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Everywhere, No where
I started the CLF as a joke on Ravelry, back in July of 2007. The joke was on me, we're a real group, that seeks to liberate ourselves from stereo types about our craft and ourselves. Other than being called "Fearless Leader", I'm a designer, mother, editor, wife, hand spinner, yarn addict, incessant reader, and over all geek in the coolest of geeky ways.

Beware Defamers of the Hook!

Beware Defamers of the Hook!
Like Joan of Arc, and the Scarlet Pimpernel we are here to seek Justice!

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Official Blog of the Crochet Liberation Front

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blog Feed Etc...

Ok, because I am still wrangling with the blog ring, and because I know many of you are on blogger, for your convienience I've put a feed from the wordpress blog onto this blog, so that you can keep tabs easier ;)

Yes, it's redundant. But, it's how I can manage things with the limited time I have at the moment. Life's a little bit crochet crazy :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

CLF Blog moving...

So, I've crocheted some moving boxes, packed up the posts, and am working on making sure all the links are set (you know how much I hate them), so that the Official Liberation Front Blog will have a nice new home.

Yup...moving to wordpress. Why?

Cause I have other blogs over there, and I prefer wordpress from a technical standpoint.

I will leave this baby up but as of tonight this is the last NEW post here...

The new blog? http://www.crochetliberationfront.wordpress.com

Yup...Now to get all the feeds and linkages finished.

Sorry to be a bother and all, but really, it's just that much easier to do it all over there, besides the webcrawlers like wordpress better, including Googles!. Isn't that Ironic?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Call To Arms

As you know we in the CLF are tired of being downtrodden and mistreated. A good example of this was the latest crochet challenge thrown down out of Interweave's PieceWork magazine.

According to the author (not a crochet expert by any means btw) this vintage pattern was not worth her time to finish, or she couldn't understand it, what ever, it was flippant, rude, and why they had her do the article, instead of an expert crocheter is beyond me. And frankly, it's lace, it's not even necessary for an "expert" to do, just someone who does thread work, or has done thread work, or has crocheted more than 20 projects.

One of our CLF members Yarntricia, has suggested that we the CLF (and mad crocheters!) that we flood Piecework in a show of defiance.

Are you game? Check out their website, get the magazine or find a copy and get the challenge information including the pattern. It's a 19th century pattern. But it seems the author was confused by this: "to join in a circle"...um...in crochet we join things to make circles all the time. That's kina basic.

So if you are up for the challenge go for it. Yeah, it's thread, yeah it's tiny hooks, but hey get a good light and a magnifying glass. I'll be off searching for a copy of said magazine. Because as you know finding any fiber arts mags in these parts (other than quilting, and I refuse to get into a back ally fight with a quilter because they have ever SHARPER pointer things), so I'll be wandering and looking for the crochet challenge.

It isn't that I don't have other things to do,because yes, yes I do, but come on...it's lace. Lace is JUST COUNTING...really that's all it is. The most basic stitches are what you use to make the most delicate lace, really, truly and honesty.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Website update, video tutorials, and other stuff

Well, I updated the CLF website. The front page is changed, I added a page of video tutorials that will be added to from time to time. The offerings on the page are diverse from folks within and without the industry! Rock on folks! We are the hooksters (you know like hipsters) and crochet is very cool...as is evidenced in the videos.

I get really frustrated working on the website, mostly because of stupid broken links, everything else is easy. I can do the buttons and scrolling dancing monkies (if I wanted to, but they won't load on my computer at home on dial up!), but broken links, they are my bane. So, when I whine about building the site, just know it's the dang typos that are killing me ;) LOL...I just don't have all the hours in every day to do all that needs doing ;) No rest for this wicked wicked woman.

Speaking of no rest for the wicked, I am working away on the adult book. I extended the deadline on the third book, folks will know if they got in by the 12th of June. I'm taking my time with these things.

Remember, though I have "help", I am doing the book production as me/myself/ and I. I can have folks look over and do some editing. But, ultimately I take on the whole enchelada :) WHOO HOO! Instead of giving myself and ulcer, like I did last year, I am taking it easy.

So while you wait for the second and third books, why not get the first book! You can get it from our website http://www.crochetliberationfront.com/clfbookhome.html if you are outside of the states order your book from http://www.gailsyarns.com/ and if you just want the .pdf download get it from http://www.lulu.com/camanomade it's only $9.99 there ;)

So, folks we're plugging away working, juggling, running, and hooking...Thanks for the thoughts and offers of assistance. It's all appreciated. Oh and I will leave you with this:

We're planning the CLF retreat for October 2010. Yes, that is right!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Set My Picot Free Award Winner!

So, I was doing a search for belly dancing costumes...and what do I find?
http://www.crochetkitten.com/ she has tons of patterns she's made, and they are so totally awesome.
I contacted her on Ravelry.com and asked if I could use her images here because they are just too nifty. She wasn't a CLF member at the time, though she might be now, and I'm not gonna check because well..it just doesn't matter...I'm awarding her the Set My Picot Free for some awesome crochet representin'!

Josephine Scarf Front
Originally uploaded by Selena K

Saturday, June 6, 2009

OMG I finally got it! Crochet Today Article!

WOW! Ok, I owe Tina Barseghian a HUGE thank you for taking the incoherent ramblings of a mad woman and writing a very very smooth article!

Yes, today I managed to track down TWO copies of the magazine at a Barnes and Noble and hour south of me (it's the closest one to me), and I have another two ordered. Yeah, I'm a nerd, I get excited to see my picture in a magazine. Yup, I do.

Yes, I have forced people to read the article in front of me, while I stand their grinning like the proverbial cat with feathers AND cream dribbling out of my mouth. Yes, I looked at my husband and said, "Not bad for a joke!"

And yes, I did giggle for almost half an hour after reading it.

Who knew a joke could be this funny for so long!

Our beloved Dora Ohrenstein of Crochet Insider fame is quoted, as is Jennifer Reeve of www.craftkitten.com, thank you guys!

In honor of this moment, I have made a new reference page on our website: Video Links.


They aren't all how tos, some are just cool crochet. Though I think my favorite how to is the How to crochet a hackey sack, the young man doing the video is so cute (though he's of an age where that would cause eye rolling.)

There will be more on the list, but so much crochet goodness out there, just need to get it in one spot!

Happy Hooking to all!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Musing and Wondering...

It is no secret that I am a feminist, or as I like to call myself a Neo-Feminist. Why the "neo"?
Because, I think the original movement was important, but instead of creating a real equality where women were viewed as valuable members of society equal due to the fact of their humanity, the matra became that we could be "like" men. That attitude just doesn't turn me on.

I was a 1980's teenager, so not only did I get the indoctrination that unless you wore a power suit with power heels you were a nobody, I also got told I could be "super-mom", "have it all", and that if I took on the masculine power system I would be the "perfect" woman. I tried it on, went to college, did a bit of ball busting, became an executive, got married, had kids, worked 16 hr days, had a nanny, was one of the pretty people, Prada Hallowed Be Thy Name, had a pretty pretty husband, ball busted some more, proved I could run departments, and divisions, bring home plenty of bacon, kept my crocheting and embroidery a secret, and found myself mentally and spiritually exhausted.

By the time I was 25, I knew that something had to give, and if I didn't figure it out what was going to give was me.

What does this have to do with crochet? What does this have to do with feminism? Lots.

Traditional Feminine handcrafts, or "gentle pursuits" if you want to put into 19th century terms,
were thrown to the way side, seen as non-important and symbols of repression. So that our old stand by magazines that used to have lovely tips and hints for women on all kinds of subjects (such as Good Housekeeping, Women's Day, Family Circle...etc) now just run articles on how to work 12 hrs and still have good sex. They also promote the tired stereotypes of women who look good all the time, because God-Forbid we age at all, because our attractiveness is above all our greatest asset! Hold on a minute? What happened to feminism?

So, I have to be tough as nails, exhausted, a sexual siren, own false tits, have zero stretch marks, bust balls, can't create pretty things with my own two hands, have perfect kids with perfect teeth, and have no crows feet? In the words of Fee from the book "Blessed are the Cheese Makers", Feck that.

We, my friends, have been sold a bill of goods, and we have bought it. With cold hard visa cards.

Guess what? We all get old, natural tits and asses do sag, and it is the most human thing in the world to create. Create with our hands, create with our bodies, that is what women (and men) do. Period, we create, and that should be something in which we revel, and it should be lauded from the roof tops.

As women in traditional roles we do have power, a different kind of power, not saying that them were the good old days, cause they weren't. But we didn't need to throw the female baby out with the bath water.

Crochet and all other hand crafts have taken a hit because they were associated with being a feminine pursuit, an entire generation chose not to do handwork because it was seen as a symbol or our repression. Just like cooking went the way of the dodo...Come on, cooking is NOT hard people. Cooking over a wood stove is a challenge, and um last I checked most of us don't have wood stoves any more, and most of us do have washing machines (which make life considerably easier than a wash tub, I know I've used one) but all of the fabulous things that make life on a daily basis happen fall into that very self same category of: Women's Work.

