Red, White and Hooked

Here are a few quick last minute 4th of July gifts you can crochet before the first fire cracker is lit this evening. Happy 4th of July everyone. Now go fourth and light something on fire!

 

Patriotic Dog Collar

 

As American As... Pot Holder

 

And of course, I had to include at least one sock design. . . .

 

American Flag Socks

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Sleep

I’m actually being a little lazy today. Not by choice, but by force. I’m visiting my mom this week and upon seeing the bags under my eyes, she has ordered me to rest. Apparently, all this running around this month has finally taken its toll on me. So I am in bed, resting. No knitting. No crochet. And I am sure that in a moment when she comes in to check on me and sees that I’m on my laptop, she will most likely take that away from me as well. So, I will saw good night and enjoy the rest of your day!

A Yarn Find At Ross

Yesterday, I joined my mother on our monthly shopping trip to Ross. The discount department store has become one of our favorite places to find name brand items and not have to pay name brand prices.

A few years ago I found a Baby Phat purse that was in season and selling at the high-end stores for around $50. I got mine for ten bucks! (I’m not usually a label chaser. Come on, I knit with no name bags of used yarn that I find in thrift stores. But there is something about getting a high-end item for dirt cheap that just feels so good!)

My mother loves the gourmet foods that sometimes end up there like turkish delights and Madagascar vanilla extracts.

Well on this trip I had in mind to buy a small crystal vase to replace the one I broke at my mother-in-law’s house. (How I broke the vase is a classified story that for now on will be known as incident HULA HOOP.)  Sadly, no vase really caught my eye. There was one vase that was shaped like what I could only figure was a constipated fish. Now while it was certainly a conversation piece, I was pretty sure I would be adding insult to injury if I presented it to my mother-in-law as a replacement piece.

Strolling through the paper/craft section of the store I started up a fight with myself. I was trying- unsuccessfully- to resist the urge to buy another journal. (I have a weakness for bounded sheets of clean blank paper.)  I attempted to distract myself with the other craft goods that lined the aisle. Among the cook books and stationery sets that looked like Tinker Bell threw up on them, something caught my eye. Purple and stringy, it was wedged between a book about stir fry and a pile of leather bound journals. I figured, as I pulled it out, that it would be one of those styrofoam balls wrapped in yarn that people like to decorate coffee tables with. But to my surprise it was an actual skein of yarn.

It was some sort of cotton yarn. I could tell that the moment I touched it. Why and how it ended up in Ross was a mystery to me. I just couldn’t fathom the idea that a yarn store would have  yarn that it couldn’t sell.  That’s like a chocolate cake going uneaten at a Weight Watcher’s meeting- it just doesn’t happen.

If seeing the yarn was a shock, what came next was equal to being hit with a taser gun. The yarn was discounted from the normal discounted price. So, if yarn in a  discount store gets discounted to clearance price- it’s that a knitter’s wet dream or something?

Needless to say, I bought it. The yarn is now safe here at home, but it’s still in the shopping bag. I figured I would give it a good grooming before I place it in the stash with the other yarns.  With the damage done to its label, I don’t want the other yarns to think I’ve been picking up skeins from the wrong side of the tracks.

So, what yarn is it? It is a Ella Rae Baby Cotton. 88% Cotton, 12% Nylon. 50 grams of DK weight goodness in a deep violet color.

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Here is proof that I wasn’t kidding about the reduced price. I still can’t believe it.

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Despite the label looking as if it lost bar fight, the yarn shows no signs of damage.

Knitwear As Art

If you love couture fashions and enjoy seeing someone push the limits on what knitting and crochet can do, then you need to know Sandra Backlund. Go to her sight and bookmark it. Trust me, you’ll come back to her sight often.

The Work of Sandra Backlund

The Forest Is Calling

Forest For The Trees Exhibition

Amy Caterina of the blog Free Range Knitting  has sent out a call to all knitters and crocheters for an  exhibition of epic ecological importance. As she states on her blog:

“This exhibition hopes to address the wonders and perils of the forest by creating an environment which is at once unique and fantastic, dangerous and bizarre, and by acknowledging that one day the built environment may be all that’s left us.”
 
She is looking for fiber artist- both professional and novice- to donate their work for this exhibit.
 
“We are looking for all types of yarn art relating to our forest, and encourage both novice and expert crafters with open arms. Who knows what lurks within the deepest, darkest parts of the forest; trees, groundcover, animals, monsters, aliens, maybe a taco plants or two. We’d love to see works which are funny, socially conscience, use unusual materials and/or push the knit/crochet envelope.  Recycled knit and fiber materials are encouraged.”
 
To learn more about this exhibition and how you can contribute to it click on the link here:
 
 
(And Yes, I do plan on participating. Any excuse to work with more yarn!)

