Thursday, August 30, 2012

Zinnia

 

DSCF0905aI was just sitting here the other day, watching Green Acres and trying really hard to keep working on this when I noticed how much it was starting to take on the qualities of other things in the house.  That Laura Ashley Christmas candle, the tea saucer, the zinnias on the table. And it’s not the first time it’s happened.  I am so intrigued by myself right now.  I must be so influenced by the things I’m looking at, just whatever’s there in front of me, that it sneaks into my design choices and I don’t even know it’s happening.  Wow.  Somebody do a psychological study. 

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I was admiring the zinnias and thinking about how those colors are kind of the perfect palette, all those pinks and oranges; salmons, geraniums, limes, butter yellows, olives.  How much I love zinnias.

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What else was there to do? Pattern here

Sunday, August 26, 2012

August stories

DSCF0944a There are four tiny blue eggs, the first eggs from the new flock, gifts from these girls:

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Their faces are so hilarious to me.  That one in the front, who is named Roo because I thought she was a rooster until she cackled happily and laid one of those eggs up there, just has the most ridiculous face.  She’s all, “What are you looking at?”  She’s like that old lady down the street that everybody is afraid of because she yells at all the kids and puts Keep Off the Grass signs around her house, but who secretly is lovely and bakes the best cookies ever, and knits red mittens for the orphans overseas.   I love her, and I think she loves me too, though she’ll totally deny it. 

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I was going to make this skirt, from the Crochet 2012 issue of Vogue Knitting magazine.  I have the yarn in the cupboard, leftover Jo Sharp Soho Summer DK Cotton, used for this and this and this and a whole bunch of other things, too.  I carefully measured myself.  I was honest with the tape measure and my own backside, and I measured the piece as I went.  I was getting gauge, everything checked out.  I showed it to Leda, who said, ominously, “It’s gonna hug your butt…”  but I was confident.  It matched the schematic.  I spent a hundred million hours working single crochet in the round, and I got this far:

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Then I tried it on.  Friends, there is not enough Spanx in the world to make me wear this.  Unraveled. 

Unrelated:  It has gotten to be that time of year where everything in the yard is beyond lush and moving towards decomposition.  The melon vines are withering and spent, and there is the hugest, scariest spider living in my tomato patch.  I have no particular fear of small, ordinary spiders but this spider was wearing a pinstriped suit and smoking a cigar.  The web was so spectacular, one of those perfectly photogenic orb webs you see with the dew clinging to it in such a woodland-ish, nature-y way and I was enchanted by the web itself, but reduced to a whimpering child by the spider, who I think was carrying a gun.  I stood there kind of quavering at it in a fascinated but petrified way until it loped off into the shadows, and I have not seen it since.  My next project will be to craft a set of chain mail opera gloves so I can pick the rest of the tomatoes.  I love August.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Crocheted Gypsy Earrings

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Thank you all for your very sweet comments about my lovely daughter.  You’re all so kind, goodness, I love crafty people.  We both got kind of big-headed over all the praise, and now I don’t know how we’ll keep her down on the farm.  (If she suddenly decides to change her major to Supermodeling or Disney Princess Hair Sciences, I’ll know who to blame.)  Anyway, she is always willing to put on whatever weird thing I have hooked together and go stand over by that tree so I can take her picture.  What a good girl.  She even folded my laundry the other day.  No, you can’t have her. 

I keep crocheting doodads in a desperate attempt to not have to keep knitting this huge blanket.  (It’s got me down, this blanket.  I always like to brag that I never got tired of making this or that, but I can’t say that this time.  I am dead tired of making this blanket. I am also running out of yarn.  Can you believe that?  I am!)  These fantastic gypsy earrings only took me away from the arduous knitting for about an hour, but it was an hour well spent.  The pattern can be found in the July/August issue of Crochet Today magazine, and I used DMC size 5 Pearl cotton in burnt orange, hooked over a pair of hoop earrings I already had around the place.  

I know I’ll love the blanket.  I will.  I know it.  Must persevere. 

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Lovely Lariat

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This pretty piece of lace--which is meant to be worn as a necklace, is that weird?  I don’t think that’s weird, but when you get down to it, it’s only a piece of lace without a clasp or anything—was totally easy, and it also totally took me forever.  The cotton thread was so small, and the hook was so comparatively huge, and it was a little bit miserable to persevere, but I did, and I’m glad.  If I had something filmy and romantic to wear this with, I would, but what I have is a whole bunch of striped pirate shirts, so that’ll have to do. 

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This is the Linen Lariat by Amy Palanjian, from this book, which is full of adorable things to make.  A normal person could make it in an hour.  I don’t know why it took me a month, I really don’t. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Salvaged Bag

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I am either super-thrifty or else just a total cheapskate.  I bought this chocolate brown suede Ann Taylor Loft bag at the thrift store the other day for something like seven dollars, and came home feeling like a genius until I got home and opened it up all the way and noticed that it had along the way been the unfortunate victim of a pen explosion:

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There were the sequential moments, then, of me saying, “Aw, jeeeez,” and the dark, bitter realization of knowing why the bag had been at the thrift store, followed by the wondering whether it would bother me to have big ink blobs on the lining of my new bag, and me trying to convince myself that the blobs were on the inside and nobody would ever know they were there, and then me knowing that I would know they were there and that I would be endlessly bugged by it, and then, finally, me figuring out a way to salvage this bag through the Magic of Crafting.

