Tag Archives: crochet

Comfort Zone? What Comfort Zone?

I joined Ali Manning’s Handmade Book Club this year and completed several challenges. Membership includes the possibility of connecting with other book members in your area. Introverted me would normally avoid a face to face group meeting, but I met a few women in the online community who suggested a meetup. I am proud to say that I agreed, not using my rural location as an excuse, and I spent a wonderful day with three other bookmakers sharing books and stories and creating together. We have a second date on the calendar, and I have homework.

I have seen lots of articles about how hard it is to make friends when you get to be my age. One good way is to connect with people who have similar hobbies, and online communities have made that much easier to do. I have lots of online friends who I will never meet in person. But it was nice to be in the same room with other people. I am looking forward to our next meeting, and there was a talk of a road trip. One aspect that made it successful was our shared interest in book making and other arts and crafts. The hostesses, long term members of the club, took time to create folders of materials for us as they knew we were new to book making and may not have had a stash of materials.

These women are visual artists ways that I am not, and I am looking forward to learning with them. Meanwhile, I am exploring ways to combine my crochet with books, and I created this accordion style book yesterday using two granny squares crocheted with thread.

Crochet Book

Seasonal Work

With the coming of cooler weather and shorter days, my creative work changes. While I do some crafting in the spring and summer, I spend most of my time in the garden and the kitchen, growing, harvesting and preserving food. Now, we are enjoying the fruits of that labor, and there is time to settle into my studio for crafting. While book and card making are my newest endeavors, I have crocheted for most of my life, learning at the side of my paternal grandmother. It is my main thread craft. I signed up for a monthly crochet kit. The projects use different stitches and yarns but are limited enough in scope to be completed in a month. I look forward to the kit each month. Last weekend, in an effort to clear some works in progress (often known as WIP), I pulled out the sewing machine to finish up a bag kit that has been lurking around for awhile. Sewing is not my strength but they turned out pretty well. A few pictures for your enjoyment including a crocheted shawl and baskets as well as the bags.

October 2023 Crafts

I forgot to mention the Legos! I’ve been almost done with the bookshop for a very long time and am excited to announce it is completed! Now I can move on to the succulents. I also have a Ugears hurdy gurdy model to put together. I gave my father one for a clock and he enjoyed it so much, he bought a few more. I think it will be a good project to work on between Christmas and New Years.

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Lego Bookshop

One of the pleasures of semi-retirement is being able to prioritize these creative efforts. I’ve always made time for hobbies but only after everything else. This week, I signed on for a cartonnage, or box making, workshop. I made band boxes out of posterboard, wallpaper and newspaper when I was a teenage and am looking forward to explore another area of paperwork. This workshop is provided by Claudia Squio. We are creating a fabric-covered box with an offset hinged lid that will be big enough to hold an album. I will be diving in immediately after pressing publish.

My hope for you is time to create.

Hacking Hobbies

I wrote about the continuum of practice in crocheting, creating a dichotomy between easy and challenging. But, I missed a dimension, I think, that I was reminded of last night as I contemplated the end of a stale loaf of home made chocolate babka and the proverbial light bulb went on.

Bread pudding. It was just enough for two and that was all I needed. I skipped the Internet on this one: milk, eggs, some cinnamon poured over the bread and life was good. I baked it until the custard was set and then, thinking it needed a little more sweetness, put together a quick glaze with confectioner’s sugar and milk.

In this case, I knew enough about bread pudding and baking Babka Bread Puddingthat I could just make it up and be decently confident that it would turn out alright. The real unknown was how long to bake it and that was just a matter of checking and having a good idea of what done should look like. Where did I learn all this? I did learn some basics in home ec and from my mother and grandmothers, but most of it just came from awareness and experience. Would it have tasted better if I had found a real recipe?

Crochet BlockI am doing a little hacking with my crochet as well. I did a twist on a granny square that begins in the corner and uses three colors to create some drama. From there, I put them together to form a larger block with the corners now forming the center of the square, giving it a quilt like quality. I have two blocks now and am wondering where to go from here: a bag? or more squares for an afghan? I can do either of those without a pattern or even a YouTube video!

Once we get the foundation, then build our skills with support, we can often move away from the directions or the recipes or the patterns. We move beyond skills to imagination and application. I often see the final preparation–whether it is made of food or yarn–and then work backwards to figure out how to do it.

Taking the Hobbies Up a Notch

I have written before about my grandmother, Emma, who taught me to crochet. I was fascinated by the way the needle moved in and out even as she talked with me. She created beautiful pieces of utilitarian art like scarves and sweaters. But my main interest was in the intricate work of her tablecloths and doilies. The thread was thin, the needle was small and the patterns often grew out of a simple crocheted circle, gorgeous peacock and pineapple shapes appearing with each round.

That was nearly 50 years ago, and I have been crocheting every since. Like my grandmother, I make stuff like scarves and hats, but my first love is thread crochet, using it for towel edgings, doilies and pillows. On the skill chart, I consider myself intermediate and probably able to tackle  most projects.

It has been some time, however, since I have challenged myself with my hobby. Crocheting is a way to relax, let my mind wander a bit, maybe watch a show or listen to a book while I work. And, there is nothing wrong with that. But, this year, one of my goals is to dive deeper into my lifelong hobby. There are a wide variety of different types of crochet including Irish, hairpin, Bruges lace, and tapestry. One pattern I have incorporates pearl beads into three dimensional ornaments, something that appeals to my inner engineer. In addition, there is the whole area of design and creating my own patterns.

Hobbies like mine can spark that “lifelong learning” we talk about as educators. And, I know the school day is packed with stuff, but I think it is important to find time for these kinds of activities within the hours of school rather than as after school programs so we can reach as many kids as possible. Not every kid has a grandmother to teach them or the resources to access supplies. Crocheting is all about math with counting and patterns. Daina Taimina has been using crochet to create hyperbolic space, making more durable models than those usually done in paper.

If you want to learn more about crocheting, the Wikipedia article is a great starting point.

What hobbies do you have? Is there a challenge that you want to take to expand your skills and knowledge?