Sunday, November 30, 2008

Victorian Cosycoat - Free Pattern

Happy Whatever, everyone!

I'd made this thing ages ago, and temporarily (depending on your definition, but all is relative, I suppose) misplaced the pattern book. Aging is a beautiful thing, no?

Anyway, here's the pattern, straight from the source. By the way, I used Wool-Ease Sport and a C hook. I added length to the bottom and some flouncy crap and did not add the ribbon as indicated in the original.

If you make this, I'd love to see your version!
PS: For those of you in NYC or close enough to care, Smiley's Manhattan Yarn Sale starts Tuesday. You KNOW I'll be there!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I Heart Planet Purl

Am I the only one who's been completely unaware of this fabulous site? My God, I'm in love! Check it out!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Crochet as Art

Just saw this on the New York Times site. This is the work of Stephan Goldrajch, seen recently at the Berlin Review art fair. Nice to see some interesting, challenging work being done with crochet as a medium.

And, while we're at it, the same issue of the Times had this on the recent craft fair in LA. Seems like the NYTimes is upping their reportage on crafts.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Life During Wartime

I have to admit a certain fascination for the current economic downturn. Not that I like to see all this financial chaos, mind you, but when you look at the markets across the board, there are some interesting areas that are doing better now than before the (ongoing) crash. Case in point, Spam (the "meat" product. Does anything scream "depression" more?), beans (YAY!), hard cider (yummy), and vegetables (double YAY!). Add to this list: yarn (see this story in the NY Times). As we all know, you can buy some mighty sweet yarn for what a night out costs you in the big city. AND you have a great little handmade item at the end of it, which is generally more than you can say for a night out.

Add to all this the trend towards recycling and you get a fairly potent and interesting mix of situations.

I started thinking about the 1940s, where all of America was asked to sacrifice and chip in for the war effort. Citizens were encouraged to grow their own food (hence the term "victory garden"), women were encouraged to remake what they and their families wore, rather than spend money on new stuff. What did all this add up to? A generation of people who were healthier (thanks to milk and meat rations + homegrown produce), scrappier, and more resourceful than, well, we are. The little number above is from my late dad's collection of Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, dating back to the 1930s. It is full of advice about how to do more with less, but with an emphasis on fun, creativity, and the DIY spirit.

I think this same spirit helped spawn a lot of the booklets and leaflets that many of us with an interest in vintage needlework now hold so dear. And I think our current situation helps these handy little booklets to resonate with us a bit more profoundly. There are tons of DIY sites across the web and tons of people exhibiting "homesteader" tendencies (me among them).
So with all this spinning through my head, I took a look at my WWII books and found some interestingly familiar refrains. Try this one on for size:

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without"

Not a bad motto for today, don't you think? Given the amount of perfectly usable stuff we toss on a daily basis, wouldn't it be nice if we could view our current resource and economic crises as something we could rally around, like our forebears did in WWII? For example, this booklet, aside from admonishing us all that it is in the interest of victory that we all keep as healthy as possible (and we did, as a sidenote. Heart disease dropped during this period), it advised us to make our own stuff, like a market tote bag and a snood. Here are the instructions: And although the recipes do contain a fair amount of what I would consider crap (bologna fingers? no, thanks), there are some wonderful ones in here that seem years ahead of their time. I am intrigued by the honey-orange yeast bread and the carrot-honey cookies with oats and raisins. Yum.

From what I can tell, though, it took a while for the crafty spirit to dissipate. It just seemed to morph into something a little more fun and lighthearted, like the cover image from the 1948 booklet I will leave you with below:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Buongiorno Roma!

Okay, quick question: Anyone out there who can direct me to any good yarn shops in Rome? We're heading out there in a couple of weeks for 10 days and I will surely need a yarn fix in that time. A little help??

And if you feel compelled to share a favorite restaurant with me, I won't argue, ya know...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hyperbolic Victoriana

Hi. I'm back. Still baking bread, still hooking, still knitting. And enjoying a glass of Seghesio Zinfandel, if you must know. Thanks for indulging me in my wallowing last week.

