Monday, January 31, 2011

I Birthed a New Bead-Crocheter Today!

Monday, January 31, 2011
I always like to say, "A new crocheter was born into the world" when I teach someone how. Today it was a private lesson with friend, Donna, in bead crochet. Bead crochet is not for the feint of heart. Donna has knitted and crocheted all her life and she did great with her first lesson. After the normal initial period of awkwardness and feeling of frustration, she regained a normal breathing pattern and went at it again. Doing much better, she reminded herself that as with any new skill there is awkwardness to begin with.

Here are some pictures that illustrate that the initial "new-skill jitters" are well worth it!

Donna's lesson was a warm-up for the class I will be teaching on Feb. 23 at A String Thing (weekly crochet/knit group) here in Ajijic. I hope to have up to 7 students for that class. I really DO love sharing my love of bead crochet!

This must be the Season, but I find it so amazing and enjoyable to watch the flowers blooming in our yard. The air is so fresh and the sun so intense that I can see them progressing mm X mm daily. We've had one gladiola open and it's unfolding was beautiful. Unfortunately, I didn't get a shot of it. I swear my bougainvilla is growing inches per day.
There is a story behind it which makes this so satisfying. Last year I had to have a talk with the gardenr because he kept trimming the bougainvilla and chopping off the flowers. To me, a huge part of the thrill of this house it its bougainvilla. The chopping had to stop!!

Bird of Pradise-Amazing!

Delicate little Lantana flowers-a new one each day!

We hopped on a bus on Sat. and went to Chapala, a 30 minute ride. We wandered on the pier by Lake Chapala (the largest lake in Mexico) enjoying the sun and the market. We had lunch at El Sapote (the frog) and happened on to an art competition at the American Legion. Artists decorated wooden walking sticks and winners were chosen.

Profits from the sales benefitted the Rotary. You had to be there!

We stopped to admire a house and saw this band lugging their instruments to a gig!

Monday, January 24, 2011

This Week in Ajijic

Monday January 24, 2011
Another week in paradise; time seems to be flying. Last night we met up with a couple from our home town-friends of friends-due to the beauty of the internet we were connected and had a really nice time comparing notes about life her in Ajijic. They have come down for the last 3 years and always rent a place for 4-6 months. We had a pretty good Chinese dinner together at a non-Chinese restaurant, Roberto's, last night. They even offered "PF Changs-style Lettuce Wraps." That's a hoot! I had the honey walnut shrimp that was just about as good as I've had in Chinatown, Chicago.

We also had our first forwarded mail arrive at Mailboxes Etc. since we've been here. My Defining Crochet! magazine was included in the lot, so that was fun!

A nice long walk to the boardwalk in late afternoon.
A dead tree in the lake where egrets perch.
Once the sun begins to set, it happens really fast!Maybe the Tecate and guacamole at the restaurant on the pier distracted us a bit!

I've crocheted quite a bit this week and was able to concentrate on my on-going freeform crochet project. This is a year long process that I sponsor on my designer page on Ravelry. For those of you who know, I am crochetkween there and my group is cro-kween designs. We get an instruction once a week and these stitches or process is added to our piece. We only have 12 weeks to go and it is hard to believe. We have created a very friendly and talented community there.

I have dedicated my creation to my mother, Dorothy who died on Dec. 29, 2009. Her favorite color was red and that is my inspiration. I am using only shades of red.

This is my progress so far. The process has been very inspiring and challenging.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Photo Essay of My Week

Monday, January 17, 2011

It takes a lot of planning and thinking to move thousands of miles from home for three months! I am finding out how convenient it is to have a lifetime of collections at my fingertips at "home." I have lots of time to crochet here, but I am finding that with each project I start, there is some little niggling thing that hangs me up: the gorgeous "Fat-Bottom Purse" in linen-no handles; Anniversary Miser Purse-no plastic ring to connect the chains (that one was resolved at the hardware store-yay! commplete!); cute little scarf from Vicki Howell, but didn't have the right yarn. No matter, I made it anyway.
It turned out too big, but that's okay. It will make a nice gift one day when I need one in a hurry. As they say here, "asi es la vida." (Such is life).

I'm not complaining. In April when I am back in my studio, I will have a week when I rangle all those niggling little things together and I will look like a Super-Crocheter finishing so much in one week!

