Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Some Brazilian embroidery resources

When my P-I-C and I took that embroidery class recently, the instructor generously shared some great websites for Brazilian embroidery stitches and threads. I've used both (stitches and threads) in my sampler, and I have to say, I'm a big fan of the Brazilian!

(I'm letting that one just sit there, folks. There are only so many Brazilian jokes a person can make before one's ladylike reputation is forever sullied. Ha HA! Ladylike reputation. I realize I may've crossed that line so long ago that this act of restraint is like putting lipstick on a shitpile. But I can try, right?)

(Wow! This just got so unnecessarily gross! I was just trying to share some embroidery resources and then I'm all lipstick and shitpiles. Please forgive me. My back still hurts a bit. Well, in all honesty, it hurts just enough to blame it for my impaired judgement, but not so much that I can't tell I'm out of line. Shitpile! My apologies.)

And... we're back.

So, I haven't done extensive research on this. But, one resource that is very appealing is Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery. It's got all kinds of glorious things on it from designs, to stitch guides, and tips for supplies and getting started.

Click on the image below or here for some free designs. Edited to add: This image below is from their site. I am quite confident that my skills are not yet up to this level. Oh, and I blame my back for my lack of clarity on this initially. Shitpile!

Pretty, right? I really like those branches with the little french knots on them.

Click here or on these bullions for a basic stitch guide:

Our instructor said that the best Brazilian thread can be difficult to locate, but she gave JDR a glowing review. For the link to their thread offerings, click here or on the wig of threads below:

This thread comparison chart is useful because the weights of the threads have names that do not describe their weight (names like Lola and Nova, for example). So this chart seems like it would help match your Brazilian threads to your Brazilian needs.

For what it's worth, I think there's something really great about this thread. (Real embroiderers, please forgive this lay person's description.) It's kind of shiny, but not too shiny, and it's a little slick, but not too slick. I've found it very fun to use as a result.

All that being said, my back and I continue to hold out hope that someday soon you too will be overtaken by every craft under the sun. And then you'll join me in ordering wigs and wigs of threads to make bullion after ever-loving bullion.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

You know what hurts?

My back.

You know why?


I was just sitting, minding my own godforsaken business, and my back went right out. Out! And then I cried and said the F-word a lot. And now I'm trying to figure out the best position to be in and what kinds of activities are do-able.

Washing dishes? Nope.
Making the bed? Nope.
Making a meal for myself? Not really, but that is kind of unrelated to my current back.
Knitting? Probably not the best idea, but I'm gonna give it a shot.

So, instead of some great knitting or crafting related post, I give you If-I'm-not-careful-this-will-be-Hobby-96:

Note: Thanks to my wasband, you'll find that this image is the first on my site to actually link to another site. Hooray for my wasband!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Quiltie, Quiltie, Quiltie

I just don't know what to tell you. It's been so very warm here, Quiltie. This makes it virtually impossible to attend to you. Do I have to continue wadding you so? No. No, I don't. For that, I sincerely apologize. Yes, yes, my apologies mean nothing to you. Of course they don't. Time and time again I've wadded you up and ignored you.

You do get the best seat in the house, though. So, you've got that going for you. What?! You do!

All I can say, Quiltie, is that someday the streets of Los Angeles will not be so clogged with cars, and the sky will not be so thick with smog, and it will be cold again. And then, sweet Quiltie, I assure you that I shall place my loving hands on you and continue the lovely hand-quilting we both enjoy.

(I can't tell you how rageful this quilt is right now. I mean, really. Seething, scary quilt rage. I've placed the photographic evidence above so that if I turn up missing, you'll have a photo of angry Quiltie to pass on to the authorities. I thank you.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

P.S. and FYI

P.S. I left a very important piece of information out of my post about wanting a craft room. I left it out because I thought, "Why include The Woman Who Never Steers Me Wrong in a rant about Pottery Barn, when I could just give her her propers the right way?"

