Tuesday, May 19, 2015

#KCBWDAY7 ~ My Time, My Place

#KCBWDAY7 ~ Our Day 7 Challenge: 
Where and how do you take time out to knit and/or crochet? Maybe you don’t take time out at all and instead have your needles twirling as you try to juggle a multitude of other tasks with no ‘spare’ time to think of. Maybe you enjoy nothing more than to crochet whilst winding down from a yoga session, chatting with some friends in a nearby cafe.

Whether social or solitary, tell readers about your crafting time and space, and where you either most enjoy (or can simply find a few snatched moments) to turn yarn into something even more beautiful.

Monday, May 18, 2015

#KCBWDAY6 ~ Polls Apart

Our blogging challenge for today...

#6KCBWDAY6 ~ Most every blogging platform offers a way to easily put together and host a poll, and polls, surveys and questionnaires can be a great way of engaging with your audience and readership. There are times when readers do not feel that they want or have time to think, compose and post an answer or response to a post, but short polls can often be completed with just a few clicks.

Instead of having to listen to me rambling on today, I'm giving you the opportunity to let me know what you are thinking. Here is a short poll and I hope you will participate as well as follow up with comments here on the blog too! Thanks so much! 

Friday, May 15, 2015

#KCBWDAY5 ~ Something a Bit Different

It’s the annual challenge to blog in a way different to how you normally blog. You may choose to create a podcast, or vlog, create a wordless post, a beautiful infographic or write in verse. You can post on any topic you like, but be sure to post in a style different from your usual blog presentation. There’s not too much guidance for this one simply because the more varied the posts are on this day, the wider the sources of information for other bloggers will be.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

#6KCBWDAY4 ~ Bags of Fun

#6KCBWDAY4 ~Time to delve into that most treasured collection of tools, notions and oddments as you are asked to spill the contents of your knitting or crochet bag, caddy or other method of organisation and put your crafting unmentionables on display. You may wish to talk about your bag of crocheting tools as a whole, or delve deep into the contents of your knitting caddy and talk about the contents each in turn.

I do treasure my everyday bag and its everyday basic contents. What's not to treasure? I use my crochet tools everyday and always have at least 3 projects going! 

The bag is ready to go at all times!

However, I'd like to share some special things that I REALLY, REALLY treasure that are not necessarily in my bag.

In the photo there's a tubular wooden box with lid and I have no idea what it was originally used for, but it is an antique. I keep small odds 'n ends in it such as thimbles. The vintage sock darning tool is so lovingly used and deliciously smooth. Propped upon the darning ball is an antique pin cushion/ thimble holder crocheted upon a wish bone...classic 1940s crochet work! There is also a felted pincushion that is modern but adorable! I crocheted the fuchsia flower with beads and use it as a scissor fob.

There's an antique sewing bird with mini-pincushion on top that attaches to the sewing machine or table. An adorable tape measure in the shape of a shoe is labeled "three-feet-in-one." I've included my two favorite hooks in this photo. On the left is a gift from Noreen Crone Findlay handcarved by her with a hand-painted Queen, crown and bead necklace on the top. In 20th anniversary colors, the other hook is the 2014  CGOA commemorative hook. It sports an emerald jewel and metal tag that says CGOA 2014.

My mother was an antique shop owner and Garage Sale Queen. Two of my very best gifts ever were from her and they are certainly  treasures!

Antique Sampler Book, dating 1890s
My mom found this sampler book in a drawer of a chest that she bought from a garage sale. A surprise bonus for sure! She paid  $50.00 for it and was so worried that she paid too much. It is appraised at about $1,000!

This is a box of needlework items that she bought at a garage sale. It tells the tale of a needleworker's life. The treasured tools she used are all here in a simple department store box (Wolf & Dessauer from my home town of Ft. Wayne, Indiana). Included are bone and steel hooks, crochet on rick rack; pieces of cotton fabric with edgings and the instructions written right on the fabric with an ink pen; a bar of soap covered in a filet crochet turtle with draw-string opening; some wooden spools of thread, small flower motifs and rolls and rolls of edgings; and notes on scrap paper to pass on instructions.

I have kept this box intact exactly as I received it twenty years ago.

The soap-covered turtle

Edging on cotton or linen with instructions

"Hat" pincushion

Needlecase: inside view

Crochet edging on fabric

Insructions from or for Hazel

Part II ~ Irregular Expressions: A Mother/Daughter Team

It wasn't planned, but I love the fact that my 2-part article about this dynamic and loving Turkish Mother/Daughter team hugged our Mother's Day weekend!