So I cooked up this pattern in my little head the other day, and lo and behold, it's so easy, the mother's done already. So I'm in the process of recreating it with the goal of actually making the pattern available for free right here. (Someone should check the temperature in hell right now - I'm just sayin'). Working on one in red right now. Stay tuned...

On an unrelated note, I had to go through a pile of vintage pattern mags today and came across some of my favorites in the process. I should preface this with telling you that the fashions of the 1910s are among my favorites. With that, I share these beauties with you...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

too sad to post

selected my parents' headstone yesterday...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Leather Pokebonnet

Nah, I haven't made one...yet. But if I keep up these Sunbonnet Sue-esque endeavors, I may have to.

Let me explain.

On Saturday, after purchasing a couple of Mason jars that I needed in order to create the starter culture for some Chevre I've been hankering to make, I set about baking some banana-cranberry bread. Yeah, that's right. I'm making cheese. I'm baking bread. That Mason jar to the right of my bread? That's the starter culture for the cheese. So that's Saturday. Come eveningtide, I'm continuing on my quest to finally get knitting through my thick skull. So I spent Saturday night in this, one of the world's great cities, sitting on my ass knitting. And watching Primevel. Whatever.

Sunday was spent ignoring the marathon and baking the SECOND LOAF OF BREAD in the weekend. Oh yeah. A remake of last week with the cunning addition of romano cheese. And DEEE-lish it is, too! So of course, we had to try it, warm from the oven, with my HOMEMADE butter. Am I possessed? Wait, there's more!

On the urging of my beloved rockpoolcandy, I bought a drop spindle and roving (why, Blue-faced Leicester, thanks for asking) from the Sheep and Wool Festival. I'm in the process of splitting the roving into a manageable weight before I actually spin. (Note to husband - I want a spinning wheel for Xmas - for serious).
How far am I from whittling? Or from starting an urban taffy-pull? Is weaving far off? Is my front yard too small for sheep? Can you grow corn in a window box? What about lacemaking?

Okay, I want to talk about knitting for a minute. Now, you all know I LOVES the hook, right? But ohmigod, it is so exciting to get to even this minimal level of literacy with the sticks! I haven't finished this frigging scarf yet, but already I'm scouring ravelry for knitting patterns thinking, why the hell not?
Despite the obvious errors in the pattern above, I'm thrilled at the results I'm getting on this bloody scarf. I'd admire it if someone else wore it, let alone make it.

Who the hell am I?

And, not for nothing, but the Manhattan Smiley's sale is on the horizon now, a half-block from my workplace. And I have a plan this year - I'm going for the luxe stuff, quality, not quantity. I have a few gifts I'd like to make and I'm finally at the point where I want my precious time to count -- to not waste it on cheaper, unpleasant yarns. They're fine for experimentation, but if I'm making a scarf for my BFF, it's gonna be a yarn that feels like heaven.

Okay, change of topic. I have two cents and need to spend it! Remember the old days when I used to wax poetic about Crochet Today? Pretend I never said it. I have been SO disappointed with them of late! Gone are the interesting, challenging projects. I guess they focus-grouped that puppy to only engage beginning hookers. Sad. It doesn't all suck, per se, but it's not the mag I used to look forward to. On the other hand, I was quite happy with the latest Interweave Crochet. The projects were really beautiful, some simple enough for the novice, others challenging enough for a more experienced crocheter. Maybe it all balances out. But I keep looking for the periodical that pushes the design envelope, and I don't really see it. Over dinner recently with my friend Crochet Insider, we lamented about the lack of magazines that really challenge their readers. I guess it's up to websites and books to be the source of all things edgy.

Hey, has anyone been to the new MADMuseum site yet? I'm, like, a 10 minute walk from them and STILL haven't hauled ass in there! And I've always loved that quirky building!

Okay, I think I'm done spewing for the moment.

Oh, except for this:


OBAMA '08!!!!