Monthly Archives: May 2006

Holy Moses!

So, back in January one of those college students selling magazines came around to our door & I got sucked in to subscribing to a crochet magazine. Quick and Easy Crochet, which I’d never heard of before, nor seen. Yeah, I know, pretty dumb.

Well, I was starting to think I was going to have to track these people down, ’cause it’s been four months. But I got my first issue of the magazine in the mail Monday. It’s great! I mean, it’s not perfect, but it’s a lot more my style than anything else I’ve come across.

The most amazing thing of all?

NOT ONE SCRAP OF FUN FUR ANYWHERE IN THE MAGAZINE!!!

Dude, is that even legal?

With the total dearth of eyelash yarn, I’ll even forgive this being on the cover:
Poor child, doesn’t she (he?) look just…dumbfounded? Like Mommy, why are you doing this to me?

I’m telling you, if I put Esther in a get-up like that, she’d gum my jugular out.

Actually, I think the sweater might be doable, just not in that yarn. Hmm, Red Heart Hunny bulky weight yarn. Can’t say I’ve ever heard of that before.

The hat, though…That’s just wrong.

When I checked the mail, the magazine was buried under a bunch of junk mail, & originally I took it to be another Mary Maxim catalogue. This was my first glimpse of it:
Well, not that exactly. Because, like I said, it was under a bunch of other stuff. I saw it and thought immediately how cute it was, and then saw that it came with directions.

Now, blessed as I am in the milk-making department, there’s no way I could actually wear that top, which not only is strapless but leaves much of the back bare. And I hate shrugs. But the skirt appealed to me, so my immediate thought was “Wow, I bet I can figure out how to make that from the picture.” Then I saw the notation that directions begin on page 27. So I was all happy thinking I had a catalogue with a couple of patterns included. I was ecstatic when I realized it was a magazine.

And I’m only getting happier about it, ’cause like I said I actually like nearly everything in there–even the stuff I won’t make, I can appreciate–and I have a subscription. Doing my happy dance.

This outfit, by the way, uses Paton’s Grace yarn & an I hook. Nice yarn, though not cheap. At least it’s not an F hook like so many are.

Here’s another one:
Cute, no? I don’t see myself making it, because it’s a thread project and those just take too long for me (especially with a D hook!). It’s very pretty, though, and would be a lot more appropriate for this area than many of the coverups I see people wandering around Ala Moana Shopping Center in.

There are twenty-five patterns in total (counting the seperate pieces of the outfits as their own pattern). Twelve of them are for clothing (discounting accessories like belts and hats, but counting shawls & the lone shrug). There is the requisite doily, of course, and a “Christmas Year Round” lapghan. There is also a fashion doll “butterfly” outfit, with wings, which is appropriate with the current Fairytopia Barbie craze. (It’s not made with thin thread either, but Aunt Lydia’s Quick Crochet worsted weight thread & the same brand’s microfiber sportweight.) Very cute. The whole thing takes up one entire page, no more. Très cool, and something I might actually make for my girls once I’m done with my current project. (My knit theory died a swift death; it just takes too long!)

I’m not sure how long I am subscribed for, though…There seem to be only five issues in a year…Wait, I finally found a website for the magazine! It’s bimonthly. I have the May/June issue. So I should get one in, what, July? Too cool. I can even buy cat jewelry from the website, should I so desire!

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Eggs!

This is one of the best amateur patterns ever: Egg Babies.

This was my first attempt:
Not too good. I did not have any felt for the faces at the time, so I crocheted a circle out of some yarn I did have. I did a crappy job of embroidering the face too.

About the only useful thing about my first attempt–other than verifying that the pattern does indeed produce an egg-sized and -shaped baby–is that I came up with the idea of swaddling it in a little granny-square blanket.

Back to the drawing board.

The next day, I bought felt. Got lucky, & scored some “light peach” felt at the craft store for nine cents a sheet. Armed with a pen, a nickel, the felt, and all my previous equipment, I came up with this:
Much nicer, and much closer to the look of the original pattern, but still some problems. Poor placement of the face. Since I couldn’t figure how to place my stitches on the opposite side of where I’d traced the nickel, I had to embroider it on the same side, & didn’t do a great job of cutting it out, so you can see (barely) the ink I used to trace it with. And the face is kinda iffy still.