So. To follow: propers the right way.

What would you say the chances are that you know an incredibly exceptional person? High? Not so high? Ok, well, what are the chances you know an incredibly exceptional person who has, in addition to being exceptional, also created the most incredible craft room you've ever seen? Well, I'd say the chances are quite small. That's what I'd say. So, what if I told you that the Woman Who Never Steers Me Wrong (Except For The One Time With The Knitting, But She's Not A Knitter) is that person. Seriously.

Exceptional person + creator and owner of one kick-ass craft room = the WWNSMW (EFTOTWTKBSNAK).

I realize I don't know you and/or exactly what you've seen in your life, but I'm here to tell you her room is at the tippy top of the best you'll ever see. If you like your crafts organized, woo-howdy, you will really like what she's up to.

(I'm realizing now that if I can convince her to let me take and post pictures of this room, I haven't really done the best Expectation Management here on the front end. I kind of accidently sold the shit out of it, huh?)

But her room has shelves! And systems! And dowels! And bobbins! And...oh jeez, I think I'm getting faint. Maybe she'll just let me show you. If she does, it'll be kinda like naughty pictures for nerds. Or geeks. Or people who just like their things to look real nice. Won't that be awesome?

FYI: Here's what I just realized that's hilarious. When you turn "But She's Not A Knitter" into an acronym, you get "B-SNAK." Ha HA! Guess what, ali b? You just got yourself a nickname! Well, a better nickname. One that can actually roll off the tongue (the WWNSMW? You don't even really try to say that, right?).

All hail, B-SNAK and her glorious, glorious craft room!

P.P.S. Take that, Pottery Barn.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Moving right along

Progress on the embroidery sampler.

Photos of the birth of this project here. And if you scroll down a bit here, you'll see where I was just before this.

It's so liberating to just try things out without the pressure of it being a certain thing. If this turns into an actual item, that'll just be a bonus as far as I'm concerned.

In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions for what I might do with it once it's complete, I'd love to hear them. (Keep in mind there's still more to be added to it, and it will be pretty three-dimensional when it's done.)

I really do welcome any and all ideas, since I might tire of this "liberating" experience and need some pressure to finish it already.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

These are the people in my neighborhood

It's times like this, I wish I could draw.

I just went out to redeem my coupon for a free coffee at my local corporate coffeeshop (coupon!), and my neighborhood was teeming with all kinds of amazing (read: shocking) people. At 3:00 on a Wednesday afternoon! I'll stick to the highlights and refer you to a prior post about my love of the overheard/seen.

A woman in line was wearing the most eye make-up I've ever seen on someone who wasn't about to take a curtain call. She was also wearing a necklace that had a big, puffy heart/locket thing that was covered in diamonds. But when I say covered, I mean CUH-UHVERED. I think when it caught my eye, I actually said "wow" out loud, only I stopped myself at "Wuh" because I didn't want to be rude.

A sheriff in uniform asked me if I was in line, and then muttered something about not being able to figure out which way the line was going. And that made me nervous. Because he's an enforcement official on duty, and he couldn't figure out how to get in line. (Trust me when I wrinkle my nose and say to you, it wasn't a vague situation.)

There was a man sitting at a table, and it looked like he'd finished his hot beverage some time ago. He was slowly reviewing the contents of his wallet, but I think he really wanted to be checking people out. I don't know if it was the eye job or the hair plugs that he'd recently gotten (or neither), but he was moving quite slowly.

MAN UNDERGOING WALLET REVIEW (inside voice): Let's see here... valet parking stub. Yes. (Slowly moves it to the back of the stack.) Another parking stub. Right. (Back of the stack.) Hm. What's this? (Slowly unfolds piece of paper. Looks closely.) Prescription. Hmm. (Reads.) Yes. Yes. Well. (Folds. Moves to back of stack. Looks up without moving his head.) Who is that? (Moves eyeballs left.) And what is he doing here? (Absent-mindedly and without looking moves the next item to the back of the stack.) Parking stub. Yes. Hm, another prescription?

