Thursday, March 31, 2011

2KCBWDAY8 Wildcard – Embellishing

Uhm In the interest of full disclosure (ie sharing waaaaay too much), I'm doing the Wildcard option today because the Day4 topic "Whatever happened to your _____?" is not my kinda thing. I never keep track of things I make for other people and the stuff I make for myself that actually gets used are socks and my nasty-ugly-walked-barefoot-through-crushed-glass-in-a-wild-cactus-patch-in-winter feet tear through those too quickly to justify photography.


2KCBWDAY8 Wildcard – Embellish the story

Embellishments come in all types and forms. Some are more than purely decorative and form a practical function – pretty buttons are as much part of holding a garment together as mere decoration, and some are just there to give a piece an extra ‘something’. Blog about an embellishment, be it a zipper, amigurumi eyes or applique patch which you are either saving to use or have in the past used to decorate a project with. Write about whether you are a very minimalist kind of knitter with classic lines and timeless plain knits or whether you love all the bells and whistles or sticking sewing and otherwise attaching decoration to your pieces.

I am a loud creature by nature. Love bright colors and shiny sparkly things except of course when I don’t. “Inconsistent” is the word I hear used most often and I am strangely okay with that. Why do the same thing the same way twice? That sounds to much like work – chain gang sledgehammer smashing big rocks into little ones type work. I prefer that my work day be neither Dickensian in its constant soul-crushing repetitive mindless automaton sweat-shopery nor Orwellian in its level of overbearing supervisory interference cum guidance. I kind of like being a flake. But I draw the line at being called “childish”. I am not so much immature as easily filled with wonder and awe.

So, yes, I have a child-like fascination with baubles and gee-gaws. Not only do I have bags of buttons yet do not sew but quite a few of those are novelty buttons shaped like all sorts of fun things. Have a few beads too although I don’t consider myself a jewelry maker. I just like color and shine and texture.

Most of these embellishment items I purchased when taking a stab at being a mixed media person. I don’t paint or bring myself to tear up books so I find that I never could quite find a niche in that world. But I did use all sorts of things I never used before, like pipe cleaners. Oops. “Chenille stems” – my bad. I showcased the gloriously malleable fluff factor of those stems as a detail alongside my crochet appliqué motif creatures (I haven’t settled on what I want to call them.):

Alex in Wonder Land
(should be Land of Wonder -
we are still a litigious society)

I really like the way this turned out but was alone in my enthusiasm. Still, I often do things merely to amuse myself. I added the Alex piece to my collection of books. Come to think of it, I seem to reserve most of these embellishments for use on my books:

Roses Are Dead

On the Fence About the Fence

Postcards from Home

Particularly the spines. I’m not about to leave an unadorned open grid of a spine just hanging out there in dead space. And my usual form of detailing and embellishment would hinder the free movement of those pivot points.

I do like to include a lot of detail in the construction of my pieces, and that usually means adding lots of structures created out of thread:

Ides of Uh Oh

Still, I hold on to and often add to the beads and buttons and little doo-dads because they strike a chord in me. They are the toys of my adulthood. I know that for myself, when I stopped playing with toys of any sort, I started to stagnate and fester from within. Depression with the big, clinical “D” was the diagnosis. The view was pretty dim from the bottom of the crevasse I dug for myself when I tried to became a productive and mature member of 9to5 society. Crochet was the way out.

I started by refamiliarizing myself with the how of stitching and then stepped up to teaching myself filet crochet. Just made things to see if I could make them at first. I was never really aware what was happening, but I was having fun playing with crochet thread and kept going slowly but steadily and kind of crocheted myself a rope ladder out of that abyss. Sure medication helped, but they will always be external - elements being put into me to stabilize me and turn me into some semblance of a functional citizen. Crochet comes from me, is me. Let’s me know that I am alive and that I can touch the real world. I can make something funny, beautiful, silly, painful, meaningful, nonsensical. I can make a small noise in this world. A tiny dent in the fabric of reality. And that is a hell of a huge reason to love crochet.

So, I treat embellishments like my playthings - reasons to smile and be sarcastic and ... well… be me. Crochet was my first toy-for-life and it is the grandest embellishment I could ever hope to include into my life and work.

'Nuff Said, True Believer

Hook On!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2KCBWDAY3 - Organizing

Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches.

