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My Crochet Hook Experiment Will Be At Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire! Tomorrow!


Hey guys! Sorry for the late notice, but wanted to let you know that I will be at Mini-Maker Faire in Round Rock, TX tomorrow. This is in the Austin, TX area and entry is FREE – so if you’re in the area I’d love to see you!  I’ve been flying by the seat this week and was accepted at the last-minute, so bear with me!  But I’m really excited!

They edited some of it, but you can get more info about the event and see my intro/project description here: http://roundrockmakerfaire.com/call-for-makers/aberrant-crochet.

What am I doing? Well, you know Jimbo and I started a crochet hook experiment at the last Crochet Liberation Front Crochet at Cama Retreat. We carved up a bunch of hooks that all had variations in design. Long throats, short throats, narrow lips, wide lips, deep bowls and shallow wedges. And everything in between. Greenwoman and Cerdeb’s hubbies and others attending the retreat also helped us get these hooks carved up in time for us to try out the idea at the retreat. Maker Faire deleted part of my explanation of this story, but suffice to say, this is something Jimbo and I worked on together.

We were trying to see how folks would use them, which ones they might tend to like and frankly – just what if we’d learn something! And honestly, it’s not like we had a specific plan. We just made them, talked about them and then put them into people’s hands and asked for input. At the time, because we were showing these hooks to an audience as well, we decided to use large fat hooks so the differences would be accentuated.

However, this time, I want to do the experiment locally with much smaller hooks, more typical of what most crocheters might use. So between Jimbo and I, we’ve created more basic hooks from the smallest dowels we could find – about a J. And I have to thank Jimbo for his help here. I didn’t have enough time to carve them all myself, so he helped!

So here’s the deal – if you’re interested, I’ve love to watch you crochet, take some photos/video of your hands (with permission and model release) and get your input on the shapes we’ve come up with. I want to hear your story! How do you use your hands? what did you used to do before you crocheted? And tell me about any problems you’re experiencing with your hooks too!

Am I super planned with this? No not really. I hope you’ll be as laid back as I hope to be. I only just found out Maker Faire was coming to my town about 10 days ago. But it’s definitely a chance to reintroduce this project. I want to travel the world to meet women through crochet and to study their tools someday. That’s my big thing and this is a beginning part of that. Jimbo and I’d like to travel to other US areas with this and get some real input from real crocheters about the way they use their hooks. And then blog and write about it along the way.

I’ve also been asked to help cover for a table that will run out of materials and close early, so I’ve added finger knitting to the list of activities for young kids, and have plenty of yarn. I have no idea what kind of crowds to expect, but if you are in the area and feel like hanging out, I wouldn’t mind an extra hand. :) Just let me know.

There will be a little seating area near my table so the kids can sit to finger knit, but feel free to sit awhile and crochet if there’s room!
My daughter also plans to be in costume tomorrow and will show off the wood anime sword she made for Halloween last year.  It’s really something, so do come see it in person if you are interested!

:D


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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, Education, Events, Make Faire

Saturday Recap For E.A.S.T. #67


Well, it was a lovely day out at the E.A.S.T. #67 location at Flat Fork Studios.  I was a little worried at first with the wind picking up this morning.  Luckily it calmed down a bit later.  There were lots of gracious people and fellow artists and artisans. And I really enjoyed talking to some aspiring crocheters and other fiber artisans, including a shy spinner/weaver.  Maybe, just maybe, I talked him into posting photos of his work somewhere publicly.  (Let me know dude, ‘cuz I’d love to see! I wasn’t joking!)

Flapper Purse in BLue for Cindy

Flapper Purse in Silk and Rust

It was also nice to talk to more traditional media artists who got some of my quirky ways of looking at texture and design and even got excited with me about what I was doing.  Awesome!  Different worlds, but maybe not so much.  I brought the purses out to show-n-tell and promised to blog more about them as I finish my work on them.  Nothing like a gentle prod to help me stay in gear.  I still need to make a trip to find the blue silk to line the blue one though.

Sunny Bear Hat For Lola

People were having a good time.  Lots of babies and kids.  Lola was there with her famous gumbo and kind, motherly smile.  She made me feel special telling me she looks forward to seeing me every year and that she still loves her hat from two winters ago.  I love you too Lola!

Purple Eggplant with Vintage Button Pin

I also had a customer from last year drop by.  She bought my Purple Eggplant hat last year and has since moved to the Rockies where she says she absolutely loves it and that she gets so many compliments.  And another let me know that she took her hat on a ski trip and stayed incredibly warm and comfortable.  That was so awesome to hear.  I don’t often have the privilege of hearing “where they are now” and it’s a treat.  I have to really thank everyone who supported my work today.  I’ll keep going because of you. Thanks for sharing my excitement and vision! :D

Teeter Totter and Fun

Wondering who’s out there this weekend?  Well, here are my colleagues.  (You can find info about the other artists and bands in studio here.)