Here are a few photos that show a bit of our life this week in Ajijic.
Our Casita

While we were on a walk, I spied this very dead-looking vine clinging to a wall. "Perfect for yarn=bombing," I thought.

The Queen adorning Mother nature with crochet

Close Up: Flowers in black (death) with a touch of pink (hope). The lady sitting nearby on the street selling candy and chips was convinced that this vine will flower again when the rains start in May. Let's hope so. Meanwhile, it is a study in texture and fiber.
We went to an art show at a gallery. The murals on the walls were as interesting, if not moreso, than the art! Picture this mural running up the wall and then continuing overhead. Impressive!!

While walking in our neighborhood, we were admiring the bougainvilla and the owner saw us. She invited us in to see her garden. WOW, she has a GREEN thumb. I was most impressed with a piece of volcanic rock that had a small hole in it which she filled with the tiniest of cati (1/2"). One even had a bloom. Miraculous!
Poinsettas grow wild here!
I am watching my bougainvilla grow by the inches everyday! Note the contrasting colors over the neighbor's wall against the sky.
Bottle Brush plant
Art Show on the Plaza
Both Americans and Mexicans participate.

After the show, we went to LaBodega Restaurant where they were holding a fundraiser for the Tarahumara Indians of the Copper Canyon. A woman from here drives there once a year and delivers blankets which are donated by the community. Apparently they go down into the canyon in winter to stay warm and still it is very cold for these cave dwellers. We gave a really heavy blanket in hopes that it will warm someone this winter.
The pasta buffet wasn't exactly what we were expecting, but we enjoyed it, especially the guacamole! A portion of the meal sales went to the Tarahumara also. To learn more, there is an easy read on Wikipedia:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ya Get Whatcha Pay For

Monday, January 1, 2011
If you like what I write, become a FOLLOWER!

A few designers have been chatting and we have decided to band together on an educational mission. We want the crocheting, pattern-reading community to know and understand what goes into the creation of a crochet design/pattern.

For those of you not interested in the process of designing, I have summarized so you can skip that part. To see a photo essay of my first week in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico scroll down.
-An innate sense of wonder is essential to translate inspiration to design
-A "day job" helps pay the bills!
-Time and little need for sleep!
-Physical act of making the product
-Writing the pattern instructions
-Layout, graphics illustrations, diagrams
-Photography, digital retouching
-Marketing: social media, blog, newsletters

Submitting an idea to a magazine or book publisher requires TIME.
I must admit that many, many of my design ideas come to me in the shower! Right there I am saving the pattern-buying public money because I am multi-tasking. I don't usually sit down at a drawing board and say to myself, "Okay, now it is time to design such and suc." I could view an object while I am on a walk; I could view a stitch pattern in a "crochet bible"; I could view a skein of yarn. Suddenly an inspiration pops into my head; and I think and think about what I could do with that inspiration.

Many of the designs that I have created have first been done for my own enjoyment, as an experiment or as something I wanted to make and wear. I could have enjoyed wearing it for some time or it could have laid around for months until I found a place where this design would find a home and fit in perfectly.

It is extremely difficult to make a living as a designer!!!! Having a shuga momma or poppa helps a lot! On this plan, the designer is not encumbered with the interruptions of a day job! There is a very elite group of designers who actually are making a living as designers and I even have my doubts about how well their "living" is. One would have to be cranking out AT LEAST one design per day and submitting each design somewhere daily and having each design accepted daily, as well, to keep the paychecks flowing fast enough. Most, I would say, get a huge charge from seeing their name and their design in print. From there, when the going gets tough, they throw in the towel and go back to their real life.

Submitting a design to a magazine or book publisher requires CONFIDENCE.
What makes me think that an editor would be interested in one of my designs? That is the never-ending question. Sometimes the editor is not even sure what she/he wants!! I have submitted an idea eights months in advance of when it would be published and have had an editor come scurrying to me wanting that idea "yesterday." Somehow, the stars were aligned and my idea fit perfectly with whatever she/he is thinking so she needs it NOW.

I have been crocheting for thirty-nine years! That's a lot of practice. Some people have practiced for that long but never ventured very far away from a couple of stitches. Thanks to the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA), the Embroidery Guild of America, and the National Needlearts Association, I have taken countless classes and have been exposed to an infinite wealth of knowlege through the other crocheters, teachers and designers whom I have met. I have spent countless thousands of dollars honing my skills at crochet conference classes, local classes, buying books, magazines, volunteering my time on committees and projects. It is all part of the learning process.

