Category Archives: crochet

Mini-Maker Faire Round Rock – Recap


Back at the beginning of the summer, I let you guys know that my crochet hook experiment was going to be at Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire (just outside Austin).  And then soon after MMF, I raced off for my summer road trip across country with the kids to go visit Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front (and a few places in between).  But with breaking my ankle at the end, and the long recovery from surgery, I never did give you guys a recap of how Mini-Maker Faire went! So here it is!  Let me go back in time and fill you in.  ;)

As you know, I’ve participated in the only two large Maker Faires hosted in Austin, back in 2007 & 2008.  And I absolutely loved it!  The experience was beyond my expectations and for once in my life, I really felt like I’d found more than just a handful of “my people.”  It was like finding your roots in a tribe.  Unfortunately though, Maker Faire was not able to come back to Austin in 2009, which was a huge disappointment to me.

Then sometime last year, thanks to the work of Austin Tinkering School, a 2012 Mini-Maker Faire in Austin was born.  However, the timing of it crashed into the same time we were putting our house on the market.  So I didn’t even get to attend, much less present.

Thankfully, TechShop rolled into town.  They are a very cool community workshop place that I want to buy into.  I learned about them through the KidBot work my kids and I were doing with The Robot Group during the summer of 2012.  Interestingly enough, TechShop’s concept was inspired by Maker Faire out in CA.  So it was super cool that they decided to host a Mini-Maker Faire here in Round Rock less than a year after they opened.  As soon as I learned about it, of course I jumped at the chance to participate!

The Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire was crazy and awesome.  And though I thought I had a plan, yeah – that went out the window.  None of the site setup or traffic flow was according to plan either.  And I did not get any photos as planned either.  But it all worked out fine.  Some other folks took pictures and told me they would contact me later to share them, but I haven’t ever heard from them.  It’s somewhat disappointing to have poured so much into doing the event for free, only to have no photos or visual record that we were there or even a part of it.  But that’s what happens when you are too busy to be able to take photos.  However, TechShop did put together this little video and you can catch a tiny glimpse of my booth at about 11 seconds into the video!  So there you go, flash proof that crochet was represented! ;)

Because I chose not to do a for-profit booth (I really did not have time to get merchandise together) I was set up in the big main room not far from the entrance.  I was also right next to a working Tardis Console display, complete with buttons to push and sound effects, which you will also notice in the video.  It was awesome!  Though pretty loud in the echoing room.  We had to do a lot of shouting to communicate while all the kids went crazy for it.  And of course, I loved that all these kids are so educated in the ways of Doctor Who today.

Tom Baker as Doctor Who, with the amazing long scarf!

See, I grew up watching Tom Baker as the 13th Doctor way back in the 80’s in OK, where no one else I knew ever did.  I was such a geek even then.  Seeing all these excited kids was just…. sweet.  In fact, one of the reasons I really stuck with crochet was due to my fascination with Tom Baker’s scarf!  Which I have yet to replicate, btw.  But I’ve made many, many long scarfs just because of him.  Anyway, so I guess we can all lay some blame on Tom Baker and his writers for at least a little of my extreme fascination with crochet.  Even though yes – I know his scarf in the show was knitted!  Hey, I was a kid – the modality doesn’t matter. Simply the long scarf.  That is all.  That and the awesomeness that is Doctor Who.  And Tom Baker.

(Speaking of, I finally got to watch the 50th anniversary Doctor Who Special tonight, and I loved it.  Last cameo scene brought me to joyful tears.  Tom Baker, I still love you!)

Back to Mini-Maker Faire! One of the fun things TecShop did was create an allocated chalk-board wall for everyone to write their answer to fill in the blank of one simple question:  “If I could make anything in the world, I would make ____________.”  The answers were quite fun!  Here are just a few photos we caught. Notice how many Doctor Who references there are!

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Finger-knitting was insanely popular at my booth at this Maker Faire – again.  I have taught this to kids in the Austin area for over a decade.  Usually, I tell every kid I teach – OK here’s the catch – you have to go teach others.  Go infect your friend with yarn love.  I do this in crochet too, but little kids love finger knitting and all that requires is yarn to keep them busy.  I used to work in special education in college and we used activities like finger knitting with children of all types and abilities.  It’s amazing how even a child with ADhD can calm and focus during this activity.  And even the parents seem more peaceful.  I used to tuck an extra ball of yarn in the hands of mothers and say – here, keep this in your purse for the next time you’re at the store with the kids.  ;)

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My daughter designed and made this giant wooden sword, with a little help from her dad on some of the cutting.

Anyway, this year my daughter Jessica taught the kids finger-knitting while I taught crochet and talked about hooks.  She also brought her giant wooden sword she made for Halloween last year, which gained loads of attention.  At one point, we were working at separate tables when I turned around and realized cameras were on my daughter and she was being interviewed for some sci-fi crafty internet show thing.  I still don’t know how I feel about it.  I quelled the urge to run over and ruin everything by asking – don’t you think you should ask her mother for permission before you film my child?  Hopefully they were responsible interviewers, etc..  Supposedly they were going to contact us if they used the footage, but we have not heard anything about it.  (If anyone out there sees footage of Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire 2013 out there somewhere, please tell me??)

I didn’t have time to finish all the hooks for the experiment as planned, so I also brought my own personal collection and let people play with it.  One lady crocheted a swatch using every (smaller) single hook in my collection.  Awesome.  A lady from Brazil came by and chatted a while.  She talked about crochet yarn as fat as your thumb and as tiny as a silk sewing thread and how crochet is something *everyone* does in Brazil.  She also talked about a street in Brazil paved in yarn and fiber classes.  It sounded amazing.  She said fiber crafts for them there is like car lots are for us here.  Tons of them line the streets.  Which was kind of a weird/sad thought.  I must go see this someday.  I wish I remembered what town she said she was from.

People who were interested in knowing more about how to read patterns came by, including some who were talking about wishing they could get more Japanese patterns in the US with symbol crochet maps.  I concurred.

There was one main thing that helped me out with the giant crowds of people that I’m really happy I did.  I decided to make a “science fair” type presentation board with photos and reports on it about Jimbo’s and my crochet hook experiment, plus diagrams and photos of various hook shapes and extra information.  A lot of photos were taken of my board and lots of people came by to talk to me because they read my board.  Very cool.  However – I forgot to put Aberrant Crochet or Jimbo’s or my name on that board anywhere.  It was on the report sitting in front of the board,  but no where else.  (sigh)  Well, what can you do.

I ran out of business cards and fliers though, so here’s hoping that somehow, somewhere out there these people will get in touch or something.  Who knows?  But then again – how may people do you get in touch with yourself after taking a business card?  Yeah.  So you know what I mean.

Still, all in all it was a fascinating day of people who were fans of crochet, or fans of yarn or who were just fascinated by my experiment.  I really enjoyed it and I was hoarse by the end of the day.  Much of the content that I spoke about is what you see printed in my articles in the 2013 Fall and Winter Interweave Crochet magazines.  (Speaking of which, the winter issue should be available in a couple weeks!)

