Archive for April, 2008

Hooked on ‘Vintage Crochet’

Ever since reading an advance for it on Alicia Paulson’s blog, I could not wait for Vintage Crochet, by Susan Cropper, owner of London’s Loop yarn shop, to come out. Finally I have it in hand, and it has thus far  exceeded my expectations.

I adore crocheting ~ even more than knitting.  The gal who taught me to crochet loves to tell the story of how I came to her granny square class, struggling and struggling to get it, and leaving so frustrated and angry with myself for being all thumbs.  But I was determined, because the yarn shop, wild fibre, was right across the street from my house, and those beautiful yarns beckoned me.  So I bought a simple how-to book at Barnes and Noble and showed up at Tracy’s class the next week with a fully completed crocheted dog sweater for my Yorkie. 

Once I got started, I was hooked.  That little piece of metal (I do like the aluminum cheapies best) felt so at home in my hand that soon I was turning out ponchos (Martha Stewart’s, of course), afghans and anything else I could think of.  Despite my trouble with that first class, I come by the ability to crochet naturally ~ my grandmother Rose was buried, at 92, with her crochet hook and a piece of work in her hands ~ and I still like to break up the knitting with a crochet project every once in a while.

Problem is:  How hard is it to find a decent crochet pattern?  Besides blankets and the now-outdated ponchos, where are the patterns for crocheted garments you’d be caught dead wearing?  I’ve bought every issue of Interweave Crochet that’s been published, but never made a single project from the magazine; watched Hip To Crochet and Hooked on Crochet gather dust on my bookshelf. Couldn’t even wrap my head around anything in Stitch ‘n’ Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker.  Every pattern I see is so precious or dated or over-designed or crafty-in-a-bad-way (see Rowan 43 for the most hideous of all, Chevelle, a cropped granny squarish top in a nasty ’70s color combo).

But Vintage Crochet is thoroughly enthralling with its old fashioned yet perfectly current patterns for clothing, accessories and home furnishings.  The photography, by Kristin Perers, is delicious, and the book makes sure it shows you an item from several angles ~ up close and on a human or two.  Thank you!   There’s the ripple blanket shown on the cover ~ oh, and you Yanks, be sure to buy this version rather than the one with the gal in the sweater, as this is the U.S. edition, with American crochet terms.  Precious egg, tea and coffee press cozies.  A to-die-for lampshade.  A button-trimmed shelf runner that’s def on my to-do list. For the adventurous, a crocheted picnic canopy.  (Wouldn’t it be nice over a bed, too?)  And even a bobbled-and-hooded dog sweater.

It was hard to decide where to start, but I decided to make a small item first, just to get the new off the book and give me some instant gratification.  Here’s my Rickrack Kerchief, completed in about one day:

 

 

 

 

 

The project calls for three balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (one of my favorites), a bit of ribbon and a  C hook.  I used two balls of Baby Cash in off white and subbed some leftover Blue Sky Alpacas Sport Weight in moss green and some Rowan Wool Cotton in Citron.

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve never worn a kerchief in my life, but I wore this one today, an atypically windy end-of-April day for Savannah.  Even the teenage daughter liked it!

I found no mistakes in the pattern, and it was easy to follow.  (There are, however, a few errors in this first edition, so check Loop’s website before embarking on a project.)  Making my little triangle was, dare I say, exciting, almost as exciting as trolling the Internets looking for bargain yarn for my next Vintage Crochet project.  The crochet, she does eat up the yarn, y’know.  I’ll probably go first with the Betty Shrug, to use up a bag of blush pink Blue Sky Alpaca Silk I’ve been hoarding for just the right project.  Can you visualize?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I think I’ll order a bag of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in Aquamarine or Rose for Alicia Paulson’s Millie Cardigan, the pretty sweater that got me interested in the book in the first place.  It’s a sweet, delicate bed jackety cardi trimmed with dainty strips of Liberty of London florals.  Go to Ravelry and check out what a few others have done with this lovely pattern.

I’m working out of several new books, and I’ll share my impressions with you over the next few postings.  Also finishing up another FREE DOG SWEATER PATTERN that I’ll post soon.

In Sickness and in Health

MY TURN

We had quite the surprising week. Not a good surprise, but an opportunity nonetheless for me to give back, and I always appreciate that.

Michael, my healthy, robust, always giving partner, contracted a couple of hernias this month. The day he remembers feeling “something” was a day he spent with the leaf blower outside trying to outmaneuver the mounds of spring goodies that have fallen from the giant live oak between our house and our neighbors’.  It’s a losing battle ~ you rake or blow away this stuff, and the porch and yard are filled with it the next day.  But he tried.  Then Michael took on the bathing of our squiggly, wiggly Yorkie, Willie, with his rapidly expanding girth ~ the dog now weighs 13.2 pounds! By the time that day was over, my husband was doubled over with pain and on his way to the doctor.

This past Monday morning Michael was scheduled for a couple of minor hernia repairs, laparoscopic, quick and easy.  Wrong!  One incision is the simple laparoscopic kind, an inch or so right at the belly button.  The other, however, is a good 4 or 5 inches long.  The result:  My poor sweetie has been bedridden all week, in terrible pain, unable to eat, entirely dependent on me, and in a hazy Percocet delirium.

