  She’s strong in all her core subjects.  And school has always comes pretty easily to her.  Studying has come easy to her.  I was considered a genius kid, but I hated studying.  It was an unpleasant necessity for me.  But my daughter’s religious about it – and enjoys it.  Religious about her papers.  I remember when she was invited to take high school language classes early because her grade performance was so high in middle school.  And she came home with an 84%.  She’d finally found a subject that was hard for her and she bawled for hours.  It was not the kind of emotional upset I ever expected to deal with as a parent, let me tell you.

You see my dilemma…

It’d be one thing if my kids had no goals or direction in life or hated school.  If they had no idea what they wanted to do and be when they grow up.  But that’s not the case.  They’ve always been pretty clear on it.  Even strategically choosing their high school classes based on their future goals – without our input, I might add.

What’s a mom to do?  Getting into college, much less funding it, is way different from when I was going to school.  And I’ve struggled with having the time to help them figure any of it out.  I work every spare hour I can.

And today the whole process for everything’s online too, and not necessarily well-organized.  It practically feels like you need a degree just to understand all the things you need to do and when.  There’s funding available, but you have to do everything just so.  With last year’s layoff after my fall, I was afraid my kids were on their own to go into deep debt, and would be stuck over-working just to try and make it in this world themselves.  I didn’t want that.  I went through that in college. It was awful.  And no amount of scholarships I earned helped enough.  Landing in the hospital after trying to hold down 3 jobs and a full college schedule taught me a lot about limitations.  And wisdom. Not to mention long-term consequences.  I was the whiz kid with the excellent grades once too.  But I was on my own with no support system, overworking myself to survive and work through college.  It’s the opposite extreme of the coddled college kids you always hear about.  I nearly died.  For degrees that didn’t pay off.  There’s no way I’m letting my kids make the same mistakes.

I found hope and help. 

I met a guy named Ryan Thomson, whose expertise is all about navigating the college funding waters, at least in the United States.  And in many ways, he’s like a college application/funding coach.  And I can’t tell you just how thankful I am for him now.  And for the peace of mind coming into our lives.

Some of the families from our school have used him in past years and were really happy with his help. It took awhile, but we finally had a meeting with Ryan, and signed up for his help.  It’s like hiring a tax expert, only this guy has nearly 18 years of college funding expertise.  He works for people from every walk of life and income level. And he has an on staff college/career counselor too, who is so very helpful.  The dedicated attention has been wonderful for our graduating daughter who needed help finding the right places to get everything she wants – both Engineering and Business.

And for the first time, I have hope.  My kids are going to college.  They won’t be hurt by their parents’ lack of ability to financially help out.  Or our lack of knowledge about what they need or want to do.  I don’t have to worry about the funding or the process to find it anymore.

Ryan’s given us a ton of resources.  While he works on all the grant type stuff, he encourages the student to pursue whatever scholarships they can.  There are a lot of small scholarships that can help pay for some things.  And every bit helps.

Good websites to visit for financial help and more information are:

http://www.fafsa.ed.gov (This form is pretty much required for all financial aid.)
http://www.ed.gov/finaid (grants)
http://www.fastweb.com (scholarships – tons of them)

Ryan gives a lot of free advice in the consultation, as well as in free talks he gives at schools all over the Austin area.  Advice anyone can use, whether they choose to sign up for his help or not.  I like that a lot.

But if you’re like us – not sure how to navigate all the demands of college applications and funding, etc.. If you’re short on time.  If you want to be sure that your student gets good support and help to make better choices for their future, because it can matter.  Or you find that either your school lacks adequate career counseling for your student, or adequate help in navigating the process…  Then you might want to talk to our guy too.  It’s an investment that I had no trouble committing to.  Even while money is tight.  Some of the best money I’ve ever spent.

Ryan works with anyone anywhere in the US and he gives you a free upfront consultation so he can explain anything he needs to.  And between the two of you, you can decide if he can help.  His fee is reasonable and it covers the ENTIRE FAMILY – no matter how many kids you have.

Plus, I had no idea it was possible, but he can help anyone find funding for graduate degrees!!  I didn’t think that sort of thing existed.  He can help grown people go back to college if need be.  It’s wonderful.  And my kids, once they’ve finished their BA’s, they can continue with his services on their own.  I mean, it’s just almost too good to be true.  Except it is true.  It’s a really wonderful feeling knowing we have someone in our corner to help us navigate these unfamiliar waters.

So I’m going to share his info with you.  It’s worth considering, even if your kid is already in college.  If you do talk to Ryan, do tell him I sent you.  Not only will you get a discount, but it’ll help us in the future too.  After 3 referrals, the rest of our membership fees are waved.  We’re definitely down with that.

However, I want to make it clear – I recommend Ryan only because I am truly, truly impressed.  And because I think he can help anyone struggling with this like we have.   And I’m impressed with his knowledge, professionalism, and organization – as in he’s streamlined the process and created a system to make it easy for us to be organized too.  Not to mention, I’m impressed with his staff and the UNLIMITED support.

Ryan Thomson
College Funding Specialists
http://www.collegefundingspecialiststx.com
512.250.8383

Go check out his site.  Get a free consult.  Learn what you don’t know.  Our school counselor had Ryan out for free talks to our teachers and parents.  And even he said he’s learned things he had no idea about before.  Even school counselors cannot keep up with the volume of students they serve, as well as the nuances and shifts in the funding environment.  Get the free info.  You can even get on Ryan’s free newsletter too.  Just let him know you’re interested. You want someone who truly is an expert, has the connections, can counsel you wisely and help you and your student navigate the waters.  And this guy gives so much with no obligation too.

So that’s it.  That’s my golden goose.  My kids are going to make it.  And I couldn’t be more thankful.

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Sorry I fell off the planet… but Happy New Year and check out some news!


Four weeks.

It’s been four weeks since my last post.  Like that yellow bird, I fell right off the NaBloPoMo wagon face first into the dirt.  And it’s a wonder, because I really enjoy writing here more than I enjoy all my other work.  You’d think I’d be playing hookey all the time just to be here.  But no, I get side-tracked with the serious and the mundane things in life.  Why do I have to pay taxes and mop…

So… actually…
I owe you guys some serious crochet news! 