So there you go, a Mini-Maker Faire Recap, albeit a late one!  I’ll try to catch you guys up on my road trip here soon.  :)

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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, crochet, Crochet Community, Crochet Hooks, Make Faire, NaBloPoMo

Follow Your Heart – It’s Not Really That Clichéd – Crochet Ruminations


You know the best advice I can give an artist seeking to sell for profit is to follow your heart when it comes to creativity and listen to your customers’ feedback.

Every time I’ve ever tried to do something my heart wasn’t really into, from that creative artistic point of view, it never would sell well.

In the beginning, I got a lot of shoulds on what to make from peers and others who had input to give me, but who weren’t ever buying from me.  “You should make dog clothes!”  I don’t own dogs and I don’t know the first thing about shaping for them, I don’t think so.  “You should make purses!” Well, I might make a couple, but if I’m not really a bag lady myself, how can I possibly find it interesting enough to create them for profit or be in tune with what people want in a crochet purse. “I just want to see you succeed,” another artist told me at a show after giving unsolicited advice.

And you know what else?  Not once has a customer treated me that way either.  Kind of interesting.  Maybe they like my ideas just the way they are.

And that’s just it.  I have always succeeded by being me.  And not by trying to imitate someone else.

I believe people buy handmade and art because they are expressions of someone, and they are drawn to that spirit.  When it’s authentic, they’re fans.  When it’s not, there’s nothing to distinguish you the individual from someone else.  And when we listen to fans and to the people who are actually putting money into our hands, we’re listening to people who have tapped into our creative spirit.  Which can be really helpful when we’re feeling a bit lost and need direction.

Anyway, so though it sounds clichéd, seriously – follow your heart in your craft.  Pour yourself into it.  And if you can’t?  If there’s a block? Then find an avenue that isn’t blocked.  Nowhere does it say that you have to be a yellow pencil.  Be inspired by someone?  Sure.  But genuinely do your own thing!

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Filed under Business, crochet, Crochet Ruminations, Editorial, NaBloPoMo, Writing

Juicy Crochet News: Catch Me In Print!


I’ve been sitting on some juicy professional #crochet news for a few months now.  :)

Julia_headshot_July_2013And I’m sorry I couldn’t share it with my peeps sooner – but you know how professional things can go.

However, the time has finally come that I can share it!

Are you ready?

Well…

.

.

I was asked to write a technical article about crochet hooks!  :D

And…

It turned into two articles!  :) 

The first’s about hook shapes and the second’s about hand holds!

Kinda cool huh! :D

And it’s for Interweave Crochet!  Yep!
You can check out the preview for the issue here!

If you’ve known me awhile, then you know how passionate I am about crochet and especially crochet hooks.  To me, we don’t pay enough attention to our tools!  Even though our tools make up such a huge part of the equation when it comes to the outcome of our crochet designs!  wpid-2012-09-25_20-57-13_-2.0Ev-2.jpgNot to mention our crochet comfort, control and frustration levels.  So I was really excited at the opportunity to “preach the gospel,” so to speak!

This Interweave Crochet hook article combo is one of the largest freelance writing endeavors I’ve ever worked on.  And of course after pouring so much crochet heart into them, I can’t help but be excited that I get to share it with Interweave Crochet and their readers!

So please watch for the issues, check out the articles and feel free to ask questions and give feedback!  I’m confident these articles will be unlike anything you’ve ever read in a publication about hooks before.  And I’m so excited that the world of hooks, hands and their variations is getting more attention! :D  I mean, just how many articles have you seen dedicated to crochet tools and the hands that hold them!

Yay! Hookey goodness! :D

So… you gotta go check it out!  The first article on hook shapes will be in your next Fall 2013 Issue of Interweave Crochet.  The second article will show up in the Winter 2013 issue.  Some Interweave subscribers already have the first (I know because you emailed me  – thanks for letting me know!), so if you subscribe and  haven’t received your magazine yet – you will soon!  I haven’t received mine yet either, so I’m waiting too!  And if you like the efforts Interweave Crochet is making in advancing crochet knowledge, please let them know! :)

For those of you who buy your magazines off the stand, you’ll likely have to wait until September 16th.  The summer issue will be on display until then, at least in the U.S..

So there you go!  There’s the big news I’ve hung on to!  

But stay tuned, because that’s not the only bit of juicy news I have to share!  Next up, I have to tell you about my summer trip with my kids across the country, our visit with Laurie Wheeler from The Crochet Liberation Front and her family, a sweet yarn shop in Denver, and more!

Not to mention, we have a lot of catching up to do!  Catch you on the flip side!

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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, crochet, Crochet Community, Crochet Hooks, Crochet News

Crochet Holding Positions For Hooks – A Tutorial (Take 2)


Well guys, I don’t know how it happened, but my video post a couple of days ago for crochet hook holding positions posted the wrong video!  It posted the discussion on hook ergonomics instead!

Eek! Sorry!  I’m not sure how I did that, but since there are already some comments on the earlier posts, and I don’t want to confuse anyone, I’m just going to completely re-post with the correct video with the correct title today.  :)

So what follows is a video demonstration of several hand positions people use when crocheting and advantages/disadvantages to each.  Hope you find it helpful!  And please share!

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Filed under crochet, Crochet Hooks

Ergonomics In Crochet Hook Design And The Hands That Use Them


Yep, working on some surprises for ya!  Oh, I haven’t forgotten our series of crochet hook design discussions, it’s just taking longer than I’d like.  It’s taken me a few days to complete this one, but here it is.  Let’s just say my new camera birthday present hasn’t been as user friendly as I would like. 

Anyway, check out the video, let me know what you think, add to the discussion and stay tuned for supplemental articles later this week.  :)

Catch ya on the up-swing! ;)


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Filed under crochet, Crochet Hooks

Crochet Holding Positions For Hooks – A Tutorial


I made a video today about the variety of ways we hold and use crochet hooks! Check it out below!


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If You’re Not Breaking Stuff, You’re Not Innovating


 

Well friends, my world is full of exciting news.  We had an offer on our historical home this weekend!  So now we are officially on the road to becoming first-time home sellers.  I’m not sure what kind of kink this may put into my blogging and hook carving schedule, but my goals remain the same.  I am still carving and blogging about a new hook every week and I am still participating in the November NaBloPoMo.  I’m doing it.  Hell yeah I’m doing it

Eeek!  Please do cheer me on! (And wish us a smooth and successful house selling and buying process! The houses we were previously interested in have since sold, so now we have to find somewhere to buy!)

Hour 7
Innovation:

There should be consistency enough along the throat and/or shaft of the hook to at least keep all loops on the hook the exact same size.

So I left off yesterday with the photos demonstrating what a wedge shape design in a crochet hook will do to your stitches.  In this case, Grandmother Tree’s hook was technically two different sizes in the throat.   If I left the hook this way, the top and bottom loops of any given stitch made with the hook would be inconsistent in size.

However, due to the curvature and angle of the hook, I needed to not only come up with a way to create consistency in size, but also while striving not to sacrifice the strength or length of the hook.  Or for that matter, sacrifice usability.  We still need a comfortable hook.  Doesn’t matter how precise the top is if it’s too uncomfortable and not shaped well enough to hold.

It’s somewhat difficult to photograph, but there is a slight twist to this wood with the hook’s curvature.  After all it is carved from a small live oak tree branch and we all know they do not grow in a straight line in any direction.  We still need a comfortable handle, and we need adequate room on the hook that remains consistent in size so our loops remain the same size as we work.

