Monday, May 28, 2012

Some Principles Transcend Time and Place

In the Presidio, San Francisco, CA
photo taken summer, 2008

"In a house ... near our camp lives a woman with her daughter and two small sons. Her oldest is in the ... Army. She asked for a guard, and I went over with a corporal and a guard to investigate. They were very much alarmed and said they were afraid of our men. I left the guard. This is a sample of what we are doing ... . The men are fighting against their country, and we are guarding their families and even feeding them. But humanity demands this much."

All For the Union: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes

Friday, May 25, 2012

It's a Teva Durham Moment

The remaining mere 5 grams of
Kiddie Print on the left; the
shockingly red Drops Vivaldi in the
center, and the blooming rhodie
from the yard above them
Finished projects, for me, are in some instances more a matter of pleasantly aligning events. My projects this week definitely fall into this category.

I am a big fan of Teva Durham. Former editor of Vogue Knitting and sewer supreme, she's one of the edgy design names in knitting and crochet today. Her Loop-d-Loop series of books (one knit, one crochet) are design tour-de-forces. She's also got a line of yarn (Loop-d-Loop, produced by Takhi Stacy Charles) as well as other knit books.

I've been a big fan of the Loop-d-Loop books. I had two skeins of Laines du Nord Kiddie Print that I wanted to do something fun with. I also wanted to whip up yet another piece of neck/shoulder ware (I do really need to start branching out with greater regularity ... but that's another blog post). All of these things combined pleasantly when I looked through the Durham book and stumbled upon the Sidesaddle Stitch wrap. It was a Eureka! moment. I present (below) my Shibori-esque Bobble Shawlette:

At just under 460 yards and 20" x 42", this was a very quick crochet - as well as shorter than the original wrap. The best part is the bobble edging on either short end. Since I used mohair (and added a strand of Drops Vivaldi in a shocking shade of red so the bobbles are just that much rounder), I found that I could weave the bobbles of one end into the lace at the other end and the shawlette stays together nicely, with no need for a shawl pin. I like this wee little discovery.

Pardon all the sunshine - but can
you see how the bobbles interlace?

 Now if only I would use the Cascade Eco+ I have in stash in a lovely shade of red for a sweater I've been dying to make ...

Finally, I also started another quick project from the book - it's a hat, and I'm almost done piecing it together.

I used left-over sock yarn from my Big Fat Crocheted Shawly Scarf, and I love the motif as well as the color combination. The construction is a little interesting on this hat, which is making for some fiddly finishing. I'm going to gift it, so hopefully the colors will brighten someone's day.

You all know the drill - don't forget to check in over at Andrea's blog and get your fiber fill on this holiday weekend (for those in the U.S.). I hope you take the time, in your own unique way, to remember why we take time out for a Memorial Day weekend.

And then get your b-b-q and craft on.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More Publishing Stuff

This all-Noro pattern book will be getting
some company in my physical library very soon
It seems I can't get out of the way of news regarding new fiber publications. Have you heard the venerable Noro line of yarns is publishing it's own hand knit and crochet magazine? Hang on to your color hats, everyone - the first edition of Noro Magazine is due to be released into the colorful, yarny wild this June. A preview of many of the patterns in the first edition can be viewed - and wait until you see the gems for the making.

While the bulk of patterns in this first edition are knit, there are a few crochet pieces - Yoko Hatta's crocheted slippers, done in Kureyon, should be a big hit (and I don't do socks and slippers!). No doubt for me, the star is the gorgeous use of color and texture throughout the magazine. It is eye-poppingly wonderful. You just want to reach out and touch all of the garments and accessories.

And Noro is slated to publish an all-crochet edition in the fall. Oh yeah.

You know this magazine will make it to my physical library. I'm already rearranging space in my mind as I write this.

What are your favorites? And how many of you already have the Noro in stash to get started? Definitely let me know in the comments below.

UPDATED 5/23/12: A correction above: the crochet book being published in the fall is not affiliated with Noro Magazine, but a Sixth & Spring publication, which can be preordered.