Hmm. How to address the issues?

First off, get rid of the nickel. Too small. What else did I have laying around the house that was small–but not as small–and round and rigid? A quarter! Yes, I know a quarter isn’t that much larger than a nickel, but that little bit made all the difference. I didn’t get perfect circles, because my determination to avoid the trace lines (coupled with my lack of money for a disappearing-ink pen) meant I had to hold the quarter tight against the felt & cut around. But it actually turned out well.

I also decided not to embroider any more noses. It’s much cuter without. And I placed the face–and tacked it down–before reducing from 15sts to 12sts, instead of before reducing from 18sts to 15sts. Small changes, huge difference:

They’re still not perfect–I suck at spacing my embroidery stitches evenly–but they’re pretty good. Good enough to make me happy.

Good enough to make the girls happy, though actually they all were. There are now stuffed eggs scattered about the house. Much better than real eggs scattered about, I suppose, and nowhere near as stinky, at least.

Even Esther loves them.

The yarn, by the way is Red Heart Super Saver. It was also on sale. Off-white, if memory serves. The blankets are made out of Baby Econo, which I think is also Red Heart. It’s lovely yarn, but I wouldn’t use it for a real baby. Too scratchy.

I may be the only person ever

to return from a craft fair with more merchandise (my own) than I went with.

Yes indeed, I sold nothing. Not one flipping one dollar scrunchie.

No one bought this:
As bad as I may feel for selling nothing, the fact that this dress, which is even prettier in person, did not sell makes it obvious it wasn’t totally my incompetence stopping sales.

Actually, I don’t think it was my incompetence at all. I thought to begin with I was going to be up against one civilian craft fair. I was wrong. We were up against three civilian craft fairs.

The Hickam craft fair was the 31st annual, and according to a conversation I overheard, they always have it the first weekend in May, which isn’t the case with the other fairs.

Even so, once they figured it out they should have moved it. So they could at least give the impression they cared about their vendors, which they don’t.

A couple of days before the fair, I was watching the news and saw that the forecast called for thunderstorms. So Robert called to find out what their plans were in case we got rained out. Their response? “It won’t rain. Your fee is nonrefundable.” That’s it.

It did not, thankfully, storm. I was indeed able to get set up and put out my wares. I just wasn’t able to sell anything. The people to our left, who obviously did this sort of thing much more often, said that it was an unusually dismal turnout. While it did not storm, it did indeed rain on and off much of the day, which led to an interesting conversation with one of the event’s organizers. The head honchette, in fact; I recognized her name on her tag. After half an hour of no new people coming from the parking lot (which I was set up facing, by the way, a position I had reckoned as ideal), I broke down. This was at 2:30; we weren’t supposed to do anything until three.

Head Honchette came around to scold me and the people to my right who were also packing up. She told us we weren’t going to be able to rent booths from them for any future craft shows, and was utterly shocked when I told her that was fine by me, since they stood no hope in you-know-where of ever getting my money again. She made the mistake of asking why, so I got the pleasure of telling her. It was my one happy moment of the day. I brought up the lack of plans in case of rain, which if nothing else would prevent me from being so much as a customer at any of their fairs again (even the upcoming craft fair/car show, which would provide me the opportunity to combine two of my great loves–crocheting and muscle cars). Her response was one for the ages.

“It didn’t rain!”

Um, yeah. What was it, then, a flock of incontinent pigeons flying overhead? (For once, I actually said this instead of only thinking later on that it’d have been the perfect comeback.) It wasn’t that much, she said. It was enough, though. Enough to negatively affect turnout. Enough to dampen my merchandise, even with the rented canopy. I realize fully that with outdoor fairs you’re risking rain. But I don’t think that obviates the need to have a plan in case the rain is too heavy to even set up (earlier this year, we had 42 straight days of rain, mainly heavy showers and t-storms; this should function as a clue). And the fact that she looked straight at me and spoke such an obvious lie…! I don’t let my four-year-old get away with that behavior! I expect much better from a woman old enough to be my mama. Of course, since she was old enough to be my mama, there really wasn’t anything useful to say to such a stupid statement, so I just ignored her after that.

Oy.