News I’ve been aware of for a few weeks, but have been remiss in passing on.  Did you get the winter Interweave Crochet issue and wonder where the 2nd article is?  Well, that 2nd article on crochet hand holds has been moved to the Spring 2014 issue!  Just about in time for me to go to Spain!  So hang on another season and look for it then.  🙂

My latest projects

I stayed busy in December with a couple shows and madly crocheting for Christmas gifts.  These are just a few of my projects that actually ended up in pictures.

red_textured_diagonal_cowl

I’ve been working on this new stitch idea. I have no idea what to call it, but it involves making some stitches in a diagonal pattern and stretching them kind of in the same way you stretch the loops in a Solomon’s Knot when you make it.  It requires some definite discipline and consistency to get the stitch to come out evenly for the entire project.  I had to practice it a bit, because during my first run, after putting the project down for a couple of days, my continuation turned out completely different in gauge than my beginning.  This project, while considered advanced in skill, is fairly consistent once you get the hang of it, because the entire piece is this one stitch.

purple_textured_diagonal_cowlMy sister-in-law saw me working on this and really fell in love with the texture, so she asked if I could replicate this pattern for her in purple.  Remember my quest for a very specific yarn?  Well, thanks to T-Rex from Ravelry who was kind enough to sell me her Taki Savoy, I was able to create this for her.  The way it’s photographed here, it might look like some sort of ladder stitch, but it isn’t.  It’s exactly the same stitch as you see in the red, just redone in this lovely eggplant yarn.

You might also notice the necklace she’s wearing.  That was another crochet project that I finished for her.

Backstory

The pendant is a large piece of charoite that I found on a trip to Arizona a year and a half ago.  There’s this sweet little town called Jerome, about halfway between Prescott and Flaggstaff.  Getting there is a nightmare for anyone with vertigo of any kind as the roads to get there are not only winding through the mountains, but there are steep drop offs just off the edge of the roads with no shoulders.  Jerome itself is an old copper mining town that’s built right into the sides of the mountain cliffs there.  And it’s aptly called “America’s most vertical city.”

Today, the town is very artistic and full of interesting shops and yummy little places to eat.  Walking around the town didn’t bother me a bit, but driving the roads – well… let’s just say that I had no idea I had a problem with heights and steep drop-offs until we took this trip.  Of course, why would I think otherwise.  I grew up in the Great Plains where the only mountains nearby are amongst the oldest and most worn down on planet Earth.  I’ve never been faced with roads the likes of these before.  And I didn’t like it.

knit1_bead2_jerome_AZAnyway, back to the great parts about Jerome.  While we were there, my dear hubby noticed a yarn shop, up on the second story cliff above us (seriously, it’s an oddly built town).  “I’m probably going to regret this, but let this be proof I truly love you.  Dear, there’s a yarn store up there – do you want to check it out?”  My hubby is so awesome!  “Yay! Of course I do!”  The name of the shop is Knit 1 Bead 2, and not only did they have a variety of specialty high-end yarns there, they also had some amazing beads!

charoite crochet necklaceThat’s where I found this sweet little (ok, not little at all) pendant.  And what I decided to do was instead of simply putting the pendant on a leather thong or a silver snake chain, as would seem more typical, was to instead crochet several separate strands of cotton thread to put together to create the necklace for the pendant instead.  These photos don’t do it justice, but I like the texture they create and of course I like the comfort and lack of metal reaction that crochet jewelry can offer.  My sister-in-law is much like me, allergic to many metals.  That said, I did still use sterling silver findings for the clasp in the back (not pictured).  Believe it or not, this took many hours to make.

I had some fun getting things together for a couple of small shows.  I didn’t get into any big shows this year thanks to breaking my ankle and surgery at the end of summer.  (I guess I haven’t really told you that story. Sigh, OK, it’s on my list.)  Anyway, thankfully(?) the deadlines for all the big shows are in the summer.  And well, I knew I couldn’t handle my usual crazy hauling and churning out product this year.  So I didn’t.  I focused on walking again.  However, I did have an opportunity to sell a bit of my stuff off in December, including some old inventory.

Every year I add new inventory and every year some of it doesn’t sell.  It’s part of doing business.  However, I have come to realize that holy cow! Between moving last year, packing the winter before that and breaking my ankle this year, I still have inventory from  – get this – 2009!

I do not like to carry inventory very long.  After too long, it feels like stagnant energy itching to find a different home.  So it’s past time for me to clear it out.  Which is also a cue to watch out for some sales, because this is one time I completely advocate slashing your prices and I will be doing it.  And every penny will be going toward Spain.

testing_the_length_with_some_helpAmongst new things I added to inventory this year are my ruffled gothic muffs and a few more eared hats.  Here you can see just how much my kids love me, as I test out a hat to make sure I didn’t make it too long. I would almost say my life is like a musical, but that would really be a little too normal.  Although, seriously… we’re all musical and we all do sing.  Perhaps a better description is that my life is a comedy, but I think it would only appeal to a small few as most of the laughs are inside jokes and there seems to be an awful lot of work. So I guess really, it’s a surreal sort of thing.  Oh and that shirt I’m wearing, is indeed a Doctor Who spoof on Michelangelo’s cherubs smashed up with the Weeping Angels.  I love it, though I try to remember not to wear it around little kids.

gothic_ruffled_mittsAnyway, so in this other photo you’ll see not only the pair of my ruffled gothic muffs, but a copy of Hyperbole And A Half that my kids’ English teacher snatched up for Christmas.  I didn’t know she was a fan, but I’m not surprised and even pleasantly pleased!  (I know some of you are HAAH fans!)  The book was just released a couple of months ago and it has both new and classic favorites!  Btw, if you have not heard of Hyperbole And A Half, and if your humor is remotely like mine (and you can tolerate some coarse language), then seriously check out Alie Brosh’s blog and book. And let me tell you, the book does not disappoint.  It’s super thick and full of full color pages of Allie’s artwork and stories.  I’m so glad they didn’t try to edit it down for space and fewer pages!  The God Of Cake is one of my favorite stories.  Go check it out. You are welcome.

As far as the ruffled muffs, I didn’t realize that’s the only photo I have of them! So I guess I will have to figure out making another pair.  Besides the fact I have yet to write that design idea down either. Hmph…

And so, there it is I guess. 

The weekend between Christmas and New Year’s is here and I am catching up.  Lot’s of work to do and Spain is only a couple of months away.  And I am working on details there!  Turns out there might be a yarn store close to us in Barcelona!  I am totally stoked and will fill you in as I set things in stone, or at least have a clearer idea of what I hope to pull off.  Btw, if you’d like to help me out with a few dollars towards my trip, you can find the secure link here.  I just discovered I will have to buy new suitcases for us.

Ah well, I guess it’s about time.

In the mean time, stay tuned for more world of handmade talk.  I have some nuggets of support for you that I think you’ll like.


