Category Archives: Crochet Community

Craft Bullies…


I cannot believe… I’ve never seen this video before.

Someone shared it over at The Crochet Liberation Front Ravelry Group.

I think it’s absolutely HILARIOUS!
And that its satire also reveals some points, if anyone’s listening…

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Filed under Crochet Community, Humor

12 Brilliant Ways To Create More Time To Crochet!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And there you have it!

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

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

Got a friend in need who could use these tips?

Do them a favor and SHARE this post with them!

World peace will thank you later.

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Filed under crochet, Crochet Community, Humor, NaBloPoMo

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.  😛  And so Fran pointed us to the Gothic Quarter during our free time, so we would have the best chance of finding something made by a local artist that we could fit into our bags home.  And he didn’t steer us wrong!

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

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

Best Yarn Store In Spain

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

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

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

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

Well, that’s it for now.

More Spain stories later!

 

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Filed under Crochet Community, NaBloPoMo

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

Dear Artists: There’s A Problem With Your Pricing – Part 2


I received a comment on my blog post from yesterday that shows I need to further clarify what I mean when I say – price is not really why people buy.  Mandy brought up the following, and it’s a legitimate position.

“Forgive me… but I respectfully disagree with one of your points. …. It’s not that I don’t value great art, but purchasing art of any kind, for any reason, is a luxury for me. So if your beautiful crocheted scarf that I admire deeply and would love to own is priced about $20 more than what I can allow myself to spend, it’s going to stay right where it is. No offense or disrespect intended, but my funds are limited and my hands are essentially tied. I may be the minority?

Having said that, in the past year or so I have started teaching myself to crochet as a hobby, and have started giving crocheted gifts. As a result, I’ve had ladies ask me if they could buy some of the things I make. I’m lost when it comes to pricing my work because I am a hobbyist, and a newbie. My materials and time are valuable, but maybe not in the same respect as those of you who are true artists and are supporting your families with your craft. I am guilty of thinking to myself that I’d like to offer my work for a bit less than some of the prices I have seen, because of my personal experiences, and because I know most people in my community and surrounding area are not likely to pay “artist prices.” Have any of you run into this, and do you have any advice for someone just starting out? I’m not opposed to one day crocheting to sell, but for now it is just something I enjoy and a way to give practical handmade gifts.”

Mandy, thank you for your valuable addition to the discussion and daring to disagree!  I’ll explain my position better below.  Dear Community, she’s asked a question of all of us, so feel free to respond, politely.

First, I’ll refer you to my article “How Much Are You Worth.”  Here I talk about the difference between novice and expert work and about sweatshop pricing. And that’s something we all have a responsibility to do something about. We have gotten used to being able to live off the work of others in low economies. And so when it comes to the actual cost of our materials and goods where we live, where it’s more expensive, we still think in terms of 3rd world sweatshop pricing.  But do we really expect anyone to live off 50 cents an hour? Or for anyone to pay off their degrees and training and education, not to mention materials and taxes and fees that way? Of course not. No reasonable person would. And yet, every time we price our work in par with a sweatshop, that’s what we do.  And in an economy that is much more expensive to live in.  I cannot usually buy yarn as cheap as the sweater you buy at WalMart.  So when I make that sweater from the materials available to me, cheap or expensive, it’s still going to cost way more, no matter what – even if I don’t charge for time and expertise at all.  And there’s nothing at this point that I can do about that.

On the other hand, in general, the market will not bear outrageous pricing.  So I would argue that there should be a natural cap to how much beginner level type work should go for.  Sticking a bead on an ear wire and slapping a $100 price tag on it better mean that’s one heck of a valuable bead.  Because we know how much skill and time went into it and that cannot alone bear the weight of the price tag.  Sometimes things just aren’t practical or there just isn’t a market for them.  Who wants to pay a significant chunk of money for a cashmere wash-cloth to scrub dishes with?  Unless you can provide some amazing advantage as to why this would make someone’s life better, this is just not likely to sell.  There’s no demand and even more, it doesn’t make sense.

We can’t always afford the work we love.

This is part of life. Sometimes that means we learn to make it ourselves to offset cost of time.  But even then, even with my level of expertise, I can’t myself always afford the work I can produce.

For example, I have a friend who has amazing wood carving skills, he literally works for the stars – several celebrities own his work. And yet, he has four kids, one with downs and says he cannot afford the work of his own hands. The materials and time and methods are all that specialized and expensive. Should he stop making what he makes? No. There is a demand for it and what he does is highly specialized and arguably a dying art. He’s really (I mean really) good at it. Would you have him instead do something he’s not good at? Not to mention take away the work that is feeding his family, and paying for the therapy his child needs for downs. Even so, he doesn’t yet feel like he can justify owning one of his best pieces yet.  The materials and expenses alone are cost prohibitive.

Now, my friend works in a highly specialized scenario that relies on the help of galleries and such, which also increases his expenses, but his story illustrates a point.

When you are in the handmade market, it’s important to price fairly and consider developing a range of products.

That is, if you have no plans to get that highly specialized. You want your highs, your lows and your middles.  For example: I have some amazing purses I’ve made, where the blunt, literal cost in materials to me is over $150 and I haven’t even lined them yet. Their final cost will be substantial. The silk, the beadwork, the specialized hardware to make them look and work right – all of that requires not only a lot of time and expertise out of me, but also the money to acquire materials. And because I’m not a warehouse, I cannot get warehouse prices on materials either. So I’m slowly but surely investing in the work I’m putting into them. Everyone loves them. Will everyone be able to afford them? Nope. But they are my OOAK high-end specialty art pieces and out there someone will decide to snap them up. That said, I also have made some purses I could comfortably sell for $35. My level of expertise is the same, but what is different is mostly my cost in materials.

This is why it’s important to have a range of product prices and work you are doing in business, if you want to hit a wider range of customers. The fact is, it’s my work, my service and my story that will draw you to me. (My writing even.)  Either you will like my work or you won’t.

Maybe you can’t buy my high-end expensive purse.  In that case – the price data is what helps you say “no” to that particular piece.

However, that is not the same as saying no to me.

Because if I have another beautiful piece, where the materials do not cost nearly the same, and it is in your price range, you will likely settle for that instead.

And that’s one part of what I mean about people not saying no based on pricing.