Say it: Women's Work.

I bet you say it some how without pride, and with some kind of negative tone.

Now say it happy: Women's Work.

Say it louder...WOMEN'S WORK!

The mega corps and investment companies are benefitting from our "modern" woman status, they have us convinced that to make things for ourselves is both old fashioned, and arduous. Wanna know why? Cause that way they don't make a dime from their factories in third world countries exploiting our brothers and sisters who are doing "women's work" for a dime a day (oooh maybe a whole dollar), so we can pay for shoddily made clothes in inferior fabrics, cheaply.

I know I may not win the battle or even the war on this one, but people, be proud of your creative abilities, be proud of being moms, grandmoms, executives, SAHMs, Working out of the House Moms, what ever you are, not moms, single, married, or other, same sex, different sex, omni sexual...and men too, be proud you craft with your hands. But for some reason when men do it it's either cute, cuddly, or sexy...Frankly, my husband finds it really sexy when I crochet, which is good, cause I do it all the time. (Oh and he likes my sagging tits and ass too, but maybe he's just perverse.)

The key is, as long as we buy the bullshit, they sell it. All it costs? Our collective human souls.

/end rant

Hunt for Crochet Today...

Ok, the world conspires against me.

It appears the distributor of many magazines in this region (NW Washington) has gone under. Magazine racks in three counties are bare, of much except muscle building magazines. (ew?)

So, I'm heading down to Lynwood and the Alderwood Mall B&N to see if I can find the damn magazine. If I can't get it there, I will drive to Belleview and the Crossroads Mall. I want you people to understand I will have driven an accumulated 120 miles to find the damn magazine.

You know what, It's time to just subscribe to them all. Cause I'm sick of this.


I have hope though, I can't wait to read the article. I've been teased and I want my satisfaction.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fearless Leader in Crochet Today!

Ok, I've said it was coming, I really did, but I didn't realize the July/August Issue of Crochet Today was out in June! Egads!

There is an article about yours truly, and the Crochet Liberation Front and I hear it's pretty good ;) It was a fun interview (which of course happened months ago), and now I need to hunt down me a copy! It's like trying to catch a rabbit in a brier patch in these parts, I may have to take a 40 minute drive to my nearest Fred Meyer's (store) to see if they have a copy.

It's always kinda funny when these articles happen, I know it's gonna happen, I did the dang interview over the phone, but until you see it in print, it's not really real. It feels weird when you see yourself or read your quotes, and you think, "Did I really say that?" sometimes I think I sound silly, and other times I wonder at how those words came from me!

It's kinda fun to see all of this happen, especially since it started out as a joke. We're obviously not a joke any more, but I like to pretend we are, because then I don't get all nervous like...cause really folks, I'm kinda shy ;)

Oh, and look at the bottom of the page. I put up our store on Zazzle.com, we have all kinds of CLF goodness. I'm working on coming up with more bumper sticker ideas. I kinda like the "Stash" one, it made me chuckle, and would work for those who enjoy crafting in general :) LOL

Remember every little bit adds up and helps this Fearless Leader keep working on CLF stuff!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Crochet Uncut E-Zine: Summer Issue & other stuff

Hey CLFers!

Our friend's over at Crochet Uncut (The Official Unofficial Magazine of the CLF) have the Summer Issue up and running! Fabulous issue! Check it out! It's free to join, but if you could donate a little something, something or if you have a small crochet/yarn related business and want to sponsor their efforts, I'm sure Darlisa would not take offense to having some $$ come her way! She does this as a labor of love folks, and I think she does a fabulous job!

Speaking of labor's of love, I'm working on the CLF second book: Crochet In Chains (The CLF All Growed UP)... It's coming along even though I've had to fight with Titan on some software miscommunications...stupid software! It's fixed and I'm on a roll...

The deadline for the third book has been extended until the end of next week...so if you want to send in patterns for the 400 yds or less book, please feel free to do so...You guys are all so damn hard on yourself! Stop beating yourselves up for having lives and priorites that supercede the CLF books...DUH...it's not the end of the world.

Speaking of books! If you haven't bought the CLF First Ever Book...it's still available on the Official CLF Website for only $24.50 (includes shipping), or from Amazon.com click the ad for it here :) or as a PDF Download from Lulu.com for only $9.99 now that's one hell of a deal!

All proceeds help the CLF (and it's fearless leader) function in the world, and will help get more books out into the universe! So help a sister out :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cry Free Form!

Free form crochet is becoming more and more popular, as people begin to experiment with yarns and hooks, it’s another exciting time to be a crocheter. However, there is one thing about free forming I want to make absolutely clear: Scrumbling is not the only thing that constitutes free form.
Scrumbling, or crochet doodling, is what is most commonly seen as free form. Don’t get me wrong, scrumbling is fun, and can be a gorgeous and fun way to create in crochet. But it’s not the only way to free form, it is a way of freeforming.
I don’t scrumble often, mostly because I’ll loose all the darn pieces before I ever get them sewn together. I most often free form using lace, I’ll free form sleeves, or borders to sweaters, occaisionally I’ll free form hats and scarves.
No, I don’t mean just going patternless, that’s commando crocheting ! You can free form with squares, motifs, plain crochet. It takes a couple different kinds of yarns, a few different hook sizes, switching up stitches, or yarns. I’ve done a free form piece only using HDC, but changing my yarns throughout allowing the yarn to do the work for me. I’ve used the same yarn, and changed hooks and stitches and let them do the work.
I’ve done a straight sweater and free formed the sleeves. It all depends…
Oh, and I love bullions they are fun to make, but you can free form without using those too! I know, I know blasphemer that I am! Personally I love surface crocheting, and structural crochet for free forming!
In Portland, I took Myra Wood’s Advanced Free Form class and it was absolutely lovely. I got tons of new ideas. Yes, I knew many of the techniques, but what I got out of the class was a new way to look at putting it all together! That was so much fun!
So, if you are lured into free form but don’t want to work with itty bitty pieces, don’t worry about it! You don’t have to…and there are some scramblers who will tell you that scrumbles don’t have to be little either!
Remember, there are very few rules to free form: It’s freely forming something…It’s very liberating!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Bestest Crochet Friend...Stitch Dictionaries

I crocheted for over 25 years before I could really read a crochet pattern. Before that time, I copied my grandmother’s handwork (and other family members old doilies, table runners, and garments), and if there was a really good picture I could copy the stitch patterns. Granted, until about 15 years ago I wasn’t a “serious” crocheter, I dabbled here and there with the hook, always having it in my craft things, making “doodads” mostly, and of course copious amounts of edging for pillowcases, and hankies. I used to make those things for friends as we started out in life.
Before I was a “serious” crocheter, I was an embroiderer. Embroidery was my very first fiber love, I learned to hold needle and thread when I was very young, maybe four or five, and had French Knots mastered by seven or eight years old. I had little iron on patterns, though I never was much good at following inside the lines, I always preferred “eyeballing” my designs, as they turned out better. What can I say, I can’t and don’t want to color inside the lines either.
One of my first crafty related gifts, besides the kiddy craft kits, was a “stitch dictionary.” My great-grandmother presented me with one when I was about 10 years old. In this little tome of embroidery related goodness, I found all the inspiration a needler could want.
So, it was only logical as my craft life evolved and continued, that I sought out such things when I got more serious about crochet. Whereas, written patterns mystified me, stitch dictionaries for crochet gave me boundless inspiration.
I didn’t think of myself as an expert anything, for many years into my crafting life. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because it was just something I did, without too much thinking about it, I just made things. Sometimes they turned out, and sometimes, well…we’ve all had those projects now haven’t we? One of the reasons I didn’t feel expert was my inability to read patterns. I had never thought that I was doing the design work as I made up hats, scarves and little sweaters, dolls, purses and ornaments. I even made up my doilies straight from my own devious mind. Funny how you never take yourself seriously. I can tell you when I finally did think of myself as an expert crocheter, it was 2005 (not long ago eh?) when I was in a local craft store. Someone had a crochet question, and the owner called to me from across her store, “Laurie can you fix this?” she hollered, and then said audibly to the other person, “Laurie is our town’s crochet expert!”
As I whipped my crochet hook out of my bun (yes, I used to secure my then very long hair with a hook) and went to see how I could fix whatever hooking problem was out there to fix, I nearly stopped in my tracks…Expert? Me? Really? But, I wasn’t half as good as my late grandmother! If I can fudge weaving in ends, I do. I hide my mistakes, she didn’t make them. I mean, really … internal chuckle, expert! Hah! Sure.
I walked away that day thinking about what the lady said, and I asked a crafting buddy what she thought, and of course she told me that “Duh, of course you are.” When I protested she eye balled me, with a very loving but steely eye and said, “How can anyone do something for as long as you have and NOT be an expert?”
Well, heck and darn I hadn’t thought of it that way… Then I found the CGOA, and when I said I didn’t use patterns (and said it apologetically) I was admonished by some lovely people who said, “Oh, you’re a designer then!” (Truthfully I thought they were nuts at the time…but I knew they were well meaning nuts).
Now, do I say I’m an expert? Well, not much, but I know I am. I don’t really need to say it to know it’s true. I’m confident in my skills and my limitations. What can I say…but let me tell you, beyond the hours of creating lace as a young person, my stitch dictionaries have been my bestest crochet buddies. They are what are most responsible for my crochet expertise. (Well, that and hand spinning, because knowing your fibers is very important, but that’s another post).
To be honest, I’m still not much of a pattern user, at least not a pattern user in the keeping it inside the lines kind of way. I use patterns for ideas for shapes, and dimensions, flow and drape, I think I’ve managed to follow one to the letter, I can’t help it, I just can’t color inside the lines. When I write patterns, I secretly hope people tweak them to their own satisfaction. I like to give good construction and dimension information in the patterns, hoping to inspire someone to make the pattern their own! But hey, that’s just me.
For those of you who are beginning your crochet journey I highly suggest finding yourself a stitch dictionary. They are hardly ever entitled “Stitch Dictionary”, they are entitled things like “Bertha’s guide to 500 crochet stitches” (joke title), one of my personal favorites is the original James Walters & Sylvia Cosh, Harmony Guide to Crochet Vol. 1. I own many many stitch dictionaries, some of them small leaflets, and others large tomes of hooky goodness. They are my base line, there are the books I have closest to hand in my craft room.
Just as I can’t stand to follow patterns or color inside the lines, I don’t think I’ve made too many projects (other than those for which I write patterns) with only one or two stitches. When I make things for personal use, or gifts, I use at least four or five stitches per project! I love to mix colors and textures, as well as raised and relief stitches.
Oh and while you’re at picking up stitch dictionaries, get some books with great motifs in them! (Some people call them granny squares, but we have so much more than that available to us!)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Crochet Magazines: A crictical eye...