How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

The only positive thing I have ever heard consistently in past job performance reviews was “She’s organized”. I won’t go into the negatives from those reviews except to say that I AM what the Home Ec films warned you about in high school.

But it is mostly true. I love using spreadsheets to keep track of things, 3 ring binders to store hard copies of POs and important information like MSDS sheets and just generally like for things to have their own designated spot complete with carefully selected item-specific storage container. That is so much easier to do at work than at home. My need to compartmentalize my organization efforts suffers in the face of having to pay for the storage places and supplies out of my own pocket. So I close my eyes, grit my teeth and do my scraggly best.

The corner of my bedroom is my little way station for all things crafty not in current use. I have a little folding craft bag next to my chair in the living room where I do all my crochet work and other craftniverous type activities not requiring a flat work surface, but you are not getting a picture of that DMZ. Instead, let’s talk yarn.

I rarely use yarn. Does that mean I don’t have a stash? Heh heh, yeah, that’s funny. I decided a few months ago to collect all the stray skeins I bought for some project or another that I self-proposed but never actually realized and this is the result:

Great Leaning Tower of
Yarn and Yarn-like Fibers

Not too huge a stash but not so small as to fit in a single box. The boxes? Free... once we ate the bakery goods that came with them. Well, they are corralled, stacked and dust free. Doesn’t have to be pretty or high quality as long as the solution solves the major problem. Right? It's the story of my life, so it better be right.

I use thread for my work. Lots and lots of crochet thread. Mostly cotton but some nylon. I never know what to call the package type – ball, sleeve, skeinette? – but they tend to take up a lot of room. Especially since I found these cool, not too expensive clear acrylic boxes to store them in. I have to grease the sides to fit the new packages in these boxes (the outside dimensions are perfectly the right size for these things. Perfect. The outside. Soooo close.), but they fit great once I use up a couple dozen yards of the thread:

Upper Right Craft Corner

Contained, stackable, dust free, tangle free, cat-slobber free. All a gal can ask for in my apartment. Too bad I already outgrew the 25 I bought and need to place another order. That’s the reason for all the little scrunchy plastic bags. The very bags the boxes were shipped in – how’s that for ironic and miserly upcycling? Alas, time to start saving up the pennies that don’t already have Lincoln screaming from all the pinching that goes on around here.

The only real problemito with this system was that I need access to all of the threads when I’m making my appliqué pieces and vignettes. Often the detailing requires only small amounts of thread and I would have to be constantly interrupting my work flow to get up off my buttocks and grab a snippet of thread from the bedroom every time I need a new color. As cool as the boxes are, they are bulky and storing them handily in the living room would just add even more flotsam to the already copious jetsam and that all just makes me want to toss my frumpy apartment-frau /domestic non-goddess cookies at the sight. The solution:


Embroidery floss bobbins! Yay! So I keep this huge jailer's keyring with me at the work comfy-chair and only have to refill the bobbins periodically. I may have to hide the ring from zee kit-tees, but then again, what don't I have to hide from them. Besides, this system is actually working for me. Who knew?

Hook On!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2KCBWDAY2 - Learning

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

“Learned new skill. Gained new knowledge."

Well, last year on Knitting & Crochet Blog Week, I went on at great length about trying out broomstick crochet. Have the tools and the technology but I just didn’t get Steve Majors Austin out of the wreckage in time. [Character/actor mishmash - my bad. 3/31/11]

However, I did manage to take a stab at hairpin lace which I also mentioned last year,if only in passing. I wanted to play with the Berroco Boho Colors ribbon yarns I acquired in a protracted fit of “oooh that’s pretty” and hairpin seemed the way to go to preserve their lovely tapeyness.

So with loom, hook and ribbonated yarn in hand and an article in Interweave Crochet propped up against my tumbler of scotch uh, “diet soda”, I started hairpinning my little brains out.

The idea was to make longish panels in a combination of colors that I probably wouldn’t want to wear in public and assemble them into some sort of vaguely defined, poorly imagined and imminently ill-conceived tunic top that would allow me to bear the heat waves bouncing off my beauteousness while avoiding the violation of any uptight civil laws against rampant nekkidness. Trouble is, the pattern I was looking at for inspiration/instruction was for a fancy scarf with an intricate joining technique that resulted in lots of curves and open spaces and that kind of garment wasn’t gonna keep me of any episodes of COPS. But I’m a preternaturally clever thing (when not leaving my keys in the car door lock overnight) and between the article, the instructions on the back of the package the loom came in and some judicious web stalking I figured out how to make and join straight panels. Kind of.