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

The Story Of The Face-Planting Yellow Bird
Juicy Crochet News: Catch Me In Print!
I Want To Travel The World And Meet Other Women Through Crochet!
Help Me Find Some Yarn? Pleeeeeaaaassseee?
Help Me Find Some Yarn? Part 2…
When Designers Hear “Can You Cut Your Price?”
Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?
Dear Artists: There’s A Problem With Your Pricing – Part 2

Display And Pricing Your Art And Handmade Items At Shows

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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, Crochet Community, Crochet News

Mini-Maker Faire Round Rock – Recap


Back at the beginning of the summer, I let you guys know that my crochet hook experiment was going to be at Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire (just outside Austin).  And then soon after MMF, I raced off for my summer road trip across country with the kids to go visit Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front (and a few places in between).  But with breaking my ankle at the end, and the long recovery from surgery, I never did give you guys a recap of how Mini-Maker Faire went! So here it is!  Let me go back in time and fill you in.  😉

As you know, I’ve participated in the only two large Maker Faires hosted in Austin, back in 2007 & 2008.  And I absolutely loved it!  The experience was beyond my expectations and for once in my life, I really felt like I’d found more than just a handful of “my people.”  It was like finding your roots in a tribe.  Unfortunately though, Maker Faire was not able to come back to Austin in 2009, which was a huge disappointment to me.

Then sometime last year, thanks to the work of Austin Tinkering School, a 2012 Mini-Maker Faire in Austin was born.  However, the timing of it crashed into the same time we were putting our house on the market.  So I didn’t even get to attend, much less present.

Thankfully, TechShop rolled into town.  They are a very cool community workshop place that I want to buy into.  I learned about them through the KidBot work my kids and I were doing with The Robot Group during the summer of 2012.  Interestingly enough, TechShop’s concept was inspired by Maker Faire out in CA.  So it was super cool that they decided to host a Mini-Maker Faire here in Round Rock less than a year after they opened.  As soon as I learned about it, of course I jumped at the chance to participate!

The Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire was crazy and awesome.  And though I thought I had a plan, yeah – that went out the window.  None of the site setup or traffic flow was according to plan either.  And I did not get any photos as planned either.  But it all worked out fine.  Some other folks took pictures and told me they would contact me later to share them, but I haven’t ever heard from them.  It’s somewhat disappointing to have poured so much into doing the event for free, only to have no photos or visual record that we were there or even a part of it.  But that’s what happens when you are too busy to be able to take photos.  However, TechShop did put together this little video and you can catch a tiny glimpse of my booth at about 11 seconds into the video!  So there you go, flash proof that crochet was represented! 😉

Because I chose not to do a for-profit booth (I really did not have time to get merchandise together) I was set up in the big main room not far from the entrance.  I was also right next to a working Tardis Console display, complete with buttons to push and sound effects, which you will also notice in the video.  It was awesome!  Though pretty loud in the echoing room.  We had to do a lot of shouting to communicate while all the kids went crazy for it.  And of course, I loved that all these kids are so educated in the ways of Doctor Who today.

Tom Baker as Doctor Who, with the amazing long scarf!

See, I grew up watching Tom Baker as the 13th Doctor way back in the 80’s in OK, where no one else I knew ever did.  I was such a geek even then.  Seeing all these excited kids was just…. sweet.  In fact, one of the reasons I really stuck with crochet was due to my fascination with Tom Baker’s scarf!  Which I have yet to replicate, btw.  But I’ve made many, many long scarfs just because of him.  Anyway, so I guess we can all lay some blame on Tom Baker and his writers for at least a little of my extreme fascination with crochet.  Even though yes – I know his scarf in the show was knitted!  Hey, I was a kid – the modality doesn’t matter. Simply the long scarf.  That is all.  That and the awesomeness that is Doctor Who.  And Tom Baker.

(Speaking of, I finally got to watch the 50th anniversary Doctor Who Special tonight, and I loved it.  Last cameo scene brought me to joyful tears.  Tom Baker, I still love you!)

Back to Mini-Maker Faire! One of the fun things TecShop did was create an allocated chalk-board wall for everyone to write their answer to fill in the blank of one simple question:  “If I could make anything in the world, I would make ____________.”  The answers were quite fun!  Here are just a few photos we caught. Notice how many Doctor Who references there are!

IMAG4278 IMAG4279 IMAG4285 IMAG4287IMAG4277 IMAG4288

Finger-knitting was insanely popular at my booth at this Maker Faire – again.  I have taught this to kids in the Austin area for over a decade.  Usually, I tell every kid I teach – OK here’s the catch – you have to go teach others.  Go infect your friend with yarn love.  I do this in crochet too, but little kids love finger knitting and all that requires is yarn to keep them busy.  I used to work in special education in college and we used activities like finger knitting with children of all types and abilities.  It’s amazing how even a child with ADhD can calm and focus during this activity.  And even the parents seem more peaceful.  I used to tuck an extra ball of yarn in the hands of mothers and say – here, keep this in your purse for the next time you’re at the store with the kids.  😉

IMAG3608

My daughter designed and made this giant wooden sword, with a little help from her dad on some of the cutting.

Anyway, this year my daughter Jessica taught the kids finger-knitting while I taught crochet and talked about hooks.  She also brought her giant wooden sword she made for Halloween last year, which gained loads of attention.  At one point, we were working at separate tables when I turned around and realized cameras were on my daughter and she was being interviewed for some sci-fi crafty internet show thing.  I still don’t know how I feel about it.  I quelled the urge to run over and ruin everything by asking – don’t you think you should ask her mother for permission before you film my child?  Hopefully they were responsible interviewers, etc..  Supposedly they were going to contact us if they used the footage, but we have not heard anything about it.  (If anyone out there sees footage of Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire 2013 out there somewhere, please tell me??)

I didn’t have time to finish all the hooks for the experiment as planned, so I also brought my own personal collection and let people play with it.  One lady crocheted a swatch using every (smaller) single hook in my collection.  Awesome.  A lady from Brazil came by and chatted a while.  She talked about crochet yarn as fat as your thumb and as tiny as a silk sewing thread and how crochet is something *everyone* does in Brazil.  She also talked about a street in Brazil paved in yarn and fiber classes.  It sounded amazing.  She said fiber crafts for them there is like car lots are for us here.  Tons of them line the streets.  Which was kind of a weird/sad thought.  I must go see this someday.  I wish I remembered what town she said she was from.

People who were interested in knowing more about how to read patterns came by, including some who were talking about wishing they could get more Japanese patterns in the US with symbol crochet maps.  I concurred.

There was one main thing that helped me out with the giant crowds of people that I’m really happy I did.  I decided to make a “science fair” type presentation board with photos and reports on it about Jimbo’s and my crochet hook experiment, plus diagrams and photos of various hook shapes and extra information.  A lot of photos were taken of my board and lots of people came by to talk to me because they read my board.  Very cool.  However – I forgot to put Aberrant Crochet or Jimbo’s or my name on that board anywhere.  It was on the report sitting in front of the board,  but no where else.  (sigh)  Well, what can you do.

I ran out of business cards and fliers though, so here’s hoping that somehow, somewhere out there these people will get in touch or something.  Who knows?  But then again – how may people do you get in touch with yourself after taking a business card?  Yeah.  So you know what I mean.

