Monday, April 13, 2009
My parakeet is the perfect crochet buddy. We have the best talks. He often starts with "Tell me a secret" followed by "That's a good secret!" I always feel better about myself after hanging out with him. He tells me I'm a "good birdie" and gives me a wolf whistle now and again.
Just as Leonardo DaVinci looked to nature to model his flying machines and watercraft, we should look to birds to gain inspiration. After all, birds are some of nature's original fiber artists. Take the weaver, who forms his nest from grass and plants, or the Tailorbirds of Southeast Asia who pierce holes in big leaves and thread plant fibers together and knot them.
So when you're digging through your stash to create a new project, imagine you are a bird rummaging through the forest, looking for materials to build a nest.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Never walk away from home ahead of your axe and sword.
You can't feel a battle in your bones or foresee a fight.
It was a seemingly innocent email on a Friday afternoon, dropped like a challenge to an obsessive craft-a-holic such as myself. "My son and I are headed out to Eastern Oregon. I need a bearded Viking Hat by Tuesday..." The tone was playful, but the message was serious: "Make one of these if you dare!" I dared. Yes. I dared.
I went in search of a pattern online. My time was short, so I knew it had to be a crochet project since knitting would have been too slow. In my search I discovered Instructables, a website devoted to craftiness of all kinds: repurposed computer parts jewelry, papercrafts, toys, robots. There's even a section for manly crafts. I used the Crocheted Mustache Hat Costume posted by momwithahook.
I bought two kinds of yarn: Lemongrass Lion Brand 100% Wool and Lion Brand Homespun in Edwardian Gray. Using a size J hook I tackled the green hat first. I realized pretty quickly that the pattern suited itself much better to the thicker Homespun yarn. The opening for the face was too large, so I had to pick up and crochet a few rows around it. The top developed a visor effect, which I liked. The steel gray hat had a completely different effect. While it crocheted up quickly, I had to get used to the squiggly, non-stretchy yarn. After I lightened up my tension, I had an easier time seeing the stitches. In contrast to the the wool hat, this one was soft. The beard looked more realistic. I considered crocheting an optional piece of food for an accessory.
I finished the two hats by Monday. Father and son would head east in style. Mission accomplished. I breathed a sigh of relief. But then things got complicated. His 9 year old daughter asked me for a hat with a hot pink beard. Her hat would have to be much smaller than the Homespun hat for dad so I used a light gray, red-heartish kind of acrylic yarn for the hat and pink Homespun for the beard and mustache. I wanted the mustache to be less intrusive, so I worked it to have a more upturned structure. The result was a snug fitting hat with a beautiful furry beard.
Having been beaten down by requests from this family, I gave in and offered to make one for the mom. To my surprise, she didn't want to look like a hirsute Viking. This turned out to be my biggest challenge: A lady Viking hat complete with horns and yellow braids. I started with the boy beanie hat in The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller. I used the same light gray for the hat. The pattern uses double crochet throughout, but I'm tempted to try it in all single crochet next time for a more solid look.
My next task was the horns. I started with a tube. After a few rounds I began to decrease on one side only to create the upturned horn look. I kept the horns small, so that they wouldn't be floppy when I stuffed and mounted them on the hat. For yellow braids, I used Lion Brand Cupcake . It had a pleasantly kinky/shiny effect. I liked it so much, I'm making one for myself!
My work is done. Go forth and enjoy your hats, but don't wear them into a bank or government building.....