We have a lot of discussions about crochet magazines in our on-line communties, and I thought to myself why not take a gander at the three that CLF members often choose to read. These three are in alphabetical order (not preference).

Crochet Today!
Interweave Crochet

Taking all three and really looking through them with an eye to the following I created this special Fearless Leader Report.

Art Direction (This is how pretty the pictures are, the color theory involved in the side bars etc)
Layout/Readbility (This is how the text is presented, how the photos line up, use of white space etc)
Use of charts/diagrams and how they fit into the layout scheme
Quality of patterns (are they cute/fashionable/usable/well written/easy to understeand).

Now I get nothing out of this, and I'm not going to slam anyone, I just want to make a few observations. Let's keep this possitive.

Let's work out of order on my list here for a second. Pattern Quality.

To be honest, all three of these magazines have good patterns. All of them share designers. I think what is the difference in presentation of the finished articles in the photos has a lot more to do with the yarn companies that commission designers than the designs themselves. Yarn companies (Especially Coats and Lion Brand) STOP giving away your UGLIEST dye lots to the designers for their crochet patterns. Color and fashion are matters of personal taste, but if I was someone who did not know how to substitute in a pattern, I'd almost never make anything out of these two companies yarns. They have LOTS of fab colorways, time to use them.

So, all three magazines have good patterns, so why do people say Interweave is better most often? (At least CLF members). I would say it's about the fashion items. I think IC has more fashionable wearables, in better color ranges making them visually appealing. I do not think the patterns are better written than in the other three magazines, I think they are all on par.

Art Direction:

To be honest I think Crochet Today! Probably has the best art direction and layout. I find it a very easy to read, well planned magazine. It's proprietory though, owned by Coats and Clark, and so it will always be limited to those yarns. Not that I think Coats has bad yarn, I buy my fair share, but it shall always be limited to that.

Interweave Crochet is next on my list for Art Direction, I think they have some of the very best photography though, and the magazine is always visually appealing. I think there could be more done with the white space, but in general I think IC is a beautiful magazine which aids it's popularity.

Crochet! Ok, this is where things need to change up. The patterns in this magazine are every bit as good as what you find in the two above. And I love how they often include quick and easy projects along with fashion items. BUT and a big but, they really need to work on their art direction. The color schemes often do not work with the photographs, and it is some of the worst photography I've seen. You do not use the same color background as a garment in this kind of work...and it happens over and over and over. The worst offense yet was a really cute sweater with ruffles, but the photo showed NONE of the ruffles. This is a big n0-no. Crochet! Needs to understand that MOST crocheters are very visual and rely as much on the photos as they do the written words.

Crochet! Also needs a cleaner layout, and better color useage in sidebars etc. Again the QUALITY of what is in the magazine is great, if you get past the art mistdirection. And you know most people don't have time to sit pouring over a magazine to see what I was looking for.

I think Crochet! has had some great articles on construction and crocheters, and Interweave does as well. I have a harder time finder Crochet Today! in my area, but when I do find it I enjoy reading it.

This is just my opinion, and we know that opinions are like noses, we all got 'em and they all smell :) But, frankly, I do buy all three magazines when I can find them, I think all three of them offer enough different to warrant their purchases. But with a little more detail Crochet! could vastly improve it's market share, and it's following.

See it wasn't too painful, and next time you get your Crochet! magazine take a closer look, because I think the patterns are lovely. (I just use other colors most of the time, especially for blankies!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Creating opportunity...

I am so sick and tired of hearing about the bad economy. Wanna know why? Here's a list:

1) For many people it's sucked for a long time. (Ask the folks who lost their jobs to the outsourcing trend that started almost 20 years ago)

2) The only reason it's getting tons of air time now is because rich people and the upper middle class are finally be effected. As a former social worker I can tell you I was dealing with the fall out of the "balloon" economy ten years ago. It's no surprise to me.

3) It's giving corporations the excuse to lay off more workers (which is a dumb move because it diminishes the amount of revenue circulating in the domestic/international market).

4) It's also become the most common thing you hear people repeat in conversations. OH GIVE ME A BREAK. Didn't anyone learn about gravity (in regards to the stock market) what goes up must come down (at some point)...COME ON!

So, let's get this out of the way: How can Crocheters help the economy and make the world a better place.

1) Buy from local businesses as much as possible, for hooks, yarns etc. If you can't find them in person, look on line. You money gets five times the mileage when you spend it locally than when you spend it out of the local economy!

2) Offer to teach classes to folks on how to make their own cool crochet gifts and fashions. When pennies are tight handwork always goes up in favor. Kids love making phone covers, and game system cozies, they can make hair scrunches and book marks for friends! Young mother's love to learn to make for baby..etc etc etc...

3) Find local designers and buy their patterns. Especially the indie designers. That gives the little guy more cash.

There is no such thing as too big to fail. Having all the money in the big boys hands is a dangerous economic prospect. In fact it has very much led to economic feudalism. No one is too big to fail, everyone is expendable, anyone telling you different is trying to sell you something.

I firmly believe the more we can support the medium to micro businesses the more we shall empower and enable sustainable communities....and CROCHET can play a huge part in that! How?

The microcosm always influences the macrocosm. Ask any scientist.

Join me, let's save the world today with crochet...Raise your hooks!

Friday, May 22, 2009

A rare but warranted Review.

I rarely review books on this blog, but I bought one today and it deserves attention and notice!

Hooked for Life Adventures of a Crochet Zealot by Mary Beth Temple is a fabulous, heart warming, and funny read. Yes, you know I adore Mary Beth Temple, and yes originally that's why I bought it.

I purchased the book at my local bookstore (excited to see it on the shelf), because I try to buy crochet books there as much as possible, AND because I really adore Mary Beth Temple and want to see her do well (and hell she bought my book, too!).

I had to take my son to Tae Kwon Do this afternoon, and so instead of shopping or puttering around town, or even crocheting in the mini-van, I picked up my new book and started to read.

From the moment I cracked open the page, all I kept saying was, "Right on!" and "That's why you are in the CLF!" and "Hook ON! My friend!" I chuckled, I nodded, and I misted up a few times. It was a very "Jerry McGuire moment" she had me at hello.
Temple takes a positive approach to crochet, it's history, how we've viewed by others, how we view ourselves, and on every page makes a beautiful case for the value of that which we who wield the hook LOVE!

It's a jaunty ramble of her journey, with which many crocheters can identify readily! From the humorous methods of dealing with gauge issues, to dealing with mixing beverages and yarn, to exploding stashes, and magic balls, to wondering just how that scarf got that big, to the lack of details of just how did that Beer Can hat craze get started and WHY on earth did it catch on in the first place? To the love we who crochet spread in our works of charity, gifts for family, and afghans, yes, in our love of afghans. In fact, I who am often prejudicial against afghans (cause I'm not into making them) changed my mind about them after reading her passage about them. In fact I'm half tempted to start making one right now! (And I misted up!)

It is NOT an in defense of crochet book, it is not apologetic, it is bare bones, this is what we do, here's some history, here's why I love it (and why ME love it too), and here's what it means to many people across the world. It's witty, erudite, and light.