So here’s the design I came up with.  Check it out.

By creating an impression in the throat at the top of the handle, and then narrowing the back and sides, I was able to create a consistent size all the way up to the handle slope and reduce stress on the top loop.

It’s a short hook, so there wasn’t a lot of room to work with, but I succeeded in my goals.  Not only does the hook pass the sizing test up to the handle, but as you can see here, the loops on the hook are the same size – no stretching!  There’s adequate room to work for most stitches that most crocheters will use.  (For instance, I would not recommend this hook to make my Giant Halloween Spider Web, as there’s not enough room on the hook to make the special stitches.)

Hour 8:

Now it’s starting to shine.

Now that the design issue is solved, it’s time for the finishing touches.  I need to refine all the edges, double check the handle shape so it’s comfortable in the hand and put a buttery smooth finish on the hook. I use several different grades of sandpaper and diamond tip tools to do this.  And though I do use some steel wool on occasion, I honestly far prefer not to use it.  There’s some expensive stuff that I like much better instead and to me it’s worth it.  The slick finish it creates for me is amazing and it doesn’t leave metal splinters in my hands.  And since I intend not to use sealant on this hook and to leave it “al natural,” I really want the best buff I can get.  Towards the end of this process, I start using a piece of soft felt to hold the hook as I polish.  And it’s about time for me to find a nice piece of cloth to wrap the final product in.

Stay tuned!  Final photos and the silent auction is next!

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Filed under crochet, Crochet Education, Crochet Hooks

Sometimes You Work Hard And You Fail…


So it’s on for the Fall to Christmas crochet hook carving challenge.

The weather was not as nice as it was last week, but I still enjoyed the windows open, the birds at the feeder and the fresh air for a while this morning.  Between chores, some training, a meeting at school and several back to back calls and other meetings, I managed to spend some time perfecting the crochet hook I started this weekend.

Grandmother Tree

There’s a pile of wood pieces I’ve saved.  Pieces gifted to me by my mentor Jimbo while at Cama last year, pieces from my Grandpa Jack’s tree, pieces my brother dug out of his stash of project scraps, dowels, chopsticks and knitting needles I have worked on and pieces from my giant old trees in the back yard.

While sorting through my choices in deciding what I would work with for the first hook of my Fall challenge, my eyes kept settling on an interesting curved shape I’d already pulled from the yard and stripped in preparation for work.

A piece from our 500-600 year old live oak tree.

This is the tree my children love, the tree they have climbed, swing from and the tree that has shaded them all their lives.  This is the tree that will be so hard to leave when we move.  The one thing that stands out and my children will want to see again someday when they are older and they need to reconnect with their roots.  The Grandmother Tree.

Comparing sticks, I think I’ll start with the curved.

I picked the piece up and immediately remembered why I added it to my project box.  I’m not an overhand crocheter, but this piece of wood curves perfectly in the hand, knife style.  There’s even a natural depression right around the thumb area.  I’m not personally a huge fan of thumb rests as a chop-stick style crocheter, but they are very helpful to nearly anyone using an overhand style.  The size and shape kind of reminded me of a trigger style hook.

So began the work to prepare the shape for the hook captured inside.

The process for me in creating a hook is very precise as I am quite particular about shape and purpose of my tools.  Though I have created hooks specifically for certain people, my focus is generally on creating hooks that I would use.  I’m not interested in creating just any shape that happens to seem hook-like in nature.  I am actually quite obsessed with the shape and quality of my tools.  And I’ve seen many a badly shaped hook.  Sometimes your frustrations have nothing to do with crochet, your yarn or your skills, but everything to do with your tool.

Hour 1:

I enjoyed the fresh air in the garage while carving the tip into a rounded point.  Two ladies drove up and one jumped out to get a sales flier for our house from our box.  I hope it leads to a contact.  But I also hope it’s not today.  Or tomorrow for that matter.

I had a meeting to get to, so I stashed the rounded shaft and headed out the door.

Hour 2:

The shape of any natural stick is inconsistent and presents variations in any carving endeavor.  However this stick is curved and unusual with its knotting, so to get the shape I want in the end, and keep it comfortable in the hand, I have to sculpt it carefully.  I need both an excellent hook shape for work, but also a comfortable handle with no uncomfortable anomalies.

Getting there!  Lot’s more to go on the head though.

Smoother and the shape is more refined.

Hour 3:

Michelangelo was known to say that in his work, the sculpture was always locked inside and he simply removed what what not the sculpture.  I’m not a genius artist like he was, but I do completely understand this concept as it’s very logical and exactly how I see making hooks.  I stare at the wood and a shape emerges.  And then it’s revealed how that shape can become a useful shape for my purposes.

Hour 4:

The art of crochet involves torque.  It’s one of those things that makes it very different in skill than knitting because the needs to leverage your tool to work with yarn are different.  There’s all sorts of manipulation involved that depends on a strong and properly shaped hook in crochet.  Hence the strength of our hooks are vital, more vital than the strength of a knitting needle. Because it must be able to take the pressure we exert by way of the yarn wrapped through it.  It’s especially important for the bowl of the hook’s mouth to be incredibly smooth.

(sigh) broken. I accidentally took the lip right off.

And to craft that hook just right in wood, with the right amount of slope, a generous bowl and long enough lip takes careful work with the right tools.

But sometimes even then, even after hours of collective work, you fail.

And in working on the bowl tonight, after hours of work, I accidentally took the lip completely off.  And that’s that.  Or is it?

It’s a nice curved handle, so I spent some time looking at it some more. 

Maybe there’s still some hope to save Grandmother Tree’s hook.  It would be shorter than I have planned, but in studying the curves, my hand and what’s left at the front, I begin to see another crochet hook.

It’s getting late though and I do not want to continue to work with sharp objects when I’m tired, nor do I want to lose my “place” and the vision in my head.  So to be sure of my thoughts, I sketch, make notes, and draw some marks for her new face.  Clarifying in my mind whether I really think the new shape could work.  Or perhaps in the morning, maybe I should just start over.

Nah.

Maybe there’s hope yet.

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Filed under crochet, Crochet Hooks, handmade

It’s Official – I’ll Carve One Special Crochet Hook Per Week: Happy Fall My Friends


This is absolutely my favorite time of year.  My favorite season, my favorite three months out of the year.  Some would say it’s because my birthday is next month.  And they might be right, but I don’t think so.  I think it’s more likely because down here in Central Texas, the summers are brutal.  And as my husband said the other day when the weather was finally nice enough to throw the windows open: “This.  This is why we live here.  This is why we put up with the heat of summer.  For this.”

Here, fall is a sign of relief, holidays and family gatherings around the corner and in many ways, to me a new beginning.  But then, I guess October is my New Year.

In celebration of my favorite season, and in leaving the safety of 40, I have agreed to take on a challenge handed to me by friends.  Can I do it?

I have pledged to hand-carve and blog about at least one new special crochet hook per week from now until Christmas.

And I better get cracking.  These special hooks will be offered up for sale each week here on my blog.  And through the process, I hope you may learn a bit more about hook anatomy and why the design of your crochet hook is so important.

I have decided to handle the blog sales the same way my carving mentor, Jimbo Price, does with his own hooks – by silent auction.   Opening bids for each hook will begin at $10 ($5 increments there-after), with the respective blog post updated as bids are emailed in (to worx@pixieworx.net).  Bids will run for the week and then end.

