Monday, January 26, 2009

Back and Gone Again

Ireland was FANTASTIC!!! But I don't have time to share details and photos now. I'm off to the airport for work related travels. I'll be in Seattle and Salt Lake City and while I hope to check out a yarn store in one or both cities, we'll see if that happens or not.

Hopefully, I'll have a fabulous post for you all this weekend. Cheers!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wheels Up

FINALLY! I'm off to Ireland today! Will be back in a week (though the return to the blogosphere may take a bit longer).

My project to bring with me - a crocheted baby blanket in shades of green. It just seems so appropriate. :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Frogged Project: A Photo Essay of the BUBBLES bubbles Wrap

Here's the BUBBLES Bubbles wrap on Friday...

Bubbles BUBBLES Part 1

...I added wine and my newly purchase ball winder...

Bubbles BUBBLES Part 2

...and lo and behold - victory!!!

Bubbles BUBBLES Part 3

Please note - photos 2 and 3 were actually taken days apart. The results are still soooo satisfying.

I feel so much better that this project has been frogged. I look at that beautiful ball of yarn and I see possibilities - compared to the contempt I used to feel when I looked at the messed up wrap.


No worries - the yarn for the wrap will eventually be used for the BUBBLES bubbles scarf.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


When I get back from Ireland, I need to focus on crafting my body by frogging some of these extra pounds that have crept on these past two years. While I was already leaning towards checking out Weight Watchers, and I got some great advice from friends, it was these commercials that sealed the deal.

Tell me he's not the cutest monster ever. I'd buy a doll of him if they sold one.

Yes, Weight Watchers - your marketing department did a great job. I'll be signing up in a couple of weeks. Good thing I have plenty of projects to keep me busy instead of snacking.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Countdown Begins....

Only 6 days until I'm on a plane to Ireland. It doesn't seem real as Sean and I have been planning for this for months and months. And while I need to really think about what to wear and how to pack, my other important decision is what project to bring with me on the trip.

- It must be small as not to take up too much room.
- It must be new and fun to keep me distracted of the time while sitting on the plane or waiting in the airport.
- It must be easy so that I don't have to concentrate too much, but not so easy that it's boring.

Ideas? I've only got 6 days to decide...

I'll be making a stop a by Kerry Woollen Mills in Killarney, County Kerry. And yes, they do sell yarn in addition to lovely garments. Sadly it doesn't look as though I'll be able to meet up with Jo of Celtic Memory Yarns. (Next time, Jo, for sure.)

But before vacation, I have one more week of work to get through. Wish me luck as it will prove to be very difficult to concentrate on spreadsheets and emails when the green hills and pints of Guinness await in Ireland!

PS: The other countdown --> 3 months and 3 days until MS&W!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Waste of Money and Trees

Last weekend, Sean and I headed to the mall to use some holiday gift cards we received. While there, we stopped by the calendar place to check out the 50% off deals. I was excited to see both the Crocheting and Knitting Pattern-a-Day Calendars were there and only half price...and yes, I bought them both.

Last year, I bought the knitting calendar and found some very fun patterns. When I got home, I opened the crochet calendar first, anticipating all the fun patterns that resided inside the little box. Off came the wrapper and I started flipping through the days...

...and it was like a car wreck. It was so horrifying and disgusting and yet I could not look away.

The patterns, the projects, the yarns - such disappointments! The color choices were reminiscent of cheap acrylic choices from the 1970's. And the amateur photos with their lack of focus, lack of staging, lack of interest - but that is not to say the photos were solely to blame for the fugliness of the projects.

I was appalled. I was angry. I was frustrated. I wanted to scream,

  • "Crocheted projects are not this ugly!"

  • "You don't have to use cheap ugly yarn!"

  • "Why the F did somebody design this and how the F did it get accepted for this calendar?!"

Case in point - October 8, 2009 is a pattern for crocheted "poo".

Yes - you read that correctly. Poo.

It looks like the top of a DQ ice cream cone in chocolate but the designer decided to add googly eyes, pink cheeks, and a pink smile. Gack.