It is the PERFECT gift for your friends who crochet, it is the perfect treat for yourself, put it on your list of MUST READS!

It does not attempt to convert anyone to anything, it just IS about crochet. It earns an award from me...

Mary Beth Temple I award your fabulous hooky tome the SET MY PICOT FREE AWARD!

As soon as I get to a high speed connection I'm put this on the carosel!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Confidence & Crafting...

Now that I've been home a few days, I've had a chance to get resettled, catch up on some home and business "things" and also reflect back on the weekend that was to be forever known as "The Portland Experience."

I took my second and third crochet classes ever in Portland. I've never been one of taking classes, having figured out most of what I do through a) trial and error (mostly error), and b) copious volumes of magazines and books. I have to say, I like taking classes, if I had just done that to start with (had I known they existed!) I would have saved myself a great amount of time, frustration and yarn!

I witnessed something rather sad in one of my classes, and I find it so because I've felt like the poor person I observed. In fact, I used to feel like she felt an awful lot once upon a life time ago.

There were two of us in the class who crochet for a living, or have crocheted for a living, or at the very least use a hook EVERY SINGLE DAY of the year. This poor person was having a hard time with figuring out how to do the lace, and was feeling slow, behind, and not "as good" as the others in the class.

The truth of the matter, was that I had made just as many mistakes on my learning piece as she had. Her real problem was, a) the yarn she used was rather unforgiving and b) her self confidence.

I can't count the times, I see messages on Ravelry.com or meet handworkers of all stripes (but ESPECIALLY crocheters) who knock themselves and their skills. "Am I doing it right?" "I wish I was as good as you!" "I'll never be able to do THAT!" It makes me really, really sad to see this. We have so over achieved, and have stupid perfection expectations that we become discouraged when we make errors when we are LEARNING something new!

I made tons of mistakes in my first Broomstick Lace project. I missed a few stitches, had a few less loops in places, it's not quite the "hour glass" shape described in the pattern, but hell and darn it holds together, and since I'm not entering it into a competition and it's a learning piece, I don't care about the mistakes. I learned from them...YES do you HEAR ME!


The world will not cease turning on it's axis if you make a mistake. And frankly that's the worst thing that could happen to us, besides the sun going Super Nova on our collective hinneys; and that ain't gonna happen either.

I still haven't finished the little bag, which is about four inches high, and four inches wide (ish)...

Why does mine look delicate. Cause I broke the rules, instead of using a worsted weight as called for in the class description. I decided to use a cotton sock yarn that's fingering weight instead. I know from years of experience that if I want my lace to be "lacey" then I need to use a finer yarn. Especially since the instructions called for a size 19 needle, and as I'm not the proud owner of a needle stash, other than a size 17, 30 and 50 (bought for the purpose of making broomstick), that if I was using a size 17 I'd need finer yarn.
Yarn: It is the beginning and the end of your project. The same pattern worked in different hook sizes and yarns can be amazingly diverse :)
So, folks...STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP if you goof, OH WELL...
Fearless Leader says to repeat after me: "What I make is beautiful, including my mistakes. I will learn from them, and be better at what I do because of it."
You are only a failure if you believe it; I do not believe in the concept of failure. I believe in the concept of learning. The only time you fail is when you never ever try.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Portland Experience...

Saturday night was super fun! The banquet and fashion show is a must go! As usual the free formers, and those who enjoy hanging out with the freeformers gathered for madness and mayhem!

Jaqui from Australia graced us again with her presence and of course was the fabulous Petunia persona! She's quite a hoot, and a real treasure!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saturday of the Crochet and Knit Show

Ok, so it's officially Sunday early AM right now, it was a really long day, and I should be in bed right now, but you know me...le sigh :)

Anyway, this morning at "bleary eyed o'clock" I had Myra Wood's Advanced Free Form class. I loved every minute of it! Now, I already knew most of the stitches, but I didn't take the class to learn a new stitch, that's what my stitch dictionary collection is for! No, I took the class to be in Myra's aura, her creative spirit and energy is vast and glorious. I have never met a person, yet, who has taken her classes and left disappointed!

I got inspired to do some very useable art...yes, useable art. Art for artsake is freakin cool, but I have this real practical streak and I like to use my art...it is both amusing and fullfilling!

After class, my dear friends Gabrielle and Thomas Chavez, met up with me, and I went to the Portland Raw Food Meetup's potluck. That was a great deal of fun, and met a lovely lady who knits, and told her about the show, and showed off a little crochet goodness, she may now be tempted by the hook ;)

After that little bit for Crochet-Evangelism, I came back to the hotel with daughter and we relaxed for a while. WHOOT...

Then came the dinner and fashion show. Oh my, what a nice show it was too. Garments both crocheted and knit festooned our evening and tickled our eyeballs (and brains, lots of inspiration).

What was the coolest part of the show, to me, was how many crocheters there were! In fact when the "raffle prizes" were drawn folks were asked for their preference in the prizes! "Knit or Crochet" was the call about half of the lucky winners were heard to shout proudly and in a distinguished manner, "Crochet!" I had to root and cheer for each one! YAY for Crochet!

I am too tired to take photos off camera and get them on the blog at the moment, but I will most definately be doing that either later this morning, OR Monday :)

Tomorrow holds checking out from the hotel, seeing if I have enough cash to do one last dash through the market, and then off to the Museum of Contemporary Crafts because of this exhibit!

Then it's to the Batmob... I mean the train station and back to Camano Island where my hubby, son, cats and dog are waiting for us!

It was sure fun (if not a little too warm for me)...but it was a HOOKALICIOUS convention, I'd say it rates hand over fist from last year! Live and learn I always say, but thank you Portland you were a fabulous host as always!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Crochet on The EDGE! The Hooknuck makes the rounds...

Bonnie Pierce wielding the Hooknuck made by Jimbo of http://www.jimbosfrontporch.blogspot.com/ of course free forming maven that she is, she had to do her infamous bullion stitch! Only Bonnie could get that hook to go there!

Jorel looking mighty tough. I wouldn't dis the crochet to her, would you?

Susan, who has our postcards, the t-shirt and the book, wielding the hooknuck high! WHOO HOO! She's into it!
There are pics of me floating around, and I took one of Jennifer Hansen of Stitch Diva fame, but I took it with her phone and not my camera, because I was in class. Well let me tell you about that...I have broomstick lace down, and I want you all to know, not only did I learn it! I made it my biotch! I'll do project pics later.
It is very late, my brain is tired, I'm physically wiped, and I have my 9 am class with Myra Wood tomorrow. Can't wait to see what happens in that class. This has been the most crochet friendly conference I've been to yet, knitters I've seen before but don't know well have been very open and curious about the hook, versus hostile or aloof as in years past. Who knows, may be they haven't changed, maybe I have...but I doubt it, I think we hookers are getting some respect at long last!
Speaking of hookers, WHERE WERE YOU for the CGOA meeting? There were tons of goodies and give aways, and I gave away two CLF t-shirts and a copy of the book...Snooze you lose! But the Laurell Hill guys were there, and they are very cool. Not only do I like the hooks, the fellas are down to earth, charming and a lot of fun!

Crocheters go to Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland

Ok, so last year I missed out on the Voodoo Doughnut experience, this year I was determined (especially after seeing the place on a Foodnetwork TV show) to make my way to this very bizarre store!

Sara and I, went with Jorel and Melanie Gill (aka Mel), into this tiny little place on NW 3rd in

Portland. OMG, this is a riot! It took us a while to figure out what we wanted, well ok I knew I wanted the voodoo doll shaped doughtnut 'cause that's too hilarious ;)

So, here's the girls making up their mind, and Jorel and her lovely smile outside the bakery...
Sara got the Tex-Ass mongo sized doughnut!

I got the voodoo doll ;) And I liked it.

Oooh and I gave them CLF Postcards, because one of the girls there is crocheting up a dozen doughnuts! ROCK ON! The hooks shall rule the UNIVERSE!

Captn's Log: Crochet Date; Thurs May 14

The morning came far too early for this night owl. Husband, transported daughter and I to the Mt. Vernon Train Station (Mt. Vernon, WA State), where daughter & I boarded the Amtrak to Portland.

It is about a 5 hour journey, so we brought our hooks and yarn to keep us company!

Please note the very cool skull cap I crocheted, most of it in Bernat Glow in the Dark yarn. It's a cool cap, which doubles as a night lite :) (Just kidding it doesn't glow that long, but it does glow brightly!)

We met some lovely ladies from Bellingham, WA along the way, most of them older than I, and most mystified by crocheting, or knitting, a few were quilters. We decided we could all live in the sisterhood/brotherhood of textile love.

We had a few stops along the way, first was Everett, then Seattle, then Tacoma and a few more. I missed a couple cause I was taking a well earned nap! Sara got a neat shot of the Seattle stop.

