Sunday, December 23, 2007

Why Fight It

I had a great craft breakthrough about two weeks ago. When I work on a circular object (like a hat) I tend to change direction at the end of each row. While I like the look, one of the main reasons for doing this is to create a straight, unobtrusive seam. When I continue working in rounds, my seams tend to wander.

So: what's the problem? I was pondering the issue while working on the arm warmers below, and decided not to fight it. In fact, I'd intentionally have the seam circle the hat. Five samples later, I think I've got it down. I love the subtlety of the ridge, and how it elevates the basic hat above the expected. In the grid of details, the upper left image is the "wrong" side, the right the "outside".

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tricia Royal

Design Sponge is one of my favorite blogs. It's dangerous - I probably buy way more of the things I see there than I should - but always interesting and well curated. Last week's feature on artist Tricia Royal is a great example. I'm highlighting it because of Tricia's beautiful use of crocheted items. Both the doily and the blanket are, well, questionable - in the wrong context they could be really wrong. But they're working as accents. I love seeing creative use of heirloom items like this. And it's a great reminder that it's all about the design - even the oddest items can seem perfectly new when arranged properly.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Book Signing

So...the book signing. I signed with Meg, shown, the author of Craft, Inc. She's lovely, and her book is really useful for anyone trying to make money off a hobby. The signing itself wasn't particular successful for either of us, but I'm glad to have had the opportunity. It's fun just to be there and talk to people about crafting.

I definitely recommend checking out the new Chronicle Books Store (1846 Union in San Francisco) - it's well designed, well stocked, and a great place to look for holiday gifts. There are several boxes of labels I'd like to have, and their craft section is growing rapidly.

I've spent the day proofing a pattern for the 2009 edition of the Crochet Pattern a Day Calendar. The deadline is swiftly approaching - get your patterns in now! I'm definitely sending in my easy arm warmer pattern (picture shown), and hope to get organized enough to finish another 1 or 2 patterns in the next week.

Speaking of which, I just received my copy of the 2008 calendar. I have two patterns included - a mesh-weave scarf, and a pretty little clutch. The overall calendar is a bit hit and miss, but I did find several patterns in the 2007 edition worth making. If nothing else, it makes for fun browsing.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Chronicle just opened their second store, at 1846 Union Street in San Francisco. The Grand Opening party is this Saturday, December 1st. I'm going to be signing, along with a bunch of other cool folks. Stop by if you're in the area!

• 10:30-11:30: Children’s author Bob Barner will read from Dem Bones and will be signing copies of his books

• 1:00-2:00: Peggy Knickerbocker co-author of The San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market Cookbook and Georgeanne Brennan author of A Pig in Provence will be signing copies of their books

• 3:00-4:00: Get crafty with Alicia Bergin, author of the Crochet to Go Deck, and Meg Mateo Ilasco, author of Craft, Inc.

• 5:00-6:00: Artist Rex Ray will be in the store signing copies of Rex Ray Art + Design

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Best Book Ever

This book puts together all my passions (well, at least crafting and celebrity gossip) in one horribly wrong package. Awesome.

Baby Gift

I finally finished a baby gift I've been working on for weeks. It took shape around some wonderful goldfish fabric I found on repro depot. I wanted the colors to be fairly masculine (relatively speaking), and not the typical baby hues. It was also a great way to get through some of my odds and ends of yarn.

The pattern is really easy. I used the general shape I developed for the sleep sack I made in the Crochet to Go Deck. Each strap (2 side, 2 top) has two button holes to allow for a better fit.

My coworker Fabian is getting this. It's his first baby. He just finished this amazing mural for the baby's room.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Lifetime network has posted three of my patterns online, just in time for holiday crafting! There's a blanket and pillow for the ambitious, and quick and easy jewelry ideas for last-minute gifts. You can find them here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween!

In honor of San Francisco's favorite holiday, here's a sampling of the best, the scariest, and the craftiest crocheted Halloween treats.

From upper left: Curbly features the ultimate way to candy-coat your cat; Frankenstein and Pirate Panda on Amy Gaines' flicker page; decorative pumpkins; Harry Potter & friends; and man-eating sea creatures (and much more) on this clever Japanese site.

