Friday, April 30, 2010


Episode 5 - A New Dawn

Oh, Wait! - wrong franchise.

Day 5 -Location, Location, Location

"Where do you like to indulge in your craft?"

Oh, I have a favorite arm chair tucked into a corner of the living room. I will spare you the sight and it the humiliation of a photo because the poor thing is in a very sorry state. Due in no small part to the territorial shenanigans of the biological weapons of mass destruction known as my annoyingly evil but ultimately unflushable pair of devil-cats: Grendel and Beowulff.

But we'we so cute and adowable.

DO NOT fall for that!

Oh, okay in the interested of honesty and fair play, the responsibility for the state of that poor chair is in large part due to my large parts - specifically the large vaguely human buttocks and all that accompanies it.

So how about we take a look at my trusty worktable instead:

****ING Blogger won't upload the photo! I'll try later.

My Worktable

Some highlights:

1 - Giant Ass Glass Ruby - my birthstone. Preeeeeetty... and a welcome reminder of happy things - my birthday being on the same day as my father's. My brother's birthday 5 days after mine so that for 5 whole days we are the same age. Mwahahahaha! My mother being the only oddball - April in a sea of July - even their wedding anniversary was in July! Good things all.

Also - a lesson in patience. First saw the diamond version of this paperweight a couple of years ago and I loved it, but I really wanted a red one for the reasons listed above. Did find red ones on eBay for $25 freaking dollars with $7-8 shipping. Uh, No. Seven, eight months go by and - Boo-yah! - Michael's for 5 bucks, baby! I don't have the patience for bargain hunting but, oh, I do love it when it happens "on accident".

2 - Plastic boxes almost perfectly sized to hold my balls of thread. Almost. Let's just say that the outer dimensions of these boxes are freaking perfect!

Also - Bunny in a balloon wine glass aka. the ultimate in sophistication.

3 - I likes my critters. They keep me company and are lovely reminders that I do still have family - gifts from my beloved brother for such auspicious occasions as birthdays, Christmas, Halloween - all the biggies.

This particular huggy bear guards the top of the glass Barbicide jar in which I store my crochet hooks. Barbicide - not just for nixing nits.

4 - Pinky & the Brain giganto mug for corralling pens and junk. The weird orange and yellow tube next to the 4-color and Viagra pens (don't ask - I'm on some insulting as shit mailing list) is my 8-color Pentel Mechanical pencil! I love that thing. Now I don't have to have my colored pencils sitting right next to me when I want to make a color sketch. No room for them here anyway. In fact I need to weed some more of these tchotchkes and relegate them to the Ceci-cave.

5 - Take your pick:

Pink plastic fountain pen. A Lamy that was on sale - hence the hot-pinkness. I'm more your electric blue kind of gal. In a glass Erlenmeyer type flask on a box of incredible burgundy colored ink. Like arterial blood. Gorgeous. Gotta use up the cheapo came-with ink first. Bummer, but at least not wasteful.

Martini glass for catching scraps of usable size. A little overflowing. MY worktable - leave me alone.

Soda stained ceramic coaster with slogan to live by - "I Crochet so I Won't Kill People." Christmas gift. Hmm. Eh - compliment!

6 - Old broad care package - Nivea face/ hand cream plus glasses. The rest of the drug store is in a box on the floor behind the chair, hidden from sight - no need to frighten the occasional visitor.

7 - I be from TEXAS! Yay-my-hoo!

So if the location is the thing then the clutter is the way. Seriously, you wouldn't know it to look at this photo, but I don't like clutter. I like convenience. When the crap to handy ratio goes south, then I pare. But only so far as to hit the bedroom/cat cave.

And there will be no photos of that DMZ.

Hook On!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Day 4 - A New Skill

"Is there a skill related to your hobby that you hope to learn one day?"

Sure. I love information and ideas. Perhaps to the exclusion of taking any action. I tend to have plans... for a long time. But, suddenly one day I will dive in and go to town on the plan. Some projects take years to complete, but I'm always happy with them when they eventually see the light of day.