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011: Songs to Knit & Crochet By

This is the last installment of the Knitting & Crochet Blog Week. Today’s installment asked us to write about our knitting space and those things that we have around us when we knit/crochet. However, because I’m constantly on the move, there is no set place or things I use when knitting. The only constant is music. So, I figured I would end this week by sharing with  you a list I put together of songs to knit and crochet by.

Songs When Shopping For New Yarn

1. Whatever You Like by T.I.

2. The Look of Love by Diana Krall

3. My Love, Sweet Love by Patti LaBelle

4. Damn U by Prince

5. Take My Breath Away by Jessica Simpson

6. Shameless by Garth Brooks

7. I Only Have Eyes For You by Jamie Cullum

8. Hello by Lionel Richie

Songs for Extremely Difficult Projects

1. You Know I’m No Good by Amy Winehouse

2. Bad Romance by Lady GaGa

3. Disturbia by Rihanna

4. Tainted Love by The Cure

5. Poor Unfortunate Souls by Jonas Brothers

6. Hot ‘N Cold by Kathy Perry

7. Don’t Trust Me by 3Ho!3

8. An Evil Night Together by Jill Tracy

Songs for Projects that Seem to Take Forever!

1. One Step At A Time by Jordan Sparks

2. It’s The Climb by Miley Cyrus

3. Almost There by Anika Noni Rose

4. Keep The Faith by Michael Jackson

5. Survivor by Destiny’s Child

6. One More Day by the cast of Les Miserables

7. Strength. Courage. Wisdom. by India.Arie

8. Mercy by Duffy

9. Our Day Will Come by Jamie Cullum

10. The Best Is Yet To Come by Michael Buble

Songs for Frogging

1. I’m Not Gonna Cry by Mary J. Blige

2. The Fine Art of Poisoning by Jill Tracy

3. Move by Jennifer Hudson

4. Bad Day by Daniel Powter

5. You And Me Are Gone by Jamie Cullum

6. End of the Road by Boys II Men

7. One Last Cry by Brian McKnight

8. There You Go by Pink

9. Shake It Off by Mariah Carey

10. Love Is A Losing Game by Amy Winehouse

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011: When I Retire From Knitting

Everyone has those projects that they plan on doing as soon as they retire.

“When  I retire, I’ll rebuild that classic car.”

“I can’t wait to retire so I can  finally have the time to quilt.”

“I so want to redecorate the whole house, but it will have to wait until I retire.”

“Let me retire and then I’ll have time to do everything that I want!”

Well, I’ve got a project on my retirement list as well. When the kids are grown and I retire from knitting, I plan to take on the challenge of knitting a bedspread. That may sound odd, but it seems to me that in order to make a bedspread, one must no longer have plans of knitting anything else for the remainder of their life. (They must also be without any form of stash as not to distract them from the task at hand).

I look at lacy knitted  and crochet bedspreads and my jaw just drops at the time and skill it took to create them. Have you ever even tried to knit with bedspread weight cotton? Working with it should be an Olympic sport!

So, until that day when I retire, I’ll just enjoy the work of others and stand in awe of those with the time- and sanity- to create these beautiful pieces.

Crochet Bedspread

 

Knitted Bedspread

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011: Better Off Not Knowing

All this week my postings are a part of the 2nd Annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week. To learn more about it, just click here.

Strolling through my local thrift store the other day, I came upon a hand knitted hat hanging on a hook. I pull it down to examine it closer. It was small, pale blue and  knitted in simple stockinette. It was made for an infant. I wondered about the story and life behind this little hat. Maybe a grandmother had knitted it for their new grandson. Now that grandson is all grown up and headed off to college. Or maybe, like myself, some kind stranger knitted it for charity, hoping it would warm the head of a poor unfortunate child in need. Hopefully that child has grown up to become someone willing to help others the way someone had helped them.

Then a thought struck me hard in my heart. What if this hat was never used? What if the intended recipient never got a chance to wear it? At home at the very bottom of my stash box I have a small dark grey sweater and a half-finished white baby blanket. Both items were meant for my son. Neither item had the chance to be used.

I had a lot of grand knitting  and crochet plans while I was pregnant, but those plans were brutally interrupted with my acute liver failure and the untimely birth of my son at only 26 weeks while I was in a coma. Instead of showing off  my bundle of joy wrapped in some fancy crochet blanket, we both laid in the hospital fighting for our lives.

His christening gown would never be finished. Instead, he was baptised while covered in tubes and wires a day before his death at the age of only six month.

There would be no fast clicking of needles or the magic of my hook making cloth out of thin air. It would take me a month to learn how to feed myself and another three months to learn how to walk without assistance. My son would spend the first three of his only six months of life in a hospital, never to fully recover from his early birth under such extreme conditions.

My son and I would become known for being the hospital’s  first successful rare back to back liver transplant and child birth at 26 weeks. I would have rather been known as the mother who knits her son way too many socks.

I look back down at the hat in my hand. Maybe I’m better off not knowing the story behind this little hat. Besides, I carry far too many unfinished stories of my own.