Sometimes “No” Is Really About Guilt

There’s also the reality where people say no seemingly “based on price,” but it’s really based on guilt. The “it’s not you it’s me” scenario. When a customer has money issues or financial PTSD, that is not something you can ever control. And their bad relationship with money is theirs to bear, not yours. Getting their sale will not make a difference to you in the long run. You have to look at and make decisions based on the long financial picture of a business, not the spur of the moment whim.  This gets back to knowing your market and even knowing your individual show. Not everyone will feel like they can afford your stuff. If they did, then you might as well be a dollar store and have trouble paying your bills.

Newbies who are dropping their prices out of fear that they can’t get a sale is an entirely different thing from trying to price fairly. It’s important to understand the distinction. A) Price dropping like that creates an unhealthy relationship with money and it can get you into trouble with your business. B) Most juried shows forbid it and it can get you kicked out.  C) Business is risk. Don’t get into it without embracing that fact.  It’s not if you will fail at some point, it’s when.  And it’s about you learning not to see failure as a bad thing.  Becoming a business owner is one of the best things you can do for your own personal-growth.  Kinda up there with parenthood.  You will learn amazing things, whether you set out to or not.  D) People are not turning down the artist based on price as much as they are based on their experience. If you like my work, my story, my service, and if I have something in your price range you want – you are likely to buy it. Period. It’s really that simple. If you don’t like my work, no amount of dropping my price is going to make you spend money on it.

And that pretty much sums it up.

Everyone justifies their spending somehow.

I know someone who for years complained about how she hated her shag carpet, but couldn’t afford to get it replaced. carpet was her “luxury.”  And yet, she always had the latest clothes and fine jewelry to wear. It was her choice. She just didn’t invite anyone over.

Me? Hey, I value quality shoes. I’m on my feet all the time and have a degenerative genetic joint condition that causes pain. You better believe I invest in good footwear that won’t aggravate my degenerative condition. It could cost me hundreds of dollars, and I don’t care, I will work a 3rd job if I have to not to be in pain. I also value a good dishwasher. For reasons I just stated, I try to limit the time I’m on my feet. So a dishwasher that never breaks down and practically eats the garbage from my dishes is an asset I want to own. My time is worth more than to be constantly fixing something.

I know someone else who has almost no kitchen ware, but they have cutting edge materials and sewing equipment for quilting. And yet another person who values homegrown food most of all and would sooner spend $10 on seeds than on a new shirt.

We all have those things we see the value in much better than we see in others. You want to look for the customers who will value you.

Back to what I said before about fair pricing.

I repeat, we’re not talking about over-pricing.  (Though there are cases where it can be used as a management tool, but that’s another article.) I’m talking about fairness that’s win-win.  But as Laurie Wheeler from The Crochet Liberation front said it best: “You are not a sweatshop!” And you’re not. OK? So stop working on something for hours and then charging $2 to a stranger for it. It’s wrong. And anyone who supports that kind of self-abuse is also wrong. As is anyone who raises their kids to think about money and work this way.  And those 3rd world countries everyone’s wishing could get better pay will also never be better off, as long as we all help promote this lack of value for time and hard work. If you’re giving a true gift, or you’re doing charity work, that’s one thing. But that’s not what we’re talking about.

What is my hour worth?  A sack of potatoes?  A loaf of bread?  A lunch?  Or a cheap cup of coffee?

When you dare to enter business, it’s important to recognize the value of every single part of the equation. And it’s time we grow up and get a handle on what a responsibility this really is. My customers work hard for their money, every bit as much as I. My suppliers also work hard for their money, every bit as I. When all we respect each other, we create balance and everyone can win.

There is another thing though.  We tend to be worst of all about valuing the work that women traditionally do. Even we women do this to each other.  Even in this day and age.  And we need to stop and think about this when we size things up and question whether we’re guilty of it or not.

So, I leave you with a challenge. Whether you own a business or not, it’s a good exercise to help you get a handle on what you value, how you spend and also recognizing how it might be for others too.

Stop and think about a $20 bill and just what you would justify spending it on and what you would not. Would you take a friend out to lunch? Would you buy a scarf? Would you pick up some gourmet coffee or buy a pack of smokes? How about a case of canned goods? How about a skein of yarn, or a tube of paint? Maybe an organizer? Or an iPhone case?  Makeup maybe?  A couple of crochet magazines?

What things could you do with a $20 bill and would or would not do? And once you’ve thought about that deeply, then analyze each item’s true worth in terms of the value it provides or not. $20 to feed a friend, or to keep someone warm for the winter, or to help you get organized, etc..

Money is nothing more than a tool.  How do you use it?


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?

How Much Are You Worth?

When Artists Hear “I Can Make That!

Disparaging Handcrafts In The Name Of Law – How Far Does It Push Us Back?

Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet

Help Me Travel The World To Study Crochet Hooks!


33 Comments

Filed under Business, Crochet Community, handmade, 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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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, Crochet Community, Crochet Hooks

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!

21 Comments

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

And the winner of a FREE copy of “Texting Mitts” IS……?!


Happy Presidents Day week!

So last Saturday I published a review of Andee Graves new crochet book, “Texting Mitts.”  Along with that review came an opportunity to give away one free copy of the book!

In order to win, since it was Presidents’ Day Weekend after all, I chose the entry question, “If you could make a pair of fingerless mittens to give to any president in U.S. history, who would they be for and why?” 

And remember – I said the answers didn’t have to be rational, they simply had to include the name of a U.S. president!  (I even snuck in my own reference to the latest pop-culture Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.  It had to be done, because I’m goofy like that!)

We got some creative answers (which I hoped people would have fun with)!  Here are some of the highlights:

From ripplestitchkin: “I’d make a pair of fingerless mitts for President Jimmy Carter. Those hands built a lot of houses for Habitat for Humanity, and they deserve a pair of cozy mitts!”

From SierraPelona: “I’d make a pair for our 19th President, Rutherford B. Hayes. Because anybody with an awesome name like Rutherford should never be without texting mitts.”

From change it up editing“George Washington (1789-1797), Thomas Jefferson (1801-09), and John Adams (1797-1801) were all avid collectors and players of marbles. What better accessory for a marble-playing president than a pair of fingerless mittens?”

And the Aberrant Crochet winner…?
………… is Janelle Meyer!

Her entry:   “I would make a pair (or two) for Franklin Delano Roosevelt with a matching lap robe for use in his wheelchair.”

I love that!  Very cool!  Thanks for all the great entries and participation everyone.  I even learned a little real trivia!

So Janelle, look for an email from me asking for your postal address so your book can be sent to you!

Now before you get all sad if you didn’t win, check out two other blogs who still have drawings running for a chance to win a free copy of Andee’s book too!

But you better hurry, because their deadlines for entry are today!  Check the following crochet blogs out for more details and two more chances to win this book!