Maybe it's the fate of a depressive to be in constant need of mental stimulation. It certainly is for this one. I get my synaptical jump-start by making the aforementioned plans. And by collecting ideas - but that's a separate tirade best left for another day.

Lately I've been planning to try my hand at both Broomstick and Hairpin crochet.

Broomstick because one of the fondest flashbacks into my Mesozoic youth are those of my Mother and her peeps running around with actual broomsticks that had been sawed off and honed to a wide blunt point. Now that I'm significantly older, I fondly respect the whole intrepid, diy, homemade aesthetic of those original tools and am seriously loving the delicate loopy ethereal quality of the fabric made from this technique.

Hairpin because I bought some wicked cool yarn from WEBS that I love the color and texture and, oh, just the whole freaking megillah:

Berroco - Boho - Torero

Berroco - Boho Colors - Sangria

...and true to form for me, they are now both discontinued lines. But, I have a couple of balls of some some of the more awesome colorways squirreled away and, since I hate the way standard crochet squishes the living crap out of this beautiful and funky, multi fiber variegated self-striping tape yarn, web-research points to hairpin as the technique to do these beauties serious justice.

I have made progress on these plans beyond the yarns and the dreams. I've actually gone so far as to purchase the necessary tools:

big mama, size 35 knitting needles
in photo

and a standard, if rather plain looking, hairpin loom

The funny thing about the tool (called a "pin" - I know, wtf?) specifically designed to supplant the classic broomstick is that they are ugly with a capital B and F.

Institutional/Correction Facility Grey

Plumbing-esque PVC

Not having access to the wood working tools needed to hew a dollar store broom handle down to size, I opted for the wooden knitting needles. I hate the idea of letting one go to "waste"/being unloved, but the pair are made of so very beautiful rosewood and were in such a freaking colossal half price sale that I had to jump on 'em. Maybe I'll offer one up to my growing obsession with entombing things in crocheted thread.

Anyway, someday - not now, maybe soon, but definitely in the indeterminate future, I'll be tackling such projects as:

Hourglass Jacket

Hairpin Lace Neck Scarf
also StitchDiva

Good God, I LOVE Stitch Diva! ... in case you hadn't noticed. :-)

Where else would I be able to find something as cool as a funky wonderful pattern bearing my name:

Cecilia Vest and Chemise
StitchDiva of course

Splendiferous pattern that has nothing whatsoever to do with me, of course, but do you know how hard it is to find anything with "Cecilia" on it? Just makes me happy that something so cool bears the same name.

Unfortunately I've never been young or cool or hip or thin enough in my entire existence to be able to wear anything as delicate and wonderful as these Stitch Diva creations. But that doesn't mean I can't entertain myself trying. The best way for me to learn is trial by fire. First time out may as well be on something masterfully designed because it may just be the only thing I ever make if it turns out that these particular techniques aren't my cup of iced mocha frappucino venti deluxe... with cinnamon dusting.


Hook On!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


DAY 3 - One Great Knitter

"Write about a knitter whose work you enjoy."

I crochet. So when I look for careers to covet and art to drool over, I like to wander the web for "crochet as art".

I of course mean that "I search for inspiration and concomitantly seek vindication for the presentation of crochet as art via perusal of the internet." ;-)

I think the first real example of crochet art I stumbled across in my daily surf hunt was Joan Dulla. She is a talented and visionary crochet artist that works in wire and creates great sculptural pieces including the brilliant:

Her work currently incorporates both floppy and hard money into the crocheted matrices of jewelry and purses, respectively. I've seen examples of her "money series" published in official "fiber is art" magazines. She is a ***Real Artist*** and she crochets stuff that kinda looks like stuff I might make.

