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Crocheting in the Dark

Last night, as tornadic thunderstorms passed through the area, the power flickered and then cut out fully in our neighborhood. Within 15 minutes there was a glow of candles and flashlights, as my daughter and I "hunkered down" in the family room for power-free fun.

I pulled down my MAM afghan I am working on, a project I was sure would be easy to work on, since I generally carry one strip-in-progress around to work on while waiting or whatnot, and the simple stitches are easy to crochet with minimal glancing down.

Let me just say that one of the things I like about crochet is the tie to generations of women (and some truly crafty men!) that have come before me. I can sometimes get caught up in the romanticism of lacy handkerchiefs, formal teas, and handicrafts in abundance. But one little throwback to "pioneer life" makes me a big baby!

Crocheting afghans by the flicker of candlelight while my daughter plays on the floor and the "wireless" (radio) plays softly in the background - it sure sounds homey. In reality, I found that it was ridiculously tiring and straining on the eyes (as little as I thought I was looking!).

Technology has given us great advances. The electric light, for one. Bugspray for another (but that doesn't factor into this story). Yarn that is pre-sheered, -spun, and -dyed, freeing up lots of time for simply crocheting. Sometimes it takes one being taken away - even for just 6 hours! - to make you notice all of the other advances that makes your craft of choice accessible and fun!

And yet I have found myself crocheting in the dark more than once. My very first afghan was largely done during the movie Castaway (I saw it at the theater more than once). I find it hard to put down the hook when we're driving home from a trip and it is getting dark.

I know denizens of C'ville come in all varying abilities, and even varying levels of vision. How many of you can crochet in the dark, or are there certain things that you find easier to crochet in low-light than others?

How many other of you crafters do the same thing? Do you crochet long after the light has left the sky (or by the map light) on car trips? Do you drag a hook and skein into the movie theater? Do you sneakily stitch in bed after the lights go out?

There just aren't enough light hours in the day!

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posted by Unknown on Friday, September 29, 2006 @ 4:24 PM

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WIP Wednesday

What's laying on top of (or in, under, around) my crochet basket?
  1. A Mile-a-Minute afghan I am making for my brother-in-law. It is offwhite and navy blue, with square ended strips. I have 5-1/2 (out of probably 8) strip middles
  2. Autumn Doily Set for my mother-in-law. I have one doily done, but not blocked; one half done, that I am designing; and two more (probably) to go. All in pumpkin orange.
  3. Companion afghan to Hubby's Second Afghan. Exactly the same, but with colors reversed. I'm about, oh, 10% through.
  4. VeggieTales Graphghan. The 'ghan that never ends! Part of what makes this such a huge project (literally and comprehensively) is that I am not using the afghan stitch, I am changing colors and using the star stitch, the same technique I used on Hubby's First Afghan. I'm half-way through the tomato.
I feel like I am missing things! That's really all I'm working on? Maybe it's because of my "nearly abandoned projects" list:

  1. My first "squares" afghan with blue rainbow hexagons.
  2. Knit socks for my daughter (to match mine)

That can't be right! What makes me feel like I have so much going on, crochet-wise? Maybe it's my "pending project" list. These aren't just WIM (works-in-mind), they are projects I've basically committed to, at this point, though I might not have a stitch done or a skein bought:

  1. Scarf for my daughter's Halloween costume. It shouldn't be too hard...
  2. Afghan for my brother (a 20 year old guy... any suggestions?)
  3. Garter for my dear, dear friend's wedding . I've done some designing, but it's come time to decide... beads, or stitch detailing? I don't want to overdo it.
  4. Moravian Star doily. It's extra tough, because none exists. I'm scared to start, but have ideas in my head of how I want it to look. But so far I've only designed 1/2 a doily, so I'm not sure what really to do.
  5. "Dohlchester" name filet for our home.
  6. My husband's Christmas bonus present.
  7. Pattern design: beaded amulet bag - I've made the bag, I just need to do the pattern writing.
You know what? I feel a lot better about my WIPs, UFOs, and WIMs now that I've actually written them out!

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posted by Unknown on Wednesday, September 27, 2006 @ 10:45 PM

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Going to the Fair!