Poetry in Yarn – enter before 11:59pm February 20th.
Cute Crochet Chat  – drawing will be February 21st.

Thanks everyone for participating in the Aberrant Crochet giveaway for Andee’s book!  Stay tuned for more news coming soon. 🙂

1 Comment

Filed under Crochet Community, Crochet News, Giveaway

Book Review and Giveaway! Texting Mitts by Designer Andee Graves


booklet cover LA websiteWell everyone, you’re in for a treat this weekend!  My crochet buddy Andee Graves has a new crochet book out called Texting Mitts!  And not only do I get to be a part of her blog tour celebrating the book’s release, but you have a chance to win a copy too!  If you can’t wait to get your “mitts” on it (see what I did there?) you can find the book at JoAnn stores and Leisure Arts website.  Which is good, because as of this writing, Amazon is temporarily out of stock!

So Who’s On The Tour?

Well I’m the last stop on this week’s blog tour, but if you’d like to catch up on the others, here’s the whole list of us.  A great list of crochet designers and enthusiasts you should consider checking out if you don’t already know us.

As the last stop on the tour, I was trying to think about how I could really add to the blog tour for you and for Andee with my post.  And of course, rebel that I am, I gotta do it my way anyway.  And if it ain’t honestly informative, lively or fun, it’s not really my cup ‘o tea.  So Andee, readers, et all, hang on for the ride – I hope you like it.  Gritty or not, here we go.

First, let me share how I know Andee.

I guess Andee and I actually initially met online in the Crochet Liberation Front group on Ravelry.  But getting to know her really soared later when we finally met in person at the Crochet Liberation Front’s 1st Ever Crochet At Cama Retreat.

Andee_and_Julia

Andee and Me!

She was funny, laid back and we’re both October babies!  So we were both enjoying the crochet retreat as part of our birthday gifts to ourselves.  Hers near the beginning and mine near the end.  🙂  I liked her immediately!

I discovered Andee to be an enthusiastic crochet designer, and excellent teacher as I watched her interact with people.  She has a deep background in massage as well, and she demonstrated a lot of understanding about making the most of crochet while minimizing damage to your hands and wrists and more.  She gave an excellent talk at the retreat addressing carpal tunnel syndrome and other issues many crocheters face, which of course as someone fascinated with hook shapes and hand holds, I found fascinating too.  Plus Andee carves hooks at home too.  These aspects to her of course add to her foundation in design.  The importance of caring for our hands is a subject near and dear to her heart.

Onward For The Tour: Fingerless Mittens – Why I Like Them And You Should Too

Chunky Vs Mitt LAAlong those lines comes Andee’s most handy book full of fingerless “Texting Mitts” designs.  (I couldn’t resist.)

Let me tell ya – fingerless mittens are a must for me.  I’ve been in business for myself for 10 years now.  I started out doing shows and selling my finished goods.  And many of those shows were local outdoor festivals.  But while everyone else was suffering in the chill, I wore my wool cape and fingerless mittens and muffatees that were an asset to me “in the field.”

Diamond Back Mitt LAAnd today, while I use Square to accept credit cards at shows and use my smart phone for commerce, even at chilly indoor shows during the summer fingerless mitts can be an essential tool because smart phones don’t work without skin contact.   (It happens – Central Texas where we sometimes over compensate indoors for the heat outside!)

So if you’re looking for a useful kind of gift, that isn’t really limited to just winter use, definitely consider fingerless mittens.  I know folks who use them for typing at work too.

So What About The Book?

So what do I think?  Well, let’s start with first impressions.

It’s been awhile since I looked over a Leisure Arts crochet book.  And reading over Andee’s new book involved a colorful and visual experience I hadn’t remembered before.  So, being who I am, I had to make a trip to my local craft store to thumb through the books and see if it was my imagination or not.  Sure enough, I found that books more recently published by Leisure Arts were sporting a whole new design approach not found in my mother’s or grandmother’s books.  It threw me a bit at first, but in analysis, I actually think it’s good.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

2013-02-15_20-26-00_-2.0Ev-1Colorful and color-coded text.  A definite visual plus.  If you like to use highlighters and colored pens in your notes, you’re going to be surprised when you see that a lot of the text is already color coded in helpful ways.  One such helpful note is how all the size variations are printed in different colors in order to make them easier to find quickly when you’re working.2013-02-15_20-26-14_HDR-1

Visual Icons.  Wherever you see a little video camera symbol like this one, it means you can go to the Leisure Arts website and watch a video demonstrating that specific stitch or technique!  Now ain’t that about time!

2013-02-15_20-31-00_HDRShopping Lists.  I suppose this is something most good patterns already sport, however I do like the way they put it together, highlighting it and making it very easy on the eyes to read, complete with universal standard yarn symbols for the weight.

Easy To Read Stitch Glossary.  These back pages are pretty well laid out, with clear sections, making it easy to read and find what you’re looking for.

Xst Mitt LALarge full color photos.  Many photos are a full-page in size and they seem to be very crisp to me.  If you are a visual crocheter, you’re going to appreciate these.

Three Column Layout.  I personally find three columns per page to be the sweet spot as far as ease on the eyes.  I like it way better than one or two, which is what I usually see.

The Designs/Patterns Themselves

“Texting Mitts” offers a pretty decent collection of fingerless mittens with different stitch techniques as well as design looks to try.  Whether your style is lacy, textured, casual, or tailored, you’ll find a design to suit your needs in here.  Projects range in skill from beginner to intermediate.  And all the patterns are designed for sock-yarn, or any other super fine lace-weight yarn.  I can see that the construction for all of these is geared towards flexibility and active use.  This is a plus.

If the tamer yarn color choice presented in the photos are not really your type, don’t worry, the design structure is solid for bolder, and earthier tones.

LA

Also, if you’re wondering if this book is only suitable for making gifts for women, think again.  While looking over Andee’s book my 13 yr old son leaned over and pointed to a design he’d like me to make him.  (In camo or black of course.)  So don’t knock it until you try it.  I can’t help but wonder if it would have been a good marketing move for LA to have included a male model, even a teen one?

