Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Snowflake Slouch Hat

This pattern was totally improvised, so I'm reading my crochet as best I can. I started this as something to make while watching a movie on Thanksgiving, and even though it's a quick project, I was too out-of-it to finish until Friday.

I reccomend this hat to be worn kind of slouchy, and I designed (if you can truly design anything while flying by the seat of your pants) it to be a much looser, unstretched gauge at the top so it could drape a bit. You could do away with row 10 if you wanted a closer fit (or work another round if you want more slouch to your slouchy hat).

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in Aran. I chose this yarn because it was what was at hand in my mother's stash, but the finished product will hold up pretty well, even if I find the yarn squeaky to work with.

Hook: I don't know; I fished a hook out of my mom's pen cup. Might've been size M, but you should work with whatever feels right, in any case.

NOTE: I end every round with a slip stitch, as it creates a neat base for the next round to be built upon. Usually, this stitch is worked into the top of the chain st that was worked at the beginning of the row.

EDIT: I use American abbreviations, so in English crochet terms, sc would be a double crochet, dc would be a treble, and tc would be a quadruple.

Make a slip knot. Chain 3 and join with a slip stitch (sl).
Round 1: Work 14 single crochets (sc) into the hole.
Round 2: Chain 1. Work 2 sc into the top of each sc of Row 1.
Round 3: *Chain 7, work 1 sc into the fourth st.* Repeat 5 times. Chain 7, work 1 sl into the base of the first loop.
Round 4: Chain 1. *Work 11 sc on each loop of chain sts. Work a sc into the sc below.* Repeat til the end.
Round 5: Work 1 sl into the top of a sc below, 4 times. You are now at the top of a loop. *Chain 5, work 1 double crochet (dc) into the top of the sc between the loops, chain 5, work 1 sc into the top of the sixth sc below.* Repeat til the end.
Round 6: Work 1 sl into the top of a sc below, 3 times. *Chain 5, work 1 dc into the loop left of the dc below, chain 5, work a sc into the loop right of the dc below.* Repeat til the end.
Round 7: Chain 1. Work a sc into the top of every st.
Round 8: Chain 2. Work 3 dc into every loop (there ought to be 14).
Round 9 and 10: Chain 2. Work 3 dc into the space between the 3 dc-bundles below.
Round 11: Chain 3. Work 1 triple crochet (tc) into the top of every stitch below.
Round 12: Chain 2. Work 1 dc into the top of every stitch below.
Round 13, 14, and 15: Chain 1. Work 1 sc into the top of every stitch below.

Fasten off. Weave in ends, and enjoy!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Urban Fauna Studio

To say I was excited about a new fiber store opening in SF would be an understatement. I love Carolina Homespun, but there's only so much fiber one store can carry, and I'd burned myself out on Carolina Homespun a while ago (which is not to say that I don't browse them at every fiber festival- I just save my money for rarer finds).

I think San Francisco has a large opening for fiber/yarn/craft stores, especially since DIY stuff is still becoming more & more popular. Spinning, though, is not a craft that "normal" people get into. Spinning is a craft that people who are already crafty get interested in. I've never met a woman (or man) who learned to spin, and that's it; they always knit or crochet (or weave) first.

Also, opening a new brick & mortar store (especially one off the beaten path) is quite ballsy in this economy. Jamie Chan must have a really awesome business plan- and she also has the sales from the well-established Mary Jane's Attic- which she owns- to help her out.

So I took two short bus rides to get to the Urban Fauna Studio (kind of a weird name, and isn't there a knitting store in Hayes Valley called Urban Design Studio?)- it's just off Irving- and I was immediately surprised at how teeny-tiny the store is. Teeny-tiny, eenie-weenie, itsy-bitsy... well. The whole store is smaller than my living room. Maybe 8' by 17' (and it has a low ceiling). Of course, the fact that there was about 20 women packed in there didn't help.

They had some nice stuff: Traveling Rhinos minibatts, some handdyed fiber & yarn (though not as much as I'd have thought), almost a whole wall of notions, and adorable apothecary jars filled with a rainbow of wool puffs.

The best thing? They rent spinning wheels for $20/week! That means you can try the Mach 1 or the Ladybug at your leisure. They'll also have classes.

Something I felt detracted from the store: it seems like Jamie is aiming for a craft store, not just a fiber store. She had needle felting stuff (which is to be expected in a fiber store, I guess, but it's not my thing, and it seemed like there was WAY more needle felting stuff than knitting or spinning stuff, not including the wheels), sock monkey kits, and luster dust for embellishing fabrics and polymer clay (which she says she's getting a shipment of soon).

I thought it'd be like a brick & mortar version of the Sweet Sheep, or even Etsy, so I was actually a little disappointed by the physical store. And I didn't enjoy being packed into the tiny space like sardines, and trying to maneuver around all the other shoppers. However, I really enjoyed the energy of the people, and I got to chat quite a bit with the women in line in front & behind me. The ladies in front seemed only aware of knitting & crochet (they were buying some handpainted and some O-Wool), and they'd dragged their bfs along. The woman behind me- Barbara (Rav link), as I later learned- had been to WWKIP Day this past June (it was awesome, btw), and was just as interested as I was in a new fiber store. We chatted about kittens (I need some, she fosters them). The line was very long, for two reasons: there were a ton of people who'd arrived "early" to be one of the 75 who got a goodie bag, and because the checkout process was not what you would call speedy.
I bought a minibatt, a 1/2 oz of a lovely teal-blue Angelina, and a braid of merino-tencel in red-orange-purple.
Minibatt pic is blurry so you can see the colors better (it's minty green with felted nubs in shades of pink).

