Sunday, July 27, 2008


So Taste3 was amazing, but my guess is that the bulk of you don't give a crap. I don't blame you. This is a blog about crochet.

So I bet you are all wondering what wildly creative new example of crochet expression shot forth from my hands during those 12 hours in the air, aren't you? I'd be asking the very same thing. And the answer is..................bupkis. Yup, that's right. Nada. Zero. I have a half-assed explanation for it. Wanna hear it?

So I'm trying to make the oh-so-gorgeous "Betty" shrug from "Vintage Crochet," see? And the first medallion comes out all spiffy-like, see? And I start the second one and all is just swell until I have to join them together. And it just isn't working. Not nohow. I am following the directions to the letter, I think, and it just ain't coming together in a way that is pretty enough to inspire, well, continuing. And the truth is, I do have the smarts enough to fix this issue, I think. But at cruising altitude, I just didn't care. So I did nothing.

I read David Sedaris's new book, which is laff-out-loud funny. I listened to podcasts. I played Peggle, a stupidly addictive iPod game. Emphasis on stupid. And addictive. And essentially from the time we landed at SFO till the time we got back on the plane for the return haul, I didn't have a moment to hook. No time to find the LYSs that are hidden in Napa (ooh, please let me know if you know of good ones as we are going out there again next month for fun)(and there's nothing more fun than dragging the hubster to yarn shops).

And so it goes.

So I can brag about being invited to Margrit Mondavi's house for a private champagne reception. I can natter on about calling Ted Allen over to our little exhibit and exhorting him to taste Chrysanthemum Champagne and Long Jing-infused handmade truffles. Did I mention hiking at the Mt. Veeder Winery? It doesn't matter, does it? Because at the end of the day, I have about 47 unfinished projects, any one of which I could have, should have completed while on those endless flights between San Fran and New York.

But no.

What about on the subway, o SubwayHooker? Yeah. About that. I'm promising myself and both of my readers that I will be hooking again soon. Maybe this dry spell is due in part to the fact that I am MISSING THE CGOA EVENT IN MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE! I desperately wanted to go. Desperately. But it collided a bit too close for comfort with my business trip and I just couldn't do it. But so help me god, I will be there next time!

I hope that Vashti, Dora, and all my friends had a great time in NH!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Taste THIS!

There are times when I'm not thrilled with my job (the one that neither costumes nor crochets), I'll admit it.

I'll wait quietly as you are blown over with a feather.


But by and large, I consider myself pretty fortunate with the gig that's developed over the many years I've bled for my paycheck and benefits. And one of the payoffs happens next week when I get to go to Taste 3, a wine, food, and art conference in gorgeous, seductive, saliva-inducing Napa, California. Oh, I'll be working alright, but peppered in all that nose to the grindstone stuff are going to be some pretty sweet moments when I get to rub elbows with some legends of wine and food. The really hard part will be when I have to control myself and act like I somehow belong in that crowd. Hell, I'll be having champagne with Margrit Mondavi, widow of the late wine guru, Robert! In her house! I mean, sweet mother of crap! How did THAT happen? Perhaps it's all some huge mistake, some software error that will no doubt be discovered as I'm about to take that first sip of champagne.... ["uh, we're sorry ma'am, but there seems to be a terrible mistake here. Next stop, Guantanamo"]

But there I'll be. I've been sweating over what clothes to bring and more specifically, what crochet projects to bring. Because if you've read this blog before, you'll know that there is no love lost between Continental Airlines and me. They suck, they blow, they bite....words fail me. My company is paying beaucoup bucks for my crapola coach seat and I can guarantee that I will not be able to open my computer during that endless flight to SFO, no not even once. Oh, right. I did, in fact, perfect the technique whereby I shove the lower half of my laptop under my boobs. That works just fine. But I'm not in the mood for that this time around, not nohow. Instead, I'll be working on this fabulous
wavelength scarf using some unidentified yarn I purchased at the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck last year. I may resume work on the cover shrug of Loop's Vintage Crochet, reviewed in this here blog, oh, about a month or two ago.

Anyhow, there will be four days of wine, food, and crochet in luscious Napa Valley. Ya really can't complain about a gig that takes you here....

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cage Dress and Oblique Strategies

In my last Explorations piece, I did a little round-up of crocheted coats. In the research for that article, the magazine's index sent me to the coat you see above on the right. But it was the dress featured in the same photo on the left that really caught my eye. For those of you keeping score, this is from the Spring/Summer 1971 issue of Good Housekeeping Needlecrafts.

While I do have a fascination for the ugly side of crochet (and I don't think this qualifies, but some may differ on that), I confess that there is something very interesting about the approach of this design. Would I wear it? No way. But I love the idea of this wacky stitch scale, so much so that I did up a little swatch of it:
Granted, it's nothing special in and of itself - it's a long triple treble, big deal. But I love the idea of taking a stitch that most of us would relegate to belt loop functionality and dragging it kicking and screaming into the main event. It's a bit like making a whole dress out of buttonholes. And the whole concept reminds me of an idea from a favorite object of mine: Oblique Strategies. This is a set of cards created by the great Brian Eno, musician, composer, and producer extraordinaire, along with artist Peter Schmidt, as a tool for shaking loose creative blocks. Each card contains one "dilemma" such as these:
  • State the problem in words as clearly as possible
  • Only one element of each kind
  • What would your closest friend do?
  • What to increase? What to reduce?
  • Are there sections? Consider transitions
  • Try faking it!
  • Look closely at the most embarrassing details and amplify
  • Not building a wall; making a brick
  • Repetition is a form of change
  • Honour thy error as a hidden intention
Now, I'm sure I don't have to connect the dots for you here, do I? Whether following a pattern, dreaming up one of your own, creating music, or designing your living room, these ideas could help any creative endeavor, from the prosaic to a mosaic. I think the creative process is fascinating, and the various means of achieving creative nirvana are equally so. What do you do when you're stuck? While I don't immediately run to the Oblique Strategies for help, I do have my own little tactics, like googling random concepts and seeing what comes up. Or diving into one or more of my thousands of books to move my head in a different direction. Whatever works.

And all of this considerable tangent comes back to the Cage Dress. I'm not sure what the designer was thinking. Chances are, she was not consulting with some obscure artsy-fartsy oracle cards. But she did take an odd stitch and turn it into something oddly interesting.

Goodies from WWD

While the model kinda looks like she sucked on a lemon, she has reason to be happy, methinks --that is one smashing skirt! However, closer inspection reveals that it is not crocheted, but leather cutwork lace by John Galliano for Christian Dior, hot off the presses from last Tuesday's WWD. That said, it's nice to have some lovely inspiration from the Haute farms, don't you think? And before I sign off, here is one more bit o' inspiration to ponder, also courtesy of WWD, this time from the talents of Hannah MacGibbon for Chloe.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Marko The Prince

I'm interrupting my normal mid-week silence for the following late-breaking fabulous reviews of Marko the Prince, the show I recently costumed:

New York Times

And in a funny coinky-dink, the amazing director, Marcy Arlin, is a wonderful crocheter herself. Actually, the stage manager Kelly is, too!

It's all about the hook, my friends!