So, I’ve had to go from being well cared for since my shoulder surgery to suddenly being the caregiver myself ~ and I am exhausted!  Needless to say, the 16-year-old has been little help.  I’ll be glad when my sweetie is up and about and back to normal.  It’s hard to see someone you love hurting and not be able to make it go away.

OUR GARDEN GROWS

Last year we planted dozens of exotic daylily bulbs, and I could kick myself for not writing down what everything was.  But the first of them started blooming this week in our front bed.  This magenta darling will bloom only once this year, but what a glorious sight when she does!

 

 

We’ve also got every kind of herb you’d want, plus cucumbers, lettuce, strawberries, zucchini, Meyer lemons, spinach, arugula and a new crop of heirloom tomatoes shipped from Laurel’s Heirloom Tomatoes.  For 18 years I lived downtown in the historic district, with only a courtyard and no earth of my own ~ and prior to that, five years in Manhattan preceded by five years in downtown Boston, so you can imagine how much I love being able to literally put down roots.

GOING GRAY

Coming from that New York state of mind, I’ve been all about the black for a long, long time.  My closet looked like a funeral director’s.  In the last year or two I ventured a little toward the browns, but they just weren’t me, and I kept drifting back to black. 

I’ve found a new niche in GRAY, ironically well-suited to my station in life as part of a retired, fixed-income couple.  (Too bad my taste doesn’t lend itself to that income.)  You may have noticed a trend in my recent knitted items, from the “Charlotte” wrap, knitted in charcoal Rowan Ribbon Twist, to “Grey Gardens,” my luscious Cascade Cloud 9 triangle wrap in dark gray, to even the ill-fated “Nightfall Cropped Top” from Twinkle’s Weekend Knits in dark gray and ivory Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece.  The wardrobe is filling in with lovely gray items by Eileen Fisher and Garnet Hill.  And what about these cool shoes (the pewter ones, left) by Palladium?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’re comfy comfy comfy from Garnet Hill, and I adore wearing them with GH’s Knit Layered Skirt in dove gray, their Elbow-length Scoop-neck Tee in warm gray, and ~ soon ~ this amazing Martin Storey striped cardigan sweater I am almost finished with, from Rowan Classic’s “Colour of Summer” book, which has quite a few terrific patterns.

         

The sweater calls for Rowan Cashcotton DK, but I’m using Wool Cotton (probably my all-time favorite Rowan yarn) in two shades of green, elf and citron, along with Rowan Cashsoft DK in mist, which is ~ what else? ~ a lovely, soft gray.

 

 

A Special Visitor

ABSENTEEISM …

Yes, I’ve been away, working working working on the dog sweater design I’m about to share with you.  But let’s face it ~ I could’ve checked in with you.  It was Spring Fever.  It was the 20th anniversary trip to Charleston (last week).  It was the 20th anniversary (this past Wednesday).    It was the daughter’s 16th birthday (yesterday).

It was just … I didn’t have anything to say, and what I had to say took too long to say in the time I had to say it.  Oh, well ~ forgive, ‘kay?

THE BIG DAY

Yesterday was April’s 16th birthday, and it was a wonderful day.  

My sweet, lovely daughter has been with us since April 5, 1994, when we went to China to adopt her.  She turned 2 and took her first steps while we were there, and the ensuing years have been a wonderful, sometimes painful whirl of two, ahem, older people trying to raise and handle a quirky, talented, intelligent little girl.  Now our baby is almost grown! (The Savannah Morning News told April’s story at age 6.)

I believe April had her best birthday ever.  She had a date with a special boy to have sushi lunch ~ he brought her chocolates and white tulips ~ and go on to the movies.  Since many of today’s teenagers seem to feel no need to learn to drive, these two included, Poppa chauffeured them around and brought them back here for birthday cake. 

Isn’t she cute ~ all 4’11” of her?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hadn’t met the boy before, and there was much advance cleaning and fixing up to get ready for his visit.  Here’s a picture of April’s room clean ~ take a good look, because you’re not likely to find it that tidy again soon.

That’s a reproduction of a Gee’s Bend quilt that I bought from Anthropologie several years ago.  The Jim Dine heart poster was in my Pepto Bismol pink studio apartment in New York before I moved to Savannah and got married.  The stick thingie propped on top of the bookcase is a voodoo doll from New Orleans.  And you can’t see the big birthday gift, a Nintendo Wii, on a dresser to the right.

 

THE LATEST PROJECT

It’s in the low 80s here, but I realize it’s still cold elsewhere, and there are plenty of little ones who stay cold year ’round.  So, here’s the latest installment in the puppy finery parade, pattern available by clicking on the thumbnail to your right under “My Patterns for Sale on Etsy”.

Fido’s Flower Garden 

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your pup can welcome spring in this beautiful, intricately detailed embroidered fair isle beauty. Knit partly in the round with an off-center lace-trimmed “henley” neck, decorative button faux closure, and pearl-beaded highlights, this sweater will keep your pup warm while temperatures are still cool outside, and pretty as a posy.

For the intermediate to advanced knitter who enjoys detail work. Some embroidery, hand-stitching, beading and crochet required.

The sweater uses 10 shades of light worsted-weight yarn.  This one is knitted in Cascade 220 wool.

 

     

 

My boy is extra sweet when he wears this one!