Today I dropped off eight items for the VA State Fair. Several of them I just blogged about! There is the 63 Squares Afghan, crocheted lion, duct tape purse/wallet, plastic bag bag, and christening gown, plus a wire and bead bracelet, my "Hospitality" doily, and something else I can't share right now. :-)

Of course the category I am most excited about is the Nimble Fingers contest, a speed crochet contest that will be in about two weeks. Let's hope I fare well this year.

I love fairs. I have always loved going and looking at all of the arts and crafts. Quilts, lace, all sorts of things that I imaged were done by some crafting elite, that had secret guilds and were set off from us mere mortals. Then I started crafting, and these things became less "unattainable" and more"inspirational". Then I entered.

One of the things I like best, though, is drop off. I like to go near the end of drop off, so that I can see what everyone has brought before me, just a brief glimpse, like a movie teaser. I like to see all of the fair setting up outside: the empty tent that will soon be full of cheering kids and racing pigs; the rides still folded up from travel; the field of vendor carts ready to roll in and set up. I like to imagine people that will be coming, and people who have gone to fairs and exhibitions for literally centuries. I feel such a bond with them, and so honored that people I don't know will be looking at my work on display, even if it's just passing through.

Sadly, there seems to be less entered than I remember when I was younger. Especially at the county fair, the risers seemed somewhat bare.

Have you thought about entering in your local fair? Why didn't you? "There's not much entered; I want some real competition, or else the ribbon won't mean anything" and "I don't think my work is 'fair worthy' " are the top two reasons I've heard from people that I talk to.

When you enter work in the fair, you inspire others to pick up the hook (or maybe unlock another creative outlet), and you inspire others that crochet to enter. You inspire new projects for other crocheters. Perhaps the item you didn't think was "fair worthy" would embolden one other person to enter next year, realizing the fair isn't an elite competition of invitation, but an open call for sharing. Maybe you'll just get a deeper bond to your roots.

Don't get me wrong; ribbons are fun to win, but it's knowing that I might be doing for some other young (or not so young!) fairgoer what the entries of fairs in my childhood did for me that really motivates me to fill out the forms and take my work off to the Arts & Crafts building. I hope you all will, too!

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posted by Unknown on Sunday, September 24, 2006 @ 12:52 AM

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Duct Tape Purse/Wallet

In my college days, I went through a phase where I made things out of duct tape. It started with a wallet, then a purse to hold the wallet in, then a messenger bag that became my regular school bag... until I was actually stopped in the Pit by someone who said "Hey, did you make that? Are you... you're the duct tape girl!" Out of a school of tens of thousands, I was a "Hey! It's that girl!" I'll take pride in that.

Well, the VA State Fair has a few categories for duct tape creations, and I decided to enter (though I had nothing made, and no real time to make it). I made this set yesterday, and am so proud of it that I am including it, though it has no stitches, sewn, knit, crocheted, tatted or otherwise...

There is nothing but duct tape in this. The outside is classic silver duct tape, the inside is white, with purple and white trim, puple handles, and an interior pocket lined with purple. The wallet is purple with white polka dot, white lining, and silver interior fold.

I started with the base, making a sheet of duct tape with a silver and a white side. I trimmed it to a rectangle, and folded it to the purse shape. The pocket was made from the trimmings, with a double-sided purple layer that adhered to the inside, and was reinforced with white stripes that blended into the lining. The exterior stripes were easy, but the straps... I had to think about them. I ended up making two long, narrow strips of purple (a tri-folded strip of tape), and slit the bag, pulled the strips through and knotted, then reinforced the interior with white tape.

I missed playing with duct tape!!

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posted by Unknown on @ 12:20 AM

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Plastic Bag Bag


While I've done a lot of bag saving, folding, cutting, joining and crocheting, this is my first actually finished plastic bag bag - and it's not technically made of plastic bags. Working on a tip from another poster at Crochetville, I used mainly plastic tablecloths (like you get for parties), and working on ANOTHER tip, I used copious amounts of vaseline on the hook to make it glide a little easier. I cut the plastics into 1-1/2" strips, and used an I hook to make this cute little tote/purse.

For the base I actually used 2" strips (to add bulk and stability). I crocheted a simple rectangle of desired size, then surface crocheted around the edge. I crocheted into the surface crochet, and then just went up from there, adding color bands as I saw fit :-) When I wanted handles I chained 35 (with two strands held together, for strength) and skipped about 15 spaces. I have to say, since this was on the fly I think it ended a tad lopsided, with a couple extra stitches on one side. On the next round I crocheted into each chain, and on the last round I worked a 3sc-tog at each join. Then, I reverse sc-ed around the top for finishing. My only trim was around of surface crochet just under the cording. Weave and trim some ends, flip it inside out and... voila!

