Monday, June 24, 2013

I am a Chicago Blackhawk

Tonight is a very big night for me. You see, I am a Chicago Blackhawk. I'm a member of the team. No, I don't ice skate. No, I don't have access to the players' entrance at the Madhouse on Madison. Yes, all my teeth are my own. And yet, I am a member of the team.

How am I, a plus-sized, middle-aged GIRL, a member of the Chicago Blackhawks? There is an ever-growing coterie of hardcore Blackhawks fans who are of the belief that if I crochet -- especially if I crochet with red yarn -- during a Blackhawks game, more often than not we will come out victorious. I remember one Saturday night much earlier in the season when I had been working at the Lyric and had completely forgotten the Hawks were playing. I went to the Glenwood after work and the Hawks were down by one with about two minutes left in the third period. My dear friend Wally was bartending that night, and he rushed over to me and said, "Dawn-Marie! We're losing! DO SOMETHING!!"

"It's all right, Wally -- I got this," I replied calmly as I pulled yarn and a hook out of my handbag. I started to crochet as I resumed my conversation with another bar patron. And shortly thereafter, the Hawks tied it up. I think it was about two minutes into overtime when the Hawks scored the winning goal. And there I sat, calmly and diligently crocheting them to victory.

It doesn't always work. It didn't work last Monday. But it works the vast majority of the time. So tonight, I'll be at the Glenwood with some red yarn. And I'll do my part, right along with my teammates and Coach Q, to win the Stanley Cup tonight. Game time is 7:00. I am a Chicago Blackhawk.

Until next time, Peace, (radical) Love, and Yarn!!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Neuro Knitting

Darlings, people send me the coolest things! For example, just yesterday, my friend Eric Paige, a local artist, sent me this picture of a Mini Cooper that has been expertly yarn-bombed.

On Tuesday, my cousin Beth Lau, creative genius and fellow crocheter, sent me a link to an article on the website for KDFC, the San Francisco Bay area classical music station. This article was about Neuro Knitting. It seems visual artists Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet teamed up with a science-y kind of music guy, Sebastian Maella, who studies Brain Tangible User Interfaces with the Music Technology Group in Barcelona (Please pronounce it "Barthelona". Let's be proper globe-trotters and use the Castilian pronunciation. Thank you.) got together and came up with this awesome project. In the video, they hooked Sr. Guljajeva up to a non-invasive EEG headset which was connected to a knitting loom. The EEG measured his brain waves while he listened to music. In this case, they used Bach's Goldberg Variations. The knitting loom then facilitated the embodiment of those brain waves into a scarf pattern. The mind reels! This is brilliant!

Here's a picture of Sr. Guljajeva on the left in his scarf and another gentleman (my research leads me to believe it is NOT Sr. Canet) in his scarf on the right. Purportedly they listened to the same piece of music. Look at the difference in the scarves!

I would like to participate in this project. I would like my scarf to be made of my brain waves when listening to Blondie's Parallel Lives album. I would wear that scarf proudly.

Thanks to my brilliant cousin Beth for making me aware of this slice of awesomeness! That's all the news for now. Knit Night at Squiggly's is cancelled tonight because Rico is not feeling well. Until next time, my angels, Peace, (radical) Love, and Yarn!!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Preparing for Camp

I'm about to embark on my second summer of teaching summer arts camps for the City of Evanston. Yes, my off-season job is just as much fun as my opera job! My days will be filled with Mod Podge and pony beads and felt and glitter. Lots and lots of glitter!

I've found that Pinterest makes me a much more inspired teacher. I created boards for each camp I teach, and I started collecting images in October. Writing my curricula was a snap because I just worked from my boards and grouped the projects in a way that made sense, then clicked on the pins to get to the websites with instructions and supply lists. Last year I sat and stewed and tried to come up with ideas on my own, then do Google searches for supply lists. Thanks, Pinterest, for making me extra-awesome!

My boss invented the brilliant "Snacktivity", an edible activity that goes along with the day's lesson plan. Several of my Snacktivities for my camps contain Nutella, the delicious chocolate hazelnut spread that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that God exists and wants us to be happy. My Habibi has never had Nutella and doesn't understand my fascination with the stuff. He has come to the conclusion that I must be the heiress to the Nutella fortune, which is why I'm exposing my campers to the substance so that they'll beg their parents for it, thus expanding my Nutella empire. My Habibi is a very silly man.