Cabled Columns Mitt LA

The two mitts pictured here are the ones that I took a little time with to try out the patterns.  These are the Seashell Mitts and the Twisted Cable Columns Mitts.  The Twisted Cable Columns Mitts will help you exercise your foundation single crochet (Fsc) skills.  But if Fsc has you stumped, Andee has a neat little technique for you to try in the Seashell Mitt pattern.  I would like to see a little more time taken to explain the round joins and beginnings when involving the cross stitch and chain 3, as there’s a step that seems to be assumed in there that someone with less experience might not be able to figure out.  Also, the patterns use stars, () and [] , so be sure to hit the glossary in the back to familiarize yourself with their use in the patterns upfront.  And it’s clear to me that swatching is going to be important for many folks as well.  I’m a more relaxed crocheter as far as stitches, so right off the bat my no-gauge test was turning out larger than it should have with the right sized yarn and hook.  So do swatch for size.  I would also have liked to see just one advanced pattern to ice the cake with.  But that’s just me.

The Upshot?

Texting Mitts” is  an artful book with a nice selection of design variations and is full of what I consider “crochet intelligence.”  From a critical technique point of view, these designs have interest and challenge that will appeal to most crocheters.  All the patterns are fingerless mitts, but each pattern brings something new to the table in design or skill.  I encourage buyers to experiment with other colors and post their photos and their reviews.  Overall I like the new colorful and thoughtful layouts Leisure Arts has come up with for reading their pattern books, even if it does take me a little getting used to the change in colored text.  And I like the 3-column layout.  I think in the long run the attention to details like this will be very helpful both as a teaching tool, and for those who have eyesight issues.

Enough! I Want A Copy! How Do I Win, Win, WIN!?

I thought you’d never ask!  First off, this contest can only be open to US residents (I’m sorry, it has to be).  And it’s Presidents’ Day Weekend, so I thought we’d make this a little special.  To enter the contest to win a free copy of Andee’s book “Texting Mitts,” here are the giveaway contest rules:

  • First, you also must be a U.S. resident with a domestic mailing address.
  • Second, you should subscribe to both Aberrant Crochet (my blog) and Andee’s crochet blog.
  • Then, leave a comment below, answering this fun holiday trivia question: “If you could make a pair of fingerless mittens to give to any president in U.S. history, who would they be for and why?”
    (Answers do not technically have to be rational, but must include the name of a U.S. president in history.)  😉
  • Include your email and website/blog (if you have one) in the comment form. (Emails are not viewable by the public.)
  • Winner will be chosen by Random.org!

My answer to the trivia question?  I would totally make a pair of fingerless mittens for President Abraham Lincoln and Founder Benjamin Franklin.  Benjamin Franklin wasn’t ever president of the United States, but he was a diplomat who traveled the world and he spent time out there in a storm with a kite! And Abraham Lincoln?  All that writing, lawyering, giving speeches and leading a country during one of its darkest times.  I bet some fingerless mittens would have been appreciated by them both.  And Abe as movie legend in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter?  Wielding a pen in congress and an ax in battle?  I bet some fingerless mitts would have comforted sore hands after a long day of saving the world!  

OK, so now how about you?


PLEASE NOTE…
1. You have until Tuesday, February 19th at 2pm CST to enter…
2. That means the giveaway will close Tuesday, February 19th at 2pm CST.
3. A winner will be chosen via random.org later in the day.
4. I will announce the winner on my blog shortly after (so come back to check!)
5. Please be sure to have your email address linked to your comment or there is no way for me to contact you!
And that’s it!

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!   :D    HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND AND HAVE FUN!
Oh, and disclaimer: I have not received any monetary compensation for putting on this giveaway.  Though I did receive a copy of Andee’s book to review.  So this contest is purely for fun!  I mean, just in case you’re wondering.  They say it’s always good to be clear about these things.  So, there you have it… clear?  We love you!  Enjoy!
PS – All photos courtesy of Leisure Arts Publishing.

25 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Crochet Community, Crochet Patterns, Editorial, Giveaway

The New Frontier – Crochet Ruminations


Crochet Ruminations – The Start Of  A New Thing

There are times when I have a series of thoughts and mini-conversations running through my head.  And when those “attacks” come, I don’t always have time to explore them.  But I’ll go ahead and draft the musings up in preparation for a deeper blog post to savor later when better time and exploration can be dedicated to them.

And sometimes they do turn into much more and get published.  And sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes they never evolve and really are just shorter capsules of ideas in the moment – tasty tidbits of ponderings and half-eaten conversations that honestly don’t have anything more to do, or become, right now.

In looking over my list of possible blog posts, I’ve realized that sometimes one of those posts is only supposed to be just a few “deep thoughts.” Just some occurrences of ideas to fling out there for consideration and/or discuss amongst peers, if anyone wants to engage.  And that’s just that.

So in that spirit, instead of saving a zillion drafts every time something crosses my brain (my list of drafts is getting too long to manage!), I’m launching a series on my blog simply tagged Crochet Ruminations.

With that intro, here’s the latest….

The New Frontier…

Technology has brought us to the beginning of a new frontier in the world and we’re the pioneers laying the groundwork for what is to come, for ourselves and for future generations. History is literally being made.

How this new frontier works for crochet is being driven by the people actively in it. People like us, anyone who is willing to move to uncharted territory and figure it out.

The same is happening in other fields too. The internet is the “new land” to settle.  There’s no reason why anyone who has the will can’t figure it out and benefit.

The thing I find extremely important to register in our heads though, as Laurie points out (a.k.a. Fearless Leader from the Crochet Liberation Front), it takes working with others, not shouldering the responsibilities of the world alone, or shoving everyone else out of the way. That is not to invalidate the need for personal hard work and responsibility.  However, it is said that successful business people know at heart what school doesn’t teach us. That life is not a closed book test, that we don’t succeed by cutting others off, that the only way to succeed is to do it with the help of others.  And that often a sign of a successful person is one who continues to train and learn and someone who recognizes and values the expertise of others. 

We walk a fine balance of working hard on our own, but also benefiting from the help and insight from others.  Whether we hire them, or we accept help from a friend.   Trying to go it completely alone, making sure everyone knows we did it by ourselves and without help, does not work outside the classroom.  It is not a place of balance, nor a sign of success (and neither is the opposite).  In reality, no one expects you to perform alone in adulthood – only on standardized tests.  And those who believe they do not need advice, training or learning, who only boast on “did it myself” laurels, surely exhibit signs of impending implosion.

Coaching, master minds, discussions, hiring experts, studying, training, practicing, learning new tools and technologies, comparing notes with peers, understanding that old ways don’t always work today and that some old things never lose their effectiveness and sometimes what works for someone else is not right for you – all these things are important.  Settling the West was not born on the shoulders of one person.  In fact, to try to do such, was almost certain death.  People had to come together with their varying talents and work ethics to form the foundation for something great.