I looked away at this point. How many stubs and prescriptions can one fellow have, for crying out loud? Seriously. He freaked me out.

Across from him was a skinny blonde dude who had his laptop open, and he was reading something on it while cutting an apple with a knife. Like a kitchen knife. Like a knife he'd brought with him from home to cut his apple into little wedges one at a time. I had to look away from this almost immediately for about twelve thousand reasons. I must've not gotten full-on scared because there was a sheriff right there, but I think I forgot it was a man who didn't know how getting in line works.

There was a guy with face tattoos, and the bank manager Steve and his frosted tips, and the little dog wearing a sweater who was tied up outside and craning his little neck to see his owner (Awwwww!). But, the capper was, as I was walking home, I saw a woman walking into the gym whose workout pants were so low on her hips, not only did I feel like a prude and all embarrassed just looking at her, but I also felt like I had to add her to my list of people I've had intimate relations with. I saw that much. Dear Diary, today I saw a lady's special parts. And I didn't even mean to. Love, Dr. B.

Sing along, everyone: Sooooo, those are the people in my neighborhood. The people that I meet. Each. Day!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pottery Barn has good intentions

Ah, organizing. As you may know, I find organizing so pleasing that I've used the hard sciences to determine that it is 50% of the fun of crafing.

So, it follows then, that I would love a crafting room. It would be so dreamy to have a whole room that would be beautiful and light with dedicated space for each of my 95 (is it up to 95 now?) hobbies. Nooks for my yarn. Shelves for my fabric. Slots for my collection of cardstock. A place for my boxes of (impeccably organized) unmounted rubber stamps. Places for scissors, needles, threads, inks, rulers, glues, paints...the list, I am a little ashamed to say, goes on and on.

So, it's like Pottery Barn divined my dream and thought they'd make it come true. Match made in heaven, right? Here's the hip and casual lifestyle they themselves have convinced me I want, married with the organizing I've convinced myself I do. Just one problem.

This is weak. Weak!

Let's start with that hanging cabinet/shelf with the dowels and the corkboard on the doors. Do they honestly think a real crafter would find this useful? Look at it. It has three dowels for wrapping paper or ribbon or whatever, and a little shelf above it that looks tiny. I'm willing to be wrong, but this appears to be virtually useless for the hard-core crafter. Nay, even the medium-core crafter would have issues with this. Oh, wait. I just looked more closely at it, and there are little chalkboards on the other side of the doors. So, that makes it worth THREE. HUNDRED. DOLLARS. What?! (Yeah, they're charging $299 US for that thing. And, I'm no dummy. That's really like $300.)

So let's move on to that middle island table. Do you see how they have all of their supplies shoved over to one side of the table top? You mean to tell me that shit is not gonna fall right off the side in about half a second? And do you see how there are more rolls of wrapping paper in the side of that island? Don't you want all your rolls of paper in one place - not some in the 300-dollar cabinet and some under the table? Isn't that part of the reason one organizes - to have everything in one place?

Argh. I could continue. I could talk about the discomfort that my back already feels thinking about sitting on that barstool while I craft. I could talk about how ridiculous it is that I have so much stuff. But, I'll just leave you with my sense that someday, somewhere, somehow, someone will devise a craft room so perfect I shall go in it and never leave. And that, my friends, will be heaven. (Well, all my friends would have to be there. And my dog. And my family. But, you get the idea.)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Not sure I thought this through

As I've mentioned, sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake. Not dim or thoughtless. Just a little slow.

When my sidekick and I went to San Francisco recently, people were wearing all these incredibly cool knitted items -- great wraps and shawls and sweaters and scarves. There may've even been some super-cool fingerless gloves in there. So cute and cozy! So functional! I was all, "I love knitting!" And they were all, "Yeah! We come up with some great patterns and yarns here, and we look so cute wearing them all the time!" And I was all, "Woo hoo! Knitting!"