Aysegul's mother, Sebahat
Crochetkween: Aysegul, are you an experienced crocheter or is your mother teaching/tutoring you?
Aysegul: I learned basic crochet stitches from my mother when I was eight years old, I was creating clothes for my dolls. I am just a beginner when it comes to crocheting with beads and my mother does not have much time to teach me at the moment. But, I plan to learn her beaded crocheting techniques and use my experience as a learner to create educational tutorials for other crocheters in the future. Other than crocheting, I have learned a lot from my mother since we started working together. She surprises me with the way she solves her creative problems; she always finds new ideas to combine different techniques, colors and design elements. She uses her tools in unexpected and imaginative ways; and she never gives up, always trying new things until she is satisfied with the result. I am inspired by her curiosity to learn new techniques, her courage to challenge herself to create something new every day. 

#KCBWDAY3: Photographic Experimentation

#6KCBWDAY3  Our challenge today:
Every Year Knitting & Crochet Blog Week tries to feature at least one day where photography takes a key role, because it has been proven many times that what captures reader’s attention for the first few seconds to hopefully hold them long enough to invest the time to read your words is your pictures, and so this topic crops up each year, but every year it yields such different results! Refresh your skills at creating attention-grabbing pictures.

My passion for crochet is inextricably linked to my everyday life. No day is complete without some crochet on the hook! I am no expert photographer, but I do like to experiment and to try and take some unique headshots that express my love of crochet or the season in which I am writing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

6KCBWDAY2 ~ All About Me

6KCBWDAY2-Our challenge today:  "Cast your hooks and needles aside! This year you are challenged with one of those tasks that some bloggers can find quite daunting: but there’s never a better time then when we’re all in it together, so let’s shift the focus and turn the attention from the things we make to the things that make us."

The Twins
With a birthday coming up next week, please note that I am a Gemini (the twins) not a liar! "A liar?" you ask. "What is the Queen talking about?"

Monday, May 11, 2015

6KCBWDAY1 ~ If I Were a Yarn

I'm excited to be participating in the 6th Annual Blog Week: We're writing about 6 topics provided for us; one for each day. 

Day One (Monday 11th May): If You Were Yarn.
If you were a type or brand of yarn, which would you be? Are you a classic pure wool? Is there extra tension but a bit of bounce in you because of your high twist? Would you be more like a high-maintainance, strictly hand-wash fluffy angora or a ‘bring it on’ acrylic, bravely heading into the world of possible baby-sick laundering disasters knowing that you will always come out bright and unharmed?
Spend some time browsing yarns and getting to know their qualities, and decide which yarn you think best matches your personality.
Trying to decide which yarn I would be if I were a yarn is proving to be difficult! I do love it all, but I love unusual materials the most! Randomly, I choose one, raffia, to get started here. Raffia is not all that unusual, but it does lend itself to sculptural effects as opposed to being used for a scarf or a garment. I enjoy crocheting unusual, artsy, sculptural items. "Flexible" and "sturdy": that's me!
I am determined to cover my world in crochet.

This is a recently created covered rock which I believed actually required raffia. The friend I made it for is a gardener who collects rocks; and I wanted this gift to be able to weather the elements. Raffia fills the bill for being outside in the rain and sun.

Rock covered in raffia
Looking at crochet and the materials used to create it is my constant goal. If I were a yarn, I would be any linear material that is not thought of as "crochetable." I am always looking for different materials that can be twisted into something beautiful. It excites me to see a wiggly length of something turn into something wonderful with the flick of the hook and a bit of imagination.

Experimenting: crocheting porcelain turned into a business card holder
Grapevine Basket
I combined yarn with grapevine to crochet this basket which appeared as a pattern in Crochet! Magazine, (March 20111).

In my attempt to "cover my world in crochet," I often crochet over rocks that I have collected.

1995: Heartrock Hotel: Award Winning Design
Sea Sculpture, Detail
In creating this sculpture with driftwood, I used cactus yarn, metallic threads and "jelly yarn."

Head Piece: silk & metallic threads covering a twig. Model: Bethany Leigh
Enjoy browsing through your yarn stash to see which fits your personality. Leave me a comment here and tell me what yarn you are! I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Book Review: Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace by Denise LaVoie

I will get right to the point: run, don’t walk to buy this book! If you want to understand the thoughts, emotions, and excitement that brought me to this unusual book review introduction, carry on!