I'm sorry the picture didn't turn out better, because now I can't take a picture for about 3 weeks since it's at the State Fair (category - Trash to Treasure (Misc)). The main color is bright purple, with a multi-colored speck (originally white with balloon print) and bright yellow accents.

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posted by Unknown on Saturday, September 23, 2006 @ 11:56 PM

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Lions and ... well, just lions. And just one. So, Lion

Have I ever mentioned that I am really, really good at coming up with projects to do? I am really, really good at figuring out how to make something. Once I've figured it out, and know it will work, I'm really, really bad at finishing. Grr.

Here is one of those things that I "almost" finished two years ago. I started a set of stuffed animals for my daughter's nursery, to match the animals on the border. I finished finished the bear, then finished-almost this lion, then finished finished the giraffe, and have half an elephant and a dream of a rhinoceros in a bag in the craft room.

What did I have to finish on the lion? The whiskers! I used chenille pipe cleaners, inserted into a knit I-cord. The entire lion was done with Caron Simply Soft and an H hook. The head and body is one piece, then 4 legs, 2 ears, a nose, and 9 or 10 pieces of the mane, plus a flat tail. The eyes are just embroidered on. I am really happy with the way it turned out, and so is my daughter (she wasn't quite as happy when I took it away, but that's a story for another blog...).

Here's hoping the VA State Fair judges like it as much as Kaitlyn!

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posted by Unknown on @ 11:24 PM

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63 Squares Afghan is DONE!

Well, a long time ago (or at least it seems like a long time ago), I posted about the 63 Squares afghan I was making for my dear, dear husband.

I am proud to report that it is done!!

After finishing all of the squares, I crocheted them together in strips, then the strips together, then around the outside. For joining, I placed the squares (and then strips) back-to-back and then (slip stitched in the right-most stitch of front piece, ch1, slip stitch in coordinating stitch on back piece, ch 1), repeat across. When it was all attached, I sc-ed twice around the afghan, then reverse sc-ed an edging.

As far as the squares themselves, I did alter a number of them from the written directions. Mainly the ones that had densely packed puffy stitches in rows. I thought these looked bad, so I "thinned" them, by skipping every other "puff", and staggered the rows of puffs.

The ends may be a little uneven and the edges a touch wavy, but considering there are 63 different squares in this afghan, I choose to overlook the imperfections and just be happy with how well it turned out and how much my husband will love it.

Here comes the really fun part: this was a secret afghan (done while he was at work, off and on over six months), and his birthday is at the end of October. He is a huge cheerleader of my work, and is the encourager for me to enter things in the fair. So I entered this in the state fair, and will wrap the picture of the afghan in birthday paper and carry it with us to the fair, and present him with it that way. I hope he's surprized (he has a tendency to snoop, so he probably already knows, but he feigns ignorance well :-) )!

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posted by Unknown on @ 10:58 PM

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Christening Dress Pattern Test

I had mostly finished this christening dress that I was testing the pattern for (all but the blocking and the actual buttons), but actually sucked it up and finished completely to enter it in the fairs this year. The Chesterfield County Fair has already passed, and it took Third Place for children's apparel (crocheted). I didn't make a soaker (diaper cover) to go with the dress, or line it, so I'm not really suprized it took third; I mainly wanted to show off the hours and hours spent on the dress, to be honest!

The picture to the left shows the back, and the one to the right shows a closeup of the skirt detailing. My picture of the bodice didn't turn out very well, so you can't see so clearly that it is smocked, by use of alternating FPdc and BPdc. This also makes a dense fabric, added to the fact it is crocheted with a size 9 hook and size 10 thread ... my hand did cramp a bit, but the result is lovely, if I do say so. The bodice and sleeves are turned at the end of each row, instead of rounds, so the bits without smocking lay nice and flat.

This took about 1-1/2 skeins of DMC Baroque size 10 thread (clearly in white), plus 3 pearlized buttons. If you want to tell the designer how beautiful the design is, click here for her blog.

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posted by Unknown on @ 10:20 PM

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Secret Pal Strikes Again!

Thank you , Imma!!