In thinking about this, what things do you see as it affects the crochet world that we should be mindful of?


4 Comments

Filed under Crochet Community, Crochet Ruminations, Editorial, Random Thoughts

Simply Twisted Poetry – A Fiber Love Affair… Contest!


The Crochet Me Blog announced a fiber related Haiku contest yesterday. The contest itself is actually sponsored by their sister publication Weaving Today, but looks like even crocheters can jump in and enjoy the fun.

The prize? Not only a chance for your haiku to be published in their magazine, but some luscious Bijou Basin yarn as well! Which is a yak yarn, btw. Um, yeah, I’d love to sink my hook into some of that. And I’m sure you would too, so I imagine the competition will be steep! And in either case, you know this contest will be a load of fun! If only we could win all the yarns, right…..?

Not much of a poet? Need to brush up on your haiku skills? No worries, you have until October 15th to enter up to two weaving or fiber related haiku for the win. Check out the links above for more details on the contest.

In the mean time, I’ll be practicing some of mine over the next few weeks. Feel free to share your fiber haiku creations, complete with links to your website if you have one, in the comments below! After all, I’d sure like to tweet about them and share! So hook me up!


hook slides into place

wrapped in bittersweet fiber
I am at peace once again

silly alpaca
your fleece a silky wonder
luscious clothes I make

by Julia Meek Chambers
08-06-2012


4 Comments

Filed under Crochet Community, Crochet News, Writing

What Caption Would You Add To This Hilarious (Crochet) Picture?


This post was originally published Nov 6, 2010 on my other blog: The Difference Between A Duck.  I thought maybe it deserved some attention here.  Yeah, kinda makes sense.


This is a photo of Laurie Wheeler (Fearless Leader of the CLF) and I at Pinch Knitter Yarns during the Crochet Liberation Front‘s 2010 Conference/Retreat at Cama. Bill, fabulous crocheter, photographer and husband of free-form crochet designer Bonnie Pierce, was snapping photos of everyone. And this shot was in the mix!

“Good Lord,” I said when I first saw it on Facebook. “What happened to my face!”

I know what it is.  That’s the look I get on my face when I’m concentrating. And thinking back, I’m guessing I was focusing in on her words since I’ve trouble hearing in groups. But anyway, since then Laurie, Bonnie and I have supposed on what caption could be put with this photo – related to crochet, yarn, the CLF and our retreat.

"My yarn is not going to be there when I wake up, will it..."

My favorites so far are:
“You’re going to steal my yarn while I’m sleeping, aren’t you…..” and
“Seriously? Since when is there a limit of only five? I’m not giving one up!”
“I’m not hiding anything….”

Maybe: “This is not the yarn you’re looking for….?”

Bonnie added: “Yea…. I DO have enough money to pay for my cabin! You can’t make me put them back!!”

I love it! What captions would you come up with? 😀


9 Comments

Filed under crochet, Crochet Community, Humor

And The Winner Is… Is… ????


…Lorraine!

Official Random.org Results

Lorraine has won a signed copy of her favorite Obey Crochet drawing “This Yarn Ain’t Big Enough For The Two Of Us!”  Come on down Lorraine and claim your prize.  Everybody please give her a round of applause and let her know just how jealous you are!  Lorraine, tell us – how does it feel to be such a winner?  And please look for an email asking for your mailing address so Stephanie can ship your signed Obey Crochet drawing to you!  We look forward to hearing from you very soon!
(And you’ll have to send us a photo!)  😀

Didn’t win? No worries!  Now that you’re following Obey Crochet’s blog, not only will you be in the know about anything that comes up Obey Crochet, you can also shop her store at CafePress!  You will find mugs, t-shirts and totes of Hooky goodness!  Yay for crochet!

Thank you all for participating and it was so awesome to meet and connect with more crochet friends! I am now following everyone who participated in this contest and left your websites or Twitter accounts to follow.  And I think maybe ya’ll will want to get to know each other too.  I hope you enjoyed the fun and exploration of the crochet goodness from our sister-in-hook Stephanie Toppin!

Happy New Year from both of us!  I truly believe that 2012 is just simply going to be outstanding!  In addition to my usual content, stay tuned for future contests, reviews, goodies and new friends to meet!  Thanks to Stephanie and Obey Crochet for joining me in this shindig.  And thanks again to everyone for keeping your hook in gear and sharing the crochet love!  Rock on! 

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Filed under Crochet Community

An Aberrant “Obey Crochet” Holiday Give Away!


Oh look!  I was a poet and didn’t know it!

Well, welcome back my crochet friends!  Happy Holidays!

I know, I know….  I was writing so consistently and then dropped off.  It’s the season for working though, you know.  This is the time of year when warm things are in demand!  I’ll let you know when I master typing with my ears while I crochet.  Send me any tips if you have them!  LOL!  Oh and then of course one by one the family units got sick.  And fight as I did, I finally caught it too.  I know you know how it is!

But, now I’m getting back on my feet just in time for the holidays.  It’s also dear hubby’s and my anniversary today!  (16 years!  Do you know how much I love him?)

It’s me and Obey Crochet!  Cooking up some fun for you!

So I’m ready to celebrate, drink some wine, enjoy some chocolate, have some fun and spring a holiday celebration giveaway surprise that Stephanie a.k.a. Obey Crochet and I cooked up!  We’re doing a blog giveaway! YAY!

Yes!  ‘Tis true!  And trust me, you’ll covet this one!  If you haven’t met Obey Crochet just yet, please do so by visiting my interview with her here!

“Yay! What awesomeness will we win?” you ask?  Well I’ll tell you!

It’s our pleasure to bring this crochet unique giveaway to you, my fellow crochet lover!  One lucky winner will receive a FREE, signed… (did you see that? … a signed!) …  Obey Crochet print.  Of your choice!  Of ANY one Obey Crochet Drawing that you love!  Shipped to you!

Can you believe it?! 

OMG I’m jealous, because I’m disqualified from this giveaway.  They will also get random Obey Crochet buttons and rub on tats.  How cool is that!  Don’t you just love it!  😀

“How!  How can we win?” you ask?

Alright, so down to the business stuff… please read carefully!
First of all, this giveaway is uniquely open to USA as well as International crochet fans!  Yes!  We are not excluding our friends from overseas!