We arrived in Portland in good time, the rain having turned to beautiful blue skies. We met up for dinner with some very good friends. I won't say how long I've known by dear sister/friend and her hubby, but let's put it this way, it makes us feel old to say it! Then, I got back in time for the Market Show Preview! WOW some really great stuff folks! More on that later...but here's what I've gotten so far:

Several skeins of Newton's Country Yarn, one of them a lovely bamboo/brushed cotton, 950 yds! WHOOT. I also picked up a Laurel Hill Ebony hook, looks like an M to me, love it! The gentlemen from Laurel Hill are really neat folks, good to meet them and hear the story behind this really cool company!

After that we free formers started to "hook up", and I got to see dear Mel from Connetticut, Bonnie & Bill Pierce from Washington State, as well as Jacqui from Australia who I got to meet in 2007 in Oakland, she looks great! and a new addition to our little cadre of crochet madness, Sarah who works for Crown Mtn. Farms!
Tommorrow I have my first class in the afternoon with Jennifer Hansen looking forward to that, and this should just be fun! Ooooh and tomorrow night is the Free Formers official party. Hoping to hook up with more folks. I'm hear hanging around the hotel...I'll leave a note in the hospitality room so folks can find me ;)

Anyway, goodnight and sweet fiber dreams! Capt'n out! (Sorry, I'm exhausted and I was feeling all trek-ish :) )

This is my view from the hotel...wish you came now doncha!?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Off to the CGOA Regional in Portland, Oregon!

I'm excited!

Tomorrow morning my daughter and I head up to Mt. Vernon, WA. in order to take a train to Portland, Oregon. Our destination is the CGOA Regional event at the Doubletree Hotel in Portland, Oregon. It's also called the "Knit and Crochet Show" and well, I have protested the name in the past (what else who you have me do), but the name of the show has nothing to do with the Crochet Guild of America, the "show" is owned by Offinger Management. But, they've done better listing crochet in their literature, and class notes. So, I give them a crochet nod.

I am taking a class on broomstick (jiffy) lace from Jennifer Hansen of Stitchdiva Design Studio, and a class on advance free form with Myra Wood.

I am also looking forward to going to Voodoo Donoughts because even though I grew up in the Portland Area, I have never been there, and I don't know how on earth I ever missed such a place! I mean donoughts shaped like voodoo dolls? With red "blood" filling? I mean really! Me, who loves the first Shrek movie specifically because of the "Gingerbreadman" getting tortured? "No, NO! Not the MILK!"

I digress.

So, it's a good thing that as part of my last minute preparations for the trip, that I have double checked what I need for the class. Um...Yeah. Sure I had it memorized, NOT!

So, I don't think I have the correct sticks for Jennifer's class, nor do I have the kind of yarn Myra called for in her class. Sigh...I barely EVER work with worsted weight yarn, so now I have to go digging through my stash one more time.

Yes, I will blog from the event! Yes, I'm taking pics! Yes, I have cool stuff to wear! I even made special elven slippers for crocheted yarnie goodness to wear in the halls ;)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Crochet Tag...You're It!

Ok folks! Listen hard, listen up, listen loud. :)

I'm only one person here, and lately I've been saying a lot of things you're agreeing with...so here's the deal. Why not take our protest to the wider blog world...

Instead of a meme...Let's do a round robin, or a simultaneous list of our favorite things about crochet?

So, do this for me, and pass it on in your message boards, and email lists.

If you have a blog, make a list of your 25 reasons you love crochet!

Do it anyway you want, 25 photos, or a list, I don't care how you do it, but when you DO blog this, come back here and link your blog post so I can see your wonderful work!!!

Let's show 'em folks! Let's be proactive. Cause believe you me, we buzz enough & they'll try to steal our ideas ;) LOL

25 Reasons I love Crochet...

1) I can make anything I can imagine with a simple instrument (hook) and something that can wind around it (fiber, wire, plastic, roving, feathers, yarn, string, twine, fabric).

2) I love the reactions I get from others when I wear my hats, scarves, sweaters.

3) I love the reactions I get when I gift my loved ones with my "latest" and "greatest" creations.

4) In less than 10 minutes I can mystify a child by making a wiggly worm or a hair scrunchy.

5) I love how my husband watching me as I take yarn and hook, and whispers "It's like magic when you do that..."

6) I love how it eases my stress levels and gives me yoga like levels of relaxation.

7) I love that when I was a struggling single mother of two small babies, I could afford some thread and a steel hook and make their Christmas happen. (I couldn't afford ornaments for the tree).

8) I love that now I can afford exotic fibers and get to use my glass hook with my camel/silk yarn...and it feels orgasmic as the hook slides through the soft, delicate fibers.

9) I love that I am never bored.

10) I love that I can whip up an instant gift when I have a birthday/wedding/anniversary/baby gift I've forgotten to buy.

11) I love that young children ask me to teach them how to crochet...

12) I love that I can make socks that look like socks, feel like socks and act like socks.

13) I love that crochet has helped me meet some of the most generous, creative, talented, and loving people.

14) I love that I am doing something that women have done in my family for more than four generations.

15) I love that I taught my daughter and she loves crochet as much as I do.

16) I love that my daughter and I had the common ground of crochet to get through the worst of the early teen snarky stage without killing each other.

17) I love that each time I pick up a hook, I feel like I'm sitting with the woman who first put one in my hands. My great grandmother.

18) I love that I don't have to use a pattern to have something turn out fabulous.

19) I love that I can use a pattern if I'm feeling lazy.

20) I love that with over 32 years of crocheting experience that I can still learn something new.

21) I love crochet because it taught me patience, perspective, and helped me find my artform.

22) I love crochet because it allows me that "me" time, I wouldn't normally take in my daily life.

23) I love that I can make son laugh by making him puppets.

24) I love the feel of a hook in my hands.

25) I love knowing that I am doing something she did, even though I never got to meet her, her work inspired me to be every bit as good as she was...

Who is she? My grandmother, Grace Rogers, she died in 1956 when my mother was 8 years old. People say I look like her, sound like her and act like her, she was only 36 when she died. When times were hard crochet helped feed my uncles, aunt and mom. I have some of her things, they have always inspired me. She is one of my favorite reasons that I love crochet, because through the hook I have a connection to the woman I supposedly resemble in many ways, but never got to meet.

Crochet ignorance...

You know what really steams me up? (Oh I hear your chuckles loud and clear!)

When people who don't do much crochet, malign our art/craft. Especially people in the needle arts industry, they should know better and their lack of knowledge often mortifies me.

Here are a few of the myths that make me go "Mmmm?"

1) Lace is difficult.

No it isn't. Lace takes time, attention, and the ability to count. Yes, you heard me COUNTING. That's the biggest skill required. In general lace is not difficult to do, it often doesn't require any stitch more difficult than a crown picot or maybe a clones knot, maybe a bullion stitch. All you have to do is is practice a bit before you do a stitch that needs finger flexibility. Lace is about negative space and making holes. Hard to do with the sticks, easy as chaining three, skipping two stitches and inserting your damned hook into the third stitch and single crocheting, with a hook. Yeah you heard me, a hook.

Does no one wish to sell thread? I mean for the love of all that's fuzzy, Doris Chan has shown us what we can do with those marvelous old lacey motifs and stitch patterns and do in bigger yarn. So it works up faster. Faster doesn't mean easier, it means faster. DUH.

2) Only fashion wear is good crochet.

Oh go jump off a tall bridge. All crochet is good crochet when someone pays attention, has even stitch work, and the project suits the needs of the hands that made it. One person's "OMG what is that THING" is another person's precious treasure.

If you start telling me that potholders aren't useful, then pick up a hot dish straight out of the oven or put it on your nice new wood table. If you tell me that slippers aren't of importance come to my house in January and walk around without socks. If you tell me that hats and scarves aren't needed, then walk on my local beach in March when a 30MPH squall is blowing. Pillows, afghans, dolls, and toys all have their places too! My teenage neices still have all the dolly blankets, and toy horse saddle blankets I made them when they were young, they are now keeping them for their kids! (I think that is very cool.)

Jewelry, purses, socks, slippers, rugs, shopping bags, bicycle panniers, Ipod covers, cell phone holders, game system holders, and the ubiquitous hair scrunchy; THEY ALL HAVE THEIR PLACE, in the hands of a hookster.

3) You're only good a needle arts if you use sticks...

Explicative, Explicative, and BLEEP. Rolling my eyes here. No, you are good at needle arts if you do any kind of needle work with attention, patience, and proficiency. And who said you had to be good at it? Doesn't everyone have to start somewhere? I don't know many people who started out making perfect projects.

4) If they can't do it, it's obvious it's not a good craft.

Get over yourselves. People who think that way belong back in elementary school. I cannot use sticks beyond swatching. Does it mean I think knitting and knitters suck? Nope, I think I suck at knitting. Am I a lesser form of crafter because I crochet? Hell NO! In fact most of the people who malign crochet couldn't do half of what I do with a hook with their sticks, and the other half may be talented but are rather short sighted and don't bother to look past their own feeble crochet attempts.

