Monday, October 25, 2010

The Gemini Factor

Our luck is holding out because the temperature is remaining balmy although the leaves are turning colors and drying and the winds are beginning to blow. As a "feel" of fall begins to fill our senses, my thoughts are turning to my first-ever winter in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico. You will be hearing more about my life and house in Ajijic when we get there and you can read earlier posts from my vacation there in 2009:

As I begin to make lists about what to take to Mexico I began to also think about what a different life it is there. I feel like my soul has one foot in Mexico and one in Chicago. I am, afterall, a Gemini, and I do have two personalities. I have clothes for Mexico and clothes for Chicago. The same goes for jewelry. There is some overlap but somehow certain pieces of apparel just work better there than here in the Midwest!

Now, don't get me wrong...I have friends here in Chicago who are Gringas that speak Spanish. We call ourselfves, "Las Chicas" and we get together about every month to taste the tastes in the abundant number of Mexican restaurants in our area.

Las Chicas at Mariscos del Mar

We also have a couples dinner group, "Amigos de Mexico," that explores Latino restaurants of all kinds.
Amigos de Mexico at our house
Hopefully, they will visit us in Ajijic, and try out their Spanish, for real!

This time of year I create a shrine in the living room for Day of the Dead, a tradtional Mexican Holiday to remember our relatives and pets who have passed on.
Someday, my goal is to have all the treasured latino artifacts in the Mexico house and all the rest here in Chicago. Dual inspiration in dual houses!

I have plans to do latino-inspired crochet designs while in my little casa in our village of 10,000. I could do that here,and have been thinking about it for month or years. I have done some of that kind of designing before but I want to do more. When I was on the blog radio show, Getting Loopy, a few weeks ago, I was gratified that one of the callers commented about my ethnic inspired works. So it shows, huh? My goal is to have that be a stronger identity for my latino-self.

"Fiesta Ole" Bracelets from Kooky Crochet published by Lark

"Famous Faces Series: Frida I" Bead-Crochet Brooch

"Mexico Motif" Flat-work Bead Crochet Brooch published in Beadwork magazine

I think the warm atmophere and slow pace of living in Ajijic will be more conducive to me getting busy and really setting my focus toward this type of designing. The sights, the sounds, the smells-they are different! I have crochet and artist friends there and I will experience exthic craftworkers. Oooh, the creative juices are starting to flow already, but wait! I have two months to wait yet and I have ideas leaking out of the Chicago-side of my brain that must come to fruition now. The fingers can't loop quick enough, but every stitch is shear joy!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Internet: We've Come a Long Way, Baby

Monday, October 18, 2010
I am on my computer every day and I check into Facebook and Ravelry daily too. I am proud of my internet skills and I am appreciative of my sharp braincells as a result of the HUGE learning curve I have embarked upon to get to where I am today. I am slightly annoyed at those who like to say that those who spend time on Facebook has "no life." I just write off comments like that as jealousy or lack of confidence to navigate their way. I have a life and that's what I write about.

In 1992 when I was taking the first baby steps in forming the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA), I was using an Apple computer merely like a keyboard. The internet was just starting to bubble and my dear friend and neighbor, Gerry, and I were both starting to learn. Since she and I were the only "contacts" we had, we decided that each time we would send an email, we would have to let the other person know. It wasn't like today when we just pop on the computer for a daily check. There wasn't enough activity then to do that. So, collectively, we decided that we should signal the other when an email was waiting by tying a red rag in a tree in the yard in plain sight from the recipient's house! Gerry and I have senses of humors and we're slightly crazy, but mostly we were just excited about email and proud to be using it. Our kids thought we were nuts and the neighbors had no clue what those flags meant, but it makes for great laughts yet today when our kids now in their late 20s and 30s like to go down memory lane.

We moved into the Court from FL in August 1985 and Gerry and I both had kids in the same 2nd grade classroom with Mrs Buob starting later that month. No one that I remember welcomed us to the Court and it was a long, cold winter. In the Spring, Gerry and I found ourselves in the same circle in Mrs. Buob's classroom for parents' visitation. We realized we were neighbors and spoke for the first time. I still harass her for not welcoming me to the neighborhood and at the very least, bringing me a basket of warm muffins!

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and Gerry and I have become dear friends. She is not a crocheter and I thnk I have made it clear here that crochet is my life. Gerry did do needlepoint at one point in her life and I taught her sister-in-law to crochet. Does that qualify for things in common?

Gerry leapt ahead with her computer skills and in the early days of the Chain Link newsletter, she was volunteering to do the layout for me. As membership grew, crocheters took over the newsletter job, but Gerry's contribution was a lifesaver for me! I leapt ahead of her on Facebook; and last I checked, she still didn't have her photo there. She's said numerous times she wants me to come over and help her learn to upload pictures!

We've been through a lot together: ups and downs, successes and disappointments, tears of joy and sadness, marriages, divorces, grandchildren and deaths. Gerry's passion is golf; my passion is crochet. They say a person is lucky to have 2 or 3 real friends in a lifetime. It is not often that one has a dear friend and one who lives close enough to be able to see their light in the window. No, we don't share a crochet connection, but our connection is strong nevertheless.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Crochetqueen is Learning to Knit!

