Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Sojourn Into Broomstick Lace

Yesterday, I met with my crochet guru - she taught a one-time class on Intro to Broom Lace and Crocheting with Beads. It was a one-afternoon only class, so we didn't go into a lot of depth, but it was fascinating enough that she has me intrigued about using this technique in my Freeform work.

What is broomstick lace? From what I understand, it's not a separate type of crochet, but rather, it's a technique in crochet that can be very useful in doing openwork lace-like effects using both a crochet hook and a HUGE knitting needle (size 35 or 50). At one time, people used broomsticks to hold the loops, and thus the term "broomstick lace." But I borrowed one of my teacher's size 35 needles. I also understand that someone over on Ravelry uses an empty paper towel roller and it works fine too. You're just using the roller/needle/dowel/pin etc. as a "holder" to make very large loops within the crochet.

In knitting, this would be the equivalent of perhaps a drop stitch, where you wrap the yarn around the needle several times and then "drop" it on the next row to create an open, loose effect in the work.

In the magazine Crochet Fantasy, No. 181. It is the Summer 2005 Crochet Fantasy. This magazine includes A Sampler of Broom Stick Lace, Waves Stitch Shawl, Desert Safari Shawlcho, Shell Cardigan and Iris' Blooming Cardigan.

The cardigan on the cover is crocheted using the broomstick lace technique, with Tess Yarns Microfiber Ribbon, which is 100% Nylon Microfiber with a size E crochet hook and size 35 circular knitting needle. This cardigan shows how sophisticated broomstick lace can be when done in contemporary fibers.

I don't think that I PERSONALLY would want to make a whole sweater, blanket or shawl out of it, but it was really fun playing with the technique and I can definitely see how it could be used in many different ways. The very uniqueness of it makes it fascinating to me. If you'd like to explore it or at least take a quick look at it, there's an online tutorial of the technique here.

The latest issue of Interweave Crochet has the pattern for a broomstick lace capelet/shawl.

We also played BRIEFLY with beads - and how to incorporate beads into both knitting and crochet. My teacher highly recommended the Lily Chin book called
KNIT AND CROCHET WITH BEADS by Lily Chin, Interweave Books. It has some gorgeous things in it, and she's pretty detailed about telling you how to put the beads in your work, and the different methods and effects of how you place the beads. I checked this book out of the library for now (because I'm so broke, I hate to buy another book) but I think I may eventually break down and buy it because it looks like a good resource - again particularly as I start bringing beads into my work, which I think I'll soon be ready to start doing.

I never was a big fan of Lily Chin, but I have to admit this book is a pretty good one. I really like the idea of combining knitting with crochet and beads. In the book, she demonstrates and explains using 16 different methods of putting beads into your work.

My teacher also suggested that she likes to prestring beads onto her yarn by dampening the end of the yarn with a dab of glue. This makes the yarn firm enough to string the beads, and then of course when you are done, you just snip off the crusty end of the yarn. This is much easier than putting them on with a needle.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Chocolate Rasberry - in Coffee and Sweaters

Thanks to everyone for all the warm, sweet comments. Yes, I am a hormonal basket case. It's not a coincidence that this blog is called, "Hanging By a Thin Thread." But your thoughts are kind and make me feel better. Plus, do be assured that the moods come and go. Most of the time, I'm fine.

At MisKnits the other night, I took along the Ruffled Roses scarf and tried to work on it a bit. It's okay - boring but pretty. I know it's not enough to keep my attention right now. I will probably work on it gradually and try to finish it, but it certainly isn't interesting enough to be my ONLY project.

My Freeform friend Janice Rosema tells me that she frequently works on multiple projects, and it all works out just fine. So perhaps I need to not worry too much about having many many things started and jumping from one thing to another so long as it's keeping me from crying over '70's songs.