There is only ONE mandatory way to enter…
First, you must subscribe to both Aberrant Crochet and Obey Crochet blogs.  Next, go to Obey Crochet’s website, look at her vast collection of drawings and decide which one is your favorite.  Then, come back here and leave a comment on this giveaway blog post stating that you are following both blogs (we’ll check), along with a note about which Obey Crochet signed drawing you are most excited to win!  (One of my personal favorites is “Potentially Pirate,” along with Obey Crochet’s original “Co-Dependent.”  Oh and then of course there’s “Only Child,” “My Shadow Puppets Are Better,” and “All I Need Is One Hook.” And then there’s…..  I know – how can you possibly choose just one?! But in the end, if you win, you will have to!)
Last but not least, share the link to this giveaway with your crochet savvy friends!
Limit ONE entry per person.
OH and HEY! Post your Twitter ID and blog address in your comment and I’ll follow you back!  How’s that for a deal?

PLEASE NOTE…
1. You have just over ONE WEEK to enter…
2. Giveaway will close Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 9am CST.  (Yes, we gave you fudge room even after the New Year’s celebration!)
3. A winner will be chosen via random.org later in the day on January 1, 2012.
4. I will announce the winner on my blog shortly after (so come back to check!)
5. Please be sure to have your email address linked to your comment or there is no way for me to contact you!
And that’s it!

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!   😀   MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAVE FUN!
Oh, and disclaimer: I have not received any monetary compensation for putting on this giveaway.  This is purely for fun!  I mean, just in case you’re wondering.  They say it’s always good to be clear about these things.  So, there you have it… clear?  We love you!  Enjoy!

18 Comments

Filed under Artist Information & Notes, crochet, Crochet Community, Giveaway

Kumihimo Could Be The Ultimate Stash Buster


Today was well spent at A Good Yarn taking a beginning Kumihimo class from Jeannie.  She’s a good teacher!  And the class proved to me what I suspected…  Kumihimo might just be the ultimate stash buster.

Kumihimo is the Japanese term and method for braiding.  There are many different types, but we learned a basic yatsu umi, or 8-strand round braid.  Jeannie even introduced us to using beads.  For a basic yatsu umi starter project, we each started with four strands of about two yards each, doubled over to make eight strands to work with, and create a key chain.  Most everyone else stopped with a normal sized key chain, but since I was camping out for part of the day anyway, I kept going until I had no more threads left to work with!  So mine’s actually long enough for a necklace now.  I’m thinking about taking the split ring off and instead adding a decorative clasp for an offset design.  Maybe add a crochet element.  Not sure yet how, but pretty sure this is going to be a necklace.

The fun thing about Kumihimo (and I should have taken some photos of Jeannie’s examples to do her justice), is that you can use up scraps of yarn and thread that might not be long enough to do much else with.  She had examples of several made from a variety of yarns, thick and thin, including pigtail-eyelash.  How much stash you can bust with braiding depends on your end project idea, of course, but it adds one more thing to my bucket of tools and growing skills.  I look at kumihimo and see possibilities for jewelry, where crochet might not give me the result I want, but also, I think this could make a much stronger, less stretchy purse strap for some of my weighty beaded purses, over crochet.  One of my fellow classmates mentioned wanting to make some for decorating Christmas presents.

Here are some photos of my yatsu umi.

image

This is the basic beginner's small Kumihimo kit, long with my yatsu umi hanging out the backside.

image

The yatsu umi has a spiral effect when you use contrasting colors.

image

Beading adds a nice element to the spiral braid.

image

My yatsu umi is long enough to make a necklace! I'm thinking I might take off the split ring and instead turn this into an offset necklace with a decorative clasp.

If you find yourself in Prescott, AZ, I can’t recommend the local yarn shoppe – A Good Yarn – enough. They are incredibly helpful, friendly and a bright spot to visit. I also LOVE Debra’s “Buck A Ball” community donation project. Drop off your unused yarn leftovers, or balls you aren’t going to use, and Debra puts them in a box for $1 a ball, with all proceeds going to the local women’s shelter. Umm, yes I found some goodies to buy in the box too. Gracious and community oriented, this store is one of the most crochet friendly yarn stores I’ve ever shopped. And you can tell that Prescott locals value them too, as they stayed busy with many local friends coming and going, friendly chatter, along with newbies who dropped by today as well. I met a lady from South Africa today who said she’d heard so much about this store she just had to come. Seriously, you can’t help but be in great hands!

image

Carma, Jeannie and Debra! When you are in Prescott, you must visit these super friendly ladies and tell them I sent you!

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Filed under 'Tis the Season, Artist Information & Notes, Crochet Community, Crochet Education

How Much Are You Worth?


What is the true cost of handmade items at a show?  I’m not really talking about taking a bead and sticking it on an ear wire. There’s almost no training or skill involved in that.  There’s not much honing of a craft going on there.  Though it does take time to assemble, it’s small and not considered skilled labor.

How much do you make an hour for your expertise?  How much should a hand crafter make per hour?  What is right for a living wage?  It’s easy to forget sometimes the nature of how some jobs work.  In many jobs, you get paid a set wage + benefits.  Some jobs involve a commission, which is generally highly taxed by the government even if it is really what you feed yourself with.  Other jobs, like waiting tables, are often half of minimum wage with the expectation that you will make up the rest in tips.  That was a rude awakening when I landed my first waiting job right out of college.  I was taxed out of my $2.13 an hour each week as if it were twice that, because it’s assumed I would make up the other half of minimum wage on tips.  And I didn’t.  Sigh, those were the days.

So how much should a hand crafter make?  Well, one obvious thing to consider is the cost of table fees to get into the show in the first place.  Just here in Austin, there are shows that range from $40 a table to over $3000.  It’s a chunk of change, and somewhat of a gamble playing the odds whether you will sell something at the venue or not.  Space rental is not cheap.  Neither is security, electricity or many other expenses people might not think of.  If you take credit cards, you have expenses there as well.

You have the cost of materials as overhead.  When it comes to yarn, it’s interesting to me that so many buyers really have no idea how much yarn can cost these days.  To buy enough to create a garment is a pretty substantial chunk.  Are we using “That Old 70’s Yarn?”  Or something nicer like silk or cashmere or even a microfiber?  Either way, it’s way more now than it was when I was a kid.

Then there’s the amount of materials as well.  Just because a hat you find at WalMart cost $5 doesn’t mean it has a comparable amount of fiber in it to something handmade.  Nor does it mean the yarn can be purchased in the US for so little either.  Where many often use one yarn for a design, I often use three myself.  So that’s a jump in cost for me.  Plus there’s the value of other elements, like antique buttons or sterling silver findings.