Of course in my crochet-friendly, fiber community at my LYS, I am exposed to many knitters who are doing marvelous projects that I greatly admire. For years I have been feeling like I "should" be able to knit. I even went so far as to buy the Debbie Bliss How to Knit book and I learned to knit-stitch from a student nurse when I was working at the hospital. I had a weekly crochet group there for our clients with dementia. Heck, I know how to do every other type of needlework and have tried them all, embroidery, cross stitch, needlepoint, quiltng, tatting, sewing.....Why not knitting? Somehow, though, the knitting book never came off the shelf and I never went any further than knit-stitch.
So, last week the day finally came when I woud receive some professional knittig lessons from Chris at Fuzz Wuzzy Yarns.

Chris owes me for crochting ashop model for her store-see "My Crochet Home" I am taking my pay in services and product rather than cold hard cash! She is providing me with hr standard beginner knit class: four 2-hour lessons, bamboo needles and a skein of yarn. She has also ordered the new Rowan Summer Crochet Book for me.

In the days preceding my first lesson, there was a lot of teasing and joking about the "Crochetqueen" learning to knit. Chris was acting like she was having a bit of trepidation about teachng the "Queen" to knit and the resulting pressure from having to do so. Secretly, I thnk she was pleased that I chose her as my teacher. There was little bit of "You'll never believe who's going to learn to knit" going around the shop.

Jenny he other knitting teacher in the store told Chris to teach me Continental style even though Christ knits American style and is a little awkward with Continental. Well, a couple of minutes into the lesson, Chris saw tht I already knew how to do knitting in Americn style so we made the exeutive decision to proceed in that method. It was smooth sailng from there. After learning to cast on and a little bit of practie knitting, we moved on to purling. Voila, I was knitting! Chris is a good teacher!

After an hour and a half, she was going to move on to whatever she teaches next to beginners, but I was exhausted and we decided I could take a break, practice this week and come back for more next Thursday. It was a lot of fun and I am proud!

Let's I am wont to do! I have never bashed knitter and I have always insisted that we croheters in the CGOA as a group should never stoop to the ways of Eizabeth Zimmerman who influenced a generation and legions of knitters to look down upon crocheters. There is NO reason for such discrimination! She caused a lot of grief that lingers still today and I am outing her! I don't care how much knitters look up to their EZ!!!

I had begun to notice, though, when sittig at Fuzzy Wuzzy Fiber Nights that when they realized I was sitting there crocheting or Chris would tell them I am the "Crochetqueen", they would invariably ask "Do you knit also?" I would always answer, "I can knit a little, but dont know much." That's the truth. I would explain further that my "crochet to-do" list is just so long, that I don't get around to knitting." They'd except that, but I always had the feeling that somewhere in the reaches of their minds they were judging me and thinking that I am just not quite complete because I don't have two sticks in my tool belt.

I could be completely wrong. I could be paramoid from my MANY negative experiences in the
70s and 80s at crochet-UNfriendly LYSs! The times they are a-changin' and many shops like Chris' are doing much to promote their services to all of the fiber arts not just knitting. In my humble opinion, that is just smart business!!

I never want to put down anyone or any kind of needlework to elevate my own ego and I don't think there is any reason for it. All fiber lovers should be able to stitch happily together with the common goal of just enjoying the process and the outcome, whatever shape or form it takes. I'm happy I am learning to knit. I love knitted cables and I look forward to reaching the point of being able to be skillful enough to make them. What I really want to do it to make a project that envelopes the best of both knit and crochet together, so that the "sister stitches" can reside happily in one project!

Meanwhile, the Queen is on her way to becoming truly bi-stitural. Thanks, Chris! I feel no pressure to prove anything to knitters with my new skills; nor do I think that I will ever be able to dedicate as much energy to knitting as I do crochet because afterall, my "crochet to-do list" keeps growing and I will be lucky to finish it before I die!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

CGOA Hall of Fame

Tues. October 5, 2010
I was honored to be invited by Cari Clement of Caron Yarns back in August to participate in a new Crochet Guild of America committee: The Hall of Fame. Since then our committee has met a couple of times and we have established the guidelines for this great idea that Cari has initiated.

It's got me thinking about all those wonderful crocheters from the 70s that I so admire. I still have their books and find inspiration from them each time I take a peek. Who do you admire in the crochet world? Who has inspired you? Who has made a lasting impression on you?

Here are the basics: "The CGOA Hall of Fame will reconize those who, over the years, have made a significant and lasting contribution to the art and craft of crochet. We invite all CGOA members to send us suggestions of people to nominate. Don't neglect to consider..... Who inspired your teachers? Who runs your favorite art-to-wear shop? Who wrote your favorite books? The possibilities are endless.....

Who has paved the way for crochet to become what it is today? There are the crochet artists, those who take crochet in a totally revolutionary direction. There are the promoters and educators who have been instrumental in expanding the reach and knowledge of crochet to all of us. There are all the other promoters including gallery owners, authors, editors and many more. Think BIG, think CREATIVE, think ICONS!

This project will not only be a lot of fun, but it will make us all really think, really research and really get inspired!

Please send your suggestion, along with a few sentences that describe why YOU think he or she deserves to be nominated by the committee, to:
If possible, please include contact information for that person."