Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Turkey Babies

On September 30, my cousin Roger texted me this picture:

Sending me pictures of knit and crochet goods is rather commonplace amongst my intimates, because I don't believe I can't replicate something. My response, as always, was, "Sure! Why not?!"

He ordered two: one for his granddaughter Mazzi and one for his niece Addison. So I bought some brown yarn (dreamy gallery owner bought one of the skeins -- I love a man who buys me yarn!!) and I got to stitchin'.

This was a pretty easy hat to replicate. I just elongated my baby beanie pattern so I had enough length to roll it at the bottom. The turkey legs were simple to design. I crocheted a half circle and increased incrementally from eight stitches to fourteen, then decreased from fourteen to four, then put the little white nubbins on the ends, then stitched them to the hat. They turned out pretty well.
This is Addison and her daddy, Adam (who, apparently, is a pilgrim)

This is Mazzi

Both hats are backwards, but still awesome!! And aren't those girls just gorgeous?? My family makes cute kids. There's no denying it! I probably could have sold a ton of these hats if I'd advertised, but I had to keep them under wraps because I didn't know if Roger was surprising the girls with them. So next Thanksgiving, if you know a baby who needs a turkey on his or her head, you know who to call!

In the meantime, the Lyric Opera chorus threw a baby shower for my dear friend Marie Sokolova, so I made Mama Bear and Baby Bear hats for her.
Marie has since given birth to the very beautiful John Sokolov, so there's a gorgeous baby head to go inside that hat now!

In other news, my non-sexual co life partner Wally informed me that I can't have a blog called "I Crochet in Bars" if I don't actually crochet in bars, so I promised him I'd spend more time stitchin' at the Glenwood. It's also good marketing. I've made most of my sales because people have seen me crocheting at the bar. I've found that I've been crocheting much less since I bought my smart phone, and I really need to put down the phone and pick up the hook. This is the busy season, boys and girls! I gotsta get stitchin'!!

That's what's been going on in my little world. I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving. I sure did! Until next time, my darlings, Peace, Love and Yarn!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Don't Let the Perfect Get in the Way of the Good

This picture has precious little to do with the topic of my blog entry today -- it's just a quiet little reminder to vote.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program:

This morning I was privy to a conversation between Dreamy Gallery Owner and a gentleman named Tom who owns the Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park. At one point, Tom said that one of the tenets at the Heartland is, "Don't let the perfect get in the way of the good." I would like you to read that again. Go ahead -- it's good for you. I'll wait.

Perfectionism is such a dangerous obstacle in an artistic life. We pull out row after row of a knit or crochet project because there's one stitch that's not quite right. We edit and re-edit a line of a story until none of it makes sense. We erase and re-draw the shoulder of a figure drawing until the whole piece is smudged and torn. We rehearse that monologue until there's absolutely no possibility of discovery or authenticity. Perfectionism is the busywork version of procrastination. "I'm not procrastinating -- I'm working!!" Working on self-sabotage!!

When I first started crocheting in earnest, my Michael told me that when the Tibetans make rugs, they purposely put a flaw in every one because they believe that only their god is perfect. He instructed me to follow this practice in my crocheting. I continue to do this. Why? Because only God is perfect. So I stitch in a little flaw. It's liberating, it's humbling, and it allows me to happily finish projects and to avoid the frustration of constant frogging. You know what frogging is, right? It's when one is knitting or crocheting and tears out multitudes of stitches to eliminate an error. Get it? Rip it! Rip it! Stitching in an error also provides a little game for the recipient to see if they can spot the flaw.

I find my own struggle with perfectionism takes me out of the joy of the present moment. I've recently started paying attention to my tendency to veer into nostalgia for seemingly perfect moments of the past or dreaming of the potential perfection of the future when the real, important, flawed and beautiful present is where my focus should be. Lately when my mind wanders, I consciously focusing on bringing my attention back to the present. Don't get me wrong -- nostalgia and dreaming are both lovely and definitely have their place in a happy life. But it's when we miss out on the glorious fallibility of the present that we're cheating ourselves.

An example: I went camping with Dreamy Gallery Owner and three of our friends a few months ago. I cannot function without coffee in the morning, so I brought Starbucks VIA (magical instant coffee -- the only Starbucks product of which I fully approve) with me. VIA dissolves in any fluid at any temperature, so in an emergency situation I can just dump one in a bottle of water. In the morning, everyone awoke to a strong desire for coffee. Hot coffee. So Dreamy Gallery Owner rinsed out some soda cans from the night before, filled them with water, pulled up the tabs so he could fit a stick through them, and put the cans over the fire. When the water was hot, he put that stick through the tabs of the cans and pulled them off the fire. We dumped the water and the VIA into a bowl, mixed it, and put the coffee back into the soda cans. Combination coffee cup and hand warmer!! Was that a perfect way to make coffee? No, but it was the most wonderful, most memorable cup of coffee I've ever had!!

Don't let the perfect get in the way of the good. Sometimes good is good enough. I'll have more news for you on Friday. Peace, love and yarn, darlings!

Friday, November 2, 2012

"I Crochet So I Don't KILL People"

Last Wednesday my friend Lynn Lundgren, a member of the Lyric Opera Chorus and the crafting fairy godmother of the Opera, gave me a marvelous gift. She floated into the dressing room where I was working at the Opera House -- Lynn makes an entrance not unlike Glinda the Good Witch -- and presented me with a button that reads, "I crochet so I don't KILL people". Of course I immediately pinned it to my shirt. I now strike fear into the hearts of the supernumeraries of Lyric Opera Chicago when I don't have yarn in my hand!

But do I, in fact, crochet to stop me from breaking the Sixth Commandment? Not directly. Angry crocheting comes out uneven and wonky. Mistakes will be made. Knots will rear their ugly, snarled, little heads. And that will just add fuel to the fire -- I speak from experience. Also I like to put as much love into my crocheted goods as possible -- the people who wear them deserve all the love they can get!!

So why DO I crochet? I've been giving this some serious thought in the last week, since the advent in my life of Lynn's awesome pin. I've come up with several rather compelling reasons. Here they are, in no particular order. The repetitive motion and the counting make for my perfect form of moving meditation.  My breathing changes when I crochet. There's a beautiful letting go, which relaxes me and allows me to de-stress (thus the no killing). There are also wonderful people to crochet WITH! I crochet with opera singers, doctors, circus performers, interior designers, scientists, artists, athletes, U.S. servicemen, eleven-year-olds -- you name it! Would I be able to spend time with as diverse a crowd if we didn't share this one interest? Maybe not. It's also quite a conversation-starter on various forms of Chicago Public Transportation. So many people are intrigued by what I'm doing, and a lot of them ask me questions and tell me stories, mostly about their grandmothers. And then there's the yarn!! Yarn is so pleasing to multiple senses! I love the colors. I love the way yarn feels between my fingers. I love the way yarn smells.

I also love to design. I say that I hate it -- apparently I have a special sour face that I don when I'm designing a piece as I go (it was pointed out in two separate incidents in one night by friends who were watching me) -- and maybe the process of designing makes me a little nutso. But when I look at an item I've designed from a picture or replicated from an existing piece, there's no denying the sense of pride and accomplishment I feel.

I wear my pin proudly. It suits my personality. But now you know the real reasons that I crochet. And knowing is half the battle. That's all the news for now, darlings! Until next week, Peace, Love and Yarn!!