Funds from these sales are primarily to benefit our son’s vision.  After writing my previous post about our son’s rare vision issues and the need to be able to finish his treatment, we found out he will need more than we expected.  About twice what we expected and at a cost of $3000 more.   Already, one of my customers has made a generous monetary donation on our son’s behalf that has helped us get started.  You know who you are and from the bottoms of our hearts – again thank you.

When it comes to the challenge itself, I’m not quite sure what will evolve out of it.  But I know it will be intriguing to me.  It takes me 3-5 hours to carve one of my hooks, depending on exactly what shape I am aiming for and the wood I’m working with.  I will have to treat this “hook a week” challenge much the way I have to treat NaBloPoMo coming up in November – with discipline and innovation.  There are plenty of events and life activities to get in the way, but you just do it and stick to it somehow.  And when you think you’re out of ideas, you ask for input, turn yourself upside down and you think of something differently.  (You don’t think I’m going to make the exact same hook each week, do you?)  To make it fair, part of the caveat (straight from the NaBloPoMo playbook) is that even if I make more than one hook in a week, I still can’t work ahead and skip a week.  I have to carve and blog about at least one hook a week.  That’s the challenge.  To have that discipline.

The goal in part is for me to see if I can do it.  Just like the goal in NaBloPoMo is to blog every single day, without fail, through the month of November.  Only this is carving a hook a week for an entire season plus a week.  It sounds easier than it is.  But in the long run the badge of accomplishment is worth it.

So be watching for an intro into hook anatomy and the first hook offering!  :)  See you on the flip side.

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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, crochet, Crochet Hooks, Crochet News, handmade

A Twist On The Gift – Recycled Crochet Packaging


Etsy has been talking about creative shipping and packaging and asking fellow Etsians to share photos and tips.  After all, holiday show season is just about upon us.  So I put together some photos to share in their discussion.

Collection of Recycled Shipping/Shopping Materials in Crochet

What you see to the right are just three different examples of packaging that I’ve made that’s been recycled through the skills of crochet.  Here, a bubble mailer, a rip-stop shipping bag and a clear plastic shopping bag have all been cut up, sewn and crocheted into new looks.  They take some time to do, but I’ve been working on these ideas for the upcoming holiday season to offer to my customers.

When it comes to creative packaging for my business, for me it’s all about recycling and maximizing my efforts while still being creative and maintaining professionalism and class.  I recycle shipping packets as much as possible.  In my shared examples, crochet edging is made from durable scrap yarns and sometimes buttons from “Grandma’s Vintage Bucket Of Awe” also find new life in the creative gift wrap.

A shopping bag finds new life with a crocheted top and hanging loop.

For me it’s partly just good business sense to stretch my dollars if I can.  Handmade is a tough enough business to be financially successful in and I’d rather spend my $ on good yarn, not blow it on packaging or shipping materials if I don’t have to.  That said, I’m also not one to sacrifice quality either.  Not to mention, like my Grandma Dot, who survived the Great Depression, I’m no fan of waste.  And truly, since most of my sales are face to face sales, I have more creative gift wrapping concerns than I do shipping concerns.  So it’s easy enough for me to recycle my and my friends shipping materials.  Another reason for trying to recycle creatively as much as possible is because I simply don’t have the storage space otherwise to hang onto perfectly good items.  So I look them over and then decide if I can repurpose them or not.  And lastly, I simply enjoy the challenge.  Crochet is a true hand art that can never be done by machine.  So even my packaging is made with personal care and pride.

This is one of those rip-resistant shipping envelopes, cut up and crocheted to become a smaller, more stylish envelope! (You can see a hint of the bar code inside!)

If I run out of shipping materials to recycle though, I do go ahead and buy them.  And I do invest in tissue paper and professional business cards and labels.  Clear concise cards and logos are important I think, that is, if you wish to brand yourself and be remembered.  But when it comes to holidays, I try to up the ante and offer my customers some creative gift wrapping options.  Since I’m a crochet designer, I prefer to incorporate crochet somehow into the fun.

A recycled bubble mailer is now ready to hold a handmade item.

For finished crocheted goods, I always wrap them carefully, tie them and focus on two layers of packaging -> the gift inside as well as the outer shipping shell.  The outer shell will be abused by whatever shipping service, so I want to be sure the item inside stays safe.  But also, I want my customer to enjoy pulling their purchase out of the outer shell and opening their “care package” inside.  So I think about the presentation inside as well as out.  PDF patterns don’t get shipping attention of course, but when I carve crochet hooks, I like to wrap them in things like lacy handkerchiefs.  To me, my customers are investing in high end, heirloom quality work done by an expert in the field, so their items should be handled with class.  However they are also investing in a piece of me and my romantic yet quirky sense of the world, so there has to be an element of fun as well.  My goal is always to give someone a grin and a light-hearted memory.

I also personally feel that if you’re really into vintage and handmade as a business, then consider coming across more personal, clever and unique even in your packaging and less like trying to copy mass productions.  Let your personality through on an individual basis.  After all, what’s handmade and the season about?  Customers don’t buy handmade because it’s their only choice, so definitely keep in mind that your edge is that personal touch and that customers desire to invest in you – someone that’s real.

Oh, I do have one other little secret when it comes to my wrapping needs:  My daughter, Jack, can wrap and tie the prettiest bows like no one’s business, so I do often get her help!  :D

So what do you think?  How do you approach gift wrapping or packaging?  Share your tips with us below!

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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, crochet, handmade

My Owl – Keep Watch Tonight…


I spent a little time in KS with my brother, sister-in-law, nieces and nephew.  Their newborn, Lilly, was born by c-section, so we went up not just to visit, but to help.  There was plenty to do with three kids under school age in the house.  And dear Lilly’s sleep schedule hadn’t ironed out yet, as is par for the course.

Staying a week up there was a change of pace from home at the end of the school year and a joy to spend time fulfilling the role of “aunt.”  Over the last weekend of my visit I made a little owl amigurumi from a crochet magazine for my two-year old nephew.  I’d already been making flowers for my oldest niece and wanted to find a ball “recipe” I thought I saw in a magazine.  I was flipping through pages when my 5-year-old niece noticed the owl design.  “You know… Aunt Julia…” she said, drawn out with coy emphasis.  “I think you should make my brother an owl.  Maybe the little one….  (innocent pause)  Don’t you think?”  I looked at her with a barely veiled “is that so?” in my eyes.  And so it was that the simple ball toy for a boy that I was looking for became abandoned to a more involved ami owl.

I always bring yarn with me everywhere.  Trips especially.  I looked through all my bags and found enough navy blue yarn to complete the job.  “Ma’ owl,” my dear nephew kept saying as I crocheted, pointing to the photo in the magazine.  I worked on it all afternoon and on into the next day between chores and other activities.  Then on the second day, as the body was finally stuffed and starting to take form with the eyes sewn on, my nephew got real excited as he realized the owl was coming into being.  “Ma’ owl done?” he kept running up to ask as I sewed on each piece.  It seemed like every 5 minutes at this point.  “Not yet, still working on his feet/wing/beak,” I’d say each time.

