Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fruit Tart Fascinator

I am so excited that you guys are lovin' the Pie-Rets! I have received tons of requests for the pattern. So, I will be testing all three pies this week in the hopes that I can offer the patterns to you in the next few weeks. Stay tuned...

Needless to say you've inspired me to keep going with the holiday sweets headgear...

Introducing the Fruit Tart Fascinator!

Yes, that would be me hamming it up with a little pie atop my head.

This mini crusted headgear was a one-night crochet project. As such, you can be sure that there will be many more versions of this little wonder in a variety of fruity fillings!

Who would have thought that wearing one's food could be so satisfying?

More holiday fun to come! Stay tuned...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Pie-rets

I have been infused with some serious crochet mojo combined with a touch of holiday spirit for the past few weeks. Now, you all know what that means...Oh yes, that definitely portends a bit of twist in my yarn!

Introducing Holiday Pie-rets!

These crocheted versions of round flaky goodness are just in time for Turkey Day! And yes, you can be sure I will be wearing pie to my family's Thanksgiving feast. So, let's take a look at my crusty choices shall we?

There is the always popular seasonal delight, Pumpkin Pie-ret...

Topped with a dollop of cream...

Thanks to Ellen for modeling!

OR how about a touch of dark and rich Pecan Pie-ret...

Bridget is modeling this lovely headgear!

And my personal fave, the Cranberry Orange Pie-ret with lattice crust!

Modeled by my girl, Jenna!

It's a tough choice to be sure.

Onto the crochet stats...

The Pecan and Cranberry Pie-rets were crocheted with an F hook and some of my Cascade 220 stash. An F hook combined with this light worsted yarn creates a very tight fabric. This is exactly the effect I was attempting to achieve as I was aiming for structure, not drape. My challenge during the design process for both of these Pie-rets was creating a perfectly shaped circle while using a popcorn stitch pattern. Needless to say, frogging ensued before I came up the correct increase to stitch ratio. I am happy with the results.

The Pumpkin Pie-ret was also crocheted with an F hook. However, I chose to use Lamb's Pride worsted for this one. Don't think I would choose this yarn again for this type of project. The FO ended up being too heavy for my taste. I will use Cascade 220 going forward should I ever decide to crochet another dessert-themed hat!

Needless to say, one of these hats combined with Turkeyzilla the Tote Bag accessorizing my holiday outfit will surely embarrass my daughter to the core. It just doesn't get much better than that! Muhahahaha!

Copyright 2008 Regina Rioux Gonzalez. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Practical Crafting

Well, I had my year end review yesterday at the Cube Farm. The good news is that I am still employed because as luck (or constant effort shall have it) I'm indispensable. The bad news is that management cannot reward me for my efforts with anything other than praise. Yep, salary is flat and bonus is down. Hell, at least my wages did not decrease and I'll receive a bonus! Nonetheless, I am mired in disappointment. As the sole breadwinner at Chez Linoleum, my finances are really stretched. No matter how unrealistic the thought, I was really hoping for a bit of monetary relief. No such luck. Oh well, I'll just have to quell my anxiety about my current state of affairs with an extra dose of crafting.

As such, my penchant for making has taken a turn for the practical. Whereas turkeys and bacon will always have their place in my creative pantheon, what I could really use right about now is a special pair of socks to comfort my tosies as I witness my 401K lose all of it's value in a tanking stock market...

Likin' those Holly Berry Jaywalkers!

Needless to say, thoughts of my Depression Era grandmother have become omnipresent lately. She was the master of frugality, saving pieces stale bread to make breadcrumbs later, forever mending holes in articles of clothing that had seen better days, throwing all of her aging foodstuffs into her world famous "Garbage Soup" and she pretty much made every single pair of pants that she wore. Literally, a rainbow of gabardine to be had in her closet. My Nana could stretch a dollar better than anyone I knew/know. So, in honor of my maternal grandmother I've taken up needle and thread. I don't know that I'll save any money by turning to my Singer in my time of woe, but my wardrobe will surely benefit by the addition of a few hand sewn necessities such as drawstring pajama bottoms. Here's one of the Halloween-themed pair that I recently worked up...

I've got stacks of fabric in my stash waiting to be transformed. You can be sure that the whole family will be sporting pj pants for the holidays before I'm through. And who knows, I may even try my hand at a bit of quilting...

But wait, there's more! My practical crafting also extends beyond the borders of hooks, needles, looms, spinning wheel(s) and sewing machine. Oh yes, let's not forget the artful, yet practical culinary crafts. 'Tis the season for cooking and baking and trying my hand at all sorts of magical kitchen delights. For example, last summer I acquired these handy attachments for my Kitchen Aid Mixer that I've yet to test drive...

Because nothing brightens my poverty-stricken day more than handmade tube steak!


So, even though my wallet is a lot thinner these days and the world a lot messier, I can take heart in the fact that I've got a roof over the clan, food in the fridge, fuel in the, just a wee bit of yarn in my stash (okay, I'm understating...whatever) and few fundamental skills that will allow me to occupy my mind and fingers while riding out the tough times we currently face. Stay positive kids...We're chicks (and dudes) with myriad tools and we ALL know how to use 'em.

Big hugs all around!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Beanies for Blade Runner Bag Ladies

While at Camp Pluckyfluff, Lexi mentioned her penchant for making "spirit beanies" from her own handspun. I loved the idea. Simultaneously, my spinning classmates were discussing what their vision of a post-apocalyptic spinners compound would look like, a discussion I found to be completely intriguing. Subsequently, upon my return home, I began to work up my homespun odds and ends into a few Post-Apocalyptic Spirit Beanies...

