Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Filet Crochet The LadyLinoleum Way - In The Beginning

First up, thanks so much to everyone for your comments! I have been making this stuff for so long with little to no input (other than, the usual "You're so weird Regina" comment). Needless to say, the comments from you all are welcome and refreshing. Thank you so much!

Onto the subject of filet crochet. It is very, very easy. If you know how to make a chain and double crochet, then that's half the battle. The other half of the battle is reading a chart. A chart is basically graph paper where squares are alternately filled in and left open creating an image.

Depending upon what size thread you use determines the stitch content for each square and the amount of rows completed (the gauge). I like to use DMC Traditions (size 10) for large pieces like the skeleton. I could go smaller, but I like having less rows and stitch content per filled in square. With size 10 thread I get 4x4 squares per inch.

Blocked squares using my gauge above consist of one dc to begin the square, one dc to fill in (center stitch) and one dc to end the square. An open square consists of one dc at the beginning of square, ch 1 for opening (center stitch) and end with one dc. When working across a row, the end dc of a square is the beginning dc for the next square (don't increase stitches). I know this sounds confusing, but it's really not. Hint, if you look at a piece of graph paper, each vertical line is one double crochet and each space in between the lines are filled in with another dc (thereby blocking out a square) or have a chain one connecting it to the next dc (thereby creating an open space). Stick to that visual and you will be fine. Whew!

You have the basic building blocks. Now, how do you chart an image, you say? Well, I go to the art store near me and by 18"x24"pads of 4x4 squares per inch graph paper. Then I either draw a basic sketch for the image I want to translate or use a found image.

Let's take the skeleton for example. I knew I wanted each bone to be its own doily. So, I used found drawings of each bone (why recreate the wheel when you can google the image you want and print those), took those to my copy machine at work and enlarged each one to life size (after business hours...LOL). Then I cut each bone out and traced each one onto it's own sheet of graph paper. Here's the part of the process I do in front of the tube watching the Scifi channel: I filled in each bone by coloring in those squares making up the bone while leaving the space around the bone open. Now, because I am working with a series of squares, my outline of the image tends to look like an staircase on LCD. No bother. When the image is crocheted the outline looks amazingly smooth. I like borders around my filet crochet doilies so I fill in my desired amount squares around the image (usually two squares thick by however long) thereby creating a clean outline.

When charting I use a good ole number 2 or 4 pencil with a gum eraser. Mistakes are easily rectified using these tools. Please note that I use my initial tracing guideline as just that, a guideline. After I have charted an image, sometimes it looks weird so I have to add more filled in blocks or reduce said blocks to make the image "read" better. Afterall people, it's art not math!

I cannot emphasize this enough. ANYTHING can be charted. You can chart letters and numbers, intricate lacy patterns, your cat, whatever! It just takes time and patience. Experiment! For instance, I have been charting and filet crocheting all the lyrics to supercalafragilisticexpialidocious (this is my filet crochet opus). The sky's the limit with this process!

Whew! Well, that should get you started. Next lesson (if I haven't bored you to tears already): how to read a chart and go from paper to doily!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Recliner Skeleton

I am a huge fan of filet crochet. There's just something about following a chart I really like. It's kind of like a big puzzle. I love it!

Anyway, I am really into skeletons (throwback to my days as a teenage goth I guess). So, I've made two life-size skeletons in the past year. The first was made entirely from filet crochet. The second is made from felt, hand sewn, double sided, jointed and embroidered (I will post this one another time).

Today I am posting pics of the filet crochet skeleton. All the bone doilies are life-size and tacked onto a recliner with doily screw pins. I used DMC Traditions in white (lots and lots of thread). I make my own charts and document the stitch pattern as I go. This guy was in the show with the squid.

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Copyright 2005 Regina Rioux Gonzalez. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Besides Crochet....

I have pets. Who am I kidding? I have LOTS of pets. Today I spent most of the day tending to my birds (there are 9 of them - oh yes, n-i-n-e). Anyway, the weekends are heavy cage cleaning days. I wash all of the bowls, cage grates, guano residue off of the cage facades. My birdies have free run of our home from about 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm nightly so there is always bird, um, err, residue to clean up.

I love these little winged creatures. They are an insanely happy, chattering flock that love nothing more than to sit on our shoulders, pick morsels off of our dinner plates, pull the evil yarn from my hands so that they may have their heads massaged and will wing-wrestle one another to be the first in the shower with any human who will have them!

As I said before, we have several birds: three cockatiels, three budgies, one rosy bourke (Australian grasskeet), one Senegal parrot and a rescued white dove (who is madly in love with the rosy bourke parakeet). Today I introduce you to my three darling cockatiels:

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and Stormy!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Attack of the Giant Squid!