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Can I just say?

I don't think Stephanie Pearl-McPhee would like me. I am slovenly, I can't run a household, I'm arrogant, I'm pedantic, we're from completely different social backgrounds, and I have very little life experience, compared to her. If we were ever near eachother for a length of time, I don't think we'd become friends. She'd be nice to me, because she's nice to everyone, but we'd never become close, I think.

I say this because I admire her so much that I fantasize about being in a knitting group with her. I've seen her twice live (at SOAR 2006, where she was guest speaker, and at Maker Faire this past year, where I made sure we got there early enough to get a good seat), and I've always really enjoyed knitting and laughing with her. I'm not one to get my books signed, so I've never seen her from more than 50 feet away. (That's not true- I kinneared her at SOAR 2006 at the opening ceremony, when she sat in the row in front of me... and she hadn't yet coined the term "kinnear.")

However, I'm determined to do so next time, just so I can be face-to-face with someone who is making a living with knitting (and not even by owning a yarn store, either). The thought of being in front of her- and I know she's a normal person, and probably dislikes being the object of knitterly fantasy- makes me daydream of what token I can offer- handmade fimo stitch markers? Homemade marshmallows (covered in chocolate, just for her)? Handspun? My firstborn? I'm sure she'd be fine with me just saying "thanks" for signing my books, but I'm equally sure that I'd gush in a creepy way. At Maker Faire, during the knit-in, where there were so many people who just wanted to be close to her that it was standing-room-only and she had to have a microphone, she asked to use my knitting as a demonstration (I was the only one with long straights), and I said to the group, "Oh my god, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee touched my knitting." I only realized afterward that while I was joking (my sqealing fangirl impression), it sounded pretty weird.

Another dream of mine (one of those "If I won the lotto tomorrow" ones) is to invite S P-M to San Francisco on my dime (like, for Stitches West, or the Golden Gate Fiber Institute). I imagine the house being tidy-ish and no longer under construction, with the silk moire wallpaper in the hall that my mom wants, and all the cats the most beautiful and well-behaved creatures, and me with an astoundingly beautiful handspun, handknit, self-designed sweater on. And Stephanie Pearl-McPhee taking a picture of the outside of the house (freshly painted, and with a tasteful amount of gold leaf) with the sock, and blogging that she's amazed I live in this gorgeous Victorian house.

What stops this fantasy dead, is, of course, that I think she'd politely comment- she might even take a picture- but she'd never blog about it. I don't leave comments on her blog (or any blog), I'm terrible at emailing people, I mostly lurk on Ravelry, I stopped swapping because I'm too cheap to go to the post office. And she, at least in my mind, is always very prompt with her correspondance and blogging, she documents her work religiously, she buys sweaters-worth of yarn without a moment's compunction.

So in the end, I can but continue to dream.

...until I perfect my hypnotism.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Back in the Saddle, Or, Ravelry is a Great Motivator

Last weekend was busy: I went to the movies on Sunday, I did some housework that needed doing and I spun. Saturday, though, was what it was all about.

Lambtown 2008!

Lambtown is a small fiber festival in Dixon, CA (I think I blogged about it in the past, but I can't remember, and I'm afraid of my archives). It's in the middle of July in the Valley (near Sacramento), so it's always boiling hot in the sun, but if you can find shade and a breeze, you've got it made.

Only two weeks before Lambtown, I was noticing that several different groups on Ravelry had threads about Lambtown, or offering carpools, and I wondered why no one had started a group. I mean- there are groups for absolutely everything on Ravelry (TV shows, tools, yarn companies... anything you can come up with), and every major (and no doubt many minor) fiber festival was represented. And now so is Lambtown. Since most group-type things I start fizzle because I don't advertise enough, I PM'd a bunch of people who'd been posting about Lambtown in different groups, inviting them to join.

Lambtown was, I feel, a success. There were some comments to the effect of wishing there were more lamb food dishes to eat (which makes sense, as this is more than just a fiber festival- it's really an agricultural festival focusing on sheep). My only real complaint was that the lighting in the vendor building was so poor- some of the fiber that I thought was buttery yellow, turned out to be a pale yellowy-greenish in light. Usually, I thought, vendors bring their own lamps to get the exact right lighting... I don't know how it went awry this year, and hopefully next year they'll either put the vendors outside, or mention the low lighting.

On the purchasing front, I was pretty good, as I'm theoretically saving up for that Girl Scout trip to India next July. I bought $45-worth of merch from Aunt Janet's Fiber Mill (I think that's what it's called). Her stuff is always a pleasure to work with, because the blends are fun (not sparkly, but just a nice change of pace, you know?) and I love love love the colors, although the stuff I've spun so far has had a bit more VM than my taste, but that may have more to do with my super neppy and VM-y fiber I bought at Black Sheep this year that I've been working my way through ust to get it finished, because it makes a beautiful yarn.

Anyways, I spent most of my time at Lambtown (where the entry is free, BTW) parked with my wheel and my mother under the shade of a huge tree. We had gotten there at about 9:30, and scoped out a good place to have the Rav meetup (next year, I think we should do BINGO). The shade lasted until about 4pm, so that was pretty good- we avoided the peak heat. A bunch of people sat with us, and in true fiber festival style, some would wander away, some would wander back- it was all very laid back.

I'll admit: I fell asleep like a two-year-old on the car ride home. Being outside, in the heat for hours is surprisingly tiring, even if I did move around so little.

Well, Blogger is hating me right now, so there will be no pictures today.