Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: Crochet Saved My Life

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 Do you spend time in online crochet communities? Is spending too much time lurking or surfing the Net your weakness? I disagree with those who insinuate that spending time on Facebook means one has “no life.” Sometimes a stand-out person comes along in an online version of a cocktail party and the sharing of our interests/passions and knowledge creates a sort of click that resonates with the heart. Kathryn Vercillo is that "click" for me. I can’t remember where or how we “met", but I do remember that in December 2011 she honored me with her “Awesome Crochet Blog Award” for Free-form Crochet on her blog, Crochet Concupiscence. What’s not to like about Kathryn for doing that for me? Seriously though, I feel as though by virtue of our interests and our spirit of needing to shout crochet from the rooftops, we are friends even though we have never met face to face. When I did the following interview with Kathryn by phone, she was working on her latest book, Recently I interviewed Kathryn by phone in attempt to get to know her even better! At the time, she was working on her latest book, Crochet Saved My Life,

and I have also included a review of the book. I've just learned how to create tabs here on the blog, so look for the review under the "Book Reviews" tab.

GBK: Where and with whom do you live? KV: I live in San Francisco, my favorite city in the world. Originally from Tucson I fell in love with San Francisco on my first visit. The creative energy of the city, the passion people have for living a smart, artistic life, the acceptance of different life choice and the celebration of the DIY/entrepreneurial spirit showed me immediately where I wanted to be. I’ve spent most of my adult life living alone; there are pros and cons to that.

GBK: What got you so passionate about crochet? KV: Crochet came into my life at a time when I needed it most. I hit a really low point a few years back after struggling with lifelong depression yet not knowing what it was most of the time. I didn’t think I would ever again get interested in anything, but I kept trying new things like hula hoop dancing, indoor rock climbing, drawing, business classes, but nothing captured my interest. Slowly things started to change when I picked up a crochet hook; I felt motivated and inspired again.

GBK: How did you become such an expert blogger? KV: I have an Associate Degree in Youth Social Work and a Bachelors Degree in Public Agency Service, but I had been doing online writing for years when I started seeing lots of opportunities for blogging jobs become available. I looked into it and have been blogging ever since for both large and small businesses in addition to running many small personal blogs of my own. I had the opportunity to work with great people who taught me the business end of blogging. I started my blog, Crochet Concupiscence in 2011 to have a blog project that I could be really passionate about and it’s grown and grown from there.

GBK: Where did you learn that big word, “concupiscence”? KV: Nice question. The one I usually get is “how do you pronounce that?” At heart, I’m a writer and I’m a little bit in love with cool words. I don’t consider myself someone who needs to use big words all of the time, but every once in awhile, the perfect big word slides into mind and makes perfect sense. I wanted a blog name that was a little cheeky and reflected a silly passion for the craft that also demonstrated the intelligence I intended to put into the writing.

GBK: Where do you find the time to do the research? KV: I definitely devote a lot of time to the site both in terms of research and writing. I keep to a fairly strict schedule and blog about the same things on the same days and that helps me focus my research energies in the right areas at any given time. It helps that I really enjoy doing the research on this topic so a lot of times I’ll read stuff for this site as a nice break from the writing jobs I do for other people. It feels like a treat even though it’s technically work. That’s the reason that anyone who starts a blog/site/business should make sure it’s on a topic that they truly enjoy! I use Google reader to subscribe to the feeds of other blogs and follow about 300 that cover crochet in some way in addition to a few other blogs that aren’t related to crochet but interest me in their coverage of art, design, fashion and what’s happening in San Francisco.

GBK: How many followers do you have and how do you get them? KV: I have about 400 blog followers who subscribe to get my feed updates, and I have about 250 followers who get my monthly crochet newsletter. The site itself gets about 80,000 page views per month. I haven’t done a whole lot to promote the blog to get followers, but I do comment frequently on other people’s blogs because I enjoy that and I know many people have found me that way. I’m also active on Pinterest, Twitter and G+. And I have indie yarn sellers sponsor my newsletter by offering discounts to subscribers so that’s one promotional tool I’ve used to get people to sign up for the newsletter. In the months to come I do intend to devote some more time to promoting the blog but I want to make sure that I don’t do that at the expense of sacrificing good content!