Time builds confidence, as does feeling a sense of belonging that comes from membership in communities such as CGOA, Ravelry and Facebook. Unless I try, submit my ideas and wait, I won't know if an editor likes my designs. Time and experience has also taught me that I must be prepared to *accept* *rejection"!!

Submitting an idea to a magazine or book publisher takes SKILL.
Not only does an idea need to be firmly embedded in the head, but it also must be physically possible to execute. I may need to experiment and try several techniques or stitches to actually get the object to look the way I envisioned it in my mind. This could take hours or days, depending on how intensely I want to persevere with it. Swatching is a practical and quick way to test stitches to determine if the proposed concept drapes beautifully or holds it shape stiffly. From there, math becomes the designer's friend. Gauge is extremely important and must be accurate in order for a finished garment, or even a crocheted piece of jewelry, to fit the intended size of person. Counting and measuring....a perfectly shaped and perfectly fit garment cannot be created without these.

Taking classes, attending conferences, sharing with other designers and on the job training, studying crochet books and teaching are all essential parts that lead the way to obtaining these skills.

Submitting a design to a magazine or book requires Non-Crochet Skills.
Unless we can afford to hire others to do the following tasks, we must somehow learn to do photography, graphics and layout as well as marketing.

I've rambled on long enough and I think you must understand. So, the next time you choose between a free pattern on the internet (which may have been stolen from a legitimate designer and copied for sale) and one you pay for, think of the sincere effort put into the professional pattern and the skills that the designer paid for in blood, sweat and tears. Reward the professional designer with a pattern purchase!
We are no different than lawyers or doctors who have spent years in training and many hours and dollars in education. We have skills that are unique to our profession and we deserve respect!

A photo collage of our first week in Ajijic:
The boardwalk (malecon) along Lake Chapala
New sculpture on the main highway near our house

You don't often see murals or doors like this in the states-maybe in Santa Fe

The plaza in Ajijic, Three Kings Day display, church on the plaza

The bougainvilla couldn't be more brilliant!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Internet Life Continues

Although I am miles and miles away from where I posted last week, my life on the Internet remains the same! Although my view out the window is SO different: bougainvilla dripping down the walls of our house

instead of bitter cold sunny days, I can keep in close touch with family and friends, plan new activities for Cro-Kween Designs my Ravelry design page, and post photos of my latest design and article that has just appeared in Crochet! magazine.

It's amazing; no, downright miraculous. Hubby and I are so thorouhly addicted to the internet that it is a really good thing that our house has dsl internet. What you say? How can that be in Mexico, a country often perceived as somewhat backward? Well, yes, there's that. Here are some examples of what we are adjusting to:
-We only have a two-cup coffee pot in a land where the coffee is so rich, fragrant and delectable to a couple who are ALSO addicted to caffeine! Something is not right with this picture!
-Tap water is not safe to drink, so we put $5.00 worth of coins on the curb with two big 240 ml (6.4) gallon jugs on top and voila! Along somes a friendly fellow twice a week to deliver full jugs and hook them up to the dispenser!
-We don't have a car ; we could but we figure it is forced exercise to walk everywhere in our little village. Yesterday we did our first grocery run and thankfully Alan took the back pack. We went to the closest grocery which is probably only 5 blocks and carried home everything easily. We did decide to skip the liter of Diet Coke as our load was getting large. That's for today's list as we explore a different grocery.
-We have to get up before 9:00 am on Mon. Wed. and Fri. unless we want the housekeeper to walk in and see us being slow-to-get-started (lazy!)
-We can't flush toilet paper....but then it is the housekeeper's job to empty the wastebaskets! Am I offering TMI? Hi Jeff!!

So, that's some food for thought. We've settled in slowly and unpacked. I've found a place for everything and am getting itchy fingers to re-arrange some furniture to make it feel like home. We brought over 200 pounds in our luggage and lucked out without any overage fees. Don't ask. Everything arrived, I think. I am missing one crochet work-in-progress but am sure I will find it once I get to making a quick search around the house.

Our tree is loaded with oranges ready to be squeezed daily for breakfast juice!