Look at this amazing package I received today from my Secret Pal, Imma. Included was a card and 4 packages wrapped in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas paper (since I had said that getting such wonderful packages was like Christmas :-) ) My daughter wanted to help me unwrap the presents, but I decided it would be best to curb my curiosity for 15 minutes until she could go down for a nap.

And like Christmas morning it was! First I opened a fabric hook case; just what I needed to go in my "Bunny Bag" (an all-in-one on-the-go bag)! Then a lovely doily, delicately edged handkerchief, and very special addition to my collection (each of which has more details below).

Here is the doily, and a closeup thereof. Imma, you don't give yourself enough credit; it's amazing, and I love it!

A lovely edged hankie, edged in my favorite color - blue! It's really the funniest thing, I was just looking at a pattern for hankies and edgings in a book I have for Anne of Green Gables era things and thinking how wonderful it would be to have a hankie. I don't know why I would need it, practically, but since when am I practical? In all of the etiquette books I have, everyone carries a hankie. Which brings me to...

A wonderful addition to my vintage etiquette book collection! Imma really went out of her way to find this for me, and wow does it show that she is picking out goodies just for me :-) This book is called Book of Etiquette, Volume II by Lillian Eichler, and was published in 1923. Etiquette books like these give such a glimpse of the world of that time. I read through these books and visit places like Biltmore Estate and can just see and hear the people running to and fro, having riding parties and "subscription balls" and dressing to a "T".

Without etiquette books, how would I know that:
"When a bachelor invites several men and women friends to dine on his yacht, or to take a short cruise, it is absolutely bad form to omit the chaperon. She must be a married woman, and she may join the party with or without her husband. Another important point regarding yachting parties; the host must supply a gig or rowboat to carry his guests to and from the shore, and he must stand on the gangway to greet each as he arrives, and assist him to the deck of the yacht."

That's good advice, people.

And on the same day that I got such a lovely gift from my SP, I also received my catalog from Handy Hands Tatting, introduced to me by none other than Imma! Along with the catalog came a preview of their newsletter subscription, and a step-by-step set of illustrated instructions in needle tatting. Now, I have been eyeing tatting books, but have been able to resist, but now that I have the instructions and a few patterns in my very own hands, I don't know how long I will be able to resist trying this new technique!

Hopefully long enough to put finishing touches on the items I must drop off at the fairgrounds this Friday (or Saturday)!

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posted by Unknown on Monday, September 18, 2006 @ 5:15 PM

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Button!

Well, I have been updating my blog with the buttons of swaps and sites and such, that I had just never figured out how to put in my sidebar before.

I became so inspired that I made a button for THIS blog!


This is the larger size, but most blog links I've seen use about a 100px wide button, so here is the smaller size:

posted by Unknown on Friday, September 15, 2006 @ 11:30 PM

2 comments

When you can't show anything...

Well, I feel kind of bad about not posting anything in a while, since I got back in the habit of posting. It is tough when you are making secret things, and people might be "nosing about!"

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingFirst off, people might be nosing about because of the Autumn Secret Pals Swap at Crochetville. You saw below what I got in my wonderful first package from my secret pal, but keep in mind that I am working on projects for my "Known Pal" (the person whose secret pal is me). Once true identities have been revealed, I have some fun pictures to share, as I've made some things I'm very proud of for my very cool Known Pal.

Another reason people are nosing is that Christmas is coming. And a few birthdays. Why, oh why, did I let so many people know about my blog? :-) But, seriously, I am so mysterious recently, with all of my projects!

A few things I CAN share aren't pictures. I got my tags today for the State Fair of VA. I'm entering a few items (but can't disclose, yet, for secrecy reasons... doh!), and entering the Nimble Fingers Speed Crochet contest last year. It was so much fun!

Also, I am designing my own doily! It's nothing fancy, but I am so proud of it. I just wanted to play around while making some orange doilies for my mother-in-law's fall decorating, instead of doing all from patterns. Lots of frogging involved, when you want to change even one little thing, but what a sense of accomplishment already!

As a PS: It is possible for me to end a sentence, and even a paragraph without an exclamation point. But I get so excited about crochet! Anyone who has ever talked to me knows that I actually just get that excited when I talk... period. And I type very much like I talk. Only when I'm talking to someone I generally let them get a few words in edgewise. But that's what comments are for in the world of blogs. I really wanted to end that sentence with an exclamation point, but I refrained.

posted by Unknown on @ 5:08 PM

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After looking at the Crochet Stitch Bible for nearly a year now, and having dedicated funds since Christmas, I now own it!