It was on that trip that it became painfully obvious to me that I live in a warm place. More specifically, I live in a place where knitting delicious items just may well be ill-advised, since It. Is. Not. Cold. Here.

Not. Cold. As in, it was 83oF today (28oC). It's the end of October, people! Aren't we supposed to be cozying up with a warm beverage, watching football, and wearing DELICIOUS KNITTED ITEMS? This afternoon, I turned the air conditioner on, poured myself a cold coke, and watched the football game. NUH Uh. Not. Cold.

In San Francisco, it's cold and blustery, so they need something like big, chunky scarves because it's cold, and they need to stay warm. Here? I don't know what we're doing here. In LA, big scarves are just preposterous. Like Hummers. Or Ugg boots. Or trucker hats. They might be necessary somewhere. But not here. Seriously. Just tell me: what it is about going out to dinner that requires that you drive a military vehicle there? Why are you wearing big snow boots with your miniskirt? The trucker hat trend is technically finished here in LA, thank god, because even truckers don't need those things.

I had a similar revelation about cosmetic products some years ago now. I grew up in Texas where make-up is mandatory. Not optional. MAN-datory. It wasn't until I left there and took a hard look at the whole thing that I realized that not everyone needs every product that's made. Just because they make really dark lip-liner doesn't mean you need it. (You don't all need it, people!)

So, I didn't really think the knitting through, and it just may be that my knitting for others is not an indication that I'm particularly generous. It may simply be that I picked a hobby that's incompatible with my climate. That's all. Sad.

Here's a close-up of one of those scarves I was talking about:

You're gonna have to trust me on this one, but both its big-ness and chunkiness make it a preposterous item for So Cal wear.

I will say that I have this small, fuzzy scarf that I do wear a lot when it gets a little cooler. It's small and kind of like a little Cookie Monster (if Cookie Monster were shaped like a scarf).

That reminds me...I went to college with the son of one of the guys who used to write for Sesame Street. We called the guy Bozo Raposo, because his last name was Raposo. And Bozo rhymed with Raposo. 'Cuz we were clever like that.

Mmmm. College. It was cold back there. So very knitted-items-required cold.

Friday, October 20, 2006

But what if his legs were the size of tree trunks?

Well, then, this sock would fit one of said legs perfectly.

I may be having a gauge problem, but I've decided it's too soon to tell such a thing. This picture makes it seem like the sock is fine. (As in, "FINE!")

No? Looks more like a sleeve, you say? Well.

I don't know. Maybe he prefers his socks to be a little less constraining than your average store-bought sock. Maybe he wants to rock that 80's scrunchie-socks-with-Keds look. (Oh, that would be unfortunate for all of us.) Maybe his love transcends any hard or fast requirements for adequate sock fit.

You can read the little history of this sock here and here.

It's fine. And by fine, I mean demoralized. And by it's, I mean me. So, there's the bad grammar of failure back for you: me demoralized.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Over-reaching, over-shmeaching

How long do you think it will take to turn these into wearable items? I've decided it will take exactly as long as I have between now and the end of December.

A side view of the materials for the "very-managable" projects ahead:

In the interest of full disclosure, there are four more balls of yarn just out of frame that are slated to meet that December deadline, too. And sadly, I think it's those balls that move my goals from the "ambitious" column to the "over-reaching" one.

Yup. "Those balls" and "over-reaching" all in one sentence.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Finishing. Who needs it?

All the Fancy Knitters will tell you that the key to making a knitted item look great is finishing. "It's all in the finishing," they say. They. Harumph. They love weaving in ends and blocking their items. I don't.

I know there's nothing special about me and my dislike for these necessary evils. Is there a club for people who don't like the finishing parts? I'll tell you right now that if there were such a club, we'd be a bunch of cool kids for sure. Too cool for school. Too cool to finish our fracking items. So very cool that we'd wear our shit around all jacked up and not care. Because we just don't like the finishing. And we're cool.

