Monday, January 30, 2012

Shameless Self-Promotion!!

Last night I was at home, recovering from a particularly arduous meeting, when I received a text message alerting me that my friend John DiGilio had BURPed me. What in the world is a BURP, I asked myself as I popped a Godiva truffle in my mouth. It turns out that BURP is John's blog, "Bloggin' Up Rogers Park", and I am his most recent addition to Neighbors in the News!! What a nice surprise! John is a knitter who frequents the Evil Squirrel Knit Nights. I met him in December at the Craft War, and we ran into each other the next day and talked about ideas for future crafting events in Rogers Park. He's got some great ideas to make crafting accessible to our neigborhood. John's kind of awesome, and you should follow his blog. Not just because I'm in it. But I am. right here -- see?? (Yes, it's the same link as the one above -- I get a little childlike when I see my name in print!!) Thank you, John! It's nice to be recognized for doing cool stuff!

John also mentioned my band, the awesome Glory Chain, and our gig on Saturday, February 4, at 5:00 pm, at the Evil Squirrel Comic Book Shop. I'm really excited about this gig! We've got a lot of cool new material we've been working on, and we're helping Shawn King keep his doors open -- he's doing fabulous neighborhood outreach stuff and giving kids a safe place to hang out, which is invaluable in Rogers Park, and the economy has really cut into his profits, so we need to help him pay his rent! We'll be passing a hat at Saturday's gig, and we hope you'll all throw in some nice coin for Shawn and Evil Squirrel.

Also a reminder that next Saturday, February 11, 10:00 am -2:00 pm, Mary Wells, Molly Costello and I are hosting the Rogers Park Craft Show at 1505 W. Morse Avenue. There will be really cool stuff there, and you should bring wads of cash to buy it!!

That's all the news for now, dolls! I'll be back with another post on Thursday. Until then, as always, Peace, Love and Yarn!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ruth's Hat, Mozart and Yarn

My dear friend Ruth Hoekwater, the owner of the Common Cup Cafe in Rogers Park, asked me if I could replicate a crocheted hat that she's had for a while that she LOVES and she wants more of in different colors. I had never successfully replicated a pattern from the actual garment, but if I can design and build a hat that looks like Party Pat from Cartoon Network (see below), I can do just about anything, now can't I??
So I took a look at the hat and decided that this was a dragon I could slay. It's a variation on my basic skullcap pattern, but the last five rows are shell-stitched. Cute!! I got some black yarn and started stitchin'. However, knowing that Ruth wanted the hat to be tight-fitting, and knowing that my hats tend to stretch, I used a G-sized hook. It came out child-sized. Oops! So I did it again with an H-sized hook. Closer, but not quite big enough to cover the head that holds Ruth's brilliant brain. So I began a third one with an I-sized hook.

Fast-forward to yesterday, the final Student Matinee of Mozart's "Magic Flute" at the Lyric. I had brought my black yarn and my I-sized hook to work on Ruth's hat in the Super Children's dressing room. One of the young ladies asked me if I'd make her a hat as a memento of the show. I said I didn't have any yarn that wasn't spoken for. She said she had yarn, so I agreed to make her a hat. I made the Ruth Hat pattern and it turned out quite nicely. The young lady really loved it, and she was overjoyed when she heard that it was the first of its kind from my hook. And then disaster struck. While I was away from the dressing room setting up a quick change, another young lady accidentally knocked my coffee over into my yarn bag. The yarn that got baptized with coffee? The black yarn for Ruth's hat!! After I threw a bit of a tantrum (far away from the sensitive ears of the girls I dress, of course) and the young lady apologized profusely -- it truly had been an accident and she felt awful -- I realized that the coffee wouldn't show on the black yarn, and that since Ruth was going to wear it at the Cafe, it would end up smelling like coffee anyway!! Crisis averted!! Or at least ameliorated!

A quick plug for my band, Glory Chain. We are playing next Saturday, 4 February, at 5:00 pm at the Evil Squirrel Comic Book Shop, 6928 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago.

