The Fruit Fly Gnat Trap – Part 2…


Because you asked…

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

And then my face fell.

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

And I forgot to put the trap back.

So…

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

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

I checked the dish and sure enough, nothing new.

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

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

So I’d say this is definitely working!

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

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

Gnat-Fruit-Fly-Trap-Aberrant-Crochet-Review

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My New Fruit Fly Gnat Trap…


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I ordered it and it arrived earlier today.

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

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

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

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

Gant Fruit Fly Trap - Aberrant Crochet

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


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

A ribbon storage box turned yarn slave.

A ribbon storage box.

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

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

I found THIS!

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

But I took one look at it and thought YARN.

Backstory

5 Ft Leaping Dear Tapestry - Aberrant Crochet

5′ Leaping Dear Tapestry

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

My Flaming Crochet Hook design for the CLF First Ever Book

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

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

Potholders by Aberrant Crochet and Grandma

Potholders by Aberrant Crochet and Grandma

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

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

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

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

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

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

Present Day

Yarn feeder stand hack - by Aberrant Crochet -2

A ribbon storage box turned yarn slave.

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

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

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

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

Thanks yarn gods.

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Nothing Lasts That You Don’t Feed…


Relationships. Goals. Values. Love.

It all matters. And it all requires nourishing.

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

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

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

And he brought it all down to culture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb

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

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

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

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

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

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

The perfect system.

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

Maybe you’ll agree?

Check out his article here.

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Memories: Double Haiku…


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

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

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

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Friday the 13th….


There was a lot of sadness around the world yesterday.

Sad week even.

The attacks in Paris.

7.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan.

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

His friends are hurting and wondering why.

So many tears out there.

Much love and prayers for all.

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The Cutest Things I Saw Tonight…


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Put this on your list…

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

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

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

The Mr. Rogers mural at Home Slice Pizza.

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

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

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

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Quick Tip: Improving the Quality of Your Cell Phone Photos


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

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

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

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

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

Seriously, my daughter is cooler than me!

Until next time…

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Today You Get Kittehs: The Todd Chronicles…


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

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

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

Meet Todd the Wonder Cat - Aberrant Crochet's baby

Meet Todd the Wonder Cat

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

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

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

In a way, I think he was interviewing us.

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

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

And that’s where his stories begin.

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

And spiders are kind of a thing for me.

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

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

Todd’s favorite.

Truthfully, these Halloween spiders are all over our house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Floor Repairs

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

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

Todd2-05132015

Working hard with mom.

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

But then the Skil saw came out.

Wha...?

Wha…?

I don't understand....

I don’t understand….

OK, I'm not dreaming.

That’s not nice, I was napping.

This is your fault.

This is your fault.

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

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

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

Gotcha kiddo!

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Squid In The Bathroom…


Yeah, no kidding!

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

No one seems to know where he came from.

Though I wonder if anyone checked the ceiling…

And I bet Biology has an idea…

The funny thing is, my daughter mused thus:

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

See you on the flip side Mr. Squiggles.

Jack Chambers saw a Squid Today - Aberrant Crochet

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The Best Food I Had In Barcelona And Other Adventures…


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

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

There were a few lesser known places of note.

Bosc del les Fades Cafe

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

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

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

“NO.” He replied flatly.

“So the drinks are good then?”

“NO.”

“Is it the Cola?”

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

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

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

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

La Pizza del Born

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

Empanadas from La Pizza Del Born in Barcelona

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

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

I. still. crave. them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Born District

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

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

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

Best Yarn Store In Spain

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

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

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

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

Well, that’s it for now.

More Spain stories later!

 

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Flight…


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

This is me.

But not in the way you probably think.

I am the chronic overachiever.

The one who commits to too much.

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

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

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

I catch the current and hitch a ride.

And then I’m Super Man for a while.

Soaring over Capital “T” in a single bound.

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

Of the difference I can make.

Until I can’t.

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

What a sweet savor my smoke and ashes make.

Scattering in the wind like snow.

“You know nothing, John Snow.”

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

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

Until one day I gather strength and arise reborn.

Only to repeat the cycle.

Each time I am wiser, but to what end?

The pattern reboots.

Congratulations!

I level up, with now more zombies to overcome.

The problem is pretty simple actually.

I don’t know how to say no.

I always think I do.

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

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

You know nothing John Snow...

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


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

I’m really pleased with it!

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

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

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

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

So that means more photos and writing.

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

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A Blast From The Past…


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TARDIS, Hand Mines and More…


OK, so back to the TARDIS.

Because, you know – ALL IS TARDIS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knowing that, now look at my giant spider.

YES, it really is that big!

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

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It’s a pretty dramatic and cool view!

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

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

Hand Mines!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toddler Christmas Elf Hat - By Aberrant Crochet

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

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

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


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

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

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

It was that scarf.

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

An exaggeration that taught me magic and got me thinking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, I do what I do well.  I seek.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I wanted one so bad.  I mean bad.

Then TechShop happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I feel like a proud adoption parent.

More to come….

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NaBloPoMo And Halloween: And So It Begins…


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

Both hold such special places in my heart.

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

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

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

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

The giant webs are up - Aberrant Crochet - Halloween 2015

How many spiders do you see?

But we wanted more.

So much more.

Because – you know.

I manifested something Doctor Who - Aberrant Crochet - Halloween 2015

#DoctorWho

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

So I manifested something….

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

And stay tuned for new back stories.

‘Cuz we gots some catching up to do.

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Social Media Is Sharing…


Life is rich.  Life is risks.

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

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

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

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

I don’t think so.

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

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

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

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

Today, thanks to social media…

My day was made because…

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

And so I’m smiling….

     Life enriched…

            And getting back to work, late as it is…

…with gratitude in my heart.

 

Social Media Is Sharing - article and graphic by Aberrant Crochet

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