In short, the majority of this pattern-a-day calendar is fodder for What Not to Crochet. I sincerely hope that someone who is new to crochet did not buy this calendar hoping it would be a great way to get some awesome patterns. I think this calendar could make some newbies throw away their hooks forever.

Yes - it's that bad and I'm not being a drama-crocheter.

I don't use these pattern-a-day calendars as actual calendars. I flip through all the days to find patterns that I like and I pull those patterns out. When I was reviewing the 2009 crochet calendar, it was not until April 27th that I found a pattern I would even think about creating. It is a tufted floor pillow by Bernat. I can't say that I love it, but I do like it and I think I could use different colors to make it. In total, I found only 13 patterns, 3 of which I only pulled out to learn the techniques in the pattern (such as adding a zipper or adding edging to a fleece blanket) and only 5 of which I would even consider using the yarn called for in the pattern.

And did I mention the large number of patterns that spanned over 3, 4 and even 5 days? That's not a pattern-a-day to me. I guess you could say it was a blessing since it may have stopped even uglier patterns from getting into the calendar...if that's even possible.

Now - before you think me too harsh that I'm ripping apart the designs of aspiring crochet designers...

I, myself, took a stab at designing some patterns so I'm a huge proponent of crocheters who do. My issues with the 2009 Crocheting Pattern-a-Day calendar is that when I spend money to buy patterns - an ENTIRE YEAR of patterns - I expect the majority, not the minority, of patterns to be good. I also expect the editors of the calendar to sift through the entries and find a way to showcase just how beautiful crocheting can be. All I can surmise is that the patterns in the calendar are what you get when the publisher isn't willing to pay for submissions. That's right - None of the designers received money for their designs. (Okay - they do get a free calendar, but the cost to the publisher is minimal so it's like getting $5.00 for your pattern while the publisher makes money from every sale.) This may explain the general fugliness of the patterns. Why should a designer who spent lots of time working on a beautiful pattern donate it to a calendar company who is then going to profit from the design?

There is one clear case where this is profitable for the submitter - Did I mention that 7 of the 13 patterns I pulled were from yarn manufacturers such as Bernat and Patons? It's worth the yarn company's free submissions of good patterns to get consumers to buy their specific brand yarns to make the projects. For the regular crochet designer, an accepted submission means getting your blog or website listed with your pattern which is great advertisement and could boost readership/hits to the site. The publisher also has a contest where you could win up to $1000 - that is, if you won both the knitting and crocheting pattern contest. Top prize for each calendar is $500. Misleading? Yep. And if you look at the winners, it's pathetic for the crochet division.

Speaking of misleading, please note that on the main page of the calendars, there is a photo of pattern for a ladybug hat and scarf next to the 2009 crochet pattern calendar. That pattern is NOT in the 2009 edition. It is apparently from the 2008 calendar. From the look of the rest of the publisher's site, updating is not their forte (case in point - 2006 calendar???).

I'd probably write a scathing letter to the publisher demanding my money back had I paid full price for the calendar. Instead, I'm going to take this as being an relatively inexpensive lesson (at the cost of $7.50) and I will not buy one of these crochet calendars ever again.

I still need to go through the knitting calendar. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the results will be much better.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm Biz-ay

Just 10 days until the trip to I'm a bit busy. I'm still knitting the blanket for KMP's bundle of joy, Edward. I've also been busy ironing shirts for Sean. Ironing is NOT my forte.

Should be back in the blogosphere this weekend.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Teaching An Old Crocheter New Tricks

I've been crocheting for close to 18 years and knitting for only one so I'm still really new to knitting. Hell, it took me 2 years of trying to actually really understand how to knit. I think it was because I thought I knew what I was supposed to be doing. Knitting is sorta like crocheting - wrapping yarn and making a series of loops. No problem - I got it.

No, Grasshopper. There are differences that must be learned and to which strict attention must be paid.

Case in point - when I was first learning to knit, I didn't pay attention to the whole yarn in front or back of my needles. These mysterious extra stitches kept creeping into my swatch accompanied by random holes. I remember the Queen saying, "You did a yarn over." And I said, "What the hell is a yarn over? How did I do that?"

I finally understood the whole knit and purl thing and I could do yarn overs without a problem. But still, my knitting is slow going, especially when compared to the speed and consistent gauge of my crocheting.

The BUBBLES bubbles wrap tested my patience to its end. Not the most difficult pattern but not a beginner one either. I've knit and frogged and knit and frogged and frogged and swore and knit some more. But alas, it has sat untouched (except to dust around it) on my yarn cabinet since July. I was so frustrated, I had to pick up a hook to regain my sanity.

I did continue to knit but not with the gusto that I started. I did some dishcloths and a hat and then I ventured to knit a baby blanket. I started it in early October - though it feels as though I've been working on it so much longer than that. Without a pattern, I just cast on what looked like enough stitches and tried to make some kind of garter stitch border around my stockinette stitch blanket.

Three months later, it's still not done...though not for lack of trying.

Warning! I'm about to confess some incredible knitting ignorance here. Please, no laughing.

I noticed a few days ago that I had somehow slipped a stitch - or that's what I thought I had done. I tried my best to fix it by pulling up a stitch. But I really didn't know what I was doing. I thought it was because it was like 10 rows down that I couldn't get it. So I tried to just increase a stitch - with a yarn over. Yep - it was the only way I knew to increase a stitch. Needless to say, it didn't work. Not only did the new decorative hole in the fabric look wrong, the stitches and rows leading down to the slipped stitch were too funky looking to continue. I pulled out two of my reference knitting books to investigate how to properly pull up a slipped stitch. Why I didn't do this in the first place is a mystery to me.

I looked at the book. I looked at the blanket.

I looked at the book again. Then I looked at the blanket.

The blanket's issue looked nothing like the book and I couldn't find the loop to pick up and save.

Can you sense the frustration that was building up?

And so, the frogging began...

No worries! I didn't frog the whole thing. Did I think about it? Yes - but I didn't do it. I did have to pull out close to 17 rows and that alone was traumatic enough.

When I frogged row 16, I found out what the real problem was. Somehow, I had only knit into about 15 stitches of a row and stopped. Probably did this during a commute one day. Apparently when I picked it up to begin again, I proceeded to purl those 15 stitches back where I came from. And thus, the cause of my funky looking slipped stitch was found.

I was proud of myself for trouble shooting and frogging to fix the problem. I was proud of myself for getting all my stitches back on the circular needles. I was also proud of myself for reading more in my Maran's Illustrated and Stitch n' Bitch books to learn that there are other ways to increase than a yarn over.

See what you can learn if you just read the instructions??? I guess I should add to my crafty resolutions for 2009 - read and follow the instructions in my knitting instructional books.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 Crafty Resolutions

Here is my list of crafty New Year resolutions for 2009. You'll notice some items from 2008 made it onto the 2009 list. Oh well - it is worth another shot at finishing some things. Here we go, in no particular order:

1) Finish the following UFOs:

2) Design more stuff and write more crochet patterns including: coasters, fingerless mittens, and pot holders.

3) Try to sell a project - either on Etsy, at a craft fair, or word-of-mouth. (I'm thinking a purse or coaster set are possible sellers.)

4) Learn to knit socks on double pointed and/or circular needles

5) Go to MS&W 2009 (this is a no-brainer)

6) Visit the new Lion Brand Yarn Studio in NYC.

7) Complete the following new projects:
  • Make at least 1 blanket for donation (charity TBD)

  • Baby blankets for Decklin or Saoirse (due in May)

  • Baby blankets for the other babies that are sure to be announced in 2009

  • Traditional crocheted tablecloth for future Sister-in-law

  • A shawl from the Amazing Crochet Lace book

8) Take another class at Joann's - cake decorating, sewing or quilting.

Any other suggestions? Add a comment.

I'll update the list as items are completed. I'm sure there will be random projects that pop up now and again throughout the year. The unexpected can sometimes be fun.

Wishing a safe, prosperous and happy New Year to you all!