Craft Riot Team Members at E.A.S.T. stop #67:
Nepenthes Bathtime – artisan Soap & bath products
Robo Roku – art, apparel, accessories
Gem Junkie – jewelry for the go
R + R Design – recycled & re-purposed jewelry & home accessories
Sweetwolf - facio, ero sum
This Creative Life – paintings, prints, & apparel
Pixie Worx! & Aberrant Crochet – crochet designer, fabric artist + hand-carved crochet hooks and shawl pins

All in all, a pleasant day.  I look forward to tomorrow.

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

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

Thirsty In Texas: Finally Rain!


We finally got a real rain yesterday. Not just a sprinkle or a drizzle, but actual rain.  It only lasted about for 5 minutes, but it was real and a delight!
(For those who don’t know, we’ve been in a terrible drought for months.)

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YAY! RAIN!

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This umbrella hasn't been washed in forever!

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Wonder how much rain this could collect?

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She loves going out in the rain. She also loves her fedora. Hence, a hoodie over the fedora with an umbrella makes sense.

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A blue image creeps down the sidewalk as its sister looks on in amusement.

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With a snicker, our son dons a beach towel and grabs his Nerf cannon.

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I just thought this was a cool unusual shot.  The color contrast is fun!

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Cannon fired! Wait, the rain's stopping?

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Wait! Where'd the rain go? "That's not fair!"

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Where is the rain?

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Rain is gone, but she's pointing out that there are some beautiful clouds to look at.

See the contrast between the grass and the trees? The trees are green on our street because we live between two creeks with deep underground feeds. Some of the trees in this area are up to 900 years old, so I’m sure they will survive. But it has been a long drought and wild fires are eating Texas and New Mexico alive. A disaster few are talking about.

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Have You Heard of The Five Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Kids Do) – From The Tinkering School?


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I was recently introduced to an educational concept I’m completely in love with, called The Tinkering School. It’s right up my alley in a Maker Faire kind of way, calling straight to the heart of my inner child. As well, it sweetly validated a general sense of parental philosophy when it comes to learning what I call essential life-skills and the duty of parents to expose their children to the real world and humanity’s natural state of innovation.

Started by Gever Tulley, The Tinkering School concept provides an exploratory environment using real tools and real materials to get kids directly into the mix of experimenting and learning how to take an idea and simply make it. But also it stimulates kids to learn how things do work, might work and could work. A rather organic way of learning if you ask me – very, very natural.  I love it!  (Or is that just the steam punker in me?)

Though I’m new to the knowledge that such a wondrous “school” (official title and expert’s books and all that) exists, I am not new to the philosophy. If anything, it’s a part of the

Jack's Key Blade (Kingdom Hearts)

code of life I carry in my heart. You can see an example of this in my daughter’s creative efforts pictured here. I didn’t design any of her key blade (based off a magical weapon in a popular video game called Kingdom Hearts). She did the whole thing herself. Hers was the spark, hers was the plan. About all I did was take her to the lumber store for the dowel rod and the dry cleaners for the cardboard tubes from hangers. Aside from a little cutting Daddy really had to do, this entire project, even down to asking a thrift store to help her find a piece of wood in their scraps so she could cut stars out of, was all her. On the one hand, I’m adamant about taking care of the things my kids can’t do yet, like driving themselves to the store. One the other hand, I’m adamant that if they have an idea, they should get creative and make a plan themselves too. Even down to “What kind of materials and how will I acquire them?” I love supporting them even though my pocketbook is not very thick, and I know better than most that where there’s a will, there a way. Figuring out how to afford things is a life skill too.

So as you can imagine, finding the following video on Five Dangerous Things (Kids Should Do) just made me feel incredibly happy, validated and empowered in my principles of parenting! #1 on his list just flat out made me giggle. Then again, they all kind of did.

Austin is lucky to have it’s own version of the school called Austin Tinkering School. Though related in concept, the two schools are actually independent from each other. My son had the exciting experience of attending their boat making workshop (big enough for a kid or two to sit in) on his birthday and LOVED it. As my little engineer, it helped make for one of the best memories he’s probably had in getting to just get right into the materials and try to make something without someone trying to lecture him first or slow him down. I haven’t seen the boat yet, since he went with a friend’s family, but when I do, I’ll be sure to post a photo. For now the hard part is finding a date to have the truck to pick up the large boat and find a body of water to haul it too and let us test his thing out!

So all the links are here – go check it out!