Hmmm. Helpful.

Under my cat's watchful gaze and with the pins set arbitrarily at about 2.5” apart I went to town:

Loopy Goodness

I liked it but didn’t think that the loops would offer much coverage at these widths. So I moved the pins in to the approximately 1.5” marks and tried again:

Eh. O. K. I. Guess.

Not sooo bad. In fact, I rather like the tight packing of all the pretty colors. Besides, to complete what I see in my head with panels of this width will probably be much more tedious than necessary with the added bonus of requiring way more product than a sensible person would commit to a single project. Perfect. My kind of ordeal!

Being a curious but lazy monkey, I had no intention of undoing the larger strip and redoing it at my newly preferred setting. So I just ran keeper threads through each set of loops as recommended in one of my source materials (Good Lord, No. I don’t know which) and have the two strips in storage/limbo. But before relegating them to the land of blurry flying saucers and even blurrier yeti peepshows, I managed to catch a wild hair about trying to join the strips:

Comfy Chaos

Hmmm. The scarf in the magazine was made with a solid color ribbon yarn so the joins were less... dramatic. I have no idea if they are allowed to be as blatantly noticeable as mine or not, but I march to the beat of my own Tim-tom and like the zippy, vaguely Morse code/ bones on the fish skeleton look of this join. So why did I only join about a fourth of the two strips together?

I have no idea. I did this months ago now. I think I might remember something about wanting to have strips/panels in alternating ribbon color patterns because I didn’t have more than one ball of yarn in any one colorway. See, I knew full well that one ball of any yarn wasn’t enough to cover even my collar bones and since I was ordering more than one ball anyway I couldn’t resist buying different color patterns. Individual balls. On sale. Closeout sale. Discontinued in perpetuity sale.

So, I have the one purple based yarn you see in the photos and one beige based that I know doesn’t sound at all like something I’d like only it has this gorgeous coppery bronze segment in it that I can’t stop drooling over. Sigh. Two lonely little balls. (ooo, irony) That’s not getting me covered up in any kind of way. Maybe I’ll wait for a sale and get some of the solid colorways still available and just commit fully to a full on Frankenshirt.

Monkey likes to see progress when working on something or she’ll get frustrated then bored then distracted by something shiny and everything will get put into back burner storage hell. So, even though I liked learning/blindly struggling through how to do hairpin crochet, I’ll need to wait for the muse to strike me upside the head before I recall the project from perdition. Hey, speaking of Hades, summer is coming pretty soon. Maybe another heat wave will wake up that peaky muse.

Here's hoping that the ape-ling hasn't written the technique off as "figured out - don't need to proceed". Curious, lazy, clever and apparently crazy monkey signing off now.

Hook On!

Monday, March 28, 2011

2KCBWDAY1 - Blog Week

Time for the 2nd Annual
Knitting and Crochet Blog Week event.A great idea launched by Eskimimiknits last year. A week of knitters and knotters blogging about a different communal topic a day.

I love to talk, hate to come up with my own subjects and like feeling a part of the community, so I'm in for sure.

I participated last year too. Was a lot of fun. Search the tag knitcroblo2010 or follow this link to the first of my humble offerings for the 1st Annual ...

Wow. Upon review, I was quite a bit peppier last year at this time. Oh well. The posts won't be as long or photo heavy this year, but they'll still probably bedazzle and amaze the casual reader with their meandering gabbiness.

So, to Day One

Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns.

Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

Can do.

I spent some time this past year doing a little R&D for a very good customer and a potential new project. The D has stalled out a bit, but the R has forever left it’s mark on me. I have had my hands in the bubbling cauldron of fiber-greater-than-1 mm-in-diameter and I am hooked … so to speak. (Ow and Yikes on that one)

These two lovely little numbers live with me now:

Twinkle Soft Chunky
super bulky, pure virgin wool yarn


Plymouth Yarn Confusion
bulky, synthetic mix
Pink and black

Both from WEBS. Soooo convenient and awesome.