Non-knitters: Weaving in ends is taking all the long strings of yarn hanging off your work and tucking them in so they don't show, and so the garment doesn't completely unravel. Blocking is... ugh. I don't even want to explain it. Here. Just look.

This is what my scarf would look like if I blocked it -- if I pinned the sides of the scarf down so it would lie flat, and then used the tried and true finishing techniques handed down through the ages to ensure that it stays flat:

Ok, well, the edges wouldn't be rolling up like that if I'd blocked it.

Anyway, because I'm too cool for school, this is what my scarf actually looks like:
You know that all that jealousy isn't good for you, right?

This is the back side:

So. To review. "Blocked":

Too cool for school:

This particular endeavor was "inspired" by a scarf in last year's Banana Republic catalog. I quite liked it, and was sure I could make it. Even though I wasn't exactly sure how many stitches to cast on to make sure it was long enough, I figured some-hundred-and-something would work (It was last year. Who remembers last year?).

My scarf is definitely longer than the scarf in the catalog.

(By the way, I couldn't have rolled my scarf up like that if it had been blocked. Advantage: non-finishers.)

Um, also, have I mentioned that the scarf is very long?

I grant you that that if the scarf were flat (ok, blocked) it wouldn't look so much like a long, tubular...well, tube. It would look more like that Banana Republic scarf. Only better, because mine is made of Manos del Uruguay.

Wait a minute.

I wish you could see me feeling a slow burn and shaking my fists at the sky right now.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Return of The Clapper

A couple of years ago (but it seems like yesterday), my partner-in-crime and I jumped on the Clapotis bandwagon. Because we felt strange calling it the clap-oh-TEE as we were instructed, we went with the simpler, dirtier "The Clapper".

We chose a nice, soft alpaca from Suss. My P-I-C made hers in solid black, and I made mine in this brown and black tweedy color.

Hers ended up being an appropriate size. Mine is gi-normous.

I'd imagine I'm preaching to the knitting choir here, but this was one of the greatest projects ever. It's enough of a pattern to keep you interested, and not so much of a pattern that you have to pay super close attention once you've figured it out. Right? We, like many of you, long for another The Clapper.

As I write this I'm having a vague recollection of some trouble toward the end, though. Oh, yes. It's kind of coming back to me now. I stopped paying attention just long enough to blow it, and there was some horrible error. No. More like a series of horrible errors. I seem to recall the remedying including: LOTS of tinking (undoing each stitch one at a time), laddering some dropped stitches back up, going to my local yarn store to buy more needles (because I thought that would help somehow), making deflated calls to my P-I-C, and looking in every knitting book I owned and on every Clapotis site for fixes. It was bad. And sad. Each error begat another, and I thought it was all ruined.

Luckily, it all worked out! Looking back, that horrible part seems really inconsequential, and I long to make another! (This is another reason I won't have children. I'm too susceptible to the amnesia. I'd end up with six kids because I'd think childbirth had been totally FINE! I'd become six-kidded Laura on Project Runway. Only I wouldn't have the bazillion dollars or the swank New York apartment like she does. And ALL of my kids, not just one cute one, would love turtle poop.)

Hey, doesn't that last picture of The Clapper look like a pile of loose meats? Too gross? Ok. I take it back.

A Manwich?



Carry on.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

These flowers think they're so great.

Look at them!

My Sidekick and his parents and I were all at The Getty today, and while I was taking these pictures, the flowers were all, "Yeah. We're stunning. So what? Jealous? Of course you are. Sorry that when you stand next to us you become hideously ugly. And unpopular. Face it," they said, "You're just not ever going to measure up to our standard of beauty. We were just born this way, and you weren't. End of story. Deal with it."

And then they all got together and made plans to go to Koi. Because I think they're snobs. (But, I could be wrong about that. They might just like really expensive sushi.)