I tried to use my intuition and just see what drew me to it. What I was drawn to was this:

Warm chocolate brown and some raspberry --- chocolate raspberry!!!! I have been drinking chocolate raspberry flavored coffee all week. It's delicious - and it reminds me of the project I just started: A chocolate raspberry Einstein coat using one of my favorite yarns from my stash. It's a gorgeous chocolate shade with intermingled deep raspberry tweed. Here is the start of the Einstein - it's the lower (bottom) portion. I many, many more rows of plain old garter stitch on this baby, but hopefully if I do it gradually, interspersed with many other projects, I won't get TOOOOO bored. I've wanted an Einstein coat for myself ever since I knitted one for my daughter four years ago.

And I'm thinking about using the Valentina Devine freeform technique of making a squarish/log cabinish yoke at the top with some of the yarns I have pictured here. I'm not exactly sure how to alter the Melville pattern to accomodate this colorful yoke - but hopefully I'll figure it out as I go. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Tomorrow I have another one-time crochet class with my crochet guru, she'd going to teach me to dabble in Broomstick Lace. I thought it would add to my freeform reportoire.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Overwhelm Mode

People are coming onto Ravelry in amazing numbers. And with the expansion of Ravelry comes more and more exposure to information, patterns, finished objects, books, forums, projects and yarns that are calling to me - more than I can ever accomplish in a LONG lifetime. Arggh!!! I'm in "overwhelm" mode. Visions of projects are dancing in my head.

I just finished two projects that I'm really happy with 1) The Harriet bag; and 2) the denim sleeves. Now where do I go from here? Warning: what follows is a mental rehashing of my knitting queue:

Finishing Unfinished items? I've thought that finishing up some already unfinished objects: 1) the Wrap Me Up that I started on the bus going to Stitches Midwest - it's in funky colors of pink, purple and green. Don't know if I'll wear it for a wrap (it's rather bright) or just use it as a wrap up afghan for around the house. 2) Annie Modisett Ruffled Roses scarf that I started and loved, but never finished from last winter.

In looking at my overflowing yarn room, I realize that I really need to spend less money on my knitting and use the yarn, books, patterns and materials I already have. There's a treasure trove in that room. There needs to be some figuring out of what I'm going to do next - what direction I'm going.

Freeform Vest or Jacket. One thing that calls to me, but I don't really know where to go with it, is Freeform. This yarn is some lovely stuff I picked up at Stitches Midwest, my only Stitches yarn purchases - and I could use them and some other yarn to do a freeform vest or jacket, I'm considering freeforming a colorful yoke and then knit or crochet the rest of the vest/jacket onto that? I have thought about making an Einstein but then replacing the regular yoke with a fancy freeform montage.

Vintage Vest. I could do the lovely Vintage Vest that I acquired last year at the Studio Retreat. Pictured is Stacey wearing her completed vest.

Tuscany Shawl. I'd like to do another shawl. Nothing was as rewarding as finishing that Forest Canopy shawl that I made last May, but shawls take such concentration, and my mind is in a fuddle here lately. If I could make the shawl and magically look like this woman (pictured), then I'd make it in a flash! But alas, a transformation like that is unlikely.

Jane Thornley Southwestern Vest - which I have all the materials for. It's freeform but it has a pattern that guides you through it too.

As you can see, my mind is just TEEMING with possibilities but I haven't settled on what to do next. I feel unsettled, restless, bored, depressed. My husband is complaining that I knit too much and think about knitting WAY too much.

I think my hormones are in an uproar, I feel old, fat, tired and unhappy and plenty grumpy about it. But other than that, whew, nor problem. I just need an attitude adjustment. Remember that smart-assed character - what was her name? The one who always used to say, "Snap Out of It!" That's probably good advice for me right now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ta Da! Denim Jacket - Finished

In this photo, one jacket sleeve looks longer, but it's just lying on the floor wonky. It really looks pretty good. I'll model it another time, when I'm not so tired.