Monday, May 21, 2012

May the Mirror Ball Twirl at Half Mast

We've lost two voices very recently in the music world - Robin Gibb and Donna Summer.

For all of you who danced your way through the 70s, you couldn't have done it without these two voices; Donna Summer in particular. Beep beep, indeed.

We dim all the lights, sweet darlings, one last time.

Friday, May 18, 2012

It's a Good Time To Be a Crafter

Despite our tough economic times (or perhaps because of them), there has never been a better time to be a crafter. There is a wealth of craft information, resources, and quality materials - I have never known a better time to source all of the excellent yarns readily available today. The same goes for books and patterns - such a wide range of styles and techniques, and with the advent of e-publishing, more ways than ever to get your crafty fix. It definitely warms the cockles of my designing heart.

Along those lines, I thought I'd fill you in on two new publications in the works. I note that while I currently have no contributions slated to be published in either work, I won't deny that might change! Nevertheless, both are worth a look because they will be taking approaches I (and believe many other designers and artisans) value - fresh and interdisciplinary.

First up is the newest effort from Cooperative Press, Knit Edge Magazine. Here is how Shannon Okey, CP's founder/owner/gal-who-does-everything recently described it:

     "I kept getting a lot of feedback after my last editorial gig that readers really missed the in-depth articles, the super-meaty good stuff I liked to publish. Articles about art knitting. About historical stuff. You know -- not another 'hey look it’s [insert something you’ve seen 800 times before]!' And since CP has a lot of books like that, or in the works, well…it all started to resolve itself into a clearer picture of what needed to be done. ... There will be patterns, but it won’t be a pattern-oriented magazine. If I had to compare it to existing or previous mags I would say it’s more FiberArts or Yarn Market News, and less Interweave Knits or VK."

Knit Edge Magazine will be an e-publication with, potentially, a print end-of-year best-of edition. I must admit, I'm not so certain about the Yarn Market News connection, since YMN (from the same people that bring you VK) is a publication geared to yarn shops owners, is not readily available to most of the general public, and is very narrow in focus. Despite those caveats, Knit Edge Magazine should have the distinctive CP fresh look and feel. Look for it, I think, sometime this fall.

Additionally, Genet Quarterly is the newest vision from Hannah Thiessen - who's currently in Uruguay finishing up the latest Malabrigo pattern book. From her Kickstarter page, here's Hannah's description:

     Genet Quarterly is an "inspirational" -- a devotional for crafty and creative folk who love seeking out and learning about different topics that help them keep inspired while creating. Each issue focuses on a carefully selected topic and visually explores subject matter related or connected to that topic through fashion, textiles, home decor, and artisan handiwork. In addition, the topic is explored through insightful articles written by knowledgeable crafters and researchers.

The first edition, which will be available as a free pdf download, is scheduled for a September publication. I'm certain Hannah would greatly appreciate any funding you'd like to add to her Kickstarter.

It's going to be a great fall for craft. I can't wait.

Don't forget to get over to Andrea's blog and see what everyone else is excited about. Have a great, crafty, weekend!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

On the State of American Craft

I managed to catch the latest installment of Craft In America - I missed the first 7 installments, so I'm a little behind the curve. Nevertheless, the current hour deals with quilters and weavers in several different contexts.

While I neither quilt nor weave, I loved and respected the art each of these crafters created and continue to create. This is definitely a glimpse into mindful, slow, deliberate, and in all cases, collaborative crafting. It also prominently displays four unique, singular visions. That's what is great about art - individuality within collaboration and community.

You can view the previous 7 installments here. Check your local PBS station to see if a repeat of last week's Craft in America installment may be available - it's absolutely worth your while to watch.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Number is Eight

With this week's email came news that pattern #8 of mine will be published between now and the end of the year. Eight. I am certain all of you must be wondering exactly when the published pattern parade will begin. Quite frankly, so am I. I think anytime after June is looking like a fairly safe bet.