If you’re wondering how I found out about the Austin Tinkering School, I had help from some friends of mine from our half-day charter school who keep up with the Austin Area Homeschoolers. If you landed on my page because you’re looking for alternative educational approaches and life enrichment, etc., I do highly recommend AAH as a great local resource, whether you are a traditional homeschooler or not.

So Happy Tinkering Ya’ll!

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Filed under Editorial, Education, Friends and Family, handmade, kids, Make Faire

When Someone Goes Beyond Courtesy to Kindness….


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Yesterday was a busy day. I had a customer to meet to deliver two custom hats for. It was actually a bit of a drive for me. He was a return customer, though, and for that thanks, I was happy to meet him closer to his home. And I knew he was studying for finals all day as well, so it’d be hard for him to take off a lot of time just to pick up his order. Dear hubby kept the kids so I could take care of business. And besides, it gave me an excuse to go by Central Market.

When I got to the Starbucks we were to meet at, my customer was nowhere to be found and I hadn’t realized my cell phone was dead. To make matters worse, the cigarette lighter in my car is broken. (And I mean broken.) So there’s no way to charge my phone on the run.

So I talked to an employee at Starbucks to see if there was a phone I could borrow. He said they didn’t have a public phone, but to check out the AT&T store.

When I walked in to AT&T Mobility, down on the corner of 45th and Lamar, a sales support rep named Sajid Sanchez was there to greet me immediately. I explained that the folks at the coffee shop had sent me over to see if I could borrow a phone. He immediately said, “Sure! Use any demo phone on the walls.” I was grateful. Especially since I’d just realized that my customer’s number was actually a long distance number. Never matters on my cell phone, but would have mattered had I borrow a land line.

I managed to make my call. My customer was so busy studying that he forgot the time and said he’d be right over in a few minutes. I hung up relieved that I hadn’t driven 30 minutes just to turn around and go back home.

I thanked Mr. Sanchez for the loan of the phone and explained that I really did appreciate it since I was due to meet a customer and my own cell phone was dead. “Well,” he said, “What kind of phone is it? Perhaps we can charge it up for you here.”

I hesitated, wondering if this would turn into a hard sell to buy an AT&T phone. “Well,” I said, “It’s a Sprint phone….”

And that’s where Mr. Sanchez surprised me. “No matter, let’s see if we can try charging it anyway,” he said.

Mr. Sanchez proceeded to try several jacks around the store. Then he even raided through a box of oddball chargers they had stored away in a closet, trying out each one, looking to see if one of them might help charge up my phone a bit so I’d have a little juice at least for a little while. He was very polite and professional and not once did he say anything about buying a phone or switching my service.

In the end, there wasn’t a charger he could find to help me, and I needed to get back to the coffee shop to meet my customer. But I appreciated, none-the-less, that he went above and beyond. And I really don’t think it had anything to do with the season either.

I wasn’t even an AT&T customer. I’ve never had any cell service other than Sprint. But here was someone, even in a sales environment where time really can be money, who stopped and offered the time to see if he could help me out. With no strings attached. That to me really stands out. That’s the way business is supposed to be. When you focus on helping others, the rest just falls into place. And as a small business owner who knows a little something about sales, I really appreciate it too. So I went back over, after making my delivery, and asked Sajid for his business card so I could blog about his customer service and share this story with you.

So folks, if you might be in the need for a new phone or service, perhaps you might want to talk to Sajid Sanchez over at AT&T Mobility on the corner of 45th and Lamar in Austin, TX. I was very impressed with his professionalism and I’m sure you will be too. The main number there is: 512.879.8156.

Oh and hey, if you do decide to call or come by and check them out, please tell them that you read my blog post about Mr. Sanchez. I think his superiors ought to know they have a valuable employee. It would be a wonderful gift to him if you said a kind word on his behalf too.

So thanks again Mr. Sanchez – and Merry Christmas!

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Filed under 'Tis the Season, Community, Inspiration, Random Thoughts

Twitter Lists – A Basic How-To Tutorial…


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Twitter has now come out with a new feature called Twitter Lists. It’s function is to create lists of folks (Tweeps) whom you follow on Twitter, by basically filing them into categories. You can create any category you want and even file your Tweeps into more than one category. It’s a great way to help you organize your follows, but also to allow others to follow your entire lists too.

The concept of filing people into categories is actually something that comes very natural to me. You see, my Rolodex at home is not filed strictly alphabetically. I file according to how I know people. Art folks here, home town folks there, parents of my kids’ friends in this spot, work contacts in that spot and distant relatives I barely know – over there. Drives my husband crazy, but I’m just not good at remembering every name I come in contact with, without a frame of reference as to how I know them. So the Twitter List concept works well for me.

For instance, I have several Twitter List categories including: Crochet/Ravelry folks, Austin folks, Crafting Resources, Fellow Artisans and even a category for Brightens My Day. Some of the Tweeps I know fall into more than one category, like Artisans who are also in the Austin area. So I put them in both.