Still, all in all it was a fascinating day of people who were fans of crochet, or fans of yarn or who were just fascinated by my experiment.  I really enjoyed it and I was hoarse by the end of the day.  Much of the content that I spoke about is what you see printed in my articles in the 2013 Fall and Winter Interweave Crochet magazines.  (Speaking of which, the winter issue should be available in a couple weeks!)

So there you go, a Mini-Maker Faire Recap, albeit a late one!  I’ll try to catch you guys up on my road trip here soon.  🙂

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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, crochet, Crochet Community, Crochet Hooks, Make Faire, NaBloPoMo

I Want To Travel The World And Meet Other Women Through Crochet!


OK, that’s not a pick up line.

Really.  I’m serious.

But I’ve never traveled before.  Wanna help?  Do read on.

Anyone who’s ever met me, or even simply read my post Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet, can tell how passionate I am about the art of crochet.  Even when you don’t crochet and never thought you’d like it, hang out with me sometime and let me share.  It’s a transformative experience.  By the end I’ll have you seeing magic and fireflies and wondering if you should look in the backyard of your own craft for them too.  😉

But it’s not just the art of making crochet fabric that I find exhilarating.  It’s the crochet hooks and hands holding them.  I love to sit down over coffee, tea and hooks with crocheters anywhere I travel.  We chat, I ask questions and I study their methods, hands and hooks and stories.  Why?  Because each of these facets are unique.

A crochet hook in it’s most simplistic state is simply a stick with a crook on the end.  And yet, the shapes vary so widely across the world.

I’ve heard that there are crochet hooks made out of bicycle spokes in Peru, that are crochet hooks on one end and knitting needles on the other.  And the artists who use them will actually flip their tools back and forth between crochet and knit – all within the same project!

Fascinating!  I want to see this!

There’s an entirely different kind of crochet hook used in a Scandinavian country I can’t remember the name of.  It’s only a couple inches long, made from a long piece of hammered coiled metal that forms a thumb pad for holding, while the hook part itself looks somewhat like a fishing hook, except it’s not sharp.  And they make socks with it!

I have to see this! 

I want to sit down and crochet with these artisans and study how they use these widely different tools!  How do they hold their hooks and yarn and position their hands?  And what is their muscle memory background?  How does this muscle history affect the technique and look that they achieve in their crochet?

Crochet is one of those arts that is present in some form on every continent and in every culture in the world.  And yet, we have barely scratched the surface in comparing notes.  And why is that?  I mean, Japan has some crazy beautiful techniques.  And there’s Croatia, which is equally graceful and entirely different!  Not to mention South America!

There’s something here.

The shapes of our hooks are part of what dictates what we are actually able to do in crochet.  I talk about hook shapes a lot, because for some reason, we don’t enough.  And yet, obviously we need to.  Once given voice, we crocheters hunger to.  Once given permission to explore the possibilities, we can’t wait to hear how someone else works with a hook and learn from that.

Just take a look at the Twitter discussion we had around the world on the matter just a month ago today.  You can read about that here: Did You Miss Out On This #Crochet Goodness?

My phone was literally blowing up from the activity!  I decided to write a blog post about the Twitter chat so my other peeps (who are not on Twitter) could also chime in and be heard.  Later that post was featured on BlogHer’s front page and people commented on how fascinating the discussion was, even though they themselves didn’t crochet.

My yarny-crafting brethren – there’s a story in here somewhere!  And I want to make it happen.

It’s why I wrote the articles for Interweave Crochet magazine.

It’s why I make videos and want to run experiments with crochet hooks.  And I want to take those crochet hook experiments abroad.  I say we all have a madness, and this just happens to be one of mine.

And yet…

I’m the little girl from Oklahoma, who made it to Texas, but has never left the contiguous United States.

Ever.

Well, OK there was that customs place on the Canadian border in MN, but that doesn’t count.  (Though when I was a kid, candy bars written in French and English seemed very cool.)

So here’s the deal guys.

I’ve been talking about this forever.  And you’ve been encouraging me to do it forever.  And an opportunity to cut my teeth on world travel fell into my lap.  It’s my daughter’s high school trip to Spain.  And the last stop is Barcelona – not only known for art, but it’s fiber art!  😀

Granted, it’s just an educational tour for my daughter’s AP Spanish class, but it’s for 10 days and the structure and the group will be a great way for me to get my feet wet as a world travel nOOb.  Plus I’ll have the benefit of going with three very well traveled teachers I trust.  I’ve volunteered to help as an extra chaperone and we’ve been raising money and getting ready all year.  We leave in just a few months.  I even hope to arrange a meetup with Ravelry friends whom I’ve never seen while I’m there.  It’s be great!  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Wanna help me out and join me for my maiden journey?

Instead of buying me coffee or sharing a ball of yarn, would you contribute to my travel campaign and help me get to Spain instead?  After falling down the stairs this summer and breaking my ankle, my initial plans were set back a bit.  I’m doing better now and I’m going to make it, but would love your help to secure my spot on the tour.

What am I going to do with this experience?  Well, I’m going to study and write and learn of course.  I’m going to take pictures and talk crochet with anyone who will let me.  I’m going to be awakened, even if only a little, in the way that only travel can do.  And I’m going to try to keep up with the AP students who speak more Spanish than I ever could!

But more than anything, this is me literally putting my money where my mouth is.  I’m making a commitment towards what I’ve been talking about for years.  I’m traveling the world for crochet.  I’m going to find that story.  And I’m bringing  it home.  Help me do it?

Stay tuned!


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Ergonomics In Crochet Hook Design And The Hands That Use Them

My Crochet Hook Experiment Will Be At Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire! Tomorrow!

What Gripes Me (Crochet Hook Shapes) – Crochet Ruminations

Crochet Hook Engineering – Types of Tools – Crochet Hook Challenge

Crochet Holding Positions For Hooks – A Tutorial

Did You Miss Out On This #Crochet Goodness?

Juicy Crochet News: Catch Me In Print!


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Help Me Find Some Yarn? Part 2…


Tahki_Savoy_Purple_19_Yarn2As I posted last week, I’ve been looking for a particular purple colored Tahki yarn line called Savoy.  Purple color 19.

Well, the super awesome T-Rex from Ravelry came to the rescue and let me buy two balls of this yarn from her!  YAY!  I should get it Wednesday.  🙂  My sister-in-law will be stoked.

However, I’m keeping the search open for another ball or two – just in case.  It would really suck to get 3/4 of the way done with this project and then discover it still really is not enough yarn!  (I think that must be every yarn lover’s nightmare!)

So if you by chance do find more of this yarn, I’m still interested in buying.  Just let me know.

And thanks very much! 🙂

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Help Me Find Some Yarn? Pleeeeeaaaassseee?


Tahki_Savoy_Purple_19_YarnSo I’m on the hunt for a very specific kind of yarn.  It’s a beautiful shade of purple and one picked out by my sister-in-law for her Christmas present.  I’ve been looking for just the right shade of purple for her for months.  It was not easy to find and now here we finally found it, and it was the very last ball my local yarn store had.

