Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Stash Stress

For 20 years, I lived in the coolest little apartment in the coolest nabe in the world. Okay, the coolest in NYC -- Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. When I moved in, my rent was $300/month, there was nothing on Smith St. but bodegas and social clubs. When I left 2+ years ago, Smith St. was the most amazing restaurant row in the city and my rent for a 2-bedroom place in the nexus of cool was a whopping $800. How I miss sitting at the kitchen table, looking out on the backyards, hearing the birdies chirping and watching the squirrels sneak up our ladder to the roof to do god-knows-what. Our place was tiny by most normal standards, but quite generous by those of NYC. Yesterday, I had to move the last of my crap from the basement of my old digs (yes, my ex-landlord let me stash my crap in the basement for free - they really loved me) because they are finally selling the place. (For far too much money, I think) So I gathered up my boxes and bags, hired my awesome moving guys, and said goodbye to my beloved house for the last time. It's sounds so trite, but a lot happens in 20 years. It was hard to think of never going in there again. And I know that many of you will be shocked by this revelation, but I actually had yarns and old projects stashed in that basement! Whoda thunk it? So now I have even more yarn to play with, completely dashing some impure thoughts I'd entertained about acquiring more.

Okay, a quick story about this old place: almost 3 years ago, I had acute gangrenous appendicitis. I was very ill and was home from work for a month recovering from it. At the same time, my very beloved Spunky, a 16 year old tuxedo kitty that I'd known since the day he was born, was quite ill with cancer. I knew he didn't have much time left, so I relished those days at home with him. One day, I left the apartment door open for some reason. Hours after closing it, I realized that Spunky was nowhere in the apartment, so I went searching for him. I ended up in the basement, calling his name. Immediately I heard his familiar "Raow!" and he came running out of one of the piles, muzzle covered with cobwebs, marshmallow white paws and feet almost as black as the rest of him, and absolutely joyful at the adventure! I loved the fact that he had so much fun that day, especially since he was so happy to see me and follow me back up the stairs to our home. The long and short of this is that cleaning out that basement was the end of an era for me. Memories billowed up like the dust on my crap stashed down there for way too long. But those were happy years (mostly) for me. I loved that neighborhood, but it's not mine anymore. But I will always cherish those days.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What's Haute in Crochet?

I've been doing my usual perusing of the web, looking for the latest in crochet fashion as inspiration for the DIY in Y-O-U. Here are a few things that caught my eye:

Urban Outfitters is always good for a couple of crochet pieces. This one is cute and looks easy-peasey.

Speaking of easy-peasey, this cape don't look like it'd kill ya to make it. Pretty basic shell stitch, some ribbing, and some fancy-pants edging that I bet is even easier than it looks.

Every crocheter worth her salt is only too familiar with the gasp-inspiring beauty of many of Anthropologie's sweaters. Here are a couple worth warming the hooks for . Oh, I know it's no great trick to find something gorgeous on that site, but this little number's shape and detail is worth taking in for a few minutes

While the following piece is not crocheted, but the cut of this one is a joy to behold:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I'm Squirming with Delight~

So listen up. If any of you (I guess the correct word would be "either," but whatever) have eagerly peeked into the Reviews section of this site looking for the latest review of your favorite book or publication, you've probably been disappointed for, oh, about the last 6 months. This is all due to my inability to deal with the website software I'm using. So I finally had the bright idea to change my reviews into a separate blog and voila! I have an easily update-able review section where I will post my extremely clever and acerbic thoughts on whatever paper products containing crochet and crochet-related info I want to. And if they are not extremely clever and acerbic, I will post them anyway.

Seriously, please visit the review section if you can. I will keep the content fresh and funny and hopefully, informative and helpful. My library is huge, and I'd love to share the best of the batch with you all (or "both" as the case may be).

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Okay, I know this issue came out a million years ago, but Knit.1 always manages to have really fun and fresh designs lurking in their oh-so-cute magazine. Sure, I liked it better when it was smaller and even cuter and fit in my bag better, but that's neither here nor there. The fact is, despite their name, they manage to have lots of fearless crochet between the covers.

Take this dress, for example. I turn the page, see this, and immediately presume it's a knit. But wait, something is strangely familiar about the skirt. Like the face of that weird kid from grade school who no one liked at the time, that you see in a magazine because suddenly, he's HOT! Sure as shootin', this baby's crocheted!

I think part of the deal is that the editors look at crochet differently from the way other publications do. The rank and file still see toilet paper covers and doilies and cozies as far as the eye can see (to quote Marge Simspon). But the editors at Knit.1, like the truly talented designers out there, see possibilities in our humble stitches. It's not as fluid as knit, it's more sculptural. It's not orderly by nature--it's wacky and random and can bend to your will! So use those qualities, dammit, and make something beautiful because it's crocheted, not in spite of it!