Friday, October 13, 2006

That Yoda had so many funny ideas.

Do... or do not. There is no try.

This is old school, I'll grant you. But indulge me for a moment, won't you? Because, really? No try? Seems a little harsh. A little binary. A little, I don't know, suffocating.

The only reason I bring this up is because the sock-in-progress for my Sidekick appears to be taking a position, and I'm trying to figure out how to respond:

I guess I respond with, "'Do' it is?"

(I don't know why, but this reminds me a little of one of my favorite quotes ever. A locally-famous and enthusiastic Lakers basketball announcer once said during the replay of Kobe shooting a pretty outrageous three-pointer: "Kobe planted his feet, said 'here it comes', and here it comes (pause) it did!" Here it comes it did! HA! That's great.)

Do... or do not go on about your business now. Or, you know what? Try. Try to go on about your business. I think that'll be fine.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Organizing is half the fun

When it comes to the issue of consumerism in the US, I hold a very nuanced view of the situation. Really. I could tell you all about it. It's thoughtful and interesting. It's political and quite heartfelt. But, I hope you'll understand and reserve judgement when I tell you that I also like shopping for my 94 hobbies. It's tricky, I realize. But these are tricky times we're living in, my friends. Tricky, tricky times.

So, I will humbly admit that I did just go out and buy a bunch of embroidery floss, silk ribbon, and other supplies for Hobby 94. (I think Hobby 94 will be the name of the horror movie I write where embroidery is a killer and Sam Jackson is trying to save everyone from the wrath of the floss. Don't steal my idea, now. You know it's good.)

Anyhoo, to completely honest, I think that even more than shopping for the hobbies, I like organizing them. Allow me to demonstrate.

This, for example, was this morning's stash of embroidery floss:

Fine. I mean, it was in a box and not all tangled. But, that's not organized.

Within a relatively short amount of time today, it became even better. It became this:

And then later (you can tell it's later because it's quite a bit darker), it became this:

ISN'T THAT SOOTHING??!!! (Sorry. My yelling isn't at all soothing, but jeez, that is a very calming and lovely sight to me.)

You know what else? See that cream-colored plastic thingie in the long compartment on the left? For the uninitiated, that's a floss winder that is only one of the greatest inventions ever, and costs all of a buck and a half. You stick it on the side of your little clear storage box there, load a plastic bobbin/card in it, then turn a little handle, and it wraps your ribbon/floss/whatever in no time at all! We learned about it from our embroidery instructor on Sunday. She pretty much rocked in every way.

So. Organizing! Great, right?

It would be pretty pathetic, though, if all I did was wind floss and number bobbins. Here are some shots of developments on the sampler. I think they show off the Brazilians nicely. (Did you chuckle? Did you?) The long burgandy-colored stitches at about 10:00 and 4:00 are bullions.

The lavender-ish multicolor stitches that look like little conches right at the bottom there are cast-on stitches.

No idea what this will eventually be, but so far, I like where it's headed. At a minimum, it gave me a chance to buy some items to organize.

Huh. I felt a little funny inside just then. Curious. I think that means it's working.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Love and compassion

It's National Coming Out Day.

The Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG (Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) have created this 24-page, downloadable pdf guide that I think is a great resource -- A Straight Guide to GLBT Americans.

(Note: When you click on this link, you'll need to scroll down to get to the text, and it will be really large when you get there. Don't fret. You can read it real big like that, or you can print the whole thing out.)

Here's a bit about it:
The guide is a resource that helps map some of the emotions straight people feel when someone first comes out to them, walks people through myths and facts about GLBT Americans, and outlines ways straight people can demonstrate their support.
I'm not telling you anything you don't know here, but here's what I know: as we sit here, there are young people ending their lives, adults engaging in secret behaviors, and people suffering in more ways than we may be able to imagine. Sometimes, all it takes is one person to help keep someone from feeling suicidal, alone, or deviant.