All in all, I'd call this jacket venture a success. Next time, I'll do more real freeforming on the sleeves. This was just a first experiment to see how to make the sleeves fit into the jacket, be the right size etc. I'll get more advent garde next time perhaps. I may still add some scrumbles around the collar.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Finally A Fall Weekend! Yes!

We've had a seemingly never-ending summer here in the Midwest. Until late last week, temps were in the low 90's. The leaves haven't even begun turning and we're in mid-October. What's going on? Al Gore - maybe you DO have a point, huh?

Late this week, though, and over this weekend, we've been blessed with wonderful COOL weather. We even had an old-fashioned fall thunderstorm last night, with tons of thunder, lightening and pouring down rain. Yes! It was so nice to sleep to that rain, and to wake up late to the sound of falling rain and cooler temps. We spent the late morning watching Dracula with Keanu Reeves and Winona Rider and directed by Francis Ford Coppola - that 1992 Oscar winning version.

Saturday's activities were pretty simple but relaxing. We puttered around, took the girl to play practice and bought our Halloween decorations. Made chili - that WW taco chili.

Taco Chili
1 lb lean ground hamburger (I used low fat ground turkey instead)
1 can of chicken broth
1 onion, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of red beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of Rotel tomatoes
1 package of taco seasoning
1 cup of frozen corn

That's it - brown the hamburger, put all the ingredients in a crock pot and warm it up on low for a couple of hours.

1 cup = 2 pts. and it's CORE if you're on the CORE plan.

Sanity Saver I I bought the new issue of O that is out on the stands now. Oprah's magazine is really really good. The October issue is even better than usual. It has some articles about beating the blues - without medication. I can always use that type of info. I don't take anti-depressants but I could use some natural mood elevators, and this issue has some good tips in there and a few articles on journaling your way to better mental health, as well as a lot of tips on beating stress and the blues.

Sanity Saver II Speaking of Oprah's suggestions, I'm reading EAT, PRAY, LOVE by Elizabeth Gordon. It's really good so far. This woman takes a journey to three places, Italy, India and Indonesia in search of overcoming depression right after a divorce. She's on a spiritual quest and this book is fun so far. I'm in Italy with her right now, and wishing I could literally be on a trip to Italy. When my daughter was there, she absolutely adored Venice. The author of this book is in Rome. What I like about this book is that when she feels in despair, she turns inside herself and does some journaling, asking her inner voice for some answers and letting the answers pour out of her within the pages of her journal. I haven't been journaling in quite some time, not since the Morning Pages recommended in Artist's Way. I think I need to try it again, only this time, instead of just pouring out all the stuff that is bothering me about life, I think I'll try asking some questions of myself and seeing if I have some answers instead of the usual complaints. If I get away from complaining and into searching, maybe there will be something there. Ya never know!

Sanity Saver III I've been wanting to take vitamins on a regular basis. I have been reading about Flax Oil to help with depression, as well as helping with a variety of other health conditions. I want to take a daily vitamin, my vitamin C, calcium etc. So I bought myself a pill container with the days of the week marked on it. Those pill dispensers aren't just for the aged - I'm going to use it to make sure I fill my vitamins on Sunday and take them all week long. Maybe I'll get better about doing that on a regular basis.

Still knitting on the second sleeve of the denim jacket. But I'm getting close . . . really close . . . to getting this wrapped up. Maybe I'll be wearing the new jacket soon, now that the temps are dropping. Happy weekend.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Larger Than Life Block 1

During my final crochet class session last Saturday, I started the Larger Than Life block, trying to see if I like the block enough to do the full Larger Than Life bag which takes 12 blocks like this one, in varying colors.

I finished the block this week all on my own. I'm starting to figure out this crochet thing! Very proud of myself. I used the new Berroco Comfort yarn - it's an inexpensive acrylic with such a soft, lovely feel. Purchased at the Studio. I love this yarn. It is soft enough to make the most cushy baby items.

As far as doing the Larger than Life Bag, I like the bag but I don't know if I want to do all the sewing that goes along with it. You have to sew a cloth lining in it. I was originally planning of sewing or gluing the blocks onto a regular tote, but so far I haven't found one that will work.