And finally, What Not to Crochet features this beautifully executed (pun intended) saw scarf, my absolute favorite of the bunch.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Felting, plus

I mounted my felted "painting" yesterday. It's not quite right yet - I think I'll have to nail a frame around the edges - but it's getting there. As you can see, it definitely fills up a wall.

Here's another (semi-)related project that I found interesting. Marilyn Rose created these spectacular quilts from her own late night pictures: She snapped photos of the scenes with her point-and-shoot camera "from behind the wheel going way too fast on the highway." Read more here.


I'm back on hats. I've finally finished (at least for now) my "basic hat" pattern, and have been experimenting with yarns, patterns, and variants. I really like the striped one.

The purple hat drops down slightly farther in back to keep more of your head warm, and has ear covers. I think it's going to be a lot warmer than the flap-less hat. This photo is certainly not one of my best, but as my friend Brooks pointed out, it has a certain anime (plastic?) quality that's interesting. So there you go.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


It's done! This is actually my first felting project. I suppose if you're going to try something, go big.

I definitely still need to block this, and figure out a way to hang it (I'm thinking I'll stretch it over a wooden frame, but does anyone have a better idea?).

In order, these are pictures of:
1) The original painting
2) The crocheted, unfelted version (36 x 36 inches)
3) The felted version (26 x 36 inches - I'm not sure if it's normal that the work only shrinks horizontally?)
4) detail of colors
5) side-by-side comparison of before and after

I'm pretty pleased with the overall result. It was a lot of work, but it's going to look great on my living room wall. My only reservation is the felting itself - I'm not sure it's a better work because of the felting? I loved it just as much before. Hmm. I'm going to tackle an ocean scene next.

Friday, September 28, 2007


The crochet phase is done! I'm doing the actual felting tomorrow. Here's a glimpse into my process.

I originally took a jpeg of the painting and overlaid a grid in photoshop. It was good on screen, but not very useful when I was actually working. I couldn't easily print it out, given the number of rows (142 sc across, 180 rows high). Eventually I settled on the two visual aids shown here: one printout of the painting with 16 x 16 stitch squares drawn over, and a second handdrawn version showing where to place the accent colors. I used safety pins on the work itself to show the grid lines (shown in the last photo).

Other specifics: this is worked entirely in single crochet with a 5.5 mm hook. I used Lion Brand Wool and Patons Classic Wool Merino in cream, black, navy blue, blue, gray, purple, and green.

Monday, September 24, 2007


My felting project is almost done! It's huge - almost 4 feet x 4 feet - and within an hour of being completely crocheted. I love the way it looks, and am really afraid to felt it. I've decided to just go for it, though. I'll have pictures by this time next week.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

This art exhibit looks amazing. Artist Jean Arkell has knitted mini reproductions of the homes of female killers - or the houses where they committed the crimes. I love the houses, and am even more drawn to the written descriptions of the crimes. There's a certain awkwardness to the prose that adds to the general oddness of the whole project. It's very straightforward, and yet slightly off. For example:

Christiana Edmunds was a 43 year old spinster who lived with her widowed mother. She had become infatuated with a married man, Dr. Beard. In September 1870 she brought a box of chocolates to the Beard's house and insisted that Mrs. Beard eat some over a pot of tea. Christiana had filled these chocolate creams with strychnine. Immediately after eating one Mrs. Beard became severely ill. As a result Dr. Beard accused her of trying to poison his wife. Christiana denied the charge and set about trying to prove that there was a poisoner at large in Brighton. She would pay children to buy chocolate creams from the same sweet shop that she purchased the box of chocolates for Mrs. Beard from. She would inject these with strychnine, then re-wrap them and pay another child to return them. The innocent shop-keeper sold on these poisoned sweets. On 12 June 1871 this activity resulted in the death of 4-year-old Sidney Barker. Christiana even sent poisoned cakes and fruit through the mail, addressing some to herself, to try to emphasise her innocence. She was eventually caught and sentenced to death but when it transpired that she was mentally ill her sentence was commuted and she was sent to Broadmoor. She died there in 1907 aged 79. It later transpired that no less than four members of her immediate family had died as a result of mental illness