Surprisingly, one of the most popular crafts with my campers last year was crocheting. Kids would come up to me every day and ask if we were crocheting that day. There was even a camper who drew a beautiful, colorful sign on the chalkboard that said, "I Love Croshay" (sic). I armed them with N-sized hooks (the size of a Sharpie marker) and light-colored yarn so they could see what they were doing. I taught them the importance of yarn tension. And I taught them to chain stitch. Some of them chain stitched -- just chain stitched -- for almost an hour! Two of my campers had their mothers take them to Tom Thumb to get yarn and crochet hooks of their very own. They loved the chain stitch! Personally, I think of the chain stitch as a means to an end. These kids thought crocheting chains WAS the end! This year I will teach them to Finger Crochet. They'll. Be. Ecstatic!!

Tonight is my Stitch 'n' Bitch at the Glenwood, 7-?. I hope to see you there! I'll probably be crocheting a red heart scarf for WomenHeart. Until next time my darlings, Peace, (radical) Love, and Yarn!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Herrschners Afghan Contest, or Timing is Everything

Through one of the bazillion crochet pages I follow on Facebook, I saw a link for the Herrschners Afghan Contest. I was so excited! I've become the self-proclaimed Princess of the Baby Blanket in recent months, and here was my chance to show the world -- or at least the fine people at Herrschners -- and win some cash money, as well as fame and notoriety and the acclaim of my stitching peers! Darlings, I was READY to compete!

And then I clicked on the link to the contest information and saw the entry deadline. Entry forms must be received by June 15. Afghans must be received by July 15. I'll be in the thick of the Arts Camp Teaching season, and I'm planning to move residences at the end of June. It would appear that my life is much too chaotic to add in the pressure of creating an award-winning afghan. Alas.

I really enjoyed reading Herrschners' Tips for a Winning Afghan.
  • Avoid mixed dye lots in your afghan.
  • Take all steps necessary to keep your afghan clean and free of lint or hair.
  • Make sure your afghan has nicely squared edges and evenly worked borders – this shows off your stitching and designing abilities.
  • Use a hook or needle size that creates an afghan with body and a nice drape. A gauge that is too loose makes an afghan limp; gauge that is too tight makes an afghan stiff. Make a gauge swatch to test how the finished afghan will feel, and choose a hook or needle size accordingly.
  • Chose colors that reflect today’s decorating styles, colors that coordinate pleasingly or add to your design.
  • Choose a size appropriate to your category. The size must be useable for the purpose intended. If you are making a large counterpane style afghan, bedspread size is appropriate. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are making a baby afghan, a size that comfortably covers an infant or toddler is appropriate. We look for afghans that people will love making AND using.
They gave me a warm, cozy feeling, kind of like reading a small-town newspaper. I like that feeling. It's like a hug from a favorite aunt.

Last year's winning entries are absolutely gorgeous! Do yourself a favor and take a look at them. As for me, I will be dreaming up designs for next year's Herrschners Afghan Contest when I'm not preparing for Crafters Camp and Princess Camp or cleaning, sorting, and packing for a move!

Tonight is an abbreviated Knit/Crochet Night at Squiggly's. I'll be there for an hour or so, encouraging people to make squares for Windy Knitty's Oklahoma Project. Deadline for squares is next Thursday, June 13. Until next time, my darlings, Peace, (radical) Love, and Yarn!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Aid to Oklahoma

Darlings, you know how I love to crochet for a good cause!! Our friends at Windy Knitty Yarn Shop in Andersonville are working on a great project right now! They're collecting 8" squares, either knitted or crocheted in washable yarn, to sew together into blankets for the tornado relief effort in Oklahoma. Would you love to help but you're short of cash and can't afford to buy yarn for this project? That's okay -- they have a giant bin of washable yarn that people have donated for others to stitch up! If you sweet talk our good friend Rico Blanco at Squiggly's, he might be willing to let you use some scrap yarn too.

The good folks at Windy Knitty are also having Sewing Parties where people can volunteer to sew those squares together. Those events are Sunday, June 9, from noon til 5 and Thursday, June 13, from 6-9. There will be snacks. Please feel free to bring goodies to share.

If you have 8" squares you'd like to donate and can't get them to Windy Knitty, you can bring them to me or leave them with Rico at Squiggly's.

Tonight at 7 is my Stitch 'n' Bitch at the Glenwood, where I will have scrap yarn and will be encouraging everyone to stitch up a square. Until next time, my darlings, Peace, (radical) Love, and Yarn!!