Now, so what’s the advantage to all this “Twitter List stuff?”

Well for one, you can make your lists public so others can follow them. If someone else has a list for Crafting Resources, and I think it’s a good list, I can decide to follow their entire list, making it much less work for me to find all that great info! Which also means the folks in those lists automatically get more follows and coverage than they would have if they weren’t “Twitter Listed.”

Secondly, I can look at the updates from all my follows according to those categories I’ve set. So when I want to laugh, I click on my Humor list and see all the folks I put in that list all in one spot – without all the rest! When I want to see what’s up in Austin, I click on my Austin list and it’s nothing but Austin baby! This makes keeping up with the wide variety of folks and interests I’ve tapped in to via Twitter much easier!

Thirdly, anytime someone hits my Twitter Profile page @AberrantCrochet, They will also see how many lists I’ve been added to and in what categories. I think this gives me more exposure as well. Sure, I tweet about crochet, but I also tweet about other interests. And you’ll get to see where others file me in their Twitter Lists as well.

So how do you go about using these lists then?

If you go to your Twitter account, you’ll likely notice that there is a new box at the top of your screen that says:

“New! Lists. A great way to organize the people you follow and
discover new and interesting accounts. (BETA)

Lists are timelines you build yourself, consisting of friends, family, co-workers, you name it.”

You want to click on an icon that looks kinda like this:.

This is where you will create your initial List name, or category, to “file” your Tweeps into. Here you will also choose to either make the list public (so others can see and even follow it too) or private (no one will see it).

After this step, you will see a page that says: “Find people to add to your list – Search for a username, first or last name, business or brand.” You can either choose to search there, or you can click on your “Following” link and find folks you already follow there.

You will notice, next to each name in your following list, and on each Twitter profile you look at, that there is a new icon for Twitter Lists. When you click that icon, it will bring up a window of all the Twitter List categories you have created, as well as an option at the bottom of that pop-up that allows you to make a new list category.

Mark any Twitter List category that you wish to file your Tweep into. This could be one, or all of your categories. For instance, I have folks who are filed into the Austin as well as Crochet categories for my lists.

You can also add yourself to your lists! Which is great, so when folks follow one of your lists, they’ll follow you to. You took the time to create the list – you ought to benefit from it too! To add yourself to your list, go to your Twitter Profile link, and click on the list icon there. Check mark any categories you want to be included in.

And that’s pretty much it!

Unless you choose to keep them private, your Twitter Lists will show up on your profile page for others to see and check out. As they click on each one, they will be able to see the Twitter news feed for each category and may decide, if they enjoy it, to follow the entire list!

The new Twitter Lists is a useful tool to not only keep track of all the lovely Tweeps out there you want to hear from, but also it’s a great way to further your networking on Twitter!

I hope you found this basic Twitter List tutorial helpful! If you liked this article, please reTweet or link it to help others and if you have anything to add, please feel free to share in the comments below.

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My Latest Crochet Collection – Teddy Bear Hats for Toddlers….


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Well, I figured I’d share with you guys the collection of crochet I’ve been working on of late. These are my latest designs specifically for the toddler/preschool sized head. I’m putting together a collection of items to go in a local gift store and I have a custom order with some special considerations, so it was good timing for the two right now. These are all created from some of the softest fibers I’ve worked with and with the exception of one hat in this collection so far, out of fibers that are no longer available. The bows you see are not permanently attached to the hats yet, just in case my customers do not want a bow, with the exception of the orange hat, which I have already permanently secured. It has a blend made with a very unusual fiber that happens to be the softest of the bunch. The glass globe you see is the perfect size to display these.

Hopefully these designs will be just the thing for each of my customers!

Baby Blue Bear Pink Bow 2 Baby Blue Bear Pink Bow

Black Brown Bear 2

Black Brown Bear 3

Blue White Green Pink Bear 2

Blue White Green Pink Bear

Orange Bear Pink Bow 2

Orange Bear Pink Bow

Pink Green White Bear Pink Bow 2

Pink Green White Bear Pink Bow

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Filed under crochet, handmade

Fair Trade Chocolate…


Not really related to crochet, but then again, who isn’t inspired by chocolate from time to time….! (Except for you strange non-chocolate fans out there……) ;)  Thought I’d share…..

For those who like chocolate, here’s a company who makes a very good high quality fair trade chocolate. Chocolate desserts are my other hobby and I’m very picky about chocolate.  In fact, I totally embrace and admit that I am a complete chocolate snob.  So really, this is pretty good chocolate!

http://www.divinechocolateusa.com

(Austinites – there are a few places in town selling Divine Chocolate so you don’t have to mail order if you don’t want!)

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