Next, a quick plug for our Rogers Park Craft Show the following Saturday, 11 February, from 10:00-2:00 at the Many Peoples Church space, 1505 W. Morse Ave., Chicago.

And that's all the news for now, dolls! Until next time, as always, Peace, Love and Yarn!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rogers Park Craft Show, or I Crochet in Hair Salons

Brothers and sisters, I apologize for my 9-day internet silence! I had trouble getting on Blogger last Thursday, last Sunday I was hanging with my mom and my caramel sister Mia all day, and I've been crazy busy with opera, band practice, and craft show preparations the rest of the week.

As mentioned in my last post, my friends Mary and Molly and I are planning a craft show to be held at Many Peoples Church, 1505 W. Morse Avenue, in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. We'll be hawking our wares on Saturday, 11 February, from 10:00 am til 2:00 pm. There will be toys and cards and jewelry and pillows and scarves and all sorts of handmade delights!! I think there's room available for vendors, so if you or anyone you know is interested in selling awesome crafts, please get in touch with me.

So craft show preparations are underway. In addition to helping with tasks such as finding vendors, communicating with others who use the space, and organizing logistics, I have to make sure I have some items to sell! So I've been working on baby hats and dishcloths to add to the inventory I already have. I just bought a new pattern book yesterday, so hopefully I can add some new projects to my bag of tricks. There's a shopping bag pattern that I'm absolutely in love with, as well as some adorable baby bibs and pacifier fobs. Delicious!

I got my hair colored and cut by the inimitable Patrick Fuller last Tuesday. I'm always delighted with his work, but this time he truly outdid himself! The color is rich and has tons of depth and the style is sophisticated and urban. When he showed me the finished product, I declared that I looked like Ms. Karen Walker! While my color was processing, he directed me to sit in the chair with the best lighting so I could crochet with ease as the color did its job. He did this so I'd mention him in my blog. It worked. Patrick Fuller, Master Stylist, Robert Jeffrey Salon, 3434 N. Halsted. Chicago, IL. 60657. 773.525.8800. If I could make it glitter, I would. He's awesome!!

In other news, my dear friend Paul had a brain aneurysm this past Sunday morning. He's in a coma, but beginning to show some improvement. Monday they will begin tests to see how much damage he's sustained. Please keep him in your prayers. And, as always, my friends, peace, love and yarn!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Trouble with Tribbles -- I mean, Yarn

From Wikipedia: Tribbles are fictional asexual animals in the Star Trek universe who first appeared in the episode titled "The Trouble With Tribbles". They are depicted as small, soft, and gentle, and producing a soothing purring sound. These traits are said to endear them to most sentient races which encounter them, with the notable exception of Klingons, who consider tribbles to be "mortal enemies" of the Klingon Empire, as stated in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations".

While appearing in only four episodes and briefly in three of the Star Trek movies, they are one of the most popular and well-known species featured in the Star Trek universe, fairly well known even to casual followers of the series. In 2006, two tribble props from "Trials and Tribble-ations" were auctioned for US $800 to $1,200.[1]

The expression "multiplying like tribbles" has also become commonplace in the context of science fiction or technology.[2]

My name is Dawn-Marie and I am a yarn addict. No, seriously -- yarn has taken over my life! I have bins and bags and drawers and cabinets bursting with yarn! The reasons for this Tribble-like yarn overabundance are basically threefold:

One: I am quickly enamored with the colors and textures of yarn and I MUST HAVE IT IN MY POSSESSION!! I may not know exactly what I'm going to do with the sparkly pink fun fur, but you bet it's going home with me to await its moment in the sun!

Two: People see me crocheting something and say to me, "That's really cute! Can you make me one in green?" So I dutifully march off to the yarn store and buy green yarn. And very few yarn projects take EXACTLY one skein or EXACTLY two skeins, and it's always recommended that you buy a skein more than you think you need because of dye lots and whatnot, so there is ALWAYS yarn left over.