When I first started exploring crochet art for myself, I focused on doing my own thing because I couldn't find anyone whose work even remotely resembled mine. Plus, I love the high drama associated with the idea of being unique - even when it is at the expense of being successful or reasonable:
"t-pot""pins & needles w/a zipper"

Thinking I was the shiniest thing in the tool shed, I found Ms. Dulla's site and some vaguely familiar themes that pre-dated and out-classed my meager little knottings:

"T-Pot" "Keeping the lid on"


Fortunately I am pretty fond of myself and decided to chalk up this suspiciously awkward coincidence on my part to vindication that my vision is indeed artistic in that it is similar to that of a professional artist.

Being a study in contradiction, I also have a miserably dim view of myself and finding this kind of parallel brings to light the fact that I make tinker-toy sculptures out of stiffened thread that don't hold a candle to the wonderful wire sculptures of a ***Real Artist***.

Ah, well.

What doesn't make us kill ourselves only makes us stronger - to misquote a famous optimist.

At least I have found an artist that is inspiring, witty, successful and well-respected that also happens to use crochet as the main focus of her work. Knowing this makes me happy and keeps me keeping on even in the face of questionable brain chemistry and unwieldly personal circumstance.

So thank you Joan Dulla in all your magnificent glory.

Hook On!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Day 2 - An Inspirational Pattern

"Blog about a pattern or project which you aspire to."

I work with crochet thread almost exclusively. The aesthetic of the medium wherein a thin straight line is transformed into a graphic image greatly appeals to me. So if I find a pattern I like and want to try, I usually adapt it for thread work. Nothing fancy, often just use thread and my regular steel hook instead of the intended tools and dive in.

Admittedly, this is an approach that requires a lot of blind faith and reckless abandon. Not necessarily a problem for me though. I'm a little odd in that I do not mind ripping a project back to the slip knot repeatedly as long as I can eventually get it to work. Trouble is that a huge majority of the patterns out there are for clothing. And that involves covering a lot of land before realizing you need to realign the tiller.

So a nice, short scarf seems appropriate for my limited and fractured attention span. Of course, being me, the only scarf I had a yen to own and therefore tackle was the Dr. Who scarf.

4th Dr.Who - Tom Baker
lifted from

Simpsons version - just because
lifted from the wiki page

The scarf? About 11 inches wide and 15 feet long. Yeah, that says feet. Nice quick project in worsted weight yarn, eh?

See now, the original was also knitted and I don't knit. Too many tools and, more importantly, my somewhat addictive personality would probably make me go all crazy for the medium and wind up giving the crochet monkey on my back a nice playmate.

Do you have any idea how much product it would take to make an 11 inch by 15 foot scarf in crochet thread?

Neither do I, because even I'm not crazy enough to tackle that endeavor. I took the text instructions, switched garter stitch to half double crochet (greater flexibility than single crochet and more body than double crochet), swapped size 10 crochet thread for worsted, cut the stitch number per row by a third,lost the 5 inch tassels and picked up my trusty 1.25mm steel hook.

Mini scarf tucked into TARDIS model

It was still much bigger a project than I could stand in one go. After a week or two I but it on the back-burner for, oh, 8 - 9 months, maybe a year. Only to pick it up again and power through, finishing it in another couple of weeks.

Dr. Who Scarflet

Still and all, I like the way it turned out. What are the finished dimensions you may ask? Uhm. Don't know. Whenever I finish a project that takes forever and a day I just play with the finished item some, take a few pictures and never consider any technical aspects about it ever again.

All Coiled Up

In the interest of playing fair, I will dig it out, measure it and post that critical info... retroactively... later.

Well, well - it's later. Who knew? So... 1-1/2" by 59" (3.81 by 149.86 cm) - CAL 5-1-10

Right now, I'm just happy that it was fun enough to keep me both interested and committed enough to see things through - even if the journey required a huge rest stop right smack dab in the middle of everything. After all, the journey may be half the fun, but being rested makes it possible for the battle to be won.

Hook On!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week - Day 1

I thought I'd step out of my cozy little hermitage a moment and participate in a blog-along event organized by Eskimimi Knits - a blog I've been following on a reader for a while now - you know, in lieu of talking to people. ;-)

It isn't easy for me to break the seal on the vacuum in which I live, work and survive; however, there are occasions where it is worth the effort. And since I love the challenge of a designated topic almost as much as I love to talk...