I could hardly wait to get started reading about the famous and incredibly capable female aviatrixes from whom Denise derived the inspiration for her new book, Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace! As I began, my first instinct was to search among all the pilots' portraits for a photograph of Denise herself! She is, indeed, a very capable woman, standing tall among the women she has written about. Denise has set the bar very high for anyone who is contemplating a self-publishing journey for their crochet designs!

Combining her artistic talent and extreme creativity, Denise has brought us seventeen delightful crochet and knit designs, as well as a good read about twelve women pilots who lived during the timeframes between 1831 through 1975. Some are well-known like Amelia Earhart and Bessie Coleman; but they all blazed trails in the world of aviation and their stories are both heartwarming and educational. In keeping with the aviation theme, Denise has also included highlights about the Women’s Air Derby (1929) and The Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (1942-44).  

Earhart Stole
I am a big fan of crochet theme-books and have blogged about others . After over 40 years of twisting fibers with a hook, my heart races when a designer, like Denise, gives us a book that is something new under the sun! My life is inextricably linked to my crochet passion and the belief that crochet every day is good for the soul, so a book like this keeps me inspired and hooking right along! 

Denise says in her book that she has been contemplating “the elements that animate her: stories, textiles, airplanes, history, feminism, color, and form,” her entire life.” I asked her how she settled on the aviation theme for this book, and this is what she had to say:  “I've always been fascinated with flying and I would love to learn how  When I read an article on Harriet Quimby and her unfortunate historical timing, I started to gather bits and pieces about female pilots.” In her book, Denise has expressed her personality and her soul to provide for us an incredible legacy as well as a creative springboard.

Nichols Cardigan
Besides the interesting history of these aviatrixes, you will certainly find several designs that go right to the top of your to-do list! Denise has taken great care to help any and all skill levels to follow her instructions with ease. Cleverly designed “wings” throughout indicate “flying altitude” or “skill levels” instead of the customary stars or numbers. Lavish photos showing up-close and overall views are helpful and inspiring. Each design is named for the aviatrix that inspired it. 

Aviatrix Cap
Denise continues her narrative to describe tidbits that brought the design to fruition with each pattern . Pattern notes, special stitch descriptions and schematics are abundant. You’ll enjoy the journey from the first loop on your hook to the finished product!

Cracked Glass Cowl
For example, in the Cracked Glass Cowl pattern, Denise writes, "The name originated from the look of the interplay of lace patterns. It's also an apt tribute for the first licensed female pilot (Baroness Raymonde de la Roche). 

As I looked at the book, the design titles as well as the pilots’ name plates drew my attention, and I ask Denise if she had designed them with stamp art. Here is her reply: “These aren’t stamp art as you thought, but an intentional font choice. It is called Soul Mission which I thought appropriate, and I wanted to use it to infer memory because of its uneven quality (memory can be like that).”

This is not your typical pattern book, but a monumental work of art! Down to the last detail, it is evident that Denise has had an intimate relationship with each step leading to its completion. I had to know more about the interesting portraits of each pilot and I asked Denise to elaborate on the process. 

She explained: “I applied a multi-layered process to each portrait on 5 x 7 canvas board. (1) Each board was covered in various stationary with writing; I then applied gesso with white gesso placed on the sweet spot which allows the portrait to be the focus. 2) I found the female portraits I wanted to use, and then created a charcoal rendering. 3)Fixative was used to set the charcoal, and I then cut out each face to apply it to the canvas board backgrounds with Mod Podge. (4) I then applied a light color wash to each, staying with the palette I had chosen for the book as well as each aviatrix's personality; and then, using a dry brush, added a border around each of pearlized powder. (6) I used markers to highlight/outline/define areas on each portrait. (6) Finally, I applied a top coat of clear gel medium and gloss acrylic spray. (7) after drying, I scanned each portrait into my computer as jpegs and, after any cropping I did, applied a final digital filter. Denise’s respect and admiration for our aviation foremothers is evident in the artful layout of the book, which showcases her great talents as well as those of the women she writes about.

"Comic Denise"
By the end of the book, I still hadn't found a photo or portrait of Denise. I requested that she provide her self-portrait so that all of us can feel like we know this special woman of our time! Self-published under the imprint, Tough As Lace, Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace is available at Denise's online store for $24.99. Enjoy! Do you want to enter to win a copy of Denise's book? Just leave a comment here with your email adress so I can notify you. Additionally, due to Denise's generosity, you will also be entered to win some yarn to make one of the patterns in the book!