Then finally the owl was complete and he was elated.  I managed to finish it right at his bed time, and he carried it around with him as he got ready.  “Owls are nocturnal,” his big sister said at one point.  Then referring to her new baby sister she piped up and said, “Maybe Lilly’s nocturnal!”  My sister-in-law and I shared a chuckle.

Then before they headed off to bed, my nephew put his new owl on the kitchen counter to keep watch.  Eyes on the fridge I guess – we’re not sure why.  The next night he had his owl sit on the banister outside his bedroom to keep watch.  I look forward to hearing more about where it roosts for the nights to come.

It’s a wondrous thing, to be able to create something special, while the kids watch, quick as a wink like that.  Wondrous indeed.

I’ll try to post which pattern this was when I find the magazine I used.  I don’t remember what it was or where I got it.

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Filed under crochet, Friends and Family

What Caption Would You Add To This Hilarious (Crochet) Picture?


This post was originally published Nov 6, 2010 on my other blog: The Difference Between A Duck.  I thought maybe it deserved some attention here.  Yeah, kinda makes sense.


This is a photo of Laurie Wheeler (Fearless Leader of the CLF) and I at Pinch Knitter Yarns during the Crochet Liberation Front‘s 2010 Conference/Retreat at Cama. Bill, fabulous crocheter, photographer and husband of free-form crochet designer Bonnie Pierce, was snapping photos of everyone. And this shot was in the mix!

“Good Lord,” I said when I first saw it on Facebook. “What happened to my face!”

I know what it is.  That’s the look I get on my face when I’m concentrating. And thinking back, I’m guessing I was focusing in on her words since I’ve trouble hearing in groups. But anyway, since then Laurie, Bonnie and I have supposed on what caption could be put with this photo – related to crochet, yarn, the CLF and our retreat.

"My yarn is not going to be there when I wake up, will it..."

My favorites so far are:
“You’re going to steal my yarn while I’m sleeping, aren’t you…..” and
“Seriously? Since when is there a limit of only five? I’m not giving one up!”
“I’m not hiding anything….”

Maybe: “This is not the yarn you’re looking for….?”

Bonnie added: “Yea…. I DO have enough money to pay for my cabin! You can’t make me put them back!!”

I love it! What captions would you come up with? :D


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Filed under crochet, Crochet Community, Humor

An Aberrant “Obey Crochet” Holiday Give Away!


Oh look!  I was a poet and didn’t know it!

Well, welcome back my crochet friends!  Happy Holidays!

I know, I know….  I was writing so consistently and then dropped off.  It’s the season for working though, you know.  This is the time of year when warm things are in demand!  I’ll let you know when I master typing with my ears while I crochet.  Send me any tips if you have them!  LOL!  Oh and then of course one by one the family units got sick.  And fight as I did, I finally caught it too.  I know you know how it is!

But, now I’m getting back on my feet just in time for the holidays.  It’s also dear hubby’s and my anniversary today!  (16 years!  Do you know how much I love him?)

It’s me and Obey Crochet!  Cooking up some fun for you!

So I’m ready to celebrate, drink some wine, enjoy some chocolate, have some fun and spring a holiday celebration giveaway surprise that Stephanie a.k.a. Obey Crochet and I cooked up!  We’re doing a blog giveaway! YAY!

Yes!  ‘Tis true!  And trust me, you’ll covet this one!  If you haven’t met Obey Crochet just yet, please do so by visiting my interview with her here!

“Yay! What awesomeness will we win?” you ask?  Well I’ll tell you!

It’s our pleasure to bring this crochet unique giveaway to you, my fellow crochet lover!  One lucky winner will receive a FREE, signed… (did you see that? … a signed!) …  Obey Crochet print.  Of your choice!  Of ANY one Obey Crochet Drawing that you love!  Shipped to you!

Can you believe it?! 

OMG I’m jealous, because I’m disqualified from this giveaway.  They will also get random Obey Crochet buttons and rub on tats.  How cool is that!  Don’t you just love it!  :D

“How!  How can we win?” you ask?

Alright, so down to the business stuff… please read carefully!
First of all, this giveaway is uniquely open to USA as well as International crochet fans!  Yes!  We are not excluding our friends from overseas!

There is only ONE mandatory way to enter…
First, you must subscribe to both Aberrant Crochet and Obey Crochet blogs.  Next, go to Obey Crochet’s website, look at her vast collection of drawings and decide which one is your favorite.  Then, come back here and leave a comment on this giveaway blog post stating that you are following both blogs (we’ll check), along with a note about which Obey Crochet signed drawing you are most excited to win!  (One of my personal favorites is “Potentially Pirate,” along with Obey Crochet’s original “Co-Dependent.”  Oh and then of course there’s “Only Child,” “My Shadow Puppets Are Better,” and “All I Need Is One Hook.” And then there’s…..  I know – how can you possibly choose just one?! But in the end, if you win, you will have to!)
Last but not least, share the link to this giveaway with your crochet savvy friends!
Limit ONE entry per person.
OH and HEY! Post your Twitter ID and blog address in your comment and I’ll follow you back!  How’s that for a deal?

PLEASE NOTE…
1. You have just over ONE WEEK to enter…
2. Giveaway will close Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 9am CST.  (Yes, we gave you fudge room even after the New Year’s celebration!)
3. A winner will be chosen via random.org later in the day on January 1, 2012.
4. I will announce the winner on my blog shortly after (so come back to check!)
5. Please be sure to have your email address linked to your comment or there is no way for me to contact you!
And that’s it!

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!   :D   MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAVE FUN!
Oh, and disclaimer: I have not received any monetary compensation for putting on this giveaway.  This is purely for fun!  I mean, just in case you’re wondering.  They say it’s always good to be clear about these things.  So, there you have it… clear?  We love you!  Enjoy!

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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, crochet, Crochet Community, Giveaway

How Much Are You Worth?


What is the true cost of handmade items at a show?  I’m not really talking about taking a bead and sticking it on an ear wire. There’s almost no training or skill involved in that.  There’s not much honing of a craft going on there.  Though it does take time to assemble, it’s small and not considered skilled labor.

How much do you make an hour for your expertise?  How much should a hand crafter make per hour?  What is right for a living wage?  It’s easy to forget sometimes the nature of how some jobs work.  In many jobs, you get paid a set wage + benefits.  Some jobs involve a commission, which is generally highly taxed by the government even if it is really what you feed yourself with.  Other jobs, like waiting tables, are often half of minimum wage with the expectation that you will make up the rest in tips.  That was a rude awakening when I landed my first waiting job right out of college.  I was taxed out of my $2.13 an hour each week as if it were twice that, because it’s assumed I would make up the other half of minimum wage on tips.  And I didn’t.  Sigh, those were the days.

So how much should a hand crafter make?  Well, one obvious thing to consider is the cost of table fees to get into the show in the first place.  Just here in Austin, there are shows that range from $40 a table to over $3000.  It’s a chunk of change, and somewhat of a gamble playing the odds whether you will sell something at the venue or not.  Space rental is not cheap.  Neither is security, electricity or many other expenses people might not think of.  If you take credit cards, you have expenses there as well.