5) Crocheters love ugly colors.

From what I see in many a magazine and from the big yarn brands you'd certainly think that. Thank the FUZZ GAWD that some of us actually do have an understanding of color and color theory and can see past the "Oh my god that color combination inspires my stomach acid to react to my lunch" color choices they foist on us.

I mean really. And some people do like the color choices, color is subjective dependant on cultural tastes of the beholder. (But I still say they have it out for us.)

6) You can only really be loyal to one craft.

Bull puckey. I know so many crafters who do so much more than one craft. We may have our favorites, but really most of us have dabbled in many forms of crafting. I, for example, am into crocheting, embroidery, rug making, spinning yarn (on a wheel), and have done some weaving (though it's not my thing), I also felt and make coiled baskets. But because I don't use sticks, why none of the rest of that can possible count...dripping sarcasm aside, I'd love to ask the folks who think that way to come warp my Jack loom. It's only 48 inches wide, with four harnesses, I bet they could manage it cold.

7) Crocheters are old, fat, lazy and stupid.

They may not say it, but man they sure act like that's what we are. I'm not saying there aren't old, fat, lazy and stupid crocheters out there, but I've met some pretty skinny, hyperactive, very young (thinking of my 15 year old) crocheters. I've met kids as young as five who crochet, and women as old as 98, most of us fall in between that gap. In fact in one my own online surveys, the average age of a CLF member was 34 years of age.

8) Crocheters are cheap/low class.

What ever. You should see the emails flying from the Free Form Crochet list as The Knit and Crochet Show approaches. People are strategizing about how many bags they can bring to the show so they can get all their yarn purchases home. There are stories of people getting ready to ship their laundry or yarn home, just to fit it all in to the trip! Yeah, that's real cheap.

As for low class. Folks, the US Census Bureau has the US Median Income at $40,000 per house hold. We have over 300 million people in this country, you are in the top 20% if you make more than $50,000 per year. I don't know where you live, but where I live that doesn't go very far. The majority of people ARE worker bees, and these folks should be respected, and the companies and magazines should think about what it takes to get their business. We all love the bottomless wallet, but there is only a scant percentage of the population with that kind of income. Sorry to burst your bubble, not all of that scant uses sticks.

I'm sure I'll think of more things that cheese me off, but this should do for today. Industry people, RETHINK how you treat us, cause we're getting REAL organized.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Craft Marketeers & Suppliers Listen Up!

Ok, there is a general misperception in the world of marketing and the craft supply industry. Crocheters feel this a lot because we are constantly being maligned by the industry we support in our purchases. Yet, it's not just we who wield the hook who are so maligned, it's all of us who craft.

If they would a) stop working off myths and actually do some real marketing research (aka get out from behind a desk and go talk to people) and b) pay attention to supply/demand the craft market would be a better place for all of us.

Myth 1: People who craft are older, retired, or poor, or have too many kids to count.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? What the hell is that about? I mean for goodness sakes we are not living in a Dickens novel. Here's the real world. Crafters come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, all kinds of interests.

Why just in crochet alone you have many different genre which appeal to different kinds of people. Amigurumi is a super trend that's getting more and more interesting all of the time! Younger people are into it, though they aren't the only folks who like to make these trendy dolls. There are blanket/afghan makers, pillow puff stitchers, and others who like to make socks, slippers, hats and scarves, others work with beads, make tapestry or curtains, others still make fashion items. Some folks are poor, some are rich, some are old, some are grannies, some are grampies, some are young, some are rich, most are female but not all.

Dudes and dudettes who do the marketing, my hand is on my hip, and I'm shaking my head in dismay at your lack of attention to detail.

Pay someone to do market research for you. Crap if you paid me to go to the conventions, and do marketing research I'd do it in a heart beat. Unbiased, honest to goodness research. Because, lordy these myths are what is busting the craft industry as a whole.

If you do not market well, your business is a bust.

Getting Down To Crochet Biznez

Internet Buzz is an interesting phenomena, one little linky in a forum and masses will flock to check out the newest, latest, greatest thing on the block.

Recently such an event happened on the CLF Message Board on Ravelry.com. One of the many minions and ring leaders put up the link to a new "Crochet Site". Anime sounding "WHAAAAAAAA?"

So, like everyone else who saw the link I popped over to take a look at this "CROCHET SITE"...

Leisure Arts has launched it's own site called "Crochet Soiree" I have joined and am CLFFearless there if you feel like friending me. I'll keep my eye on the site, I see it has some interesting potentials.

It's not exactly a social networking site, though it has a little of that aspect. It's a lot more like CrochetMe, only it's propietory to Leisure Arts. I did like that I could find Aunt Lydias crochet cotton in their store though, because finding it locally has been difficult as of late. I like that company, and can't find anywhere close (within 35 minutes) to purchase it. Nice to have a place I can find it.

I'll let the public decide what they will think of this site, for now I'm pleasantly sitting at warm :) I don't think it's the hottest thing ever, but neither do I think it completely sucks and blows. Let's see how they do. I like, no, I adore, Leisure Arts publications, not just because of their dedication to crochet, but beause I have heard absolute love stories from designers about how they are treated by that company.

So we'll give it a chance.

But I want LA to understand if the site isn't everything they hoped it would be, it has a lot more to do with a proprietory approach to social networking (never works all that well) and a lot less to do with "cheap crocheters"...My worry is that if it doesn't meet expectations they will blame the crochet community. Thanks for marketing to us, I think that's cool, but remember you have to know your audience. The same audience on the street and online may be two separate animals.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Crocheting Hats as fast as I can, PLUS More results...

Hey there!

Well, I've gone on a crochet hat binge. I decided I need a whole bunch of hats to wear in Portland. I can crochet up a basic hat in 45 mins, but these are taking up to three hours due to color changes. I've made a "Dutchboy", and now working on a Beret, I made daughter a glow in the dark Skullcap. That took all of an hour, because I actually took a break. Am I getting wiser with age? Or more easily distracted? Shshshsh don't answer that...

So, I've been keeping an eye on our Charts/Don't Care poll, new results:

99 For having charts included in patterns
26 don't care
1 really really hates charts

Hmmmm...Next question of those 99 how many buy Crochet World?

So, don't forget to look for your crazy "Fearless Leader" in Portland, I'll have my shadow and gorgeous 15 yr old daughter with me. She's in it for the yarn and an obligatory trip to Powells Bookstore ;)

I'll post pics of the hats soonish like ;)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Come on crocheters, get with it!

Ok, crocheters, hookers, babies, dears: Listen up.

We need more of a web presence. Don't leave it all up to your beloved folks on the blogosphere, and on twitter...Come out, come out where ever you are: Stand up loud and proud, be counted.

I mean really it's not that big a deal. Get a Twitter account, and tweet away about your pretty projects and fun things. I would love you to outnumber the weirdos selling weird things with not real photos of "models" (or porn stars, at least that is what they look like to me)... Join and then follow me, I'll follow you I promise and we can sing great crochet music online together! I'm Camanomade on Twitter as well as on Ravelry.com.

Don't forget to join us on Ravelry either!

Oh and one more thing, I want to see mega hookin' representin' in Portland! Let's show em a good time folks!

Some results...and FROGGIN'

Hey there minions and ring leaders!

Today I was checking out our "Charts/No Charts" thread on Ravelry, and so far we have 151 readers (so um...if you haven't checked in wanna do it), and so far here are the results:

77 are for
24 are in the against/don't care camp.
1 person feels strongly enough to disagree (which wasn't really an option, but we get your point. You don't like charts :) )

Now down to doughnuts...I have to FROG...

I don't mean a little frogging, but a lot of frogging. I have to take a part my "stupid" Fearless Leader Vest. The front panels aren't going with the back at all, the shaping is not working...and I'm just annoyed. I won't have it done for Portland, but I have a cute little bolero number that I finally finished to make up for it.

SIGH....The front panels will end up in a different sweater entirely. The back will be a SUPER FEARLESS LEADER CAPE! Cause dang it, it's too cool to just leave unfinished. But, I only have about two weeks until Sara and I hit the rails south to Portland. I may take it to work on, though it's pretty heavy.

I think I'll just leave it home. I mean when you have to carry your own luggage you start thinking about things like that.

Back to the bolero...ooooh it's cute :) I put brass bells on the bottom of the vest, so if you hear jingling in Portland it's me :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

If only I had more time!

If you didn't know that the CLF is a group of almost 3450 people world wide, and run by lil' ol me, and some very trusted helpers on Ravelry..well, now ya do!

We are crochet enthusiasts all, but we are more than that! We are 3450 people with skills, talents, ideas, beliefs, and lives that have more than fiber in them!

Part of my goal with the CLF is to help us grow together as people, with respect to our humanity, and hopefully find a way for those who wish to improve their own skills, and economic models to do so!

It's a big experiment that flows and grows almost as it's own organism, with a life of it's own. Like individual cells in the body, each CLF member adds a vital and important part to the "body" as a whole...

