Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Last Week in Paradise

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I was super busy yesterday wrapping up our three-month stay here in Ajijic: last manicure; eating one last time at a favorite restaurant, Tony's; picking up the mail one last time; boxing up some things to leave in the house; working on technical difficulties with PayPal and wrestling with YouTube!

Life just doesn't slow down! I don't want it to! Well, maybe sometimes....I purposely didn't kill myself to blog last night because today is the launch of my new e-newsletter, "Talking Crochet" and I wanted to share the link with you! I am the newest editor and I write the newsletter once a month sharing it with another editor. This is the second edition of the newsletter that I have written and I don't know what happened last month; I didn't promote it. I was probably still so shocked that they approached me to be the Editor and so mesmerized by my new life in Ajijic, that I just plain forgot! If the link doesn't go directly to my latest edition, check the archives for March 29, 2011.
Sign up to receive your own; it's free!

I've been wanting to do a video on bead-crochet forever. On April 3, I am launching a Bead-Crochet Crochet-Along (CAL) on my designer fan group on Ravelry. So, no time like the present to get my video tutorial up there on YouTube. If you are interested in learning bead-crochet, go to www.youtube.com and search
Basic Bead-Crochet 1 (of 3)
Basic Bead-Crochet 2 (of 3)
Basic Bead-Crochet 3 (of 3)
or click here:
If you already like to do bead-crochet, I hope you will join me on Ravelry for the CAL, April 3! http://www.ravelry.com/groups/cro-kweendesigns

Friend Sheila graciously invited us to make one last trip to Guadalajara to go shopping the the tourist area called Tlaquepaque (say that 3 times!) last Saturday. This is an area that features folk art from all around Mexico, as well as upscale derivations of same to meet the needs of modern homes all over the world. It is a "must-see" kind of place for us even though we already have tons of folk art from Mexico. Nevertheless, it is always inspirational.

This time there were two very special and divergent highlights. The moment we stepped out of our parking garage, we were captivated by a shop in which huge, colorful and almost floating flowers drew us in. At second look, what were they but mixed media with CROCHET! The crochet was combined with shapes made of some kind of printed plastic. Out of respect for the artist, I will not describe them in any more detail, but here is just one photo:

The second highlight was at a restaurant Sheila took us to for lunch: deep fried hibiscus flowers! We had never tasted this delightful appetizer, let alone heard of it! the thought of the crunchy goodness inside a spongy delicious tortilla covered with bleu cheese sauce still has me grinning!

Here are some views of our day in Tlaquepaque:
Del Corazon de la Tierra: Tribal Arts

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ajijic: An Artist Colony

Monday, March 21, 2011
Most every region in Mexico, from Oaxaca to the Yucatan, has a rich history of folk art. Ajijic, where we have spent a very pleasant winter, is designated in guidebooks as an artist colony. It is true, there are numerous shops and boutiques where art is for sale. Foreigners with a bent toward the artistic seem to gravitate to this town and live out their later years fulfilling their desires to create art or explore their lifelong hobbies further. Indigenous artisans find their way to Ajijic to sell their wares at the weekly open-air market and along the lakefront of Lake Chapala which attaracts many visitors.

Today, I want to compile photos of the colorful artisans and their art. I may have mentioned some of them in passing over the last 10 weeks, but here they are all in one place in their glorious color and creativity.
Just everyday life: painting on a local house.

Metal sculptures in the plaza for Three Kings Day
Art on the walls at the Cultural Center
Art for Sale on the Plaza. They think nothing of reproducing works like Frida Kahlo!

Mural on the Plaza

A Cheerfully Decorated Shop

Painting on Our House: Casa Tecolote (Owl House)
Colorful Fruit Displayed Artistically to Simulate Aztec Pyramids
Mural on Chameleon Bar

Making Corn Husk Flowers
Making Leather Shoes

Cooking Tripe on the Street: An Art in Itself!

Huichol Bead Art

Ex-Pats Adding to Their Manual Skills: Bead-Crochet Class

Stitch Y Bitch: Mexico!

Inside a Gallery
Twig Art

Our daughter's (and our) friend, Antonio, from Culiacan visited us yesterday. He brought us this unique gourd art which has added a colorful bit of cheer to our living room.
Antonio explained that this is the only folk art typical to his state of Sinaloa. It is primarily an agricultural state, producing corn and tomatoes. In fact there is a Campbell's Soup processing plant there.

We hadn't seen Antonio in five years and we had a wonderful visit with him!

Weaver From Oaxaca

Monday, March 14, 2011


Monday, March 14, 2011 I've known for a long time that I just can get enough of color. I also know that I have a very hard time paring down or limiting colors. especially when it comes to crocheting a project or starting from scratch to design one!

For 46 weeks now, I have been participating in a freeform crochet Crochet-Along: Freeform Fun & Fivolity. It is a special project on my designer Fan Page at Ravelry.
You can see photos of all of our creations here:www.ravelry.com/groups/cro-kween designs
I chose to do each of the weekly instructions in some shade of red. It is a study in red and dedicated to my mother and her favorite color.