You have the cost of materials as overhead.  When it comes to yarn, it’s interesting to me that so many buyers really have no idea how much yarn can cost these days.  To buy enough to create a garment is a pretty substantial chunk.  Are we using “That Old 70’s Yarn?”  Or something nicer like silk or cashmere or even a microfiber?  Either way, it’s way more now than it was when I was a kid.

Then there’s the amount of materials as well.  Just because a hat you find at WalMart cost $5 doesn’t mean it has a comparable amount of fiber in it to something handmade.  Nor does it mean the yarn can be purchased in the US for so little either.  Where many often use one yarn for a design, I often use three myself.  So that’s a jump in cost for me.  Plus there’s the value of other elements, like antique buttons or sterling silver findings.

And then we come to the aspect of time and of skill.  What would you pay an expert to do and what would you pay a beginner?  There should be a difference.  There’s something to be said for a skill that has been honed over time.  Because the quality of labor is much different.  Why should an expert be paid the same as a beginner?  There’s a reason why we pay doctors what we do, they are highly educated, trained and skilled.

But let’s say we have a beginner.  Federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.  Even people receiving training to flip burgers get at least minimum wage.  If an item requires $30 of materials and takes 4 hours to make, you have at minimum a $59 item, before taxes.  Right?  What if you decide not to charge minimum wage?  Even at $5 an hour (a minimum suggestion from Crochet Liberation Front founder, Laurie Wheeler), you still have a $50 price tag.  At minimum.  For beginner grade work.

I like some points Laurie made on this subject in previous years on the Crochet Liberation Front forum, “The best way I know of raising the value of anything, is to value it yourself.” 

Followed up in her article last year “At What Price?” Laurie has this to say:

“FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS FUZZY DO NOT…and I repeat…DO NOT UNDERSELL YOUR WORK!!  …. Materials + Time x Skill = $$…. Time is valuable. Especially in today’s fast paced world, time is PRECIOUS, your time is VALUABLE. If you spend 2hrs on a  hat and you spent $3 on the materials and you only charge $4.00, $3.00 covers the materials and you just made FIFTY CENTS an hour. Really?  You are not a SWEATSHOP…You are WORTH more than that… “

Also, I’ve heard many women make comments that should never be made, like: “Oh but I enjoy doing this so I don’t charge very much.”  WHAT? Seriously? Did I just hear that?  SO you should only get paid for what you don’t derive a sense of satisfaction from?  (I’ve never heard a man say something like this, btw.)  If you’ve ever been guilty of saying something like that, stop and consider the craziness of what you’re suggesting.  Not to mention how it undervalues the work of all hand crafters when you do that, including the ones who rely on selling their wares to put food on the table.  Just because you don’t have to rely on it to feed your kids, doesn’t mean you should undersell your work.

Factors to keep in mind as you consider pricing also include rarity, how labor intensive, precision of the work, and expertise and range of experience. Some items, you’ll have to judge.  You may have to tweak your prices or process a bit here and there.  Just because you are capable of making wash cloths out of cashmere doesn’t mean it’s practical and that everyone will buy one for what it’s worth or at all.  Hmmm… So maybe there’s a cap there somewhere on what kind of materials you expect to use for what items and the price range most of your customers will fall into?

There’s also travel time, packing materials and postage.  If I’m doing custom orders and find myself driving all over town from yarn shop to yarn shop trying to find what will make my customer happy, it becomes an expense that has to be accounted for, because they want a custom item and not something I have ready to go.  And it requires me to take time off from my regular business and work only for them until they get what they want.  That can be a lot of time, especially if they don’t really know what they want or it’s difficult to secure!  Think about the fees you would pay a graphic artist when you don’t have a clear idea of what you want.  Usually you get one or two proofs and that’s it.  Consider that custom handmade should not be much different.

So when you’re pricing, you have a lot to consider for variables.  And once you have that, stick with it and do not let buyers bargain with you.  Not only is it poor form at shows, but when you do it, you give people permission to essentially cut your pay!  Set a fair and reasonable price, based on the variables we’re discussing and decide ahead of the show how you will deal with such requests.  If you want to offer a discount for multiple purchases, that can be nice, but price your individual items accordingly so you are still coming out on top in the end. Do not stoop to the rude folks either.  They are not your market.  Be polite, but do not waste your time on them.  You want to know at the end of the year, after all those last-minute material purchases and all the time invested and you sit down to do those taxes, that it was worth it.  If you never stand up for yourself, who will?

Now that you’ve read all this and taken stock, how much are you worth?  Think about it and add to the discussion in the comments!  :D


If you liked this article, you might also like: When Artists Hear “I Can Make That.

Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.”  You know you want to!  : )

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Filed under crochet, Crochet Community, Crochet Education, Doing the Show Circuit

The Tiniest Crochet Hook Made These!


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Aside from the tiny antique crochet hook in the next photo, pliers and these other tools were necessary to create this look. The wooden crochet hook helped block the lace loops.  Pliers helped pull the needle as needed to tie in threads.

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I not only put together this skull cameo, but crocheted lace around the cameo frame by crocheting directly onto it.

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This is the tiniest crochet hook I’ve ever owned along with the tiny butterfly pendant I crocheted with it. I don’t know a lot about this kind of hook, but I am blessed to own a few. I know they are antique, precisely hand-cut and made in England. And they are the best quality hooks of this tiny size I’ve found. The handle says No. 9, which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with modern crochet hook sizes.  But I estimate this to be maybe a size 16 or smaller??

These butterflies were created by crocheting around a tiny tag like this one, with my tiny antique hook.

It took me about 45 minutes, start to finish, to crochet, secure and finish off one of these. So how much would you think they are worth? What would you charge for one? I plan to put a jump ring on each of these and crochet chokers for each to hang from. But I’m considering the idea of offering some up by themselves. Maybe earrings. Not sure yet.

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Filed under crochet, Crochet Patterns

Eye See You! It’s What’s On My Hook Today!


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Eye See You!

Want to know what I’m up to right now? Well this monster flower is what’s on my hook today.  I’m not sure where he’s going just yet.  I’m crocheting madly trying to get ready for Austin Craft Riot this coming weekend.  Just wish I’d had more time this summer to be better prepared. 
(I’m still not moved and right now I don’t want to talk about it.)

Here are some of the bookmarks I made last week as well.  I’ve got spiders and skulls too.  You know me, can’t make exactly the same thing twice.  The clockwork bookmark isn’t done yet.

I still need to find just the right sprocket for it.  Most of the buttons are vintage from Grandma Dot and Grandma Leona’s collections.  A couple from when my teens were babies.

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Crochet Bookmarks

Anyway, so it’s past time to work on tags and business cards and such lovely things.  I was going to practice my booth setup this weekend, but it didn’t happen.  Somehow other chores and business won out, along with computer work.  I can multi-task on a computer fairly well.  Like now, I have 20+ windows open on my computer and I’m managing them all.  Yes I am. I’m working on this post, organizing our bills, replying to tweets, writing a newsletter for my group, getting a template ready for tags and emailing folks on my list. No it’s not instantaneous, but it will all happen fairly fluidly as long as I’m not interrupted.

Why doesn’t being a taxi for my kids and the other mundane things in life work like that?  Where’s my driver, secretary and maid?

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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, crochet

Meet Obey Crochet! – Blog Interview


I want to introduce you to someone I know you will enjoy!