I'm a firm believer in people getting to know one another in meaningful and respectful ways, in ways that honor one another, and in ways that support ongoing appreciation of differences.

Today is a good day to try to live in a loving way.
(And I have a feeling tomorrow will be, too.)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Where it all re-began

My great aunt taught me to crochet when I was little. I remember being at her house, watching Luke and Laura get married on General Hospital, and working on some crocheted item that I'm sure was GORGEOUS. And that was pretty much that.

Then, a few years ago, a woman at work mentioned in passing that she'd been crocheting. Having had fond memories of it, I accepted her offer to go over to her place for a crafting afternoon. It was very low-commitment, made better by the fact that my wasband had some supplies he was willing to give me. (He'd thought crocheting would be an easy thing to do on movie sets while waiting around, but it wasn't really his thing. Not enough quests or mana.)

At our crafting afternoon, my co-worker had a book of afghan patterns, and she encouraged me to try to make one. I'd never read a pattern and hadn't crocheted for decades, so naturally I thought following a pattern to make an afghan was a great idea. Because that's how I roll.

So, all I had to do was crochet 162 motifs (each one a six-sided piece with a flower in the middle) and 16 half-motifs (half-flowers). Then crochet all of those pieces together. Then crochet an edge around the whole thing.

I'm pretty sure I didn't see the 162 and the 16 until the project was well-underway. That's the only thing I can figure, because I just don't think I would've signed up for such a thing with that information. I made a spreadsheet. I watched a lot of bad movies with my wasband. I made an afghan.

Here's a picture of the afghan doing its best Quiltie imitation:

After finishing this afghan, it didn't take much research to realize that some of the coolest patterns were for knit items, and then that lots of knitters were also sewing, and that people sewing were also making quilts, and the quilters were also embroidering... you see how it got to 94 hobbies up in here?

Take-home lesson? Crochet is a very serious gateway craft, not to be undertaken lightly.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Because ninety-three hobbies is exactly one hobby too few

My partner-in-crime and I took a Freeform Embroidery class at the Stitch Cafe's new Artisan Studio yesterday.

We learned a lot, and we remembered some things. Mostly, we remembered that we really shouldn't be in "formal" situations together. I think you might agree.

(Disclaimer: The following will be annoying to anyone who knows the history of embroidery, or different styles of embroidery. It might, however, appeal to those with pervy minds. To the former I apologize, and to the latter, I humbly submit the following.)

The instructor started the class by reviewing materials, resources, and the many different kinds of embroidery techniques. When she said "a Brazilian" the first time, we had a little chuckle. Ha ha, a Brazilian. She went on to say "Brazilian" about a brazillion times, and we continued to be pleased and amused.

Imagine our delight, then, when the instructor said, "With the Brazilian, you really need a needle with a (some size) head." Ha HA! Don't ask us what size head is appropriate for the Brazilian, because we were so pleased that she'd used Brazilian and head in the same sentence that we stopped listening altogether and almost peed our pants!

(For those not familiar, a Brazilian is a kind of bikini wax where all the hair - ALL the hair - is removed. Brazilian! And "head"? Well, I'll leave that one up to you.)

So, it's like we're twelve. Only we're doctors. And in reality, we weren't peeing our pants, we were just kicking each other under the table.

Anyway, here's where I am so far on my cute little sampler. The pattern in the fabric is a little more subtle in person.

We learned the backstitch, fishbone stitch, French knot, and the Brazilian bullion and cast-on stitches. We also learned to make silk ribbon flowers.


I'd like to make a commitment here, though, not to get all caught up in crazy quilting, where you make a quilt and then embellish it with embroidery and what not. Because while 93 hobbies is one too few, 95 is downright pathological.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Huh. That's funny. On mine, it said failure was an option.

So, I'd had this Manos del Uruguay yarn for forever and a day. When I bought it, I really loved it. I loved it.