There was one other woman there selling crocheted things. And, as expected, her items were a lot cheaper than mine. (I had the dress above priced at $20, she was selling baby dresses for $15.) Of course, the biggest difference was that I designed my merchandise all by myself. Her items were obviously from patterns. So, apparently, in order to sell I’d have needed to underprice my work and violate multiple copyrights. (The whole ‘personal use only, don’t sell these items’ thing.) Not that she did much better, from the looks of it. I know she sold one thing, because I saw someone buying it from her, but unless she had a huge amount of stock behind her tables and was reloading quickly, that was about all she sold, because I didn’t see any holes. It just sucked all around, apparently. The woman to my right–one of two in my immediate vicinity who broke down early–had some pretty cool merchandise. I was really hoping I’d sell something so i could buy one of her kitty cat tissue box covers. She sold thing. The people behind me, who left even before I did, had probably the neatest thing there–Hawaii license plates shaped into various things, like purses. I’m not sure, but I got the distinct impression they didn’t sell anything either. They apparently have a store on the North Shore, though, and I’m going to hunt them down before we leave the island. I need a license plate purse. I just do.

Lessons learned:
1) More newborn stuff.
2) Be certain to have gender-neutral items.
3) More toddler stuff.
4) When a potential customer asks if a poncho is a shawl, say that it is. I really thought I was going to sell that poncho. But she wanted it to be a shawl. I should have let it be a shawl.
5) A camouflage blanket is not a sure sell at an Air Force Base. Being that plenty in the Air Force wear BDUs, I’d figued it’d be a slam-dunk. I’m still proud of that blanket.

The question that thus far remains unanswered:
How do I draw in the people pushing around strollers? If hanging my prettiest pieces up out by the street (and they were visible for more than a block away) doesn’t work, and having toys out front doesn’t work, what will? I had plenty of childless folks come in and pick over my stuff, but very few with actual babies. And I spent most of the day unsuccessfully trying to figure out how to change that.

To add injury to insult (yes, I put it that way on purpose) the van decided to die a long, slow death. Thankfully, the engine did not cut off until we were literally pulling into the driveway. Good news on that is that it’s most likely nothing more than a bad thermostat. Bad news on that is that, well, it’s a Dodge Ram Van, with about a yard-long nose, and what that translates out to is the alternator has to be taken out to get to the thermostat. So it’s not something we can do on our own.

With all this, I am taking a brief break from crocheting. I’ll be gone maybe a week, no more. (And I have enough other projects to show off you can count on at least one more entry from me in that timeframe.) I dusted off my knitting needles that I’ve never really put to use, and I am currently working on a version of this shawl. It is simple enough for an utter beginner like myself, but nice enough to suit my craft snob self. I simply cannot have my second knit project be a scarf. (My first, some eightteen months ago, was a buttoned, shaped cell phone case; ironic as I didn’t own a cell phone at the time!) I’m using up some scrap yarn, so it’s going to be interesting. But the pattern is so blessedly simple that I’ve already gotten it down; it only necessitates doing math every other row. (My sole criterion for picking a pattern, by the way, was that I could knit it on the size 10 straight needles which were the only ones I could find.)

There’s nothing cuter…

Than something for a baby made out of granny squares:
Not that that’s the greatest picture in the world, but there’s the dress I just finished. The bodice is six one-color granny squares, and even that was almost enough ends-needing-weaving for me to go insane. The skirt is granny stitch. Overall, a very easy piece, simple construction.

The particulars: Size H hook for the bodice, size J hook for the skirt, except the ruffle which again used an H, and the trim at the top used a 4.5mm.

OK, that photo is driving me nuts, so here’s a close-up of the bodice (have I mentioned how much I love my digital camera & the card reader built in to my computer?):
There, much better. You can actually see the granny squares now.

I used, as usual, Caron’s Simply Soft worsted weight yarn. All told, this is about a size 6 months, being that it fits Esther.

It’s not actually for Esther, though. I’m going to be at a craft fair on Hickam AFB this Saturday, and this is one of the things I’m taking as merchandise. Hopefully I’ll be able to make back the $65 cost of the table. Er, well, not the table. The table’s not included. The $65 for the strip of grass, I suppose would be more accurate. I suppose they had to ship the lawn in from the Mainland, or something. As the locals say, auwē! My husband signed me up for it yesterday, so I guess the cost doesn’t seem too much to him. I about died when he told me, though.

Oh well, off to crochet scrunchies…