Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Mind and the Xmas Dalek

The Xmas Dalek I talked about toward the end of an earlier post still really amuses me and I'm actually pretty happy with the way it turned out. Nice and blingy with a lovely feathery dusting of snark.

Since process fascinates me, and I don't seem to have moved much past dwelling on my Christmas projects, I thought maybe I'd share a little bit of how my mind allegedly works.

My projects all begin with a snarky little idea such as:

"Hmm, the Daleks on Dr. Who come in a lot of fashionable color combos these days. That snazzy red and black look is a good combo both classic and trend-tastic. Wonder what other colors they have. Ooo. Lots of different ones - some with gold. Gold? That's a regal and festive choice. I wonder what Davros would have decking his halls during the holidays? Oh oh oh I know..."

... and then the process continues along lines mostly littered paved with my own crappy little sketches and copyright-tweaking gently lifted images from the interweb.

Since I have no documentation of the mental runaway train action, I'll start our journey with a little sketch.

I did say little... and crappy.

I freeform my crocheted applique figures. A little like sculpting with thread and stitch, but I need a point of reference, a shape to follow and emulate. Especially when shooting for a Dalek which has various unusual sloping angles to it that I just can't visualize strongly enough to keep in my head. Sooo... To the internet! ...with fully optimized download capability.

"Source Material"

You know, in hindsight, I probably could have colored it in with Photoshop while I was cutting and pasting my way through the copyright laws, but I didn't think of it at the time and I really, really enjoy using my super el cheapo colored pencils for some nostalgic preschool playtime.

Top down is how I like to roll, so while staring at the vandalized print-out I began working on the basic forms starting with the domey head which was an easy enough structure of a flattened quarter circle. The "neck part" was a little work but the look of the elements was achievable with simple techniques that were easy to anticipate: sides flared via end-row stitch increases and slats raised by post stitches.

The part that kept throwing me though was the skirt. (Yes, get over it - it's a skirt.) I've done alternating rows of decreasing stitch sizes as attached rays before and had that idea ready to go, but this time the pitch of each ray was different and that bounced a rugged little curve ball off my forehead.

I mostly work by starting on an object and ripping and redoing along the way if it isn't shaping up right because I can usually tell if a compound structure I'm trying to build will work before the object is complete. The skirt is different.

For some reason, I have a butt-load of trouble discerning spatial interactions. (Makes driving an adventure: How far is that car and what speed is it traveling? - oh just gun it - WAHOO! - Thrill Driving!!) Anyway, with the Dalek skirt, I just couldn't tell if the proportioning was correct as I was stitching. I had to make complete models before I could tell if the slope was right. What a pain! So this time I have nasty little proto-versions lying around.

Trial and Error

Nasty little things but getting me closer to go. Eventually I figured out the right distribution of angling then blocked, card-stocked and bejeweled it up a treat.

Ta Da!

Exterminate! Exterminate! La! La! La!

Wow, I really do amuse easily.

But then, who wouldn't want a glittery Dalek applique of their very own?

Guess what? I took notes along the way. I always forget to do that!

Working Notes

And looking at the photo above, you can probably guess why. My notes are a mess and barely useful. Yes, I do understand them, but sadly, only for a day or two then I'll be as lost as the next hook-monkey looking at crochet gibberish.

So I often try to rewrite the mess before I forget everything:

Cleaned Up Notes

Better? Meh.

Works for me though. In my shorthand code because I am much too lazy to write out the entire word for a stitch much less any explanatory sentence on how it was achieved and accompanied by the odd sketch or two because I'm a very visually oriented lazy person.

So by virtue of the herculean effort that resulted in this extensive documentation, I may just be able to write out this pattern for others to understand. Who knows?

And that is my "process": from internal dialogue brainstorming/idle daydreaming nonsense to cheesy and vaguely unethical image research to brash just-jump-in almost blind "stitch sculpting" to finished project with the potential accompaniment of a juicy stockpile of the raw compost necessary for pattern writing.

Not pretty; but fun as Hell.

Hook On!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ghosts of Xmas Past yet Recent

My nod to Christmas gifting runs toward the crafty in nature. Specifically, I crochet Christmas flavored appliques with a Texas theme to send in handmade cards to my friends, family and a few co-conspirators in craft I've met along the way.

This year's applique:
Gingerbread Cowboy

and handmade card:

Gbread Greetings Card

A fairly large undertaking this year.

The gang.

The look I was going for was a "Howdy, Ma'am. Have yourself a merry little Christmas there." Some of the boys are just a little too smirky to pull that off. Alas. Consistency is over-rated and I stand by that even if every employer that I have ever had has seen it a bit differently and argued it vociferously just prior to our carefully orchestrated parting of ways.

True to form, I was pretty late completing and mailing these cards. Mostly due to the constant distraction from a couple of other Xmas projects that kept tapping on my parlor door:

Christmas Bulb Garland


Merry Dalekmas

Little things done to amuse myself but which were all true labors of love.

Thought I'd share.

Hook On!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Open Book

Handmade books are one of the creative venues that keeps happily distracting me from the chaotic clutter of this noisy life. When I recently stumbled across the realization that I hadn't made a book in a while, I started thinking ... always an activity fraught with peril around here.

The brief period of mental gathering/physical inactivity that I call "planning" led me to the pun as tactile sarcastic object:

My life is an open book
... with nothing to say.
The pages are empty.
Ooooo - The pages are open.

Ta Da, Voila and Bingo!

Empty Book

So, let's see:
Creative impulse slaked.
Sarcastic nature indulged.
Tiny little pun-based joke made.
And it looks a lot like a rectangular Oreo.

All in all, a good week.

Hook On!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Making friends.

Hooky looked a little lonely (if maniacal).

In an attempt to remember how I made him, I made him a little friend...

Hooky and company

(Fun lighting effects, huh? Maybe Hooky ain't the only maniac in the room. Hmmmm.)

Lil' Hooky with a hook

...and I forgot to take notes. Poo and crap!

Since the original concept behind a soft crochet hook was for a bolster style pillow, I made the small green hook as an excuse to explore my options while still fully intending to take notes:

Pillow Crochet Hook

... and ... you guessed it! Forgot. Again. sigh

This razor sharp memory of mine is, above all else, the reason why when prototyping/"doing one to take notes", I always work small. Soooo much easier to make a new version. We'll just wait and see how the next attempt goes before I fully admit to junior grade senility.

In the meantime, here's a photo that offers a sense of both scale and the extent to which my cat Grendel can be an annoying little interloper:

Scale Puss

Once more into the design breach...

Hook On!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Idle hands and crochet hooks

makes Cecinatrix go ... something something.


Don't mind if I do!

Hooky McGee & friend
(& my thumb)

With apologies to "The Shinning" and everyone at the Simpsons factory.

Hook On!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 - Yay!

One year closer...

mwa ha ha


I don't know. Just felt like acknowledging the new year.

Happy New Year!


Hook On