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011: Yarn Stash, Interupted

All this week my postings are a part of the 2nd Annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week. To learn more about it, just click here.

Most knitters and crocheters, unless they just had their workroom redecorated by Martha Stewart herself, would be crazy to share photos of their yarn stash. We all know how just a few balls of yarn in a plastic bag can quickly multiply into a unruley herd that flows from the knitting basket into the closet, under the bed, in the hallway closet, the kitchen cabinets, etc.

We crafters try hard to hide what we have and never admit to ourselves, (or our spouses), just how much yarn we own. Well, I’m going to break that code of silence by showing you all how and where I keep my yarn. I have to tell you know that what you are about to see is only about half the amount that I really own. Since I go back and forth between two states I have two stashes. This is my Arizona stash. I have a whole other stash in California. Enjoy!

My Plastic Costco Bin Of Yarn

 

Current Knitting On Top Of My Dresser

 

More Knitting On The Reading Nook

 

More Knitting On The Nightstand

 

Knitting Needle Stash Housed In A German Beer Mug

 

Bag of Yarn and Spinning Hiding in the Closet

 

My Spinning Stuffed In a Dresser Drawer

 

Yes, There Is Even Yarn In My Purse

 

Even My Hubby Has His Yarn & Projects Hanging Around

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011: In Defense of Acrylic Yarn

All this week my postings are a part of the 2nd Annual Knitting & Crochet Blog Week. To learn more about it, just click here.

Let me first start off by saying that I am an equal opportunity yarn user. I strongly believe in giving ever yarn a chance. There is no such thing to me as ‘bad’ yarn.

With that being said, I find offense in those who persist in putting down acrylic yarns. I can understand personal preferences for one yarn type over the other, put to dismiss acrylic to the point of wanting to excommunicate it from the church of yarn is just going to far.

Acrylic has had a history of being hard and stiff, but no more so then wool being equated with smelly and itchy. Yet, like wool, acrylic has improved in quality over the years. Please, before you turn up your nose at this step-child of the knitting and crochet world, why not allow me to enlighten you on why you should take a second look at acrylic.

Acrylic is a synthetic fiber that was developed by the DuPont Corporation in 1941. It is in the same family is nylon, polyester and micro fiber. (That’s for those of you who look down your nose at acrylic while picking up four skeins of cotton/micro fiber blend for your next project.)

Considered ’cheap’ yarn, by many, I believe its low coast is one of the things that makes acrylic so popular. Personally speaking, I find it hard to pay $35.00 for a skein of yarn- even if it is made of cashmere, handspun and hand dyed. For many crafters, especially just starting out, it is difficult to justify spending large amounts of money like that. Acrylic gives you that chance to make something beautiful with little financial investment. And most people can agree that seeing a sweater you tried to knit turn into a multi-armed glob feels less heart-wrenching having paid $8.50 for the yarn then if you had dished out $85.00 for it.

A professional chameleon, acrylic can be whatever you want it to be. Praised for its properties that are so similar to that of wool, acrylic has the ability to mimic such yarns as the highly revered cashmere. Pashmina and cashmina are the acrylic versions. (Yes, those are acrylics, not cashmere from some other exotic breed of goat.) Fun fur and eyelash can give credit to acrylic for making them a fashion craze. And lets not forget how acrylic brought the words ’novelty yarns’ into the vocabulary of every crafter with such offerings as Chenille and Lame. An acrylic yarn I recently worked with has the look and feel of handspun felted wool. From super bulky to spider web lace- acrylic yarn’s versatility is endless.

Within acrylic’s durability lies its greatest strength. How many yarns can hold up to multiple machine washings in various water temperatures? Show me a yarn that can withstand the constant pull and strain from the tight tension of new knitters just learning to knit and purl. Give me a yarn that has been able to stand up to continuous household wear and abuse. I don’t believe we have ever asked any other yarn to work as a kitchen accessory, outdoor rug, sweater, purse, slipper, coat, toy, bathroom accessory, sock, rag, table runner, bedspread, baby blanket and various other items- while expecting it to perform to the same high standard in each area. Acrylic is resistant to moths, oil, chemicals and is very resistant to deterioration from being exposed to sunlight. This is why, like Twinkies and cockroaches, acrylic will be around long after we are gone.

Now, here is where I usually hear from people about the fact that acrylic is man made and the chemicals used to make it is poisoning our waters, polluting our air, threatening our eco system and sending our world into utter self destruction. Yes, acrylic is a man made chemical based product. But compared to how many items currently in every home, school and hospital around the world that is made from and/or depends on acrylic, its yarn form is in no way making that big of a carbon footprint on our world.

So, before you dismiss acrylic yarn as some dark shameful part of needlecraft history that should never be spoken of again, entertain me with this little experiment. Go to your local yarn store, pick up a soft yarn like Lion Brand Homespun, cast on and see if acrylic doesn’t stitch its way back into a respectable place in your heart.