Now considering the earthy tone on tone colors my client prefers, I have no idea why I even suggested these particular color options - except maybe that I find them oddly hypnotic for some reason. I’m not usually that into purple but I do love jewel-tones and the color royal blue so the shiny purpleness of the wool found me especially vulnerable to its seductive dance of undulating wavelength of light. The synthetic mix, well I love controlled chaos. “Come to me, my jumbled amalgam of texture and color.”

The wool:

I’ve never crocheted with wool before, or any animal sourced fiber for that matter. Although I deeply dislike the idea of annoying baby animals to get yarn (a separate thought for another time), my wool-less past has less to do with ethical deliberation than with a simple, circumstantially and personality driven issue - I’m broke and cheap to boot. Truly, a deadly combination that has me tractor beamed blindly through the friendly neighborhood crafti-plex and directly into the 99¢ bin of acrylic wonder. But we were working on a vision here, so I held my cheapskate breath and clicked “order now”.

Oooo. This stuff is soft and pretty and just shiny enough without going Vegas and nostalgically like those fuzzy hair ribbons of my Neolithic youth and… and… Freakin’ Huge! What am I supposed to do with this? Besides the obsessive fondling it, I mean. Chain? Huge honking chain? Maybe keep it smooth and purty? Maybe something exotic? Something Zen-adjacent? Smooth flowing yin to rough and tumble yang. Which brings me to -

The synthetic:

Looks so great in the photo. A little more black and pink than the photo may lead one to believe but all in all lovely chaotic fuzziness. Hmm. Actually, it is pretty great in person except for the one tiny detail that I always seem to forget – “bulky” can also mean very thin with butt-loads of texture.

Confusion Strands

Once again, my first thought is chain. But with what hook? One of my steels? Maybe. Lots and lots of drapey little chains sounds like the start of a good fiber neckpiece. Like dreadlocks for the throat and shoulder area. Might lose a lot of the gorgeous texture details in little knotty chains though. How about that big plastic S hook I picked up for another way-way-way-in-the-future project? Oh wait, I detest big open gaping flaccid crochet stitches. How about with multiple strands?

Confusion Chain

Hmmmmmmm. Me like. Still need to play with the logistics. Well, “need” to be read “want very, very, very much”. The disparate textures and harmonized colors go so well together...

Chunky Confusion

... yet I am stuck. I don’t have a lot of fiber neck-piece experience which is pretty obvious from the "uhhh, me wrap big soft around fuzzy wuzzy" styling genius depicted in that picture. I do like fuzzy chaos as an aesthetic, I just don’t know how to think that way and my two beautiful new friends languish in oblivion for my shortcoming.

Individually they are wonderful yarns, but together… oh, so much greater than the sum of the parts. I am inherently drawn to the beauty of duality. So much so that I often collect synergistic elements without any thought of their application. Case in point, while gathering the photos for this post, I stumbled across an even more glorious combination of colors for this duo. Something more in keeping with my obsession with the color blue:

Sapphire Twinkle Chunky

Purple/yellow Plymouth Confusion

I would love to get my hands on these two yarns, but I simply can not justify the expense without a clear idea of my plans. I can only allow myself to collect the photos for now.

Sigh. Flat broke fiber enthusiasm really blows. Oh well. I can still drool over the photos and dream of the possibilities anyway… besides, I do still have the lovely purple and pink/black versions with which to play. Now if I can just learn how to think…

Hook On

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Remember me?

This is the cat from the Nat'l Crochet Month post - sans pins. She is also both felid companion and caudate counterpart to my avatar alias Cecinatrix.

the minion and me

I've been trying to decide what to name her. Not that it matters. You know. Cat. Not into the whole "beck and call" thing.

So anyway. I thought riffing off Cecinatrix would be appropriate:





No, not quite ...

Trouble is that I love words but am a tad on the... uh... "quirky" side by nature and often use my beloved woids completely inappropriately. Sometimes for the pun, but most often because "that's what I thought it was". Cecinatrix on the other hand is a phonetic choice.

Here's where I'm so clever I even startle and amaze myself. Take my proper nickname Ceci and add on a dominatrix and we get Cecinatrix. This name was made up on the fly as a joke at the end of an email to a friend that appreciated a good S&M pun. (Do not ask). It was pretty deeply fused with my psyche when it came time to choose a nom-de-internet. So ... ta-da. Uhm, yeah.