TKI-SAVY-019So no problem, I’m thinking.  I can find some on the internet.

Only to my dismay, I’ve discovered that not only has this yarn been discontinued, but I can’t even find it for sale 2nd hand anywhere either, much less from any online store!  At least not in this color!  Even Tahki Yarns tried to help me find more by retweeting my request for help on Twitter.  And I need at least two more balls to make the promised gift.  Ai!

So I’m going to maximize my NaBloPoMo reach and am turning to you for some help.

My dear, dear yarny friends, is there any chance that you have any Tahki Savoy (Merino and Silk blend) yarn in Purple (19) that you are willing to part with and sell to me?  Some list it as Amethyst color with part number TKI-SAVY-019.    The one ball that I have is dye lot 66.  But I’ll take any dye lot I can get.  I’ll even buy up to 4 balls of this particular yarn.

Tahki_Savoy_Purple_19_Yarn2Or, if you don’t have this yarn in your stash, would you be willing to take a peek at your own local yarn stores the next time you run in and see if they have it? Then let me know?

Because I’m having no luck and I’m running out of time to get this present made.  Oh, and before you suggest, I’ve had no luck on Ravelry.com either.

I guess this yarn is seriously out of date, but it’s the perfect shade of purple, with the perfect softness and amount of sheen, and it took forever to find the perfect shade, so I gotta find more.

Thanks my friends, for any help!

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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, NaBloPoMo

Weekend Fun – Top Search Terms Of All Time on Aberrant Crochet


These are the top search terms that have hit my blog in all its years of existence!
(There are more, I just cut it off at sharing this much.)

crochet
crochet spider web pattern
tapestry crochet
crochet spider web
crochet jewelry
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crochet jellyfish
crochet boot toppers
spiderweb crochet pattern
homemade cereal bars
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nellie oleson
crochet jellyfish pattern
eye ring
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spider web pattern
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spider web
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spider web cape
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choker
amigurumi paradise
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spider web crochet
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crochet tapestry
tapestry crochet patterns
crochet spider pattern
amigurumi jellyfish
easy homemade cereal bars
jellyfish amigurumi
what does frogging mean
hat embellishments
crochet hats for chemo patients
crochet choker pattern
hourglass necklace
crochet star
giant crochet
crochet halloween
polynesian art
what is frogging in crochet
crochet preemie hats
boot toppers crochet pattern
amigurumi jellyfish pattern
pinterest crochet
spider web umbrella
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olgemini crochet
glass eye ring
fairy skirt
crochet boot toppers pattern
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european crochet
crochet umbrella
crochet spider web patterns
crochet potholder patterns
spiderweb crochet
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frog amigurumi
spider web patterns
crochet pattern spider web
frog crochet
jellyfish crochet
crochet web pattern
crochet for cancer patients
crochet hats for preemies
spider web crochet patterns
what does frogging mean in knitting
crochet jewelry patterns
antique crochet hook
crochet caps for cancer patients
gothic crochet
free spider web crochet pattern
crochet chemo hats
flower choker
crochet frogging
steampunk utility belt
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steam punk corset
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home made cereal bars
crochet beret pattern
вязание крючком
crochet boot toppers patterns
what does getting frogged mean
crochet a spider web
crochet spider webs
spider crochet
whipped cream in ninja
spider web crochet stitch
crochet patterns for preemies
how to get a point across to your man
aberrantcrochet.wordpress.com
attitudes in communication
crochet teddy bear hat
miniature crochet
crochet frog pattern
make whipped cream ninja blender
crochet jelly fish
hand carved crochet hook

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Did You Miss Out On This #Crochet Goodness?


So over the last week we’ve had a very interesting discussion going on Twitter about crochet hooks and hand holds.  Which do you use and what’s your favorite?  We’ve covered a few other details too.  But the conversation got so big, it spilled over into the weekend!  (By all means, jump in and add your say too!)

It’s been so amazing, that I wanted to not only recognize the voices in the field, but to extend an invitation to the rest of my crochet peeps to join the conversation over my blog and Facebook.  Because I know not everyone is on Twitter and your voice counts too!

You see, I’m asking questions of crocheters around the world because I really want to know.  It may sound odd, but it’s really important to me to hear about your hooks and how you use your hands and tools.  And as much as I want very much to show up in your town and sit down with you over coffee and tea (maybe pie) and watch you crochet, chances are it won’t be happening this year.  (Soon I hope, but sadly not this year.)

My  mind is on it and so I’m asking you for input now.  Grab your cyber sips and consider reading on.  Who knows, maybe it’ll lead to a live conversation down the road too. 😉

So far the Twitter convo has been fascinating!

It all started with my Twitter post and @MMAAC‘s response.

It all started with...

It all started with…

Little did I know that a firestorm was about to start.  160 tweets later that first day (and that’s not counting my tweets – just everyone else’s) my phone was blowing up with the huge response!  Which was rather funny, because my hubby was like, “Really? Can’t you get your crochet friends under control?”

What can I say, we’re a wild bunch we.

We talked about holds, we talked about hooks that have broken on us, we talked about glass, bone, forged and felted hooks!  Plus we even offered help to other crocheters working on various things.  And I learned a few things! Besides just some random answers to the questions I was asking!

I learned from @umarndt that she can’t get Susan Bates style hooks where she lives in the UK! Something hard for me to imagine since it’s one of the only readily available styles at the stores here in the US.

No Bates?

No Bates?

Several people hadn’t really thought about different ways to hold crochet hooks.  It was really interesting to hear from each.

More_than_Grannys_way

My crochet friend @CrochetWithDee mentioned how nice bone hooks can be when I mentioned I’ve thought about picking up some porcupine quills to try carving with. Dee says she’d love to try it out.  And truly, I know she likes to test a lot of hooks!  The only thing is, I know that porcupine quills are actually hollow porcupine “hair.”  So I’m not sure if it will work.  I need to get a hold of one to try.

No one has made a porcupine quill crochet hook yet. I aim to be the first.

I haven’t seen a porcupine quill crochet hook yet. I aim to make the first.

And of course Dee and I thought of several other ideas.

Crochet_hook_cabinet_handles crochet_hook_surrealism_art

Dee also suggested wrapping a crochet hook handle with roving, such as some do with tape!

Roving wrapped handles!

What a concept: roving wrapped handles!

And sure enough, I found a felted crochet hook on Flickr and even more for sale on Etsy.  So if you hadn’t thought of it, good ‘ol fiber might be a great way to modify your hooks!

Felted crochet hooks exist!

Felted crochet hooks exist!

Then @ProbablyCraftin brought up something that no real crocheter of any lengthy experience doesn’t at least think about sometime – a beeper to find our hooks when they’re missing.  Seriously, why hasn’t one of us invented this?  Well… ok I know why I haven’t yet.