Three: I always have at least three -- if not eight -- projects going at once. This has a lot to do with my fickle nature (see Reason 1), but there are also elements of practicality. A baby hat will fit in my dresser's apron to occupy my time while I'm waiting to do a quick change. A baby blanket will not. And I can't see to crochet with black or navy yarn in dimly-lit places like bars.

Yesterday I began the arduous task of sorting and containing my yarn. It's going to take me quite some time, my darlings! My goal is to have separate bins for baby yarn, sport weight, worsted weight, chunky yarn and thick yarn, plus a bin for projects under construction -- all of which need to live in plastic zip lock bags so the yarn doesn't get all heartbrokenly tangled. It's a big undertaking because, Tribble-like, the yarn has migrated into areas clearly not designated for the storage of yarn. Two skeins of thick orange yarn currently reside in my sock drawer! If I don't get a handle on the yarn containment soon, there will be yarn in my freezer!!

The good news is that I have a craft show for which to prepare. My friends Mary Wells and Molly Costello and I are putting together a craft show in Rogers Park in February, the details of which shall be forthcoming. So I'm planning on making lots of baby stuff, flower pins, dishcloths, hot pads, and lighter weight caps and scarves. I also got a book of patterns for adorable amugurumi "Crobots" as a Christmas present from my darling Canadians, Rob Feller and Tim Power. (From Wikipedia: Amigurumi [編みぐるみ?, lit. crocheted or knitted stuffed toy] is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed animals and anthropomorphic creatures. The word is derived from a combination of the Japanese words ami, meaning crocheted or knitted, and nuigurumi, meaning stuffed doll.[1] Amigurumi are typically animals, but can include artistic renderings or inanimate objects endowed with anthropomorphic features,[2] as is typical in Japanese culture.) They'll sell like hotcakes. One more thing to learn, eh?

But enough idle chitchat! I've got yarn to wrangle and long-forgotten living areas to rediscover! I'll post again on Sunday. As always, my friends, Peace, Love and Yarn!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Ladies Who Lunch

Dr. Emily Roben, proudly displaying her first flower pin

Just yesterday I went to the beautiful home of my dear friends, Matt and Emily Roben, to have lunch and crochet with Emily. She is a first-year resident at Children's Memorial Hospital, so she doesn't get a lot of free time. When the good doctor told me she had a weekend free and wanted to spend some of it with me, I jumped at the chance! Matt and I became friends when I was dressing him for "The Scottish Opera" at the Lyric. You know which one I mean -- don't make me say it!! Matt and the other gentlemen I dressed for that show were very sweet and
supportive during my Michael's illness and after his passing. Through Matt, I met Emily, and I have good friendships with them, together and separately.

So anyway, Emily invited me over for lunch and crocheting, and Matt offered to cook for and wait on us. He's really a lovely man, as I suggested above! So while Emily and I were sipping tea and stitching away in the living room, Matt and his friend Josh were slaving over a hot panini press in the kitchen! The menfolk prepared paninis with turkey, pastrami, salami, provolone cheese and horseradish mustard, accompanied by a green salad with honey-mustard dressing, bread and butter pickles, and habanero pickles. Everything was delicious!! Then we girls went back to our crochet projects and the boys went to clean up the kitchen.

Emily asked me to teach her how to make my signature flower pin, which I was more than happy to do. She worried when her stitches came out tighter and curlier than mine, but as you can see in the photo above, she had nothing to worry about -- it turned out beautifully!!

The flower pin came to be because several years ago my good friend Ruth Hoekwater wanted a crocheted hat with a flower on it. So I found a hat pattern and found a flower pattern (both from Chicks with Sticks Guide to Crochet by Nancy Queen and Mary Ellen O'Connell) and put them together. My Michael thought it would be great if I made the flowers and sewed pin backings on the back. He was right -- they've always been my most popular item!! I look heavenward and smile at him every time I sell one!!