See, logically (ooo, cleverness that leads me directly astray) it should be Cecitrix where "Ceci" replaces the "domina". But that isn't what drifted down upon me from the ether. It was years before I realized that the "na" was completely unnecessary, merely a vestigial echo resulting from poor pun construction and editing. But as embarrassed as I am at my grammatical incontinence, I find that I do prefer the "na" version. Cecitrix is too much "brightly colored sugar clumps as kid's breakfast cereal" if you know what I mean, silly Rabbit. Besides, life is a constant quest to be unique and special if only in a socially acceptable and subdued manner.

...and the cat?

Yeah yeah yeah. I'm getting there. So, indeed, what about the cat:





or, simply the properly semantically conjugated


I hate thinking too much. Too late for gut instinct. I've pontificated this to death. Or am about to....

Kittynatrix matches. Kittytrix is cute.
Kitty=Cat. Rabbit=Trix.

Kittynatrix. Kittytrix. Kittynatrix. Kittytrix. Kittynatrix.

Ow. My head.


Kittytrix it is.

Gotta go before I start thinking again.

Hook On!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

National Crochet Month 2011

Posting stuff doesn't seem very important in light of the horrors the Earth has wroth unto Japan, New Zealand, Australia... the list has grown too long. It just seems callous to continue on with the frivolities of life, but that is what existence demands. So, holding the lost and suffering in my thoughts, the plight of the those left behind in my heart and hopes and prayers for all in my soul I'll continue on with my days, presenting my impractical work and its silly joy in tribute to the fragility of life and its tenacious persistence into the future.

So to that end, I return to being me:

Cecinatrix-Cat makes her debut

In the blocking phase, but the best picture I could take.


Is that disbelief I hear?

Proof of Photo Ability Suckage

"Well, what about using your beloved Photoshop?" You may ask.

Version 1

Version 2

Take your pick. Each is the product of separate but equally prolonged sessions of selecting/deleting, erasing and just general fiddling around.

Well, it wouldn't be from me if it didn't:

1) take a ridiculous amount of time to complete

2) require a lot of tearing out and starting over

3) photographed terribly

and, lastly (yay!)

4) be something I can brag and whine about in the same breath

Eh. C'est yo.

Happy National Crochet Month 2011, ya'll

Hook On

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Sometimes, late at night, I like to think that my cats are worth spoiling a little. Delusional, I know. But it happens. It was Christmas and I got it into my head that nice new kitty dishes would fit the spoiling-their-fuzzy-orange-asses bill quite nicely. Something sturdy to counteract their... catness yet something funny and/or cute enough to keep me from hurling it at them in a fit of ire. While doing research online (ie goofing around on Google Images), I stumbled across this image from Cafe Press:

and nearly shorted out my computer with the fully carbonated soda that blew out my nose and all over my keyboard. Nasal spit-take aside, I couldn't stop laughing ... until I saw this:

and fell in love! Now, unfortunately for these vendors but fortunately for my meager and thread bare coin purse, the wild-hair impulse to pamper my kitties is often a ROM event that does not extend much beyond collecting downloaded photos in my "impossibly cute file". So the moment did pass.

But the image kept popping into my head and making me smile. A bit more research at Cafe Press and I found more from the same designer - Evil Genius Tees - including:

Oh, Come On! How is this NOT cute!?

Okay. So I have no spawn of my own or any nearby and I'm still BBCB (broke beyond credible belief) but this is just too good to leave alone.

...and you know what, I make cat-pliques for grandiose fun and minuscule to nonexistent profit so why don't I just take a stab at the Cthulhu as cat in my own style:


Me am so happy.

Tee hee.

Although I used "kittyth" instead of "cath" or "cth" apologies are still owing. Sincerest apologies for "taking inspiration" without permission and deepest thanks to Evil Genius Tees for the cat and Lovecraft for the Cthulhu.

Hook On!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dr. Seuss 2011 and Friend

I can soooo do better than that.

1st - Learn to Spell

"I do not spell, either."


2nd - Pay the man a proper tribute.

Cat making broad to cat creating god:

Cake anyone?

Double check.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss and your Cat in the Hat.

Hook On!

Dr. Seuss 2011

It's the birthday of the one and only Dr. Seuss!

Caught unawares - a natural state for me - I offer this powerpointed message in celebration:

"I do not draw, Sam I am."

Hmm. But maybe I can do better...