Seriously, we need to invent something for this.

Seriously, we need to invent something for this.

After talking about some antique hooks Dee reminded us all about Hook Lady, who has tons of insight and information when it comes to antiques.

In the middle of our convo, I came across @knottyfingers bit of wisdom, which I just thought was great.

invest_in_yourself

My buddy Andee weighed in too.

Andee_likes_ALL_hooks

We got some amazing input on hook preferences and personal stories!

Learned_From_Grandma
longer_hooks_please

Not_everyone_likes_a_wood_hook

@CrochetAllDay and @moseley_bonny jumped in with input and shared a photo of their hands.  Irene’s hand and finger positions are very interesting!  See the differences between the two?

Irene's fingers.

Irene’s fingers. Overhand hold.

Bonnie's hold.

Bonnie’s underhand hold.

It was great!  And it was an AMAZING experience! It was like a mini-convention over Twitter.  I just wish we were live and maybe sharing some cake too or something!

There were tons of Twitter favorites and retweets, but the sea of folks you see listed below have all been amazing contributors to the actual #crochet conversation.  (I hope I covered anyone – yell at me if I didn’t catch someone!)

@_quietlife @LillieShairrick @Edwyna7 @CraftyGirlMerch @MamaO @NurtureMyBaby @macdog73 @FiberValleyGirl @Cynical_Woman @PennamitePLR @Mamas2hands @becreech @TammyOnTheRadio @umarndt @CrochetAllDay @CrochetLibFront @kymccord1 @CrochetWithDee @PollySpin @phillygirl64 @LauraDryad @ProbablyCraftin @Slackermom66 @designsbyzula @breigaren @SaysellCrochet @candypow @MaryKnitsPDX @@Scruggbug @Amie__Foster @LateBloomer1982 @made222 @ItsMeMaven @AmbassdrCrochet @Craftypodes @CarlaHeirlooms @MMAAC @SHorton2012 @mikikala @abbyrascal

If you haven’t gotten to know these crochet peeps yet, I recommend you do!  🙂  So count this as my #FollowFriday recommends, even though it’s not Friday.  (Be a rebel.  Break the rules!)

Why?  Because these peeps are real.  They analyze and they converse.  And they have no bones about having a public conversation over hooks and yarn they like or don’t like, good experiences and bad.  Several of these names are designers – some indie, some not.  And they definitely are all worth following if you like crochet.  Just sayin.’

(Any companies lurking my blog, this is a hint to you.)

Why was this so amazing?  Because we don’t talk about it enough.  These are parts of our crochet story that we haven’t explored all that much.  And it actually matters.  We’re united in that we crochet, but we are unique in how we do it and what works best for us.  We are unique in how we add to the craft.  There’s valuable data here.  And there’s an amazing story here too!  I want to take the time to listen and learn.

So what about you?  How do you hold your hook?  What kind of hook did you learn to crochet with?  What kind of hook do you like best now? I really want to know!  And if you know why, tell me that too!  And don’t just stop there: if you know crocheters who would be willing to share their insight with me too, please let them know about this post!

But no matter what, unless (as my friend Andee Graves has pointed out) it causes you pain or discomfort, just remember….

There's no wrong way to crochet!

There’s no wrong way to crochet!

 

I look forward to your response!

Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.” You know you want to! : )


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Help Me Travel The World To Study Hands And Crochet Hooks!


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Halloween Spider Invasion!


 

Yep, the web is that big.

Yep, the web is that big. And he’s 5’10”

The first layer of the mission is complete.  The giant web has been put up.  The first spider has been hung with care.  The infestation has begun!  And I’ve been waiting for this moment all year.

We have a tradition in October. And I kind of consider it part of my birthday fun.  Near the beginning of the month, I put up a lone spider web in the front yard. After a couple days, I put a spider out near the web somewhere. Then every couple more days, we add another and another, until it’s a veritable invasion!

But it’s been a while.  For too long I’ve had to wait to pull out my spider webs.  But no more sitting Halloween out now!

What’s this all about?

Well, at our old house, we once had two mimosa trees out front.  I used to string up my spider webs between the trees and the house, sometimes across the porch and of course there were spiders on every branch and column.

However, mimosas are not long lived trees, especially here as they are not native to the U.S..  Ours were already old when we moved there and showing signs of struggle.  Eventually they died and we had to take them out.

With the trees gone, I tried hanging the giant web across the side of the house or something else at Halloween, but it just wasn’t the same.

I mean, spiders don’t do that.  They don’t make a giant web on the face of anything.  They make webs in corners and across open spaces.  And I’m a stickler for at least a slice of reality when it comes to Mother Nature’s fiber artists.

What I really wanted was a large space my webs could totally rock.  100_2662But without the trees, our yard was a wide open space.  I had one spot between the tiny porch and a wall that I could awkwardly hang one.  And I managed to anchor some spiders on some windows and the porch columns.  And I used my web on the side of my booth tent when I did shows.  Which was a nice visual.

But last year, with our house under contract and our family busy packing, the spiders and their webs didn’t even see the light of day.

But it didn’t mean they were forgotten.  Far from it.

The amazing cluster of live oaks out front. Well, about half of it anyway. It's that big.

The amazing cluster of live oaks out front. Well, about half of it anyway. It’s that big.

The house we bought wasn’t even for sale until the first weekend in October last year.  We jumped at a viewing the 2nd day it was on the market.  And while we hadn’t even put in an offer yet, I knew from the moment I walked up the path that I couldn’t wait to hang my spider webs in those marvelous trees!

And while it’s not like my spider web display was a reason for buying this house, it’s definitely a bonus I have been looking forward to so very much.  There are so many trees on our lot, not to mention the back 2nd floor deck.  I look forward to adding more webs and spiders and glorious fibery decor over the years.  Well… as much as hubby will let me get away with.  😉  It’s his home too.  But in October, yeah…  it’s all mine and the spiders.

sideviewofspiderwebinaction_watermarked

Side view of the giant spider and web

I didn’t have much room at the old house to put up my clan of spiders and webs.  But here, there are lots of trees and room for creativity at the new place.  And FINALLY, we have a place large enough to host our first Halloween party.  And I’m so excited.

So wait and see!

I have some fun ideas in store, that includes my spider horde, Amy Pond and our Tardis blue front door.  And I will be sharing photos!  I’m a bit limited in mobility thanks to the foot, so my ladder climbing will have to be delegated or forgone.  But I am determined to have some amazing Halloween cosplay crafty fun!

Need some ideas for Halloween yourself?

Well then I invite you to check out my collection of Halloween Obsessions on Pinterest.  I also have boards for Steampunk and Sci-Fi Obsessions too.  Maybe you’ll find some inspiration in my picks.  And maybe you’ll share some with me back.  😉

So uh… What’s The Deal With Spiders…?