Okay, they do look a little like hats for Blade Runner bag ladies. Come on though! Admit it! They do have a certain nutty charm and they are a departure from my usual obsessive compulsive fair.

It's all about creatin' outside the confines of the proverbial box...

Happy Saturday Everyone!

Angelenos, don't forget about Felt Club tomorrow!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Nurtured Nature

Last night, after my Wednesday night yoga hour and before the premiere of Top Chef, I was finishing up a special Thanksgiving-inspired crocheted item while watching an amazing documentary on PBS called Weaving Worlds. This incredible piece of television had the same impact (if not more) on my creative psyche as another PBS miniseries, Craft in America.

Weaving Worlds tells the story of Navajo rug weavers (who are also shepherds, shearers, mini fiber mills and spinners) and their role within the collectibles market. Through interviews and oral histories, the film gives an intimate look at current dilemmas facing Navajo weavers as well as the relationship between wool production, spinning, weaving and the family dynamic. Not only was this hour docu-journey fascinating from a pure process standpoint and how Navajo weavers have supported themselves via wool, but its emphasis on the female collective, a family's shared experience of growing, tending, making was inspirational.

Lately I've been thinking quite a bit about the roll of fiber/yarn/fabric in my own existence, which since the age of seven has been a fairly significant aspect of what makes me, me. Those of you who have been reading my blog for any length of time know that I learned how to knit, crochet and sew from my maternal grandmother as a young girl. Looking back, I know now that my inescapable interest in what my Nana would do with her fingers, a few metal tools and some string has not ceased. In fact, I venture to say, that my interest in fiber and all of its derivative processes has well surpassed the interest stage, the whole fuzzy tangle becoming embedded in my genetic make-up. Or maybe, just maybe, I was predisposed to become a fiber fanatic. Maybe this fiber obsession is a recessive gene, that skipped a generation (my mother and her siblings) and appeared in my DNA strand just waiting for the right moment to bloom.

So, was the fact that I was inexplicably drawn to my Nana's fiber rituals nature or nurture?

Watching Weaving Worlds brought the question above to light for me. In the film one of the women profiled, who happens to hold a Masters Degree in Linguistics, decided to return home to her reservation in Arizona with her family because she needed, desired, to work with her hands, tend her sheep, process the wool from her flock, spin the fleece into yarn and finally weave the results of her labor of love into woolen works of art, just as her mother and her grandmother had done before her. She described her decision to leave the world outside the boundaries of the reservation for her current fiber-focused life as something she felt she was destined to do. Further, she said that weaving, working with wool, was in her blood, in short, who she is and who she wants to be.

I understand this statement to the depths of my soul.

I spin yarn. I weave yarn. I knit and crochet yarn. I sew fabric. I spend hours each day making stitches and loops because this is who I am and, even more importantly, who I always want to be. I don't know that my Nana thought this deeply, or contemplated the meaning at all, about why her fingers were constantly moving amongst the backdrop of baskets filled with yarn, thread and projects galore, but I do know that she too was drawn to everything fiber, delighted in it, worked at it every day as she was masterful with string. Her daily fiber practice may have had its genesis in necessity (as it did for many in her generation), but eventually became much more meaningful to her. This is the aspect of making, working with fiber, that holds me in sway and hasn't skipped a generation this time round as evidenced by the fact that my daughter is undeniably drawn to the ways of wool despite her current state of teen angst. Although she's foregone her daily acts of crochet in favor of endlessly texting and chatting online with her friends, I do occasionally find her fondling the omnipresent cakes of yarn scattered about the house. When I walk up beside her in one of those moments to ask her if she's interested in using the object of her attention in a project, she usually replies, "Not now Mom, but this yarn is really cool."

I have faith that eventually my ever creative daughter come back to our shared fuzzy space. After all, yarn is in our blood.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes. We. Did.

In honor of change I give you my tribute to the American democratic process...

Knit (and crocheted!) entirely from my stash, this lovely 100% virgin acrylic piece of Americana kept my digits busy as I fell deeper and deeper into the sway of the 2008 campaign season. As a result I found that I knit faster when something I heard, saw, read ticked me off along the way. Ahhh yes, it's those little revelations that make our political system worth participating in....

I had actually planned to wear this cape while voting, but alas it was nearly 80 degrees in my hood yesterday! At any rate, I wore it to work today. Uh yeah, pretty much everyone at the Cube Farm knows which way my political pendulum swings now...

Oh yes, we did!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Camp Pluckyfluff

Yesterday I set out on the 421 mile journey to my north in order to learn how to trick out my spinning. Yep, I'm in beautiful Placerville, California at Camp Pluckyfluff!

Held at the Boeger Winery, Camp Pluckyfluff is a two day art spinning extravaganza taught by the Pluckyfluff maven herself, Lexi Boeger.

Let me tell you after having just finished day one of this workshop, I am completely satisfied with the experience. Well worth the money AND seven hour drive up here. Today alone we workshop attendees learned six or seven techniques!

Just look at the results of my, um, err, spinning enlightenment...

Granny Stacks fit for Halloween...

Here's a detail of the stacks...

Crazy Carded Batts spun up into glorious thick thin string-age...

Lofty translucent mohair clouds...

And tons of twists!

Here is Lexi's twisted example...

Absolutely amazing day! I feel like my training wheels have come off and I'm flying by the seat of my proverbial pants. Doesn't get much better than this, creatively speaking that is. Needless to say I can't wait to get back to my wheel tomorrow morning for day two!