Way back in late spring I came across one of Obey Crochet’s cartoons on Flickr and was literally hooked! I felt like she had crawled into my mind and pulled out my most obscure thoughts of crochet madness and made them funny!

Immediately I just had to get to know this fellow Texan crocheting chic and talk her into making a t-shirt! I didn’t care if anyone else wanted one – I wanted it for me! Stationary too! Like yesterday already!  crochet joy

She only had a handful of drawings up, but darn it if I wasn’t already a fan, hook-line-and-sinker.  I dragged her onto Ravelry and told all my friends (even the ones who just don’t understand this crochet thing I’ve got goin’ on).  I just loved her and wanted everyone else to as well.  She even drew something I could use for one of my previous blog posts this summer “Tech Help For Crafters.”  I also put her in touch with Laurie and she designed the Mascot for the Crochet Liberation Front “Crochet @Cama” 2011 Retreat!

I knew immediately the day I found her drawings that I wanted to interview this chic.  Finally I asked and graciously she accepted.

I’ve been saving this blog interview, waiting for the right moment to share her with the world, when she wouldn’t have to share the pedestal with someone else or some other event.  But now it’s time!

So with the enthusiasm of Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear, here she is ladies and gentlemen – I know you’ll love her too!  Ms. Stephanie Toppin!  a.k.a. Obey Crochet!


Ms. Obey Crochet

1. How did you get into crochet?

My mother, who does not consider all the things she does a skill, but just a basic knowledge. I was about 8 when she showed me crochet and it awakened in me three years ago for fun and a determination to learn patterns and not just wing it.

2. What is the story behind your website Obey Crochet and your crochet drawings?

Frustration. Mostly frustration. I felt the pains of being a second class citizen while creating a public art project using crochet. People were allowed to come and watch as we labored for art and many expressed their love for my choice of craft which they all assumed was knitting. For everyone to admire what you do and then call it something else, it’s like a gorilla tap dancing on your forehead, über annoying. Off to the internet for some type of rescue to show off my crochet pride!

The crochet community existed but there was nothing that suited my dry, tongue in cheek, silly behavior. “I heart crochet” was not going to cut it. I had the idea of “Codependent” and on a Friday night I sketched, on a Saturday morning I drew what turned into 12 drawings. I uploaded them to my Flickr and ideas kept flooding me so I indulged them.

Obey Crochet was born in less than a fortnight as the first website I constructed. I bought a tote bag and some iron on sheets and made a bag that I still carry. It happened so sudden and it’s less than a year old but it was the first thing that just clicked and I never questioned. Fun factor for me? Bajillion times awesome.

3. I hear you’re from Houston, TX! How would you describe the Houston craft scene?

I’m new to the “craft scene”, most people know me as a painter. I have always been crafty but it was more for hanging out at craft fairs, things for friend’s birthdays, Christmas, and junk to spoil their kids with some handmade goodness. It was just a personal release. From what I have come across now after getting more involved, it seems to be huge. I have heard of dozens of craft groups and I think the only down fall is that they don’t know about each other. Houston is a huge city, it’s sometimes tricky to make bridges beyond your area.

4. Can you tell me about your day? What other hats besides “Obey Crochet” do you wear?

Up at 6:30a. Lay in bed, check email, twitter, WordPress from phone. Shower, dress, eat at work. I work at a small local IT company, all guys except my boss. I do graphic design, HR, assistance, work with soap, random tasks while tolerating my male coworkers. I mostly eat cereal and yogurt with local honey. I have allergies. I go home 6ish, sometimes later. Come home, draw, take photos, scan. I paint, or make banners, work on cake sketches, upload an Obey Crochet drawing, work on my other blogs (Fabricandlines, Art Keeps Me Poor) do a proposals for art galleries while listening to podcasts, over 80 of them. I stay up until midnight/1ish most days. And then do it again. I volunteer, I drink beer, I use to ride my bike more, I thrift in my spare time for awesome things like huge brides maids skirts.

5. Quick! What are 5 random things about yourself that others might not know?

I have an afro, I love it. I’m making a unicorn cake for a soon to be 6 year old (hope that’s right). My family is West Indian. I never use LOL. I don’t know how to follow directions.

6. What’s your favorite drawing and/or crochet project so far? A favorite yarn or hook?

I really like roving yarn, I love the way it feels and looks. My heart leaps for it. Hooks? I like the way wooden ones feel more than metal, although when my hands get sweaty the cool metal is nice (sorry, too much info).

Favorite drawing…? “My shadow puppet is better than yours.” It’s silly and ridiculous; it was one of the firsts that were on Flickr. It makes me laugh really hard which is weird and awkward and awesome. I tend to use awesome too much. And to ramble.

7. Artists and crafters seem to be in constant pursuit of the perfect work-room! What is one thing about your current work space now that you like and what is one thing you would wish for in a dream work space?

I like that I have a workspace. I just moved and the old digs had my workspace as my bed in a 9 x9 room. Now I have a spare room and I love that it has French Doors, but I love more that it is a room without my bed in it. For the space, I really wish I had shelves. There is no point grudgingly wishing for grand things when all I need are some shelves.  Cinder blocks and wood would be grand. Everything on the floor is really not assisting the flow.

8. Where can people buy your stuff and/or meet you? Shows, venues, etc.? Are t-shirts available yet?

I’m mostly at a taco truck near Shepherd and Alabama in Houston, but I am usually at a craft store somewhere in the loop. If you are local, you know what that means. I plan to go to all the upcoming craft fairs in Austin and the quilt show in Houston. No booths, just me, I have big hair, I’m easy to spot. I’ll give you a free button or a rub on tattoo.

[She's going to be at Austin Craft Riot a week from today, along with the yarn bombing freebies she donated!]

I currently have a Cafepress store and yes we have shirts, we even have shot glasses. My goal is to get all the drawings on some type of item in the upcoming weeks. Check back for new uploads all the time.

9. Would you share with readers one valuable piece of advice someone gave you that has helped you or one that you have gained from hands-on experience yourself?

My boss shared what a professor once told her: 
Talent is not that rare. Discipline is rare. The will and determination to get up and write that paper, look for that opportunity, save instead of blowing it all on beer, is rare.

I know that being self-motivated is tough. To craft a life of the things you want to actually be doing is nothing short of the most insane schedule and complicated game plan you will ever set out to do. And no one will write it. It’s yours to fumble and attack and concur every day.

My advice is: Do it.

My fear in life is to be that person who has a million ideas, dreams, and wishes for the rest of their being. Write them all down no matter what you feel about them and do them today or tomorrow or next week, but just make sure you actually do them. Don’t share all of your dreams. Sometimes people can erode an idea before it has even taken its first breath. Sometimes you don’t need the reality check to stop you before you start. You never know until you have it down, it’s solid and real.

What do you want people to say about you on your 75th birthday? Okay. Good. Now go at it and good luck.


So there you have it! Obey Crochet! Go check out her site and subscribe – it’ll do your crochety heart good!

Thank you to Stephanie for agreeing to be featured on my blog! Love ya gal!


Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.”  You know you want to!  : )

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Filed under crochet, Crochet Community, Events, Humor, Interviews

Backstory: The Hook Of Desperation


This event took place about a year ago. People have heard me tell this story in person, but I’ve never written it down, until now.