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week...

Let loose the pigeons!

Starting Out

"How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting?"

No biggie - my mother taught me back when the Earth was still cooling and festooned in shades of Avocado Green and Harvest Gold. Crocheting was popular at the time and my mom was a teacher that loved people so she knew how to crochet. Sadly, I don't know if she learned from her mother or grandmother. I didn't know either woman - women don't seem to live much past 50 in my direct bloodline from that side of the family. My mother did make it to her 50th year, but no further. I miss her. Pop too.

I have a Great Aunt (great person, yes, but also - my grandfather's sister) that crochets. She was the first person I knew that could reconstruct an object just by looking at it and figuring out the stitches - all without the hack and slash autopsy that I would probably need.

Haulin' Ass

How old was I? Don't know - old enough to remember but young enough to exhibit the behavior wrought by my short attention span - 8 or 9 probably. I never made anything useful. All I ever wanted to do was make chains. Long, colorfully yarny, big hooked chains. Like a J or K - I don't remember the steroid hooks existing yet.

The Bag Smith

Banner used with humble attribution
if not actual consent

In a generous mood, I say I am easily distracted. "Bores easily" is probably listed on a couple of psychiatric charts somewhere though. Extra curricular activities got more interesting and I didn't crochet again for years. I grew interested again in my late, late 20's. A time when I needed to make with my own hands. Was spending too much time thinking but not creating. After grad school and during my descent into the aimlessness that was my science career.

By then I had begun my isolationistic behavior and with my mother gone, my father terminally ill and living 300 miles from friends and family I did what I usually do - collected information. ie - got a book. Lots of books, actually. I love information! Love to read about doing over actually doing, ironically. But the desire to make was too great and I actually re-taught myself the basics and subsequently dabbled sporadically in the knot-tying with a stick that dare not speak it's name. Eventually settling on the fill in the blocks approach to design of filet crochet, but in no serious way.

Enter 9-11. Already in the early to mid stages of succumbing to a soul-crushing clinical depression with the big "D", I took those murders pretty hard. No, I didn't know anyone in New York at the time. Didn't know anyone effected directly by that massive sudden loss. Still, as I snapped rudely at people that questioned my state - I don't have to know them to be sad at the instantaneous loss of thousands of people.

I wanted to honor these people, these losses. I graphed out a very primitive filet pattern featuring everything and everyone that perished: the towers, the planes, the pentagon, the rescue workers. It's very primitive and it took me a couple of years to finish it because I kept letting life gett in the way and kept putting it aside. I would post a picture, but I don't know where it is. Most of my life is in storage awaiting the ability to move into a larger abode and it is packed away tightly.

I started playing with filet crochet images as some non-destructive self medication.

Blue Man in Bell Drugz

It helped immensely. But it got harder and harder to get a desirable level of detail that would still keep the projects small enough for my attention span to embrace. And then I stumbled across fridgies again. Back when I learned to crochet, many of the ladies in my Mother's daily life made and sold small, seasonal yarn appliques as boutonniere style brooches complete with straight pin for securing. I loved those rabbits and shamrocks and stuff. Never occurred to me that they were little building blocks. So I started playing around with the idea of crochet pictures like the felt ones we made for church as festival decorations when I was a teenager.

Still Life RGV Me-mo-ry

So here I am.

**Crochet Applique Tableaux Artist**

Loving it!

Hook On!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Trifecta

The Trio

Finally finished the trifecta! Woo Hoo. Well... finished it quite a while ago, but it never seemed appropriate to post it.

To explain, I have an unusual mind-set of which I am rather proud, but it does create these obsessive fixations with particular imagery. Case in point - a bell jar. Stemming from the only passage in Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar that really resonated with me. What it feels like and all. Wish I could quote it from memory but that just ain't gonna happen. Anyway - that image of being trapped in glass and it's uncannily accurate comparison to Depression with the capital D have stuck with me - even if the actual words have not. Visual learner here.