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Copyright 2005 Regina Rioux Gonzalez. All Rights Reserved.

Okay people, so I crocheted this 25 foot long (yes, it is that big) squid (and yes, I agree with you, this pic is terrible) and needless to say, that's a big ole project! I used Sugar n' Cream cones of butter cream for the body and light green for the feeding tentacles. I used single crochet for the whole dang thing and stuffed it with those bean bag pellets. So, it's kinda like a really large "Beany Baby". Well, sort of!

I showed my big crocheted pieces (this squid, a life size pirate, a life size mermaid and a life size filet crocheted skeleton) at a local college gallery last March. Mostly students saw the work and seemed a bit flabbergasted by it all, but what the hey! This ain't your granny's crochet!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

El Churro

I cannot really tell you why I am into crocheting personified food items lately. However, I am having fun making these guys. Here's the newest member of the growing "food chain", El Churro!

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Copyright 2005 Regina Rioux Gonzalez. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Magdalena - Creative Genius

My lovely and talented 12 year old daughter is addicted to Sculpey. After a particularly fruitful Sculpey-fest last weekend, we decided to make a trading card for one of her newly created characters. His name is Loogar and he is a monster with a fear of humans. Loogar is awesome. And I am not just saying this because she is my progeny!

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Copyright 2005 Regina Rioux Gonzalez. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Me talk pretty!

Apparently my college degrees have merit!

Your Linguistic Profile:

70% General American English

15% Yankee

10% Dixie

5% Upper Midwestern

0% Midwestern

However, like any born and bred Southern Californian, I do use the terms "dude", "like" and "totally" incessantly!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Customized Crochet

Well, the Vegetable Liberation Army experiment has pushed me into a new way of working that I will dub Customized Crochet ("CC"), which consists of taking an already crocheted item (usually purchased for a low, low eBay auction price) and adding crocheted elements of my own design (i.e., big bloodshot eyeballs on found crocheted veggies).

My newest creation is made from a found crocheted chicken-thing-a-majigie (I've no idea what it is supposed to be - maybe a cover for Easter eggs). Upon first glance (on eBay) I knew that I must have it. I also intuitively knew that this chicken needed two things: chicken legs and big ole' eyeballs (um, er, that's four things). So, literally upon receipt, I started work on my poultry-themed masterpiece.

I fashioned the armatures for the feet out of pipe cleaners and crocheted a cover for each foot using a size 10 variegated pink to white crochet thread (the name of which is escaping me) in single crochet. After crocheting a foot I continued on with the rest of the leg extending it as long as a ball of thread lasted (about 4 1/2 feet). So far, so good.

Tall, skinny chicken needed more. This chicken was made to cover something (it looks like a miniature tea cozy). So, why not transform this yellow hen into a costume for a frozen chicken! It took me a couple of hours to create the "nekked" chick. I added small crocheted eyeballs to the head for the finishing touch and a new and well, not exactly improved, but definitely interesting chicken was born!

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Copyright 2005 Regina Rioux Gonzalez. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

More Character Trading Cards

Here's more of the Vegetable Liberation Army member trading cards:

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Copyright 2005 Regina Rioux Gonzalez. All Rights Reserved.

All were made from crocheted vegetables purchased at ebay auction. I crocheted the eyeballs using DMC size 8 pearl cotton and on some Laura Wasilowski's hand dyed size 8 pearl cotton (I love her hand dyed thread). I added limbs to some using scraps of felt and added doll house sized garden tools, kitchen tools, etc. for their weapons. Lots of fun!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Killer Korn Trading Cards

Here is the ring leader of the Vegetable Liberation Army ("VLA"). He is made from found crocheted vegetables that I purchased at ebay auction. I added the crocheted eyeball and his corn holder "weapons" and voila! A homicidal veggie! Submitted this guy to April's A Month of Softies.

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Copyright 2005 Regina Rioux Gonzalez. All Rights Reserved.

Big Blue Crocheted Alien

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Copyright 2005 Regina Rioux Gonzalez. All Rights Reserved.

This guy is 5'6" tall and would make a lovely addition to any alien-friendly household.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Aliens and Squids

I made two of these aliens (one of which I am listing on ebay). They are really big rag dolls that I designed and crocheted. I tend to work either really big or really diminutive. I also keep really detailed pattern directions so that I can reproduce any object when desired. I usually use single crochet as my "workhorse" stitch. I use sc mostly because it is easy to "sculpt" with this stitch. The only time I heavily use double crochet is in my filet work (of which I have tons). Reminder to self - Post filet pieces to this blog!

Anyhow, I am back to working small (after a whole year of making monstrously huge pieces - like a 25' giant squid, all crocheted), using mostly crochet and doing some sewing too. Oh, and making a few books, some trading cards and paper dolls. I like to keep busy!