GBK: What are your thoughts about being a CGOA member? KV: I think that the CGOA seems like a great organization that offers tons of terrific resources to members and I’ve just renewed my membership for the second year One of the things I love about crochet is that there’s a great community built up around this craft. The crocheters I’ve met in person and online are generous, creative people with positive spirits and interesting lives. I’ve really enjoyed connecting with others who love this craft and I think CGOA offers opportunities for this kind of connection.

GBK: Am I missing anything? What more do you want to share? KV: There are a few key areas of crochet that really interest me: health benefits; organizations that offer people in third world countries the opportunity to use it to support themselves; all aspects of crochet art; and gender-specific aspects. The many intellectual and social aspects of crochet really fascinate me and that’s partly why I blog about it. In the end, of course, the pleasure of sitting down with a smooth hook and a luxurious skein of yarn and feeling the tactile joy of the act while creating something new out of my own mind is what I love most about crochet.

I've Arrived at a Crochet Crossroads

Monday, November 26, 2012 Even though it was a terrifically busy weekend, that has never stopped me from fitting in crochet. This time, however, I'm at a Crochet Crossroads! The massive Christmas surprise for Chloe is done and well ahead of schedule. Jack's Notre Dame colors cap is done. Now, I either start the next project on my to-do list or I buckle down and get to the basement and start painting on the crochet art project that has been in my head for quite some time. There is also a bead-inspired art project swirling around in my head. It is time to do art! Our Thanksgiving weekend was action packed. From sitting around watching the "Rumba" chase the kids to the Carrie Underwood concert at Bankers Life Arena in Indianapolis, with lots of turkey, our granddaughter's third birthday and our 45th Anniversary thrown in, it was truly a fantastic whirlwind. Here are some highlights:
Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes with apricots, brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce.
I cooked all day and Alan and I enjoyed the feast by ourselves while we waiting on the kids to do their "thing" with the in-laws. Everyone arrived about 5:00 and the appetizers and desserts were still to come. It was so hectic with the little ones getting their thrills from the chase of the Rumba, that I took no pictures. Friday, we re-grouped, wrapped the birthday presents and packed them in the car to head out to Indianapolis on Saturday for Chloe's third birthday party.
Girls' Night Out: Sister in Law, Lynn and her clan arrived from Ft. Wayne and we all went to the Carrie Underwood concert at Banker's Life Arena, Indianapolis. It was a fun time and great performance.
Nicole's Mother-In-Law, Jane came too.
The girls are rockin' out-it's the bright lights!
Sunday: Happy Anniversary, Alan! I doubt we'll have 45 more, but hopefully we'll have many more! Chloe let Gigi French-braid her hair!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Frank Lloyd Wright in Wisconsin

Monday, November 19, 2012 I had so much to say last week that I left out the part about our visit to the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Unitarian Meeting House in Madison, WI. I love Frank Lloyd Wright: his architecture, Prairie-style decor, his designs, his story. Living in Chicago, I have a sort of nostalgia about him and have designed some FLW-inspired jewelry pieces.
Brooch and Earring Set
Brooch with Vintage Bar
Inspired Brooch 2 Last week while in Madison,I thoroughly enjoyed walking through this design of his and have some interesting photos to share.
Back Side of Unitarian Meeting House
This is how the first picture looks on the inside.
A bell designed by FLW for the meeting house but taken down because it swung so wildly it almost caused structural damage!
An interesting wooden cabinet; origin unknown.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Busy Crochet Month