Well, I suppose you could use some back-story. I mean after all, how did I become the spider web lady?  It’s not exactly a past-time most women would pick.  And why on earth would I want to crochet species specific spider webs?

Well, it’s not exactly a simple back-story.  So hang on for Part 3 and I’ll let you in on a little secret….


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Juicy Crochet News: Catch Me In Print!


I’ve been sitting on some juicy professional #crochet news for a few months now.  🙂

Julia_headshot_July_2013And I’m sorry I couldn’t share it with my peeps sooner – but you know how professional things can go.

However, the time has finally come that I can share it!

Are you ready?

Well…

.

.

I was asked to write a technical article about crochet hooks!  😀

And…

It turned into two articles!  🙂 

The first’s about hook shapes and the second’s about hand holds!

Kinda cool huh! 😀

And it’s for Interweave Crochet!  Yep!
You can check out the preview for the issue here!

If you’ve known me awhile, then you know how passionate I am about crochet and especially crochet hooks.  To me, we don’t pay enough attention to our tools!  Even though our tools make up such a huge part of the equation when it comes to the outcome of our crochet designs!  wpid-2012-09-25_20-57-13_-2.0Ev-2.jpgNot to mention our crochet comfort, control and frustration levels.  So I was really excited at the opportunity to “preach the gospel,” so to speak!

This Interweave Crochet hook article combo is one of the largest freelance writing endeavors I’ve ever worked on.  And of course after pouring so much crochet heart into them, I can’t help but be excited that I get to share it with Interweave Crochet and their readers!

So please watch for the issues, check out the articles and feel free to ask questions and give feedback!  I’m confident these articles will be unlike anything you’ve ever read in a publication about hooks before.  And I’m so excited that the world of hooks, hands and their variations is getting more attention! 😀  I mean, just how many articles have you seen dedicated to crochet tools and the hands that hold them!

Yay! Hookey goodness! 😀

So… you gotta go check it out!  The first article on hook shapes will be in your next Fall 2013 Issue of Interweave Crochet.  The second article will show up in the Winter 2013 issue.  Some Interweave subscribers already have the first (I know because you emailed me  – thanks for letting me know!), so if you subscribe and  haven’t received your magazine yet – you will soon!  I haven’t received mine yet either, so I’m waiting too!  And if you like the efforts Interweave Crochet is making in advancing crochet knowledge, please let them know! 🙂

For those of you who buy your magazines off the stand, you’ll likely have to wait until September 16th.  The summer issue will be on display until then, at least in the U.S..

So there you go!  There’s the big news I’ve hung on to!  

But stay tuned, because that’s not the only bit of juicy news I have to share!  Next up, I have to tell you about my summer trip with my kids across the country, our visit with Laurie Wheeler from The Crochet Liberation Front and her family, a sweet yarn shop in Denver, and more!

Not to mention, we have a lot of catching up to do!  Catch you on the flip side!

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And the walls would be lined with yarn….


And the walls would be lined with yarn....

I wish my friends’ houses were connected to mine…
By secret tunnels and hidden staircases to climb.
And everywhere you’d look there’d be a book you could find…
And the walls would be lined with yarn.

~ Julia Chambers
September 6, 2013

6 Comments

September 6, 2013 · 7:58 pm

My Crochet Hook Experiment Will Be At Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire! Tomorrow!


Hey guys! Sorry for the late notice, but wanted to let you know that I will be at Mini-Maker Faire in Round Rock, TX tomorrow. This is in the Austin, TX area and entry is FREE – so if you’re in the area I’d love to see you!  I’ve been flying by the seat this week and was accepted at the last-minute, so bear with me!  But I’m really excited!

They edited some of it, but you can get more info about the event and see my intro/project description here: http://roundrockmakerfaire.com/call-for-makers/aberrant-crochet.

What am I doing? Well, you know Jimbo and I started a crochet hook experiment at the last Crochet Liberation Front Crochet at Cama Retreat. We carved up a bunch of hooks that all had variations in design. Long throats, short throats, narrow lips, wide lips, deep bowls and shallow wedges. And everything in between. Greenwoman and Cerdeb’s hubbies and others attending the retreat also helped us get these hooks carved up in time for us to try out the idea at the retreat. Maker Faire deleted part of my explanation of this story, but suffice to say, this is something Jimbo and I worked on together.

We were trying to see how folks would use them, which ones they might tend to like and frankly – just what if we’d learn something! And honestly, it’s not like we had a specific plan. We just made them, talked about them and then put them into people’s hands and asked for input. At the time, because we were showing these hooks to an audience as well, we decided to use large fat hooks so the differences would be accentuated.

However, this time, I want to do the experiment locally with much smaller hooks, more typical of what most crocheters might use. So between Jimbo and I, we’ve created more basic hooks from the smallest dowels we could find – about a J. And I have to thank Jimbo for his help here. I didn’t have enough time to carve them all myself, so he helped!

So here’s the deal – if you’re interested, I’ve love to watch you crochet, take some photos/video of your hands (with permission and model release) and get your input on the shapes we’ve come up with. I want to hear your story! How do you use your hands? what did you used to do before you crocheted? And tell me about any problems you’re experiencing with your hooks too!

Am I super planned with this? No not really. I hope you’ll be as laid back as I hope to be. I only just found out Maker Faire was coming to my town about 10 days ago. But it’s definitely a chance to reintroduce this project. I want to travel the world to meet women through crochet and to study their tools someday. That’s my big thing and this is a beginning part of that. Jimbo and I’d like to travel to other US areas with this and get some real input from real crocheters about the way they use their hooks. And then blog and write about it along the way.

I’ve also been asked to help cover for a table that will run out of materials and close early, so I’ve added finger knitting to the list of activities for young kids, and have plenty of yarn. I have no idea what kind of crowds to expect, but if you are in the area and feel like hanging out, I wouldn’t mind an extra hand. 🙂 Just let me know.

There will be a little seating area near my table so the kids can sit to finger knit, but feel free to sit awhile and crochet if there’s room!
My daughter also plans to be in costume tomorrow and will show off the wood anime sword she made for Halloween last year.  It’s really something, so do come see it in person if you are interested!

😀


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Bidding On The Grandmother Tree Crochet Hook Begins At Midnight!


Well, here we are – it’s time for the silent auction!  And those of you who are night-owls and international readers, you will get the one up on everyone else for the bidding!  Thanks for being true! Read on for the details about this hook and how this silent auction bidding will work.

UPDATE: Just letting you know that bidding began at midnight on Thursday morning, October 11! Read below for more details about this hook and to see all the illustrations and photos about this hook’s design (you’ll even learn a bit more about crochet hook anatomy).  But I will update the silent bidding right here.  To bid, email your bids ($5 increments) to Worx@PixieWorx.net with “crochet hook auction” in the subject line. The auction will run for the rest of this week, ending at 11:59 pm Central Time on Sunday October 14th. Any tied bids will be settled in favor of the earlier entry.  This is just a brief bit on instructions, read below for all the details and check out the hook.  My intention is to use this series to help educate as well, so please do share my posts with others!  Thank you!