One time I was getting ready to work at the opera and I needed the pattern to take with me but I didn't want to carry the whole book. I asked my Michael to do me a huge favor; to copy the pattern. I said, "Please don't try to think about it, don't try to figure it out; just write this down for me from here to here." Michael, being a brilliant and analytical man, said that copying down this three-row pattern was one of the most difficult things he'd ever had to do!!

So here's the pattern for the flower:

Using a Size-G hook and baby-weight, sport-weight or worsted yarn

Ch 42
Row 1: 1 dc in 4th ch from hook, *ch 1, 1 dc in next ch*. Repeat * to * across -- 40 dc.
Row 2: Ch 1 and turn. In the first ch-1 sp work (1 sc, 1 ch, 5 dc, 1 ch, 1 sc), *1 sc in next ch-1 sp; in next ch-1 sp work (1 sc, 1 ch, 5 dc, 1 ch, 1 sc)*. Repeat from * to * across (20 petals made). Fasten off, leaving 18" tail.
Finishing: Thread tail through finishing needle to sew flower. Begin at tail end and sew 2 petals together at base to form center of flower. Spiral the remaining coil of petals around bud to form a flower, sewing together layer by layer at the base. Using remainder of yarn, sew pin backing to back of flower. Fasten off and weave in end.

I'll be back on Thursday. As always, Peace, Love and Yarn, my friends!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Basket Weave Scarf

The Lovely Rich Diamond in Andrew's Scarf

This is a favorite pattern of mine. I found it in the wonderful book Chicks with Sticks Guide to Crochet by Nancy McQueen and Mary Ellen O'Connell. I've made these scarves for my gorgeous friends Matt Dans and Andrew Augustin. I saw a guy on the El who had a hat in this basket weave pattern, and I think once I get all of my holiday orders filled -- thank you to people like Tom Brassell who celebrate Christmas in January so I had a little extra time to work on stuff -- I'm going to experiment with this stitch in a hat.

You need 330 yards of the chunky weight yarn of your choice, a K-sized hook, and a finishing needle. You also need to know how to front post double crochet (FPdc) and back post double crochet (BPdc). Let me tell you how to do that. Please forgive the poor quality of my instructional photos. First you make a base chain and a row of garden variety double crochet. In row two, you're going to get all creative with the FPdc and the BPdc! It goes a little something like this: Yarn over, insert the hook front to back on the RIGHT side of the post.Then you yarn over, pull up a loop, yarn over and draw the hook through two loops, yarn over and draw through the last two loops.
Easy and awesome, right?? I know!

Now for the BPdc! Insert the hook front to back on the WRONG side of the post.Yarn over, pull up a loop, yarn over, pull through two loops, yarn over and pull through the last two!Look at you! You're a crocheting GENIUS!!

Okay, now here's the pattern:

Ch 22
Row 1: Work 1 dc in fourth ch from hook and in each ch across, ch 2 (this counts as first st in next row, now and throughout), turn -- dc 20.
Row 2: Sk 1st dc, *work 1 FPdc around each of next 3 dc, work 1 BPdc around each of next 3 dc*. Repeat * to * across. 1hdc in top of beg ch. Ch 2, turn.
Row 3: Sk 1st hdc, *work 1 FPdc around each of next 3 dc, work 1 BPdc around each of next 3 dc*. Repeat * to * across. 1 hdc in top of beg ch. Ch2, turn.
Row 4: Sk 1st hdc, *work 1 BPdc around each of next 3 dc, work 1 FPdc around each of next 3 dc*. Repeat * to * across. 1 hdc in top of beg ch. Ch2, turn.
Row 5: Repeat Row 4.
Row 6: Repeat Row 3.

Repeat Rows 3-6 until panel measures 56" from beg. Fasten off and weave in ends.

ch: Chain
dc: Double Crochet
sk: Skip
beg: Beginning
hdc: Half Double Crochet

Message me with any questions. I'll have another blog post for you on Sunday. As always, my friends, peace, love and yarn!