Archive for October 2010

No time to question my moves

October 21, 2010

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Pattern: Pokeball Go! by Rose Langlitz
Yarn: Pisgah Yarn & Dye Co. Peaches & Creme Solids (100% cotton), colorways Red, White and Black
Hook: U.S. G/4.00mm

So I was cutting foam board and painting and measuring and generally working hard on making Cady Gray her costume for Halloween. She wants to be a Poké Ball, you see.

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I felt like the costume would not have that elusive meta quality unless Cady Gray could appear at neighborhood houses dressed as a Poké Ball and also carrying a Poké Ball.

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And I also felt like it was high time I ventured into the vast and supercute territory of fun and nerdy crocheted toys. So I made Cady Gray a Poké Ball to carry. And then, lest he feel left out, I made her brother one, too.

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“I’m going to pretend that my Poké Ball is capturing Halloween candy like it’s wild Pokémon!” Cady Gray enthused when I gave it to her. Exactly, my darling. Here’s two bucks and forty-five minutes’ worth of crocheted toy I made for you, because I know how much you love pretending to be a Pokémon trainer. Let your imagination run wild.

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You’ve got me running, you’ve got me searching

October 18, 2010

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Pattern: The Perfect Slouch by Tar3820
Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Cable Cotton (100% cotton), colorway Golden
Needles: U.S. 7 24″ Harmony wood circulars
Hook: U.S. G/4.00mm

My class is doing a service learning project for Conway Cradle Care, an organization that provides day care and other support to teen mothers and fathers to help them finish high school. When they talked and wrote about what they wanted to do for the group, many mentioned crafting not only for the babies, but for their parents.

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Among the seventeen of us, we figured we could outfit the high schoolers that CCC serves (mostly girls, with a few guys involved as well) by making hats. For some of the students, making a hat will be a new adventure — maybe even one they’re not sure they’re ready for. For others, more than one hat can come off the needles between now and the holiday party where they’ll be presented.

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We made our preliminary plans on Thursday. On Friday I experimented with the brim of this hip little hat, which is crocheted for firmness and fit. On Saturday I picked up stitches to knit the top. On Sunday I asked my daughter to model the finished hat. It suited her like she was born to it.

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Every girl is someone’s daughter. For the babies in the CCC day care, for their mothers trying to hold onto their last years of being a kid while they’re forced by circumstances to be adults, there’s still a lifetime of chances ahead. I hope this hat in sundrenched yellow and perfectly fashionable tilt lifts the spirits of a young student this winter. I hope she puts it on right after she takes off her mortarboard at her graduation, right before someone hands over her child for a celebratory hug. I hope it goes with her to college.

I hope — no, I know — that this is only the first of many hats for me and my students.

No catch, no strings

October 16, 2010

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Pattern: Helleborus Yoke by Mathew Gnagy
Yarn: Cascade Eco+ (100% wool), colorway 8449
Needles: U.S. 7 & 9 24″ Harmony wood circulars (knit flat except for sleeves)
Project details and modifications: on Ravelry (no sign-in required)

Turn the world on its side, and see how it looks. Travel in a different direction, go around by a new route, and feel the journey change.

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This sweater begins at the right front edge, goes around the torso and over the shoulder (curving the cables gently around the arm with short rows), then marches across the back before reversing the whole arrangement and ending up at the left front. All that’s left when you are done making this side-to-side vest with armholes is to attach two sleeves, put button bands on the cast-on and cast-off edges, and attach an elegant collar.

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Knitting a cardigan from buttonholes to buttons is an exercise in trust. You cannot tell how big around it is going to be until it is nearly done. All you can do is remind yourself that you knit a gauge swatch and calculated the predicted results. Then keep going row by row until the yoke flows back around over the left shoulder and the shape of the nearly-completed tube can be witnessed.

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The moment when you slip it on and find a perfect fit is a quiet, everyday miracle. The numbers, the pattern, the geometry, and your trust have produced what was always in the cards but could never be anticipated.

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Passing through a crowd, you are surrounded by people who have no idea how out of the ordinary this ordinary sweater is. They see only the product, but you know the process. The wonder is that you headed out in an unknown direction, and arrived back home warm, unruffled, and just in time.

And she could hear the highway breathing

October 14, 2010

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Pattern: Openwork Rib Scarf by Jennifer Jones
Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Calm Wool (40% wool, 30% camel, 30% alpaca), colorway Rust
Needles: U.S. 8 Signature straights

In my ongoing quest for the perfect scarf, I have been gravitating toward combinations of lace and texture.

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One-row lace patterns tend to give you exactly that. They include eyelets formed by yarnovers, ladder-stepping up the fabric, separated by raised, dense ribs formed by working stitches together. As you work the same set of stitches on the right side and the wrong side, the ribs and eyelets move back and forth for the slightest shimmer and sway.

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Add in the slight fuzziness of alpaca and the loft of camel, and you have a scarf that is both light and substantial, airy and warm.

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Space and matter. Absence and presence. The essence of scarf.

Summer’s here and the time is right

October 12, 2010

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Pattern: Hyperbolic Pseudosphere Scrubbie by Timary Peterson
Yarn: Pisgah Peaches & Creme (100% cotton), colorway Yellow
Hook: U.S. G/4.0 mm

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Pattern: A Practically Hyperbolic Dishcloth by Deborah Ellis
Yarn: Pisgah Peaches & Creme (100% cotton), colorways Yellow and Red
Hook: U.S. G/4.0 mm

Every crafting assignment these days feels like an opportunity to learn something new. When the call went out from Cady Gray’s school for items for a spa basket to be auctioned, I immediately thought, “Let me try something different in crochet, then.”

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I read an article about hyperbolic geometry and the way some mathematicians had found a way to model them in crochet. And then I found a couple of patterns on Ravelry. Coincidentally, they could be seen through squinted eyesight as spa items. I made a circle and then I increased steadily as the work spiraled outward. And what occurred were these elegant, crenellated folds, the item not getting any bigger it seemed, but only getting more complexly layered.

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For the cloth, the increases are more gradual — making three stitches into four, rather than making one into two. What results is a floral ruffle of sorts, the shape made when a record is warped in the oven, expanding and curving away from itself at every point. In the hand it is surprisingly satisfying, conforming to your shape by tucking itself around your fingers and palm. I hope their users get a sudden flash of geometry as they wash or dry or exfoliate — a glimpse of a non-Euclidean space, a peek into a universe that almost exists.