Am I the only one whose jaw hit the floor when she saw this dress? Am I? Sweet mother of crap! My biggest complaint? It's made for someone with a 34 inch bust or something like that. One size does not fit all, my friend, and I found that faux pas a bit lazy of Knit.1. Still, the clever hooker can figure her way out of that problem, and it won't necessarily involve lipo.

Not for nothing, but where are the publishers with, not vision per se, but at least the balls to push things a bit farther than the usual gang? Pandering to the same old, same old. Drives me batty. Fearless Crochet! That's what the new mag should be called!

As mentioned in the ancient, dusty review section of this site (if you push the cobwebs aside, you can see it), I also really like Crochet Today. There are usually several piece I simply must make per issue. But I think their magazine design blows, big time. Looking at the cover and judging it, like we are wont to do, would lead one to think that they are just spewing out the same boring crap as some of the others. But they don't. At least, not usually. Could someone send them to Extreme Makeover, please? Or maybe hire away the designers from Knit.1? Or better yet, the ones that put out Anthropologie's catalogs? Jebus, talk about cool!

Anyway, keep your peepers on this Knit.1 if you want to get all itchy and inspired to hook your brains out. Or something.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Vintage Challenge

Hello! My name is Matilda - of waltzing fame, if you must know. I've come to you from the 1916 edition of Collingbourne's Encyclopedia of Technologic Art Needle Work Instruction by Virginia Snow. I'm here to discuss with you all an issue of great import to your remarkably charming hostess, Subway Hooker. As she described, albeit in rather more coarse language, while quite smitten with this lovely cap as presented in my mighty tome, she found the technologic pattern instructions to be wanting for clarity. She explained that you might find it frustrating that we do not indicate the weight of the yarns utilized, nor do we inform our dear readers of the particular crochet hook size necessary for the successful completion of the cap (or any of the patterns presented, truth be told). I find this odd - aren't these simply meaningless details that any needlewoman trained in the dainty arts would understand upon seeing the illustrations? Furthermore, Miss Hooker took to the giggles when, upon reading the pattern instructions, we reference "holes," as in: "8 sc in the hole." And what else? Ah yes, she rather laboriously discussed her preference for understanding gauge, what with the lack of other specific details such as yarn weight and hook size. I'm sorry, but have women gone rather simple in the head?

Well, despite the challenges presented given the issues discussed above, Subway Hooker will attempt to recreate my gay chapeau for your edification. Furthermore, she will make any amendments to the pattern instructions deemed necessary to avoid failure. And in her unending well of generosity, she has decided to post the original instructions so that those experienced in the needle arts may try to complete the project at hand.

In return, Miss Hooker would be most gratified if, upon the cap's successful completion, you were to send to her a photograph of your finished work.

And without further ado, I present to you the Matilda Cap:

Saturday, February 2, 2008

American Home Crafts

It is with great and selfish reluctance that I share with you one of my favorite sources of gorgeous vintage patterns -- American Home Craft Magazine. I have about 8 issues of it in my groaning stash of old crafty magazines and I routinely pore over each and every one. They are an endless source of inspiration to me. I don't know what the lifespan was for this pub, but I don't think it was very long at all -- mine are from the mid-70s. My selfish reluctance is due to the fact that these puppies are WAY hard to find. I think I got lucky as my mom was a crafty type herself and had a clutch of these stashed away as part of my inheritance.

AHC covered the range of crafts -- from sewing to crochet and soapmaking to rattan bed-making. It is head and shoulders above the rest of the mags published during those heady days of renewed interest in all things crafty. It was intelligent and had a keen eye toward investigating the sources of the designs presented. And what designs! Despite the cheesy cover logo, they consistently featured interesting, fashionable, and beautiful designs with a sense of integrity that I find rare in the popular press.

Oh, I know what you're thinking! You're thinking that Subway Hooker's gone all hoity toity on you, flaunting her oh-so-valuable BFA in front of everyone. And yeah, maybe I am. But I think it's important to constantly raise the bar on crafts and continue to challenge ourselves to make better stuff by learning from the past and thinking more about what we produce with our hands.

I mean, look at this page of granny squares! These are beautiful! And not in any stupid, ironic, and kitschy way - they are really gorgeous. I think they look like exotic tiles, not something protecting the couch on Roseanne.

Here's that rattan bed they teach you how to make. Sweet Mother of Crap! This thing is astonishing! And I'm not saying you can't pretty much smell the patchouli emanating from the quilt here, but I think this is spectacular.

And finally, since you all expect to see wearables on this here blog, I give you this lovely crocheted confection: