Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It Was the Best of Hats; It Was the Worst of Hats

A coworker asked me to crochet a hat for her.  We found the perfect pattern for a fabulous pillbox hat crocheted in embroidery floss in a Vogue Knitting on the Go book called Crocheted Hats
It was designed by our own Ravelry designer Kathy Merrick and calls for tying two sets of over 60 hanks of embroidery floss together and forming them into a ball.  To tell the truth, that turned out to be the hardest (IOW, not hard at all) part of making this hat.

Crocheting the hat was a breeze, and it was so much fun to watch the colors change under my fingers.  I couldn't wait to finish -- and luckily I didn't have to because I think it took less than an afternoon to do it on a vacation day.

My coworker loved it!  She gleefully showed it to all our other coworkers leaving the building at lunchtime where she was trying it on and posing for my camera phone. See her smile:

***(Dramatic foreshadowing:  This was before we went to lunch.)

We had lunch a couple of blocks from the office, marred only by one tiny event.  As she was talking to me, she reached up and discovered an earring was missing.  A gold-sapphire-and-diamond earring.

(Here is the earring that wasn't missing:


I kept hoping it had fallen off into her clothing or her handbag, but no.  She left me at the restaurant and retraced her steps while I combed the restaurant floor.  Then she came back and I left with her and searched again.  Later that night, I happened to be walking in the same area and I searched again.  No earring.

She is a very gracious and spiritual person and assured me not to worry, "It's just a thing," she said.  But I know it was a very special thing given to her by a very special person and I don't think I'll ever think of this particular hat the same way again.

But wait!  A friend of mine just offloaded a whole bunch of embroidery thread on me that she wasn't using.  I'll just have to make another one!

I'll make it for my sister(-in-law) and make absolutely certain she isn't wearing earrings when she tries it on.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Falling for Ewe Swap Questionnaire

The Summer of Yarn Love swap on Ravelry was so much fun, we're doing it again this fall. You can find my questionnaire for that swap on this blog as well.

1. Do you knit or crochet? How long have you been at your craft?

I crochet. I used to knit about 40 years ago but haven’t been very competent at picking it up again. My crocheting has been random in my half-century of living. I started at age 5 and kept it up through college, then dropped it for 25-30 years. Started up again this year when I quit smoking. Something about keeping my fingers busy and spending my pocket change on yarn instead of cigarettes is working.

2. Do you spin? What type of spinning do you do?

No, I don't spin. But I am becoming intrigued at the idea. Maybe in a few years when I retire….

3. Are there any other crafts that you participate in?

I have created wedding bouquets. I have decorated cakes. I have done needlepoint in the distant past. I have also upholstered small furniture, done batik, embroidered and can sew. I don’t have room for much more than crochet in my apartment nowadays, but I am pondering taking up macramé. You name it, I’ll try it!

4. Are there any types/brands of yarn that you are dying to work with but haven’t gotten a chance?

Well, if I haven’t worked with them, then I don’t know, do I? I keep hearing about Noro and Malabrigo and Sea Silk but I have no idea why they are desirable. Since swapping, I have ventured into soy and bamboo blends and those are working out nicely. There are some shiny satiny yarns that look interesting for hats.  (Maybe that's Sea Silk?)

5. What are your favorite types of projects to knit/crochet?

Baby clothes, hats, bags, new things untried as yet.

6. What are your favorite yarns/fibers?

Soft ones. Pretty ones. I love heathery, rich colors. I have a lot of odd skeins of Debbie Bliss in a variety of greens and fibers. I would like to somehow pull all those together into cohesive projects, maybe by adding additional skeins in coordinating colors for each fiber combination, enough so I could get a hat or scarf out of it. See my stash.

7. What are your LEAST favorite yarns/fibers?

Wool-linen blends. Scratchy wool and scratchy acrylic. Don’t care much for black and white. Also don’t care much for Red Heart-type variegated yarns.

8. What are you currently working on? Anything you plan to start this autumn?

What I am working on right now is a secret. (See next question.)

This autumn I will be making a Tunisian crochet throw in lavender llama and a pillbox hat made from embroidery floss (see my projects on Ravelry).

I also have a huge long list of presents to finish by the end of the year holidays, things like

  • a snitch and crocheted flipflops for DD
  • a crocheted Yoda for DSIL
  • some zombie dolls for an 18-year-old friend
  • some fish-shaped sacks for little boys’ marbles
  • some stuffed animals for some toddler friends (a monkey and a teddy bear)
  • a set of penguin bowling pins
not to mention the Odd Ducks group swaps on Ravelry where there are some pretty interesting projects aborning.

9. What is your favorite FO? (Please, post a picture if you would like.)

It is my handmade item for the Swap on a Budget swap on Ravelry that is due on August 24, 2008 to arrive in my spoilee’s hands. Once she has it in her hands, I will post a picture on my Ravelry project board, so look for it at the end of August. It is my proudest accomplishment to date.

10. What is your oldest UFO?

Just recently I happened upon an old project bag containing a vest that I had started with some hand-dyed chenille yarn. I think I was on Round 2 when I put it away and forgot about it. That would have been about four or five years ago, I think. I can’t remember for sure.

11. Are there any knitting/crochet techniques that you would like to learn?

Oh, yes! I’d like to learn to knit again but I’m afraid I’ll have to do it the way you teach children, with huge knitting needles and chunky yarn. I have the chunky yarn. I’d need the huge needles. If there’s a pattern that uses both and creates a child’s or baby’s cap that I could give to charity, so much the better, because the chunky yarn I have is earmarked for charity.