It was time for our annual tag renewal on our car.  Usually I would do this at the local county annex.  I know a lot of people mail theirs in, but I’ve never been a fan of that.  I like to have my receipt and new stickers in my hot little hand when I pay.  Not wonder if they’ve been pilfered in the mail.  After all, we live in the historical district, with an old fashioned mailbox by our door.  Not one of those new-fangled group mail boxes like newer neighborhoods have.

Back to my story.  However, our county built a whole new annex for our town.  I walk in and am immediately greeted by a slick new computer terminal for me to register my name and pick the purpose for my visit from a list of three main categories.  Supposedly this isolation of the purposes for your visit, like paying for your tags, vs. filing a title, would help speed up the process.  I punch my info in, receive a number to get in line and walk into the new, bigger, better waiting room with my children and their reading books in tow. A sea of people like I’ve never seen in our town lay before me.

Arg!  Two hours later I am going crazy.  I hate waiting for long periods of nothing productive.  What a waste of a precious life.  Usually I have yarn or a book with me somewhere in the car, everywhere I go.  But not this time.  I’ve never spent that long at a tag office before, but I was late to renew as it was, so I had to stick around.

Those three purposes for my visit that I had to register and pick from?  That each entailed their own specialized number sequence, making you think there’s a line dedicated for each purpose?  Apparently served no purpose.  Instead of one list of numbers to watch for yours to come up, there were three.  And no particular teller in any order was dedicated to any of the number systems.  And out of a brand new office with 10 windows, only three were manned.

Looking up at the “serving now” number, I knew it was going to take a long time to get to me still.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I headed out to the car.  There had to be a crochet hook somewhere out there!  I needed to do something before I just totally lost it.  But alas, though I found a bag of yarn, there was no hook.

Out of desperation I dug under a car seat and found out a pkg of Pei Wei chopsticks.  Wait! Idea percolating! There’s a file in my purse.  Holy cow, I’ll try anything at this point!

So taking my nail file to the chopstick I went to town.  And managed to produce the tiniest edge of a lip.

Having finished his book some time before, my son turned bored eyes to my hands with renewed interest.  “Mommy, can I try that?”  I had to bite back the primal hiss threatening to well up from my soul.

I said much nicer (in my outside voice)  “No honey, I’m trying to make a crochet hook.”  He continued to watch with new amusement.

I tested it out on the yarn I brought in.  Hot damn – it actually worked!  Not ideal by any means, but it actually hooked yarn!  Bwahahahaha! I felt triumphant in my rebellion.  I’m sure I probably looked like a crazed mom, sawing and huddling over my new invention.  I did not care.

It was about that time when a voice came over the loudspeaker.

“If any of you are here to renew your auto tags, you know we have a drive through…

Whut?

 

There’s a DRIVE THROUGH?!

Mother of Mary in a flight suit!  Why the hell didn’t someone say something sooner!!!!!

With that, half the room jumped up and ran out the door!

By the time I gathered our stuff and retrieved a child from the bathroom, figured out where the drive-through was hiding and pulled up, there were 10 cars in front of me.  I continued to tweak my hook and crochet.  It only took about 10 minutes for my turn and I was outta there!

Bah!  Stupid drive-through.  You should be obvious, located by the front door and painted red!

But here it is, The Hook Of Desperation.  Yes, it can be done.  Give me enough of an edge and I can crochet with anything!

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The Hook Of Desperation! And it actually works!

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Look what a file can do for you! You never know, it might be a yarnie's best friend.

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Filed under crochet, Humor

Want To See My Freebies For Craft Riot?


I’ll be participating in Austin Craft Riot a week from Saturday. It’s a great handmade show full of all sorts of goodness.  Texas crochet peeps @ObeyCrochet and @Love_evol are both going to be dropping by the show.
If you’re in the area, you should too!  Maybe watch my booth long enough to give me a bathroom break?

One of the features of this handmade show is that the first 25 people through the door each day will get a grab bag of free handmade goodies. Yes, that’s right. FREE handmade items.

Admittedly I do have mixed feelings about the words “free” and “handmade” going together in the same sentence, but it does get people in the door and it is fun to win things. Plus there will be raffles for handmade items donated by Austin Craft Riot team members as well, which helps us pay for things we need to continue to put on awesome shows.  Soooo, it’s all for the cause and part of the expense of getting a booth.

Donations for door prizes are always a bit of a quandary for me, since as a crochet artist who likes to use high-end materials, my overhead is already pretty high before even considering a donation. Not to mention I cannot compete in volume of production with someone who strings beads. Last year’s crochet magnets still took a lot of time to make, not to mention materials I don’t normally stock. Which also means time away from making what I can sell.  (And additionally takes time away from other causes near and dear to my heart.)

This year I’m donating a hand carved shawl pin for the raffle cause, thanks to Jimbo’s guidance and encouragement at Crochet @Cama (which I have yet to make).  Below are samples of the handmade freebies I put together for the Austin Craft Riot goodie bags. (Click the picture to get the slide show to play.)

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The tags?  They came from Avery’s Design & Print Online.  I had to tweak the layouts, as the template does not allow you to change the size of the tags.  I needed these in a hurry, so I just moved all the text over and trimmed off nearly an inch of red from the tags after printing so they would fit the plastic bags I’m using.  I only needed  15, so I justified speed over cost of ink.  I wouldn’t recommend this for a mass amount of product.  Still, take a look at the Avery tools and it should give you some ideas if you’re getting ready to do shows and are debating on how to tag your goods.

For more help and ideas on doing shows, you might like to read my article About Doing Craft Shows: Observations, Likes and Advantages.”  I still haven’t written part 2 for it, but perhaps I will for NaBloPoMo.


Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.”  You know you want to!  : )

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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, crochet, Doing the Show Circuit

Are You Blogging About Crochet?


Because if you are, I want to hear from you.

How about Tweeting about crochet?  Likewise.  Oh and don’t forget to use the #crochet hashtag when you do.

Though I should clarify, if you’re a linker on Twitter, I probably won’t follow you back.  You gotta interact with your followers.  Sorry, that’s just what it’s all about.  (I know, if you’re new to twitter, it can be confusing. I’ll write an article on that later.)

What am I up to?  It’s developing rather organically and not clearly defined yet, but you can call it crochet conniving.  Refer back to my post Cro-pocalypse: The Rise of Crochet.  It was written tongue in cheek, but I am also somewhat serious.

Crochet suffers a deficit online, as least in the US.   Obey Crochet has also written about this.  She is not the only crocheter who thought she was alone in the world.

And more than that, there’s the average public ideas of what crochet actually is to enlighten.  Sure, doilies and granny squares are awesome.  But there’s so much more than that!  Tapestry Crochet, Tunisian Crochet, Broomstick Lace, Miniature Crochet, and Freeform Crochet, just to name a few of the many, many variations out there.

There’s just so much more.  And overall crochet is an incredibly portable craft, not to mention relaxing (ok, once you’ve got the hang of it).  AND its the only fiber art left that cannot yet be truly replicated by a machine.  Even that mass-produced stuff you see at the store, is hand created, often by children.  It behooves us to preserve this distinguishable art.

If you like crochet, join the quest to celebrate it!  :D


Did you know these are also crochet?

Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.” You know you want to! : )

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Filed under crochet, Crochet Community, Crochet Education, NaBloPoMo