While knitting and crocheting are a blast, sewing is NOT my thing.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Cleaning Out the Refrigerator - Literally and Metaphorically Speaking

This morning, as I was trying to fit a pitcher of tea into a stuffed refrigerator, I realized that for some reason, I couldn't get the thing closed again. No matter how I rearranged the pitcher into the crowded shelf, I just COULDN'T get it to fit in there for some reason. As soon as I closed the door each time after a rearrangement, I still heard that annoying, "clunk" sound that told me the door just wasn't closing. No matter what.

So I started taking things out, throwing away old food, cleaning up spills, cleaning it up. Still it wouldn't close. After doing a refrigerator cleanout, and reducing a lot of clutter and mess inside, I finally stood back, looked at the WHOLE refrigator, both inside and out. Then I saw the problem, a sack of dog biscuits my husband stored on top of the fridge had slid down slightly at the top of the door and was blocking the door.

What this taught me is: 1) I sure don't clean out my fridge very often. I recall in the old days, when I was a child, we didn't have a self-defrosting freezer, so cleaning the whole freezer and fridge from top to bottom was a monthly ritual. I don't do that anymore and SHOULD. 2) Sometimes in figuring out one problem, we find other things that need to be addressed too to fix a nonworking situation; 3) Sometimes I get too narrow or short sighted in problem solving and don't step back to take a larger look until I've run out of all other options. 4) Why do I have 4 containers of lowfat cream cheese? Probably because I haven't been organized enough nor paying close enough attention. 5) This is all really irrelevant, but feels oddly relevant somehow. 6) Cleaning and decluttering, when done in small doses, targeting one area at a time can be very effective without a huge time investment. 7) Even mundane tasks like cleaning up the refrigerator can give me insights - and it's oddly carthartic.

Friday, October 05, 2007

One Sleeve Down . . . . One to Go

Here's the sleeve - as of a photo late Wednesday night. Last night I got on a knitting spree and finished it up. I even fitted the sleeve into the vest with pins and tried it on. The sleeve seems to fit.

I really got snapping on this project. I started the sleeve last Saturday afternoon and finished it last night. It was done in just under a week - hard to believe how fast it went. Now I will have the second one to do, trying to duplicate the first. The pressure is on.

I haven't cast on for the second one yet, but I hope to get it started tonight or tomorrow morning. Even though we are still having a last snap of summer - with temps expected to reach the 90's all weekend, I'm hoping that Fall will return soon so that I can actually wear this jacket. I'll probably put a little decoration on the collar too. Not sure what I'll do with that yet.

With having had second sock syndrome in the past, I hope I don't get second SLEEVE syndrome.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

You Are the Moon

You are The Moon

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.

The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Oh my goshhhh. Is this mini personality/tarot card test EVER true! I love Tarot cards, and this brief little quiz came out eerily accurate. The part about the mental/emotional trials is so true. I am not on medications, but sometimes I feel that I probably should be! Seriously. Whew. Take the test yourself . . . if you dare. Ha!

In other news this week, my daughter got the biggest part in the children's community theater production of THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER. She plays the mother/play director. I'm so thrilled she got the lead. She's a talented actress and she LOVES the theater. We'll be busy shuttling her over to play pratice these next couple of months, but it will be worth it.

I was thrilled to learn that The Studio has announced their Winter Retreat, set to take place on the last weekend in January. January 25-27th at the Elms Hotel & Spa in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. We all had such a BLAST last year. I couldn't have had a better, more relaxing time. This year, I may even partake of the spa services, who knows? I could maybe be talked into a hot stone massage. The Studio really knows how to treat their customers like gold. Wow!

I hope your week is going well so far, and that you are having at least a LITTLE time to read, soak in the tub, knit, sip tea/coffee, chat with a friend, or do something fun and relaxing to nourish the part of you that is . . . hanging by a thin thread.