And then we come to the aspect of time and of skill.  What would you pay an expert to do and what would you pay a beginner?  There should be a difference.  There’s something to be said for a skill that has been honed over time.  Because the quality of labor is much different.  Why should an expert be paid the same as a beginner?  There’s a reason why we pay doctors what we do, they are highly educated, trained and skilled.

But let’s say we have a beginner.  Federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.  Even people receiving training to flip burgers get at least minimum wage.  If an item requires $30 of materials and takes 4 hours to make, you have at minimum a $59 item, before taxes.  Right?  What if you decide not to charge minimum wage?  Even at $5 an hour (a minimum suggestion from Crochet Liberation Front founder, Laurie Wheeler), you still have a $50 price tag.  At minimum.  For beginner grade work.

I like some points Laurie made on this subject in previous years on the Crochet Liberation Front forum, “The best way I know of raising the value of anything, is to value it yourself.” 

Followed up in her article last year “At What Price?” Laurie has this to say:

“FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS FUZZY DO NOT…and I repeat…DO NOT UNDERSELL YOUR WORK!!  …. Materials + Time x Skill = $$…. Time is valuable. Especially in today’s fast paced world, time is PRECIOUS, your time is VALUABLE. If you spend 2hrs on a  hat and you spent $3 on the materials and you only charge $4.00, $3.00 covers the materials and you just made FIFTY CENTS an hour. Really?  You are not a SWEATSHOP…You are WORTH more than that… “

Also, I’ve heard many women make comments that should never be made, like: “Oh but I enjoy doing this so I don’t charge very much.”  WHAT? Seriously? Did I just hear that?  SO you should only get paid for what you don’t derive a sense of satisfaction from?  (I’ve never heard a man say something like this, btw.)  If you’ve ever been guilty of saying something like that, stop and consider the craziness of what you’re suggesting.  Not to mention how it undervalues the work of all hand crafters when you do that, including the ones who rely on selling their wares to put food on the table.  Just because you don’t have to rely on it to feed your kids, doesn’t mean you should undersell your work.

Factors to keep in mind as you consider pricing also include rarity, how labor intensive, precision of the work, and expertise and range of experience. Some items, you’ll have to judge.  You may have to tweak your prices or process a bit here and there.  Just because you are capable of making wash cloths out of cashmere doesn’t mean it’s practical and that everyone will buy one for what it’s worth or at all.  Hmmm… So maybe there’s a cap there somewhere on what kind of materials you expect to use for what items and the price range most of your customers will fall into?

There’s also travel time, packing materials and postage.  If I’m doing custom orders and find myself driving all over town from yarn shop to yarn shop trying to find what will make my customer happy, it becomes an expense that has to be accounted for, because they want a custom item and not something I have ready to go.  And it requires me to take time off from my regular business and work only for them until they get what they want.  That can be a lot of time, especially if they don’t really know what they want or it’s difficult to secure!  Think about the fees you would pay a graphic artist when you don’t have a clear idea of what you want.  Usually you get one or two proofs and that’s it.  Consider that custom handmade should not be much different.

So when you’re pricing, you have a lot to consider for variables.  And once you have that, stick with it and do not let buyers bargain with you.  Not only is it poor form at shows, but when you do it, you give people permission to essentially cut your pay!  Set a fair and reasonable price, based on the variables we’re discussing and decide ahead of the show how you will deal with such requests.  If you want to offer a discount for multiple purchases, that can be nice, but price your individual items accordingly so you are still coming out on top in the end. Do not stoop to the rude folks either.  They are not your market.  Be polite, but do not waste your time on them.  You want to know at the end of the year, after all those last-minute material purchases and all the time invested and you sit down to do those taxes, that it was worth it.  If you never stand up for yourself, who will?

Now that you’ve read all this and taken stock, how much are you worth?  Think about it and add to the discussion in the comments!  😀

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


If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:

Dear Artists: Your Prices Are Not The Problem – Or Are They?

When Artists Hear “I Can Make That!

Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet


29 Comments

Filed under Business, crochet, Crochet Community, Crochet Education, Doing the Show Circuit

Meet Obey Crochet! – Blog Interview


I want to introduce you to someone I know you will enjoy!

Way back in late spring I came across one of Obey Crochet’s cartoons on Flickr and was literally hooked! I felt like she had crawled into my mind and pulled out my most obscure thoughts of crochet madness and made them funny!

Immediately I just had to get to know this fellow Texan crocheting chic and talk her into making a t-shirt! I didn’t care if anyone else wanted one – I wanted it for me! Stationary too! Like yesterday already!  crochet joy

She only had a handful of drawings up, but darn it if I wasn’t already a fan, hook-line-and-sinker.  I dragged her onto Ravelry and told all my friends (even the ones who just don’t understand this crochet thing I’ve got goin’ on).  I just loved her and wanted everyone else to as well.  She even drew something I could use for one of my previous blog posts this summer “Tech Help For Crafters.”  I also put her in touch with Laurie and she designed the Mascot for the Crochet Liberation Front “Crochet @Cama” 2011 Retreat!

I knew immediately the day I found her drawings that I wanted to interview this chic.  Finally I asked and graciously she accepted.

I’ve been saving this blog interview, waiting for the right moment to share her with the world, when she wouldn’t have to share the pedestal with someone else or some other event.  But now it’s time!

So with the enthusiasm of Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear, here she is ladies and gentlemen – I know you’ll love her too!  Ms. Stephanie Toppin!  a.k.a. Obey Crochet!


Ms. Obey Crochet

1. How did you get into crochet?

My mother, who does not consider all the things she does a skill, but just a basic knowledge. I was about 8 when she showed me crochet and it awakened in me three years ago for fun and a determination to learn patterns and not just wing it.

2. What is the story behind your website Obey Crochet and your crochet drawings?

Frustration. Mostly frustration. I felt the pains of being a second class citizen while creating a public art project using crochet. People were allowed to come and watch as we labored for art and many expressed their love for my choice of craft which they all assumed was knitting. For everyone to admire what you do and then call it something else, it’s like a gorilla tap dancing on your forehead, über annoying. Off to the internet for some type of rescue to show off my crochet pride!

The crochet community existed but there was nothing that suited my dry, tongue in cheek, silly behavior. “I heart crochet” was not going to cut it. I had the idea of “Codependent” and on a Friday night I sketched, on a Saturday morning I drew what turned into 12 drawings. I uploaded them to my Flickr and ideas kept flooding me so I indulged them.

Obey Crochet was born in less than a fortnight as the first website I constructed. I bought a tote bag and some iron on sheets and made a bag that I still carry. It happened so sudden and it’s less than a year old but it was the first thing that just clicked and I never questioned. Fun factor for me? Bajillion times awesome.

