Jan 28, 2009

Baby It's Cold Outside!

Really, it's more like, "Baby, it's icy outside! Winter has come a bit late this year to our area. Admittedly, we have had several close calls with frigid temps since the official start of the winter season, but yesterday, today, and most likely tomorrow, is our first exposure to the wet, nasty stuff. The kids were home from school today and most likely tomorrow. I worked from home as well because many of the buses were having a bit of a trouble making it up the hill in front of our complex.

A quick perusal of the internet reveals just how obsessed folks are with the cold, the snow, and the ice. Many have blogged about their favorite way to keep warm when it’s snowing outside. Hot soup, warm blankets, loving spouses, etc., etc. For me, it's simple -- STAY INSIDE. Nothing more complicated than that. My heat works fine, the electricity remains on, and the gas stove still burns bright as my oldest
puts together our dinner. You see, it's her day in the kitchen (today she's the house mama who is responsible for answering the phone, cooking the meals, and cleaning up afterward; tomorrow her sister will take up the mantle). She made a wonderful wintry warm lunch of hot chicken noodle soup, grilled black bean and cheese sandwiches (yes, you read it right), and hot green tea with a dash of honey. I must say that despite the quixotic sound to it, the lunch was quite filling. I expect tonight's dinner to be just as out there. I'll let you know.

Stay warm.

Jan 27, 2009

Necessity and Innovation

Centuries ago, the Greek philosopher Plato wrote "Necessity, who is the mother of invention. . ." With the passage of time, we have become less succinct in describing that moment when a need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet that need or solve the problem. Simply put, if worse comes to worst, people will apply all their imagination and skill to deal with the problem. Truer words and all that.

Today, one of my crochet "mentees" came to work and proudly showed off a hat she had made. For a relative beginner, just learning to read patterns, she did quite well. Her stitches were even and sure. She learned two new techniques -- the back-loop-only rib and hdc2tog. She even ripped back a part of the ribbed brim to correct several rows where she had inadvertently added an extra stitch. I had told her that the mistake could easily be hidden when the brim was attached to the main body of the hat. But she took the high road and frogged away -- she's getting good. Linda would have been proud.

So, where does necessity come into the picture? My friend's first attempt at seaming (the pattern required the hat to be crocheted flat and then seamed up the side) was not exactly invisible. To help her make the seen unseen, she asked how to make the seam more invisible. I picked the seam apart and reached for the stainless steel yarn needle that I keep tacked to the wall of my cubicle (I subscribe to the Girl Scout motto -- be prepared) but it was missing. We next tried to make do with the too-large hook (an "I" hook in permanent residence in the pencil/pen cup next to my computer), but to no avail. Then it hit me! A needle is just a straight piece of metal with a loop at one end. So why not unbend a paper clip into the desired shape. Smarticles, huh!?

You would think it would have worked but the eye of my makeshift needle kept catching the yarn -- the problem was we couldn't bend the eye into a perfectly closed loop. We were at a loss until another co-worker and fellow crocheter suggested we tape the the needle, covering the exposed loop. Simple but quite effective. We were back in business and the hat was reseamed in less than 10 minutes and looking quite smart. Even better smarticles (thanks, Mayra).

Yes, the need for some things can bring about new inventions, or in our case, makeshift whatnots.

Mater Artium Necessitas. Three words. How's that for brevity?

Jan 9, 2009

This Yarn's for Me

Last year, I blogged about my stash. You know, those lovely bits of yarn sitting around waiting to be crafted into a hat, a shawl, a little girl's dress. So, when I was recently asked what yarn I preferred if I could crochet only with one brand of yarn for the rest of the year, I thought, damn, that's a tough one. I don't know if I can limit myself to only one yarn.

Take for instance, cotton. Bea
utiful mercerized cotton possessing a depth of color and silky softness. My personal favorite? Gong by Ornaghi Filati.

I'm just now starting to work with wool.
Several years ago, I had made a few hats and scarves with that old standby Patons Classic Wool. Nice yarn but it was just so boring. I also tended to stay away from wool because several pieces were inadvertently felted. Color me stupid in that it wasn't until 2008 that I realized that superwash wool even existed. I've added sock weight wool and wool blend yarns to my stash. My favorite: Claudia's Handpainted Yarn, a merino wool yarn with beautiful colors.

Eco-friendly yarns like bamboo and linen, and blends such as bamboo-wool, wool-cotton, cotton-acrylic tend to be my "go to" yarns and can quite readily be adapted for most projects. I do not have an aversion to acrylic if it is a good acrylic, like Bernat's Barella 4 yarn, whose versatility makes this a good choice for a one-yarn stash from which to make hats, scarves, sweaters, bags, etc.

But life is not about standbys and making do. At least not everyday. I want to grow with my craft, so, if I have to choose a single yarn to fuel my crochet habit, then it would have to be Berroco Comfort. It's soft, economical, versatile, and available in a number of colors. Now, if I could choose (and afford) a single brand of yarn, it would be the entire line of Claudia's Handpainted Yarns.