Cute Overload

Do you read Cute Overload? I only read it occasionally, as, well, it generally tends to be an overload of cuteness. A friend forwarded this link on. Yes, it's cute, and I suspect it's actually useful in Japan. When I was there (a long, long time ago), all fruit was carefully packaged individually. It was a nightmare of plastic and cardboard. As silly as it may look, this is an extremely green solution to a major problem.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Candy Crochet

Craft:Blog featured these crocheted candies recently (pattern available on Etsy); inspiring a search for more sweets.

Rare Bird Finds has this playful candy heart scarf. I think I might even like the concept more as individual pins.

Finally, who could resist these donuts? Check out the artist's Flickr group - there's some really nice work.

Finished Hat

This hat came out beautifully. The yarn is really lightweight but warm. I think I might make the same hat for myself.

Here's my picky coworker modeling it. I so rarely get photos after giving something away - he was thoughtful enough to snap a picture while out camping. He was really happy with the result.

Sneak Peak

I've started my mammoth felting project. It's 36 inches wide and (when finished) will be about 38 inches tall. I have 35 inches more to go, so don't expect to see the final anytime soon! I'm sticking with a single color for the cream background, but will try to replicate those shades of blue, green, and purple on the mountain. My hope is that the felting process will blend any solid lines into subtle accents. Stay tuned.

This painting is by Willoughby Walling.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Return of the hat

I'm in a hat phase again. Baby hats, brimmed hats, adult hats. This work-in-progress is a gift for a very particular person, who has had a lot to say about color, shape, and sizing. I'm actually enjoying the pressure to make it perfectly right.

The yarn is rowan 4 ply soft (100% merino wool), which is a joy to work with. It's fairly fine, which is making the project more time consuming than normal, but it really is quite soft and has a nice stretchy quality that makes it great for a hat.

Etsy Finds

My latest Etsy purchase arrived in the mail this week. I love it - it's wonderfully crafty and aggressively edgy, all at the same time. I'd love to see a similar treatment with a crochet hook (or perhaps 2, crossed?). There are a lot of other designs well worth checking out, including wonderful baby clothes.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Thanks to my coworker Amanda for a great project idea - we spent some time discussing designs last week, and settled on a decidedly low-tech design for a high tech product. I also wanted the case to clearly say "phone", not iPod.

I used a 3.5 mm hook and worsted weight yarn. The entire pattern is worked in single crochet. Follow the grid below to create the pattern, then sew the bottom and side seams.

I'm frankly surprised I'm not seeing more yet. There are oodles of iPod covers out there (tip: the iPhone is the same width as the Video iPod, but slightly taller), but there aren't many contributions for the new product. I'll post my design later today. Here's a sampling of some of the best options out there.

1. Daddy Types Handknit iPhone
2. Wrappers iPhone Case
3. Pink Poodle

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I saw a post on crochetville recently for a crocheted cat toy. That in and of itself isn't all that interesting (except, really? Why not buy a toy for a dollar, or better yet, throw a ball of string at your cat), but the post also mentioned it was for a crocheted cat toy exchange group. It blows my mind that such things exist. I love seeing all these yarn swaps, but this is just going too far.

I am not a member of any such clubs yet (and am actively avoiding anything that will pigeonhole me in the "crazy cat lady" genre), but I do bookmark themes avidly. Food seems to be a big one lately. "Melbangel" has a spectacular food set on Flickr (as well as people and animal sets) that includes these avocado and scoops of ice cream.

"Benicetomice" personifies her food, like this TV dinner I'd be afraid to eat. She's got a wonderful hot dog design too.

Toddler Cap

This is a quick project - less than three hours start to finish. I used the "Boy Beanie" pattern from The Happy Hooker, swapping in an H hook for the recommended I. Size-wise, it's perfect for a 2-3 year old. I doubt the recommended hook size would actually fit an adult. Save the pattern for kids.