One of the things all organisms require is food/energy. This kind of organization's food is money and time. You have given your time and talent, and many of you have purchased the CLF First Ever Book! Which is bringing in the needed money to help Fearless Leader travel to parts known and unknown to see you and to do more!

Please if you haven't bought your copy yet it's available on our CLF Official Website! or as a PDF Download on my LULU.com store. I have other patterns there, too, need to remember to write a few more to add to the collection!

In the meantime, I'm plodding away on "Crochet in Chains" our second book, 6 patterns are completed in layout and have been sent out for proofing! WHOOT A few more to go!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

4 o'clock in the morning RANT

Yes, it's past bedtime. I've spent most of the night and early hours of this A.M. working on the
Second Book. Sadly not even bleary eyed at this point, I'm energized and have unclogged a bit of a creative block.

I like how I layed out the first book, but I don't want all our books to look like clones lay out wise, and I want to retain the clarity (and improve it) of the space used. I was stuck on one particular pattern and how I wanted it to look and I licked it!

Part of what drove me so hard, was being niggled all night after listening to Getting Loopy with Mary Beth Temple. Her guest was the editor of Crochet World Magazine. Now, I don't see this magazine often in my area, but I have bought it in the past.

I'm an equal opportunity crocheter, I like all kinds of patterns. I do not belong in the camp that believes crochet has to be all about fashion. I like fashion, and wearable crochet, but I also like hats, scarves and quick gift crochet, too. In fact I like kitsch, as the family of garden gnomes in my front yard can tell you, and my poor best friend has to put up with (though she's bought me most of those gnomes!). So, it's not the content I have a problem with, when I say the conversation on the show bothered me.

That niggle stayed with me all evening, I tried to pin point what really bugged me about it. And as I finished off the pattern that was attempting to thwart my layout efforts, I realized what was really bothering me.

It was the tone and tenor of the words, the inbetween the lines that I perceived as the editor explained what her "market" is and what they want. I'm rarely the demographic for most marketing efforts, but I am very much right on when it comes to crochet. (Kind of a relief not to be a complete oddball)

We, in the chatroom, asked if they were planning to add charts and/or schematics. Charts are especially useful when working with thread or lace making. and Crochet World often has thread projects.

The response was dismissive, and the pat answer of "Our market isn't interested in this, none of our surveys indicated our readers want charts or schematics." was given. My first thought was, did you ask on the survey if that's what people wanted? It's hard to indicate you want something if you don't ask the question. I've never been polled by Crochet World, seen a poll by them or survey so I can't say what was asked.

Why the all or nothing attitude? Why is it so hard to have a chart or two, or a schematic now and then? Why not offer a little more, why be satified with what has always been? We've lost some very fine crochet magazines over the past five or six years. I don't think it's necessarily because crocheters don't buy magazines, I think it's because the folks who run the magazines forget to evolve and keep a value added nature to their publications. Things change, markets change, and if you are good at what you do, you make your market.

I'm not saying replace written instructions with charts, or schematics, heck I like a mix of both. I don't think all patterns require charts/schematics even. I do prefer my doilies and lace and fillet to have a chart versus just written instructions.

I don't think I'm alone. I don't think I'm cutting edge in this desire, I think I'm shooting straight down the middle.

So I ask you, what do you think?

If you have two magazines to choose from with equal pattern types, will you pick the one with only written instructions/photos, or the one with written instructions/photos/ and charts &/or shematics.

I'm asking the question on our ravelry message board, you can answer it there if you like ;)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Celebrating Spring, Getting Ready for Portland!

I host a monthly
"Spinning Group",
but really we're
an all fiber arts group!
If you forgot what I look like,
I'm the chick standing up,
holding Jimbo's HookKnuck,
wearing the funky
free form sweater.
Mary (in Red) and Ann (yes, THE ANN I always talk about), helped me out taking an "action" group shot, to use. I'm not used to the whole need for photos, etc to send to periodicals or websites etc. In fact I'm kind of camera shy, so it is a real effort to remember to get photos of me in action, or inaction :)
The garment on the table is my free form vest I'm hoping to have completed for the Knit and Crochet Show in Porltand, Oregon. Egads, It's taken on a life of it's own, how much you wanna bet I'll be finishing it on the train ride to Portland?
Anway, I'm working on the Second Book. Just got some revised files back from participants, looking foward to recieving the rest of them, and I have to put a few more together. I have a lot more energy now that I've done some good physical work with my buddies down south! (Yes, I do weird alternative healing techniques, but hey it works for me.)
Also, I have got some great copies of Knit and Crochet Today that I have been watching! I love this show! Candi Jensen has put together a real winner of a television production and Brett Bara is a fabulous host! It's been so much fun watching beloved CLF members strut their stuff on Camera! Once again I am in awe of how talented and fabulous we needle arts people are! Don't let the name of the show put you off, Crochet gets EQUAL billing on air, and I'm really excited by what I see!
I'll post more in depth about the shows I've watched later, I just want to say that I love it, and you should check it out if you haven't already!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Saturday of Quiet...

Ok, so I was supposed to go help Gabrielle and Thomas with their food booth in NW Portland. I would have loved to do so, but I wasn't so capable of finding my way there.

I'll tell you the reason in a minute, but this reason is also why I'm starting another blog about my own liberation process...The CLF is part of that process, but I have tried to keep my personal journey, and beliefs aside, so as not to confuse the issues, or seem like I'm trying to convert anyone to my process or ideas or belief structures.

I try to value all ways of human expression, if not value, perhaps accept. Sometimes people just have to be where they are, and feel what they feel, and be what they are, whether I like it or not...and since crochet is not about belief systems, or feelings, or strictures, I want to keep it that way as much as I can here on the CLF Blog.

But, I would be a liar if I didn't admit to having my own spiritual journey, my own belief (and be-life) systems. I've had an unusual journey and believe it or not I've been asked by four separate Christian Denominations to be ordained, I just can't do it though,because I've chosen to service humanity as a whole, and in MY belief system, if I choose a denomination or a particular religion then I'm excluding someone...

So, anyway, I was raised in a Christian household, so most of my spiritual understanding is couched in Christian language. But I am also a student of many other faiths and religions, and spiritual practices. I want to serve and understand people, as they are, why they are, and well, that's really my big trip in life.

The CLF is sort of part of that...my little joke, fostered in my own particular crafting frustrations, has ended up being a place to explore my own ideas and accept others from over 3400 people! I know in the past two years my own thought processes and ideas have morphed, I have grown, and I have watched other folks blossom and expand. Crafting in crochet being our "foil", vehicle through which we find new ways to be creative, create community, serve our fellow humans, grow as people and expand our understanding of the world. Or in the most simplistic and joyous of ways; have fun.

Oddly enough, I'm not the irreverent smart ass that I constantly portray here, I'm rather academic and studious and shy. I try to tone that down because it's not so entertaining, and really all study and no play makes Fearless Leader a dull girl, and no one wants to read about that...

If the CLF has taught me anything, it is to "Lighten Up"...Be light, be joy, enjoy the process, stop taking myself and the world so darn seriously, because in truth we're only as stuck and oppressed as we allow ourselves to be...really and truly... I knew that before I started it, I just wasn't as good at being silly and having fun...and things seem to work better for me when I'm having fun...and poking fun at myself!

So, if you are interested in my own journey, and some of my wackier spiritual adventures, with my wacky spiritual friends...Crochet and Creativity are included in this journey, because it's all connected, everything matters and everything doesn't... Anyway..".Adventures with a Fearless? Leader" is the name of the new blog and possibly the start of something I've always wanted to do; but you'll have to read about that there... http://www.adventureswithfearlessleader.wordpress.com

What does this mean for the CLF? Nada... CLF is it's own creature, it's own being, it's own entity made up of over 3400 individual, beautiful, creative, talented, curious, and fabulous souls...It's not about me, I'm just it's "Mom"...As with all children, it grows and develops with it's own personality, and I'm only here to be the guide on the side not the sage on the stage...That's for the new Blog ;) And rather than Sage, I'm thinking Fool is more appropriate.

Friday, April 24, 2009

More Roving Crochet News..

So, here I am ensconced at my really good friends' house, helping prepare some tasty Living Food (also known as Raw Food) for tomorrow's Earth Day Weekend Celebration in NW Portland. Gabrielle Chavez is a fabulous Raw Food Chef and afficionado, I've known her since she and her husband, Thomas, were simple and delightful vegetarians, and have followed their whole journey through the Raw Food process over the past 8 years.

If you want to taste Gabrielle's fabulous goodies (and other folks contribute as well) she and her cohorts meet every Sunday Night at Kairos-Milwalkie UCC, at 5:30pm for a tasty meal and spiritual explorations.

If you are in the Portland area this is worth trying at least once!

Part of being a good friend is sacrificing yourself on the alter of good cuisine. I've enjoyed being a taste tester and sous-chef from time to time, and I never leave here disappointed.