Why did it take so long? The one copy at our local JoAnn has a tear in the spine casing. I didn't want to buy it (even with a coupon) with the tear. My gift card was to JoAnn (or Michaels- I had a few), and I didn't want to spend shipping when I was sure I could just "wait it out" until they got a new copy.

Finally, I asked when that might be. Not until they sold this one. Ahh. I guess I will buy it online after all.

Then the manager said she would sell me that copy for 50% of the price, and I said "I'll take it" (yes, the extra 10% does matter. My husband's cheapness is rubbing off on me, maybe, but I think really it's the principle of the matter).

Exciting!

Only now I'm on a doily streak, so the afghans I will mostly use it for will have to wait.

posted by Unknown on Wednesday, September 06, 2006 @ 4:56 PM

1 comments

Doily Swap Received!


This is the absolute stunning doily I received from Lavelle26 (aka Anna) in the Crochetville Doily Swap. This picture does absolutely no justice to the gorgeousness that is this doily. You can tell it is a beautiful doily. But what you can't see is each of the intricate details - spiraling center, crossing arches, and spiral spans. You can't feel how softly it drapes and the body it has. You can't tell how perfect the color is or how the thread's sheen catches the light just so.

This was my first exposure to a Patricia Kristofferson doily design. I now own two of her books! I was enjoying making doilies, but now I am hooked (no pun intended)(but now that I note it, yes, pun intended).

Let me tell you a little about how special this doily is: First, Anna interviewed me, because she wanted to make sure she picked a doily that would go so well with my house I couldn't help but display it. She looked through pattern books and says this one said "Make me for Katherine! I'm the doily for her!" (very smart doily pattern, that one). Then, she crafted the most exquisite doily I have ever seen. It is in my living room, and sometimes, when I'm walking into the room unprepared, it catches me again with it's startling beauty and I have to take it all in again.

Also, Anna was just a pleasure to exchange emails. Hooray for swaps, Crochetville, and new friends.

And here is a plug for Anna's site (so you can see what awesome work she does - Lullabies & Lace

Thank you, Lavelle26 (Anna)!!!

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posted by Unknown on @ 12:26 AM

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My Second Doily -Doily Swap

This was my contribution to the Doily Swap. I believe the name was "Grapes Galore". I made this for GoldKeeper (aka Ana), who wanted a classic looking doily. I thought this one was great, and it was a lot of fun to make. Well, I don't love popcorns, and I don't love picots, but I am falling madly in love with making doilies!!

This was before I discovered Cebilia thread, so the best I could get was DMC Baroque (not that there is anything wrong with that! but Cebilia glides so when you're crocheting), again in ecru (I just think it looks timeless).

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posted by Unknown on Tuesday, September 05, 2006 @ 11:57 PM

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My First Doily

This pattern is called Hospitality. Pineapples are a symbol of Southern Hospitality, so all of the pineapples in this pattern make the doily live up to the name!

This was my first doily ever. It's pretty darn big. I'd guess about 27". I used DMC Baroque thread in size 10, and it sat balled up for nearly a month before I got up the guts and determination to block it. What a difference 100 rust free pins, water, spray starch and a starch board makes!

I actually entered in the Chesterfield County Fair, and it won a blue ribbon - yay!

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posted by Unknown on @ 11:35 PM

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Thank You, Imma!

My secret pal, "Imma" (as in "Imma Secret"), sent me this wonderful Secret Pal Birthday Package. All I can say is WOW. The pictures do no justice to how gorgeous these doilies are. All three are Patricia Kristofferson doilies. The lavender is size 40 thread, the lilac is 20, and the rose and ecru is size 10. Also included was a wonderful note and two bars of Imma's favorite French soaps. So lovely smelling and wonderful!

I got the package just as we were leaving for White Lake, so I was able to share my present (well, viewing... like I was giving any away!!! I'm far to selfish and in love with these doilies!) with someone who truly appreciates them - my Aunt Whee. We marveled at the details, even stitching, and delicate balance in neatly blocked but still drape-y. We also both wondered where Imma found such lovely colors of smaller threads. I can't find anything but white and ecru in 20 and white only in 10. Perhaps I need to look online; I've heard of several sites with many choices.

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posted by Unknown on @ 11:10 PM

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