A year sounded like a long time for this project, but now it is hard to believe that it will be over in just 5 more weeks. We have a group of about 54 enthusiastic free-formers and very creative crocheters. It is amazing to see what they come up with each week with their own interpretations of the instructions. Most instructions have been provided by the fantastic twisted1 and lupa (Ravelry names) and now and then they enlist the help of Designers for a Day (DFAD). They deserve a break now and then, and fresh energy comes through from the designers who don't have to come up with clever instructions that often.

We have an on-going chat thread also and track our progress with photos and conversation, supporting each other and sharing knowlege. We have all commented that we have learned so much from the wonderful crochet techniques provided each week.

Here is what I did this week from colorfool's (how appropriate!) instructions:

This is my progress so far on the entire piece.

As far as color goes, I am over-stimulated here in Mexico. It is a colorful place. The Mexicans use color in the most fascinating and unexpected ways, and each day is a new color adventure for me as I walk around the village. Then there are my fingernails which ended up a neon-orange after my manicure today! Here are some photos whose color palates excited me...and these are just from today!
Mother Nature's Confetti: The Jacaranda blossoms don't last too long, but when they fall they hold their color.
The growth of my bougainvilla has been phenomenal. I am so pleased!

Two-tone House

The Vista Looking onto our Neighborhood

What More Can I Say After This One? It's a Wrap!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Evolution of a Banana and a Community

Monday, March 7, 2011
One year ago today, I started a "Designer Fan Page" on Ravelry: Cro-Kween Designs.

Today we are having a virtual party all day, with games (first one in progress NOW), food, all kinds of Courtly craziness from the Kween's Minions and some surprises! The party will culminate in the Chat Room with the Kween starting at 3 pacific time. Join in if you can, with Royal questions or anything crochet-related for the Kween!
What started with just a member or two (hummywinger being one of the first!) has

grown to 426 as of today. We like parties here and every time we reach another 100 members, we celebrate and the Kween gives a prize!
One of our first Crochet-Alongs (CAL)at Cro-Kween Designs has been a very successful Freeform Crochet CAL. We call it "Freeform Fun & Frivolity" and in the able hands of Twisted1 and Lupa we have definitely had fun and we have been challenged by the weekly insrtuctions which allows us to create a crochet motif or segment to be added to our creation. We post photos of our progress on the thread

and chat about the steps, challenges and fun, plus all kinds of other silly chat by the Minions! It is unbelievable to see the vast variety that each and every freeform CAL participant comes up with. Their individual creativity and personality shines through in a myriad of ways from identical instructions presented to them! Amazing to see their projects grow!

Along the way, an international community has grown.

I have members in the group from 35 countries, last count. Our language of choice is English, but we accept any language and do our best to communicate and share with everyone. The creativity in the group is amazing and the passion for crochet is even more amazing!! We have threads where we post crochet-sightings and the Courtisans come up with some doozies! We also have a thread for yarn bombings and emanation is our most prolific bomber and she is real good at finding interesting bombings around the world too.

I have fabulous moderators who I consider to be "friends" even though we have never met face to face: twisted1, lupa and melbav, plus hummywinger who is not an official moderator but flutters around often and is so generous with her advice! They keep the excitement going and are always coming up with new ideas and ways to celebrate crochet and to learn from each other! There are some fascinating characters in the group and the further they push the crochet envelope, the more I love them. It has grown
to be a loving, fun and respectful community
where I check in each day to see what kind of crochet-excitement has been brewing. With members from the other side of the world, you never know what might have developed overnight!

Our latest CAL was just finished last week, "Embellished Purse CAL" under the able leadership of melbav. Today in our chat room, we will be announcing the winners in the three categories: "Fit for a Kween", "Crown Jewels" and "Jester." We had two judges and they said it was a very difficult task among all this talent to make a decision, but they got it done. There is a threaed with photos of all the entrants on the group.

Like the banana,

there has been a slow evolution of growth, beauty, sweetness and color and SO MUCH MORE!! Thank you Royal Courtisans for a wonderful year, for being YOU and for all your creativity, excitement and passion for crochet and for the fun and respect you've shown the Kween. I love you all and hope you enjoy this day and our virtual party!

My Week in Pictures:
Worked out at the Curves-like gym
Attended a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Party celebrating the 50th Anniversary of JFK signing the papers to innaugurate the Peace Corps. Even got our picture in the local paper!
Went yarn and fabric shopping in Guadalajara with Sheila and Allende. Crocheted flowers for sale.
Stitch 'n Bitch no matter where you go!
Really cheap little rolls of acrylic yarn, about $1.00 per ball for those who can't afford any more than that at a time!
Watched my orange tree and hibiscus bloom.
Taught another bead-crochet class with Maggie and Carmen.
Checked out the saturday activities on the plaza. Listened to the band and had some greasy "sopes."
Had Sunday brunch at La Parilla Loca on the boardwalk at Lake Chapala in the town of Chapala, a short bus ride from our town of Ajijic.

Watched a Mardi Gras parade in Chapala.