After a few sketches and mental calisthenics (the only kind you'll ever find me doing btw), I tripped right over my favorite interpretation of this idea - human as clapper. Unusual, see? But which style of crochet would best do it justice?

Upon contemplation of what exactly it is that I do with my hook, I realized that my work falls into three general categories and I took "the clapper" for a ride through all of them:

Filet Crochet
Hanging Clapper

Crocheted Applique'

Hanging Around

and Sculptural Crochet featuring small dolls

For Whom the Bell Tolls

When I turned to art and craft for life-support, I started out with filet work, but soon found it to be extremely time consuming and limited in it's ability to represent rounded images. I still love the way light passes through the finished pieces though and the way that highlights the blocked out images. I have plans for projects that allow me to further experiment with different thread colors and small glass beads to add detail, contrast and definition to the figures. But again, this requires a lot of time and focus and unfortunately that means waiting until I am in the mood to do filet work. That Muse is either shy or lazy but the end result is the same, I don't get around to these projects very often and they are currently in a bit of a backlog.

While experimenting with changing colors in the filet matrix I stumbled across the realization that I could assemble more intricate images out of applique motifs. Big ole Duh. I find that I love making these upscale fridgies. It feels like drawing with Crayons and building with Playdoh. This style of work is nostalgic playtime in a world filled with too much reality. This is currently the mode of expression that suits me best.

Having fought the instinct for years as a manifestation of immaturity, I have finally come to embrace in my advancing middle years that I have a strong whimsical streak that runs parallel with ones of melodrama and moroseness. I need to interpret the world in cartoon-y pictures that harken back to childhood where things were safe and happy and fun. My outlook is child-like, not childish. This distinction has made the difference between a life lived for exploration and one not lived at all.

So why did I bother to pursue the bell jar image in a 3D version? Sometimes, only a dolly with do. A clapper should clap or at least move and only 3D would let the clapper swing. More child-like play in a sea of cocked eyebrows. Do not care. I wasted my 20's striving to be what I should, my 30's in realizing I wasn't, and now in my 40's I just need to be - silly, melodramatic, inquisitive, morose, sarcastic, angry, happy, goofy ... alive.

Hook On!

More Show Business

...and one I can actually go to. My crocheted book "On the Fence About the Fence" was accepted into the exhibit: Texas, A Blending of Cultures.

The exhibit is through the Texas Museum of Fiber Arts and will be held at the Mexican American Cultural Center both in Austin, Texas. Just a coupla hours up the road from here.

I might have to crochet myself that top that says "I'm in this show".

Maybe a top would be a little too much eccentric for a public appearance. Good luck getting a butterfly net over all this pals!

OK, there is a tiny yet lingering suggestion of a vaguely insulted feeling that my other book "Postcards from Home" didn't get in, but then, who am I trying to kid? "Postcards" is fun and pretty to look at but doesn't have anything to say. I didn't even put the names of the places I was paying tribute too on the cards. Something to consider adding if I ever want someone besides myself to understand them.

Enough of that. I'm going to leave the greedy negative vibes at the door and enjoy the getting in now.

Hook On!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tee Hee - the Sale Edition

One of my pieces sold at Metaphoric Fibers - Untamed Knitting and Crochet at the Textile Center of Minnesota.

So long "Depression". Enjoy your new home.

Wait, wait, wait.

How do I feel about this?

I thought I overpriced her so she wouldn't sell.

So hard to let go of the babies.

Oh, just shut up and enjoy basking in the glow.

Tee hee. Now I can call myself a professional artist. Tee hee.

Very professional, indeed. ;-}

tee hee, yet again

Hook On!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Where Does Entrepreneurial End and Sleazy Begin?