Since, I'm being pampered and spoiled with healthy delcious, soul filling goodies, and quiet. Yes, quiet, no cats or dogs fighting, no kids asking me for their due, I've had some internet time to just look around at some very cool crochet happenings.

I've brought my crochet too, but I've been catching up with friends and forgot to do any so far, which is fine, though they don't mind me crocheting while we talk. As I have followed their journey; so too, theyhave followed mine.

Anyway, I finally got to watch the TED Talk about Hyperbolic Crochet... I love how crochet is one of the very very few ways you can model Hyperbolic Geometry....

The Power of the Hook is Strong!!! Check out just how powerful! Here http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/519

Oooh and if you live in Philadelphia: Check out this exhibit http://chemheritage.org/events/event-detail.asp?id=451

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Extended Deadline, Earth Day, and other crochet goodness

First things first!!

The new deadline for the 400 yd or Less book (also known as CLF Book #3) is May 20th. My life is slightly hectic at the moment, and I'll be in Portland, Oregon playing with my CGOA and Free Form pals, AND Fellow CLFers!

Don't forget we are going to Party with the CLF! How? Heck if I know. We'll figure out something fibery and fun ;) Maybe an impromptu conga line or something.

So...on to Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day many folks look to using "natural" fibers, especially plant fibers. I want to encourage people to play around with many natural fibers, animal and plant. However, as you well know I get mighty miffed by the constant use of "common" wisdom and mythology.

1) Animals and Plants both use land. When agriculture is practiced properly nothing is wasted or harmed. Poor farming practices (including organic practices that are less than above board but meet the USDA standards...rolling eyes) happen, but don't tar everyone with the same brush. That's foolish. I know lots of goat and sheep farmers who act responsibly, and I know a lot of vegetable/fruit farmers who don't (and many others who do)... So, if you live in an agrarian area check out your local farms if you can and make up your own mind. If not, don't believe everything people say, without researching it for yourself!

2) Just because something is "natural" doesn't mean it isn't harmful. Remember that lead, cadmium, arsenic, uranium, and ammonia are all very very natural.

How we use, dispose, re purpose and how we shop for our products are important matters. Everyone has to come to their own conclusions about things...

But for the love of all that's fuzzy, please remember that people are natural resources too, and when looking for yarns try to find out where they were made.

Have a happy Earth Day. Treat our planet and all who live in it well this day and everyday!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

CLF News and other things...

It's a beautiful sunny day as I write this post. I'll try not to make too many mistakes as I rush to finish blogging and head out side to enjoy the sunshine! In the Pacific NW you have to grab the sun when you get it!

I've been crocheting up a storm getting ready for the CGOA regional in Portland, Oregon (also known as The Knit and Crochet Show). Got my train tickets and the event packet showed up in the mail this week so WHOO HOO! Ready for PDX, as soon as I get that free form vest done. It's looking pretty spiffy, but the back is taking me forever to finish!

At the same time I'm working away at the "Crochet in Chains" book, slowly but surely, this book will manifest. I've figured out some layout issues that were bugging me, nothing technical, purely aesthetic, sleeping on the problem fixed it!

I've begun recieving submissions for our 3rd book, "400yds or Less" which will have some cute, fun and quick crochet projects. Keep those rolling in!

So, now I am off to Cama Beach State Park to see if our Interpretive Specialist, Tina Dinzel Pedersen needs my help at the information desk. It's a sunny day, and that makes folks want to play at the park. I like working at the information desk, even when it's slow, because I can sit and work on the book!

Before I leave my library sanctum, I want to remind you that the CLF First Ever Book is still available at Amazon.com or the e-book is available for $9.99 on lulu.com. Thank you again to all who have purchased the book(s). It was our first effort and an amazing one, I think we'll all be pleased with the next few books as we've figured out how to move ourselves forward.
That being said, I'm so proud of our first ever book! I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hookalicious Stash Buster!

Blog Photos 4-19-09 010
Originally uploaded by AlaskanPurl

CLF Member Alaskanpurl, made this fabulous Granny Square Afghan busting her stash of Noro Kureyon.

I love the use of colors, shapes and sizes to make this fun-ghan!

It looks warm, inviting, and joyful and CUDDLY! I love cuddling under blankies :)

Alaskapurl consider yourself the recipient of the CLF Hookalicious Award for fun, fanciful, and artful use of the great granny!

Love the afghan keep up the good work!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

International Year of Natural Fibers: 2009

The CLF message board on Ravelry.com is a fabulous place, our members come from a wide range of countries, socio-economic status, professions, beliefs, you name it! One of the things I love most about the message board is the dedication by members to spread the word about events, contests, and activities to provide awareness and how we crochet enthusiasts can participate!

Marly, known as The Yarn Thing, posted a great piece today about a real world and virtual effort called Keeping the Fleece.

Keeping the Fleece is an organization that is celebrating the International Year of Natural Fibers as sanctioned by the United Nations. I could give you a history as to why we would be concerned about natural fibers etc, but they have a fabulous website and put forth the infomation very eloquently. They also have a fabulous contest with some really fun categories! We'd love for crocheters to represent well in this activity! So check out the contest on Keeping the Fleece's website.

I am definately thinking of entering, and I'm going to inform my local fiber arts group and LYS with this information too. I'm a big fan of Heifer International, sustainable farming, and self-sufficiency.

If you support this kind of activity don't be quiet about it, feel free to share the information with friends, neighbors, family and fiber arts groups. Heck blog about it. The more folks who network the more things can happen!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Do you have your copy of the CLF First Ever Book?

Hey gang! A quick reminder that we have the CLF First Ever Book available as a PDF Download on lulu.com, I also have a few of my own patterns and the Secrets of Yarn Guide (which covers fibers, their properties and the "best" craft usage guide. "Best" is a relative term, if you can make it work great :) If you are wondering how a fiber can be best used to it's advantage the list works as a great rule of thumb.

If you want a hard copy of the book it's available from the CLF Website or from Amazon.com (just click on the carosel to your right on this blog!), it's cheaper from my website, but you can get faster shipping from Amazon, you choose!
Another option is buying one directly from me in Portland, Oregon (or bring you book for a signing!), I'll have a limited number of hard copies on my person during the Spring Knit and Crochet Show at the Double Tree in Portland Oregon. I'll be hanging out at the Double Tree from May 14 through the morning of the 17th. I'll have my sharpie ready!
We should have a few of our contributors in Portland as well and they will have a sharpie ready! Collect as many of our signatures as you can!!!

Crochet Road Trip...

Hi folks, it's a Roving Fearless Leader who greets you today!
In fact at this very moment I'm on a WA State Ferry heading to Poulsbo, WA for a long overdue visit with my favorite Uncle!

I've crocheted several more bits for my freeform long vest (to be worn in PDX), and once at Uncle Lawrence's house i get to see the table cloth my grandmother started for him in 1955 but did not get to finish before she died in 1956 and see if I can finish it for him. I can think of no greater thing I can do for my favorite uncle..Especially since I learned all of my "hot" crochet skills by copying Grandma's work!

I'll get some photos and we'll show you what I get to finish...and I'll just keep crocheting!

Happy Hooking All!

Friday, April 10, 2009

So it's spring, now what?

For many of us Spring has sproinged. One of the very well worn myths about most needlework in general is that it is soley a winter activity.

Why put away the yarn and hooks just because the days are longer and the sun may (or may not) be peaking out a little more.

You can always make a fun cardi for spring! The above was a free form ditty I made up a few years ago to wear to a spring art show in which my friend Bec Thomas was exhibiting. It was a simple and easy project, using left over bits of handspun exotic yarns, and a skein of lovely black acrylic (to help support the more fragile yak and kid cashgora yarns), I made the sleeves lacey to provide some well needed air conditioning!

With Eastertide upon us (or passover or Spring celebrations), now is the time we have furiously (or will do so tonight and tomorrow if you're like me) crocheted our little mitts off to make some presents for loved ones.

Some last minute ideas:

  • Egg shaped soap bags (soap savers)

  • Restorative Eye-pillow covers (you can get eye pillows as health and wellness stores or pharmacies, why not crochet something with some lovely soft cotton to cover it up?)

  • Crochet some lace around plastic Easter Eggs

  • Floral themed wash cloths or dish cloths (you can never have to many of those)

  • Bunny Slippers!

  • Crochet an easter basket out of roving and felt it (doesn't take more than an hour to make :) )

For spring tide crochet ideas:

  • Use cotton, bamboo, linen, and blends of such lovely materials to make tops, lacey over skirts, sun hats, socks, and sandle socks (ok for those of you who dismiss said things, remember some of us live where it can be sunny AND rainy at the same time!), take some anklet cotton socks and add funky trims, make jewelry, baskets and so much more!

There is always time to make pretty things out of pretty yarn... I'll leave what's pretty up to you!

And remember, when gift giving, don't bother giving your gifts to people who do not appreciate them. What is hte point? Save it up for the folks that do...

Well, I'm off, I have to make some cute little Easter themed hair clips for my neice :) She's just at that fun age! I can spoil her with all kinds of frufru things!

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