Monday, November 12, 2012 Veterans' Day Thoughts of you Dad.
You are a hero from World War who landed on Normandy Beach on D-Day and risk your life to make the world a better place!! You are very humble and don't like to talk about it much, but I know that I have every reason to be very proud of you and at age 92 you amaze me! I wrote about patriotism and crochet in politics in my current Talking Crochet eNewsletter which is live now. You can read it here: http://www.crochet-world.com/newsletters.php?mode=issue&issue_id=548&department_id=5 AND just so you know, even though an image of a Barack Obama finger puppet is showing on the article, read on. I am not promoting one party or another. Just having fun trying to tie crochet to every aspect of life! It has been a couple of busy weeks with many events relating to crochet that I was fortunate to be able to attend. Vogue Knitting Live: Chicago. I came up with the idea of the "Crochet Clinic' and Vogue supported us generously by providing us with everything we needed to have a professional looking booth
at the event. I coordinated three CGOA chapters to volunteer and to be available to any all all who had crochet "ailments". We were very well received by everyone and have been told they would like to work with us again next year. The chapter members who participated had a lot of fun being there, as well.
Crocheters of the Lakes Chapter
Chicago Connection Chapter
Packer Schopf Gallery: Jerry Bleem: "In Lieu of Other Forms of Aggression" The Knit & Crochet Heritage Museum: A Work-In-Progress, Madison, WI I attended this symposium this weekend along with some other very involved academics and museum types who really want to see a museum of some kind started to preserve our beloved heritage of crochet and knit. It is a monumental undertaking started by Karen Kendrick-Hands and that is why it is a WIP!
Karen Kendrick-Hands and Me Before the meeting began, enough crocheters had come forward to urge the organizers to add the word "crochet" to the title because they were referring to preserving crochet but had chosen to not include it in the main title. Crocheters were greatly outnumbered by knitters at the meeting, as usual. One of the speakers even announced to all of us that she would be using the term "knit" as a generic term to include crochet. Apparently she didn't have the energy to spit out two more words, "and crochet." I was highly offended at this and once and for all, KNITTING IS NOT THE UMBRELLA UNDER WHICH OTHER FORMS OF NEEDLEWORK FALL! I DON'T THINK ANYONE WOULD ATTEMPT OR EVER DARE INCLUDE EMBROIDERY OR WEAVING UNDER THE SAME UMBRELLA, SO WHY CROCHET? I've never been one to complain and then expect someone else to fix the thing I am complaining about, but it is a common human trait. I have been reminded of this from a conversation with Beth Casey, President of the Yarn Group of the National Needlework Association.(TNNA) Crocheters, I urge you to get involved whatever your interest in crochet might be. Put your money where your mouth is. If you want crochet to be included and to even be in the spotlight at this important time when it is being elevated in prestige and is highly popular, speak up and get involved! If you don't belong to CGOA because you think it offers you very little, then express your wishes to the board and be willing to chair a committee to develop your ideas. If you think there should be crochet swatches on the Great Wall of Yarn at TNNA, then volunteer to crochet some!Be willing to carry the weight of your conviction and be willing to roll up your sleeves and work. This museum work-in-progress is a monumental task and the speakers shared their expertise and advice throughout the weekend:
Welcoming us: Ellsworth Brown, Dir. Wisconsin Historical Society
"The Knitting Image: Popular Media, Art, and Industry Look at American Knitters" presented by Susan Strawn, Professor, Apparel Design and Merchandising, Dominican University, River Forest, IL. Again, why didn't she include more crochet. She did have a couple of patterns which included both, but it was a minimal percentage of her talk.
"So You want to Start a Museum?" presenting by Melissa Leventon, Prinipal of Curatrix Group Museum Consultants.
"A Virtual Knitting (and Crochet) Museum? Exploring Form, Content and Partnerships" presented by Jennifer Lindsay, Program Coordinator, The Smithsonian Community Reef, a Satellite Reef of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, Smithsonian, 2010-11. I ran into several old friends at the symposium:
Karen Searle, artist,crocheter, author of "The Art of Knitting
Jack Blumenthal, Lion Brand Yarn and board member of the Crochet Guild of America.
A new friend: Sheryl Theiss, author of an upcoming book on slip stitch from Martingale Press.
Trisha Malcolm, Editor in Chief, Vogue Crochet magazine and Vogue Knitting Also in attendance but not pictured were Nicole Scalessa from the Library Company in Philadelphia