In the meantime, I started that excellent cushion cover I wrote about last week from Star Crochet 2:

Isn't it just good, round fun? I'm done with that part of the cover, and am now working on the other side. Hopefully, I'll have it finished for next week.

Finally, back on the 21st of April, I blogged about a pay-it-forward scheme in which I'm taking part. Two people have responded and will receive a gift from me, made especially for them, sometime within the next year. There's still one more spot, so if anyone would like to receive a hand-made gift when they least expect it ...

Now definitely check in over at Andrea's blog to see what other kinds of good fun everyone else is getting into this Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday.

And to all the mothers - have a happy day this Sunday!

A p.s. to Vivianne over at Kismet's Companion - here's the close-up of that awesome gray mohair kid seta I received recently in a swap. Can you see the bling? It definitely looks better than the current state of your bathroom.

Friday, May 4, 2012

And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday

Yes, no more Knitting and Crochet Blogging Week shenanigans, we're back to all things fibery and finished.

Prior to last week, I wrote about the crocheted scarf/shawl I was working on that was using up bits of stash, as well as some serious sock yarn. Well, it's done, and I couldn't be happier with how the colors worked up.
Admittedly it will be saved for this fall, but I love how this turned out. I've got enough left from a few of the sock yarn skeins to make a beret ... which I think I'll make later in the summer.

Additionally this week, I have a completed summer cowl to share. This is a really easy Berroco pattern - Galinhos - from booklet #305. Since the living space rearrange, I've been eyeing this summer yarn and wanted to make something with it. The light pink Reynolds Mandalay is 100% silk, and the contrasting yarn is Classic Elite Flash, a 100% mercerized cotton, both of which have been in my stash since last spring. I'm pretty pleased with how quickly it worked up ... and how versatile these colors will be in the summer. I do need to break out of the neckware, however.

But that's another blog entry.

Now head on over to Andrea's blog to see what everyone else is whipping up for wearing in the summer sun. And remember - let's be fibery careful out there!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy May Day ... and a Quick Book Review

To celebrate workers everywhere (and that includes all of the textile, fiber workers and designers out there!) I thought I'd share a quick book review.

Even though Star Crochet 2 has a 2011 Japanese publica-tion date and has received scant recognition, it deserves rave reviews for a number of reasons - not the least of which is the strength of the designs. A few of my favorites? The cover bag is most excellent, as are the utility boxes above; my most favorite of the collection - these cushion covers:

One of the unique strengths of this book is the deep design exploration of and collection creation around just one stitch: the star stitch (or the 5-star Marguerite stitch, on page 185 for all of you who have Interweave Press's Basic Crochet Stitches, part of their Harmony Guides series). The stitch itself is rather appealing; combining it with other stitch patterns creates fabrics with strength, texture and just flat-out good looks. This concept of exploring the design benefits of just one stitch is a somewhat unconventional approach in our crochet publishing world - we might explore a single technique - but not a single stitch. Star Crochet 2 (and I haven't seen the first volume, but I'm on the hunt for it!) has done a masterful job in this regard.

The second big strength is the straightforward, yet playful presentation of the finished samples. All set against a blue and white background, the pieces are shown either being used in their essential function, and/or with simple props that underscore shape or color or texture, or in an amusing manner. One of my favorites:

it gets my best-use-of-stuffed-squirrel award.

Finally, the material is excellently presented for those who are visual learners. Because the book is written in Japanese, I could not rely on the sparse copy for any help with written instructions. However, there are almost five pages of pictoral instruction on how to create the star stitch. Five pages! Additionally, each project contains, in many instances, a complete chart. So, for example, the cushion cover is crafted in two halves of 22 rows - and virtually all 22 rows are charted in their entirety. If one can read crochet charts, these projects will be easily reproduced.

As I'm certain you noticed, I have borrowed my copy from my local library. In fact, that's how I found out about the title - I regularly do a quick database search, by keyword and date, to see what's new in the database. This was one of the titles that came up in search results about six weeks ago. There was also a wait list for the title.

It doesn't surprise me.

Star Crochet 2 definitely gets two crafty thumbs up.