I remember I loved it on its own, but I also liked it mixed with this light brown mohair that I had in my stash from God-knows-where. "You know what?" I says to myself I says (because I think this is where the Seeds of Failure were planted, and everyone knows the Seeds of Failure are nothing if not horrible with grammar), "I'm gonna just go ahead and ball these two up together so it's not all cumbersome when the right project comes along!" And so I balled up the Manos and the mohair, and I put the ball in my stash. (I can't be the first to say this, but that last sentence really sounds dirty all of a sudden). I had another hank of the Manos that I didn't mix, and I thought that was nice too.

So, time passes, as it does. I'd look at that ball of Manos and mohair in my stash (Again. Sounds kinda dirty, right?!). "Nice!" I'd think. Every now and then I'd pull it out and start something. And every time -- I was surprised to find -- it just looked bad. So I'd pull it out. Ball it up. Put it back in my stash. (Whore!)

Then I thought that a nice drop-stitch scarf would work well for it because it would show off the many colors of the Manos, and it would be soft and fuzzy with that mohair. And so I cast on, and within a few rows, it became evident that it was macrame. Seriously. Macrame from the 70's, ready for an airplane plant or a fern to go right into it. Macrame.

I called my partner-in-crime.

ME: It's macrame.
P-I-C: No. It can't be. It's that beautiful Manos.
ME: I swear to God. It's macrame.
P-I-C: I don't believe you.

I took a picture of it with my phone and sent it to her.

P-I-C: It looks fine. Just keep going.

Now, my partner-in-crime's voice got quite high as she said it looked fine. Like: "It looks FINE!" I didn't believe her, but I wanted to believe her. So I forged ahead.

It did look better as it got longer, and I started liking it the further along I went. And then it became clear that (and I know you saw this coming) I wasn't going to have enough of the Manos/mohair combo for the scarf to be a decent length, and I had balled up all I had of the mohair. But, I wasn't deterred. (Probably because I was getting a second-hand high from the now-blossoming Fern of Failure sprouting up all around me.) Remember that other hank? The one that hadn't been mixed? I was confident I'd just go get some mohair, mix it with that hank, and proceed.

Why am I even going on with this story? Why am I putting myself and more importantly YOU through this? You know how it turns out. You know what hubris will do to a person. You know I never shoulda balled on the front end (Ha HAH! I love it! SO DIRTY!).

Well, just so you know what happened... There was no light brown mohair and nothing even remotely fuzzy enough at my local yarn store. I substituted a darker mohair that I figured I could double up to yield the appropriate amount of fluff. This resulted in a very dark and very not-fluffy yarn combo.

The Woman Who Never Steers Me Wrong had a great idea, I thought. "Could you just make both ends of the scarf with the dark combo? It'll look intentional." WWNSMW isn't a knitter, but, as with my P-I-C before, I wanted to believe that her idea would work. And WWNSMW really has NEVER steered me wrong. So I tried.

In the photo below, there is not a lighting issue. It's a pretty accurate photo of the scarf with one of its "dark ends". Indeed.


You know what? Let's not discuss this any further. It just shames us all.

I guess all's I'm sayin' is (Failure!), go with your instincts. No. Wait. Don't pre-ball. Ummm. Er. Sometimes things don't turn out the way you planned?

Muh. I got nothin'.

Fresh-cut Failure, anyone?

Friday, October 06, 2006

It's naming time

With Halloween fast-approaching, I thought you might need to know your Star Wars name. You know. Just in case.

Here's the formula*: the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name, first 2 letters of mom’s maiden name, and first 3 letters of the town you grew up in.

Love, Barlyhepor

* This was via someone's blog, and now I can't find it... sorry!

Sock evolution

The three stages of the handmade sock: ball of yarn, open tube, closed tube.

Turns out, that's also how you spell "oil". (Weird, because "ball of yarn, open tube, closed tube" seems like such a long way to go to spell a very small word.)