This is my Garden of Eden / Apple and the Snake inspired chatelaine:


it's designed to corral sewing paraphernalia:

pin cushion - scissor keeper

It's the type of thing that my giggly imagination enjoys creating. I sold this item at my etsy store to someone that bought the only other chatelaine I had listed at the time as well. I'm not completely naive - I knew that such a purchase meant the customer was likely going to resell the items. More power to them. I was new to the business and had made the rookie mistake of underselling my wares. I am fine with this. Live and learn. That's the entrepreneurial spirit spotting an opportunity - even if it is at someone else's expense. That's what makes capitalism spin.

I personally don't like taking advantage of people and that is why I am a bit of a schmuck. But in the interest of full disclosure, I am also not very good at spotting said opportunities and have never had to put that altruistic statement to the test. And further truth be told, the design elements for the other chatelaine bought that day:

Swirly Chatelaine

were a hodgepodge cut and paste mix of two other people's unrelated yet publicly published patterns. So my ethics, at best, are subjective.

I digress.

What I wanted to write about today is that I found a listing for the Snakelaine at an unrelated online store. So it was indeed bought for resale; HOWEVER, the person had used my photos and my description directly from my etsy site without even a hint of attribution to their source - yours truly.

Lifted verbatim.... even calling it a Snakelaine.

This galls me.

How lazy do you have to be to steal someone else's three sentence copy? And don't try to tell me that only so many words exist to describe things and duplication is inevitable. My writing is fairly distinct. And even if they were able to come up with the same lame little puns that I prefer to pepper my copy with the odds against coming up with the exact same words in the exact same order under the exact same vaguely blurry photo and all under the exact same punny title are astronomical.

So what? Not illegal. Well, yes it is. However, proving plagiarism is difficult and any attempt to do so is tantamount to lunacy in a situation that deals with an item that sold for $10.50 and resells for $25 $21.

My question then, is this:

Is it worth incurring the sizable legal fees simply to prove a point?


and Hook On


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh, Wait - March is over!

Oops. Forgot to talk about my latest pride and joy: My snarky feline ode to the Ides of March.

So okay, yes, that was way back on March 15th, but cut a gal some slack - sometimes I actually do get busy.

... and not merely distracted by shiny objects

... or air.

"I come not to praise Caesar,
but to bury him... in kitty litter."

Where did this come from? Well... I've been on a serious cat-plique bender for quite some time now. Also, I wanted to celebrate March with something other than the obvious and predictable: two traits I would love nothing more than to scour bloodily from the feel of my work - and my life really.

As an aside, I must confess that I did go the green cat route for St. Paddy's which would seem to be a betrayal of my search for artistic individualism. However, the love of the cute and catty is a deeply entrenched facet of my psyche and, therefore, commands a large presence in my work.

So, in keeping with those things which most clearly identifies my view of the world, I opted to combine cute cats and a snarky historical reference into my more involved tribute to March - and thus, "The Cat Ides" was - uhm... well... bred?

I did post images of this tableaux at my flickr photostream. Although I had been warned by my artist/artistic sounding board brother that I would need to decide on which figure was the Feline Brutus, I admit that I was unprepared with a definite answer. Still am.

Is Brutus the one staring off in the distance, lost in contemplation?


...or the one hailing the emperor with a welcoming paw as his robes conceal the short sword behind his back?

Hey there!

...or is he the one overwhelmed with zeal taking a flying leap at the gilded Emperor-for-life?


It wasn't a conscious decision, but I'd wager that the purple assassin kitty is meant to represent the infamous Brute'.

Unfortunately, his facial expression offers no clue. I work hard to make the faces convey specific emotions, but it is difficult at this scale. The cats are only about 2" tall. Hopefully, the stitched features capture the intended look of surprised dismay on the main subject:

Emperor Puss

as well as the shiftiness of betrayal on his flanking senators:

Senator Kitties

BTW, the background is intentionally mono-toned (well, at least close within a color family) - originally to suggest white marble halls and columns but ultimately to direct attention to the colorful figures instead of the background. I've had trouble with suitable backgrounds in the past. This is one attempt to address the issue. Not so sure it sent the missive to the appropriate location, if you'll pardon the postal pun.

Maybe not?

Hook On!