BIDS:   Kay opens the bid at $25!
Doug bumps it up to $45

Final Notes On The Making:

The Grandmother Tree hook has been polished and done for a week now.  However, I’ve been out of pocket working for a tech convention in town last week and this weekend/week I’ve been kicked out of my house a few times for the sake of a potential buyer for our home.  Hence, there just hasn’t been any way for me to sit at a computer to write about this hook!  Both the buyer for our home and working at the convention were good things of course, but certainly they also became hurdles for me in my quest to blog about and carve a hook every week.  The carving has continued, but I have to catch up on the blogging.  So here I am, covered in saw dust and all.  Uh, maybe I better brush off before I ruin my laptop.  Hold on.

OK, here she is – Grandmother Tree’s crochet hook!

Meet Grandmother Tree’s Crochet Hook!

My darling daughter helped pose with the hook right-handed so I could take specific photos for you.  After all, this particular hook has a curve that makes it more perfect for a right-handed crocheter than a left-handed crocheter.  I illustrate it best in the photos, but it’s something essential to know and see before you bid.  (That is, if you want to be happy using the hook.)  The branch that I carved this hook from curves and twists slightly to the right.  Because of this, I wouldn’t expect this hook to fit very nicely in a left hand, since it would curve away from it instead of into it like it does with the right.

Details about this hook:

This hook is hand-carved from a tree branch off a 500-600 year old live oak tree in my back yard.  It took over 9 hours to make and it is “al natural” with no stains or sealants used on it.  Just highly polished wood.

From head to tail, the hook is about 6 inches long, give or take when you consider the curve.  And the size of the hook’s work space is M or 9mm, up to the handle.

This hook is best suited for an overhand crocheter.  Also, I would recommend this hook for straight forward and standard crochet stitches, but not bullion or other stitches that require a lot of loops on the hook at one time.

Grandmother Tree’s crochet hook has qualities that are like an inline hook, however I don’t consider that it technically qualifies.  (See photo.)

I pulled out my 100 year old antique bowler hat to lay the crochet hook on and give it some contrast in the photos for you.  The hat is not as old as the tree, but I think they are both aged enough to have a mutual respect for each other.  😉  (Hat is not for sale, nor part of the silent auction, btw.)  I want you to be able to see the hook’s shine!  But also notice the optical illusion created by laying the hook on the hat!  The curved hook looks straight while laying on the rounded top of the bowler hat.  But as you can clearly see in the other photos, this hook is not straight at all!  It does however curve nicely in the right hand.

Thanks so much for hanging out with me on the journey of making this hook and for my Crochet Hook Challenge! And please share my work with others if you think they would find it interesting. I’d really like to get the word out not only about my Crochet Hook Challenge and silent auctions, but also about hook anatomy and shape in general.  Let the crochet infection continue!

Silent Auction Bidding – How This Works:

If you’re new here, please read the previous posts about my crochet hook challenge and subscribe to my blog.  It’ll be a whole lot easier to stay on top of things that way! 🙂

Please email your bids ($5 increments) to Worx@PixieWorx.net with “crochet hook auction” in the subject line. The auction will run for the rest of this week, ending at 11:59 pm Central Time on Sunday October 14th. Any tied bids will be settled in favor of the earlier entry. Like Jimbo, I’m not at the computer all the time, but will try to post bids as soon as they come in.  I am including free shipping for this auction within the US.  If you are international, I’ll pay what it would have been for shipping in the US if you’ll pay the difference.  Payment accepted by Paypal.  Let me know if you have any questions!

Thanks again to all who have shared my writing and work and of course those who’ve entered the bidding!  As well, our family thanks you!  Our son’s vision therapy is underway, but we definitely need help to finish out the year.  Gratitude and thanks from all our hearts.
     

What’s Next?

Stay tuned for pics of the hook I’ve been working on this week. I’ve been calling her Mrs. Mapleworths. 


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It’s Official – I’ll Carve One Special Crochet Hook Per Week: Happy Fall My Friends


This is absolutely my favorite time of year.  My favorite season, my favorite three months out of the year.  Some would say it’s because my birthday is next month.  And they might be right, but I don’t think so.  I think it’s more likely because down here in Central Texas, the summers are brutal.  And as my husband said the other day when the weather was finally nice enough to throw the windows open: “This.  This is why we live here.  This is why we put up with the heat of summer.  For this.”

Here, fall is a sign of relief, holidays and family gatherings around the corner and in many ways, to me a new beginning.  But then, I guess October is my New Year.

In celebration of my favorite season, and in leaving the safety of 40, I have agreed to take on a challenge handed to me by friends.  Can I do it?

I have pledged to hand-carve and blog about at least one new special crochet hook per week from now until Christmas.

And I better get cracking.  These special hooks will be offered up for sale each week here on my blog.  And through the process, I hope you may learn a bit more about hook anatomy and why the design of your crochet hook is so important.

I have decided to handle the blog sales the same way my carving mentor, Jimbo Price, does with his own hooks – by silent auction.   Opening bids for each hook will begin at $10 ($5 increments there-after), with the respective blog post updated as bids are emailed in (to worx@pixieworx.net).  Bids will run for the week and then end.

Funds from these sales are primarily to benefit our son’s vision.  After writing my previous post about our son’s rare vision issues and the need to be able to finish his treatment, we found out he will need more than we expected.  About twice what we expected and at a cost of $3000 more.   Already, one of my customers has made a generous monetary donation on our son’s behalf that has helped us get started.  You know who you are and from the bottoms of our hearts – again thank you.

When it comes to the challenge itself, I’m not quite sure what will evolve out of it.  But I know it will be intriguing to me.  It takes me 3-5 hours to carve one of my hooks, depending on exactly what shape I am aiming for and the wood I’m working with.  I will have to treat this “hook a week” challenge much the way I have to treat NaBloPoMo coming up in November – with discipline and innovation.  There are plenty of events and life activities to get in the way, but you just do it and stick to it somehow.  And when you think you’re out of ideas, you ask for input, turn yourself upside down and you think of something differently.  (You don’t think I’m going to make the exact same hook each week, do you?)  To make it fair, part of the caveat (straight from the NaBloPoMo playbook) is that even if I make more than one hook in a week, I still can’t work ahead and skip a week.  I have to carve and blog about at least one hook a week.  That’s the challenge.  To have that discipline.

The goal in part is for me to see if I can do it.  Just like the goal in NaBloPoMo is to blog every single day, without fail, through the month of November.  Only this is carving a hook a week for an entire season plus a week.  It sounds easier than it is.  But in the long run the badge of accomplishment is worth it.

So be watching for an intro into hook anatomy and the first hook offering!  🙂  See you on the flip side.

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