I turned the lining to the outside and cut open the side seam so I could get my hand in there [yuck.  Why is that yucky?  I don’t know, but it is] and then I hand-appliqued little patches from my scraps basket over each ink blob.

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I don’t know what it is about doing this that gives me the creeps, but I couldn’t wait to sew it shut again.  Anyhoo.

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There!  So much better.  And now it’s crafty, too, which is, as you know, my favorite thing ever.  I tucked a cotton ball dosed with a few drops of lavender essential oil into the pocket and waited, and overnight, this bag became brand new again.  That is magic. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Regency Hat

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I decided to foray away from blankets for a minute and crochet something else.  This, the Regency Hat from this book is one of those things that’s so crazy it just might work.  It’s made with chunky yarn and a relatively small hook, so as to make a tight fabric that will hold its shape.   As I was working on it, as it got more and more pointy and helmet-like, as it became practically a vessel you could use to haul water from the well, I kept thinking it would either be hilariously ridiculous or outrageously awesome, and actually it turns out to be a little of both.  It’s a mash-up of Holly Hobbie and Elizabeth Darcy, with a hint of Rudy from Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.  It’s an oversize newsboy cap with a kind of prairie girl flavor; Laura Ingalls, working in an ice-cream shop. 

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I don’t know anything about fashion, but this feels like it could be incredible, though it might require a certain look to pull it off—hence my use of the beautiful mermaid-like daughter as a model, because when I put it on myself, with my short hair and severe, smart-girl statement glasses, everyone in the house completely cracked up.  It fell down over my eyes and the girl’s BFF said, in an incredulous tone, “Who is that for?”  I said, “probably nobody!” and then we put it on the girl and a hush fell over us, and he said, “Oh.  Yeah.”  It looks good on her.  Everything does, you know.  Oh, to be twenty-one.  DSCF0859

I did some tinkering with the pattern.  I made a hat according to the instructions, and even though I got gauge, it turned out teeny, perching on my head like an army utility cover, which is fine if that’s the result you want, but I wanted mine to be bigger and more dramatic.  I unraveled it and tried again, using two strands of the already-chunky yarn (This is Berocco Vintage Chunky, color 6121) held double, and a US J hook, and the end result was so close, slightly too big, but I solved that by running a twisted yarn tie through the band and tying it in the back.  Nothing about the instructions for the brim made any sense, including the errata, so I tore that out too, and just hooked what looked good.  It’s still just slightly too big for my child-size head, and I think I could get it right on a third try, but this is enough for now.  I also went rogue and used a different flower—this is my favorite crocheted flower pattern of all time.  A couple of those makes everything look like a birthday cake.  

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See how it stands up all by itself?  This hat will keep the wind out. 

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Always willing to be a clown, this girl.   She’s so great.

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Whoops! 

DSCF0868a Cozy.  Crazy.  Nobody else will have one like it, and I think it’ll get looks when I wear it, different looks than the looks she will get if she wears it, but you know, that’s pretty much true of everything. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Picnic Dreams and a new bag

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In the summer, what I really want, almost more than anything, is to go on a picnic.  I have such visions of myself in a white dress, sitting with legs tucked on a quilt next to a riverbank, a wicker basket of fancy sandwiches and lemonade and buttery cookies at the ready, and also maybe a man in a straw boater holding a small, leather-bound book of poetry.  There would be dragonflies and possibly even a pair of friendly swans.  A banjo.  Really, I ask for so little.  My man, however, is tirelessly at work saving the world, so yesterday, instead of all that, I hauled a quilt out to the back yard and spread it in the shade of the crabapple tree, lay down with a book, and was fast asleep in minutes.  I woke up an hour later with leaves sticking to my face and him standing over me asking how much corn on the cob I wanted for dinner.  I said a lot, and he brought it out to me, and we ate it, a feast of corn, there on the quilt.  That’s pretty nice, too.

DSCF0811a  Apropos of none of that, I have made a Lucy bag, with sweet flower decorations and a lining.  As if you didn’t know already, this pattern is free.  Thank you, Lucy, you’re the best.  I could maybe put a picnic in there, too, couldn’t I? 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

What to do with a messy life

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The greatest thing in my life is that I have two fantastic kids who seem to want to hang out with me, and one really wonderful husband who sings opera in the shower, and a kitty who lets you snuggle him on the belly with your face, and a dog who won’t go to bed without two hugs and a story, but sometimes, you know what?  It’s pretty messy.  All those gorgeous people just leave a lot of stuff lying around and all those beautiful animals put down a lot of muddy footprints and hair.  So I clean, all the time, and it sometimes feels so endless, and I finish sweeping one room, move on to the next, and by the time I get back, somebody’s got their feet up on the white couch (I know, what was I thinking getting a white couch?) licking popcorn salt off their fingers.  It’s a blessing, really, because they’re all here in my house and I adore them, but I do spend a lot of quality time with my cleaning products. 

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So then why have I been using ratty pieces of old towels and (I swear this is true) the last of the cloth diapers (my youngest child is 17) when I could be polishing the faucet with something pretty?  There is always room in my life for more lovely things, especially things with which I am so often engaged, so, inspired again by Lucy at Attic24, I stitched up some flowered flannel into cleaning rags.  Yes, I have made some rags.  Each one is just two 10” x 10” squares, stitched wrong-sides together and then turned and topstitched.  Much nicer.  Bring on the dirt.