I’d like to learn every crochet technique there is, including:
  • Painted Crochet
  • Filet and Beaded Filet
  • Irish lace (I mean really, not the imitation kind I did for my Swap on a Budget project.)
  • Hairpin lace and broomstick lace – I did this long ago using a real broomstick. I don’t own a hairpin lace contraption that’s needed to do the hairpin lace.
  • I’d like to learn to tat. I have tatting shuttles but don’t know how to use them.
  • Bruges lace
12. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Not yet. Don’t knit yet.  I have been known to crochet a sock or footie now and then and I love self-striping sock yarn for toy projects like the dodecahedron.  I wear between a 7.5 and 8.5 shoe (39 European).

13. Do you have a yarn winder and/or a swift?

Nope. Don’t have room for a swift, but a small yarn winder might be nice.

14. Where/how to you keep you needles/hooks?

I have a rollup case for my regular sized hooks but I need another one for the tiny steel hooks. They’re in an old wooden box that has a faulty catch and they keep getting spilled all over the place.

My knitting needles – what few I have – are at the bottom of a drawer and at the bottom of a plastic bin in my closet.

15. Do you collect anything?

Dust and practical penguins, jellyfish and lady bugs– no stuffed animals or knickknacks, please. Per my self-imposed household rules, it must serve a purpose or I can’t keep it. (Jewelry serves a purpose. So do stitch markers.)

16. What is your favorite type of music? Are you MP3 ready?

I love almost all music, with a few exceptions.  I am a classical pianist, so love that genre and instrument.  Also love harps and Celtic music, in fact, any ethnic folk music.  I'm not a huge hard rock fan, but I love the classic music from my generation's youth (fifties, sixties, seventies).  I like a lot of indie bands I've heard, believe it or not, techno and otherwise.  And jazz.  I have even been known to move my body to a little rap now and then -- as long as the lyrics aren't completely offensive to women and parents.

I am MP3 ready times two. I have an ipod and I have a Juke cell phone that triples as an MP3 player but I’ve never used it more than a phone and a camera.

17. Do you like sweets? What are your favorites?

I can’t have sugar because I am borderline diabetic. I love the following sugar-free treats, though: Russell Stover chocolates, especially the “turtles”; Whitman’s chocolate-covered almonds; Baskin-Robbins hard candies. Also love macadamia nuts, cashews and any low-carb snack such as jerky.

18. What is your living situation like? Any pets? Children?

Very small, cramped apartment for DH and me. Grown, married daughter far away. Two late middle aged fur daughters (cats) living at home.

19. Are you allergic to anything?

Cats – yes, I know. I refuse to kowtow to that allergy! Penicillin. Supposedly wool, but I’m thinking that was just a prejudice my mother had because it’s scratchy. I do find it scratchy, though. And perfumes. This one I do kowtow to. Unscented candles and truly natural oils/fragrances, please.

20. Do you have an online wish list (Amazon, Etsy, Loopy Ewe, etc.)? Please include links for your swap pal.




21. Are you having a birthday during this swap?

Nope. May 16 if you're taking notes.

22. What is your Ravelry ID?

MyOwnIgloo (aka MOI)

Friday, August 08, 2008

First Ever Contest!

So there's this person over at Ravelry who has this avatar (except we call it a "Ravatar"; get it?) and she and I have decided we are twins separated at birth because we have so much in common.  We are not paying attention to the fact that I think there's somewhere between 20 and 30 years' difference between our ages....

I digress.  She's got this Ravatar that has created quite a stir because it's something of an optical illusion without meaning to be an optical illusion.  Everybody who sees it agrees.  It's a picture of a butterfly and a ____________________.

Some people see a caterpillar.  Some people see a whale's tail.  Some people -- MOI included -- see an elephant trunk sniffing at the butterfly.  And one person who shall remain nameless saw a butterfly fart.

It has been the subject of much speculation and finally the person -- "mkrval" to us -- revealed what it was one day and poof!  The caterpillars and the tails of whales and the elephant noses vanished.


I digress again.

Anyway, mkvral had her 1,000th post recently at Ravelry -- she's a real chatterbox, that one and she's over 30 posts past that now -- and in honor of her first millenial post, I put up a contest (technically, it's a drawing with a writing assignment) for people to reveal their own experiences with this mystery Ravatar.

It is posted over at Ravelry on the Swap on a Budget group board.  Can't miss it.

So what do you see?

To be included in this drawing, all you have to do is post a story on your blog (or in the thread on Ravelry) -- fictional or non -- about what you see when you look at the Ravatar.
Prizes are highly relevant stitch markers.
First prize:  Set of 6 caterpillars-and-worms
Second prize:  Set of 4 penguins (no, nobody saw penguins in the Ravatar.  They're just my favorite and it's my contest, so there.) 
Third prize:  Set of 3 orange elephants.
Contest closes at 9:00 a.m. PDT on Wednesday, August 13th.  Drawing to be held sometime around 3:30 PM PDT on Thursday, August 14th.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Blogging While Keeping Mum

It's time for my weekly check-in but I have a conundrum. What I've spent most of my time on in the past couple of weeks has been a handmade object required for the Swap on a Budget swap on Ravelry.

It is such a cherished project that I'm dying to tell someone about it, but I can't lest my Secret Pal in the swap venture over here and see it.

In other news, another online friend of mine is going through a rough patch and her other online friends are making an afghan for her. I did manage to eke out a square to send away for it, so that will be my subject today.

It is from the book 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws and Afghans by Jan Eaton.  I worked it up in Lion Brand Vanna's Choice acrylic yarn on an E hook.  It is Block No. 46 in the book, called "Meadow."

Stay tuned.  In two weeks I'll probably be able to let the cat out of the proverbial bag and post pics of the Super Secret Swap Project.