3. I hear you’re from Houston, TX! How would you describe the Houston craft scene?

I’m new to the “craft scene”, most people know me as a painter. I have always been crafty but it was more for hanging out at craft fairs, things for friend’s birthdays, Christmas, and junk to spoil their kids with some handmade goodness. It was just a personal release. From what I have come across now after getting more involved, it seems to be huge. I have heard of dozens of craft groups and I think the only down fall is that they don’t know about each other. Houston is a huge city, it’s sometimes tricky to make bridges beyond your area.

4. Can you tell me about your day? What other hats besides “Obey Crochet” do you wear?

Up at 6:30a. Lay in bed, check email, twitter, WordPress from phone. Shower, dress, eat at work. I work at a small local IT company, all guys except my boss. I do graphic design, HR, assistance, work with soap, random tasks while tolerating my male coworkers. I mostly eat cereal and yogurt with local honey. I have allergies. I go home 6ish, sometimes later. Come home, draw, take photos, scan. I paint, or make banners, work on cake sketches, upload an Obey Crochet drawing, work on my other blogs (Fabricandlines, Art Keeps Me Poor) do a proposals for art galleries while listening to podcasts, over 80 of them. I stay up until midnight/1ish most days. And then do it again. I volunteer, I drink beer, I use to ride my bike more, I thrift in my spare time for awesome things like huge brides maids skirts.

5. Quick! What are 5 random things about yourself that others might not know?

I have an afro, I love it. I’m making a unicorn cake for a soon to be 6 year old (hope that’s right). My family is West Indian. I never use LOL. I don’t know how to follow directions.

6. What’s your favorite drawing and/or crochet project so far? A favorite yarn or hook?

I really like roving yarn, I love the way it feels and looks. My heart leaps for it. Hooks? I like the way wooden ones feel more than metal, although when my hands get sweaty the cool metal is nice (sorry, too much info).

Favorite drawing…? “My shadow puppet is better than yours.” It’s silly and ridiculous; it was one of the firsts that were on Flickr. It makes me laugh really hard which is weird and awkward and awesome. I tend to use awesome too much. And to ramble.

7. Artists and crafters seem to be in constant pursuit of the perfect work-room! What is one thing about your current work space now that you like and what is one thing you would wish for in a dream work space?

I like that I have a workspace. I just moved and the old digs had my workspace as my bed in a 9 x9 room. Now I have a spare room and I love that it has French Doors, but I love more that it is a room without my bed in it. For the space, I really wish I had shelves. There is no point grudgingly wishing for grand things when all I need are some shelves.  Cinder blocks and wood would be grand. Everything on the floor is really not assisting the flow.

8. Where can people buy your stuff and/or meet you? Shows, venues, etc.? Are t-shirts available yet?

I’m mostly at a taco truck near Shepherd and Alabama in Houston, but I am usually at a craft store somewhere in the loop. If you are local, you know what that means. I plan to go to all the upcoming craft fairs in Austin and the quilt show in Houston. No booths, just me, I have big hair, I’m easy to spot. I’ll give you a free button or a rub on tattoo.

[She’s going to be at Austin Craft Riot a week from today, along with the yarn bombing freebies she donated!]

I currently have a Cafepress store and yes we have shirts, we even have shot glasses. My goal is to get all the drawings on some type of item in the upcoming weeks. Check back for new uploads all the time.

9. Would you share with readers one valuable piece of advice someone gave you that has helped you or one that you have gained from hands-on experience yourself?

My boss shared what a professor once told her: 
Talent is not that rare. Discipline is rare. The will and determination to get up and write that paper, look for that opportunity, save instead of blowing it all on beer, is rare.

I know that being self-motivated is tough. To craft a life of the things you want to actually be doing is nothing short of the most insane schedule and complicated game plan you will ever set out to do. And no one will write it. It’s yours to fumble and attack and concur every day.

My advice is: Do it.

My fear in life is to be that person who has a million ideas, dreams, and wishes for the rest of their being. Write them all down no matter what you feel about them and do them today or tomorrow or next week, but just make sure you actually do them. Don’t share all of your dreams. Sometimes people can erode an idea before it has even taken its first breath. Sometimes you don’t need the reality check to stop you before you start. You never know until you have it down, it’s solid and real.

What do you want people to say about you on your 75th birthday? Okay. Good. Now go at it and good luck.


So there you have it! Obey Crochet! Go check out her site and subscribe – it’ll do your crochety heart good!

Thank you to Stephanie for agreeing to be featured on my blog! Love ya gal!


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

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Filed under crochet, Crochet Community, Events, Humor, Interviews

Are You Blogging About Crochet?


Because if you are, I want to hear from you.

How about Tweeting about crochet?  Likewise.  Oh and don’t forget to use the #crochet hashtag when you do.

Though I should clarify, if you’re a linker on Twitter, I probably won’t follow you back.  You gotta interact with your followers.  Sorry, that’s just what it’s all about.  (I know, if you’re new to twitter, it can be confusing. I’ll write an article on that later.)

What am I up to?  It’s developing rather organically and not clearly defined yet, but you can call it crochet conniving.  Refer back to my post Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet.  It was written tongue in cheek, but I am also somewhat serious.

Crochet suffers a deficit online, as least in the US.   Obey Crochet has also written about this.  She is not the only crocheter who thought she was alone in the world.

And more than that, there’s the average public ideas of what crochet actually is to enlighten.  Sure, doilies and granny squares are awesome.  But there’s so much more than that!  Tapestry Crochet, Tunisian Crochet, Broomstick Lace, Miniature Crochet, and Freeform Crochet, just to name a few of the many, many variations out there.

There’s just so much more.  And overall crochet is an incredibly portable craft, not to mention relaxing (ok, once you’ve got the hang of it).  AND its the only fiber art left that cannot yet be truly replicated by a machine.  Even that mass-produced stuff you see at the store, is hand created, often by children.  It behooves us to preserve this distinguishable art.

If you like crochet, join the quest to celebrate it!  😀


Did you know these are also crochet?

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

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Filed under crochet, Crochet Community, Crochet Education, NaBloPoMo

Videos from Crochet @Cama 2011!


Took me a while to figure out getting these videos to upload properly, but here are videos of Deb (CerDeb) and Don Burger’s humorous musical performance at our last potluck together.  Gathered in the Firehouse Kitchen enjoying shared food and drink.  Eh, it’s a video from a phone, so not a professional production, but hope you enjoy anyway!

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Filed under crochet, Crochet Community