Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Showpiece feature: Aboriginal embroidery

I've got a few projects I need to get photos of for here. For now, I'm going to start on a showcase feature. Every now and then, I'll post photos of some pieces I find truly exceptional for one reason or another.

As an amature photographer, my nemesis has been the Royal Alberta Museum. No flashes, tripods or monopods allowed, yet the Aboriginal Culture display has some of the most exquisite pieces of workmanship that I want to get macro shots of. It's not unusual for me to take well over 100 photos in that section alone, but only have a handful of good photos. Some, I can salvage with software.

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Here is an infant's moccassin. It's one of a number of truly amazing embroidery pieces, all done in silk thread on leather. The leather for these moccassins is soft for babies, but there are moose hide coats covered in silk embroidery, too.

Click on the link for larger views. It looks to be done in buttonhole stitch, stem stitch and French knots. I noticed buttonhole stitch seems to be the most common stitch used.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Book review: The Crochet Dude's Designs for Guys

Since coming back from visiting family, I've mostly been working on my daughter's blanket, and haven't got around to taking photos of other projects I'd been working on. So I figured it's about time I did another book review.

Title: The Crochet Dude's Designs for Guys. 30 projects men will love.

Author: Drew Emborsky, aka The Crochet Dude

I was really happy to stumble on this book! While looking for crochet patterns, there's all sorts of lacy, frilly wearables for women. Even things like hats, scarves and slippers tend to be rather feminine designs. The few designs for men... well... the infamous clown sweater comes to mind. *L* Seriously... few designs for guys actually look like something guys would want to wear, but they do anyway. Either because they're male models and getting paid to, or because they want to stay out of the doghouse at home. ;-) Good guy-friendly designs were few and far between.

Which makes this book a real treasure. While there were still a couple of designs that made me wonder (honestly, do guys really wear crocheted ties? They're like the crochet bathing suit: people keep making them, but I can't imagine anyone actually wearing one), this book is filled with fantastic patterns. Heck, not being a lacy, frilly kinda girl myself, I'd happily make a lot of the sweater patterns for myself!

There's a good range of sizes in the clothing patterns. Size smalls range from about 38" to 42" (a hoodie), while the XXL sizes run from about 47" to 50". Personally, I'd like to see sizes 3X and up, too, but hey, I'll take what I can find. ;-) Other patterns include slippers that can be made in an evening, golf club socks, an ipod cover and so on.

The instructions and stitch diagrams are clear, easy to read, and there are assembly diagrams as well, to make things extra understandable. What makes the book even more enjoyable is Drew Emborsky's sense of humour that comes out in names of his patterns (Paw Warmers, Calvarium Skullcap, To Aran is Human), as the little blurbs included with the patterns. It's fun to get a giggle while going through a pattern book. :-)

This is a book I can quite heartily recommend, even for people who might not be too confident in their crochet skills.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

We're back!

Canadian Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we're back from our first visit to family in Manitoba in 4 years! It was a great trip (well... we could have done without driving through a blinding snowstorm on the way out) and a great visit.

The blitz gifts I'd made went over quite well, and I even had some extras. My dad liked the blanket I made for him. The main concern for me, though, was seeing if the balletneck sweater I made for my mother fit her properly.

Balletneck Sweater

And here she is! (photo cropped for privacy - I'm pretty sure my mother wouldn't like her face on the internet...) The sweater fit exactly the way I wanted it to! She really liked it (phew!) and was surprised when I told I'd hand made it myself. She told me it looked very professional. ;-) She even commented on how glad she was for the open neckline and shorter sleeves, as well as the fit. She was pleasantly surprised when I told her I knew that was what she liked and got the sizing from talking to my sister. I think she was quite flattered about that. :-D

On the way back, we were able to bring our library with us - in fact, we were able to bring all but one box home, and the only reason that box didn't make it was because it would have blocked off the space we'd left so we could still use the rear view mirror. That means I now have all my craft books again! I'm going to be spending the next while going through them. Although I'm still working on some crochet projects, I am looking to start projects using different techniques soon.

I also found a few older completed and in progress pieces I'd packed away. When I get a chance, I'll get some photos and post the stories behind them.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Done!!

Today, I finally finished a crochet blanket ... er... afghan (what's the difference, exactly?) that I decided to make for my dad. I was actually going to wait until daytime to take a photo (it's past 1am as I write this), but... well... look!

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Yeah, I had to use a flash and it sucks, but how adorable is that?

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I mean, seriously. She's just so cute. She's even tucking her face away, hiding from the flash. *L*

Of course, after I took some photos and was uploading them to the computer, the other cat came over and joined her. Not long enough for me to take more photos, though. ;-)

This pattern is from Crochet Today magazine, nov/dec 08. It's titled Easy Winter Throw, and it is definitely easy. With the yarn and hook size, it's also quite fast. I started this in early September and actually didn't work on it at all for a while, as I was working on my blitz projects.

The recommended yarn for the project was Light and Lofty in Plum for the body and Wine for the border. The bulk for the yarn is a 6, super bulky. What I had on hand was a whole lot of Bernat Harmony, which is a 5, bulky. I decided to go with the Harmony, using two strands on the hook. I did use the recommended 9.00mm hook.

I also decided on vertical stripes (the pattern is worked vertically anyway). Each stripe is 6 rows wide, and I just kept going until I knew I wouldn't have enough blue to do another stripe. I had a lot more black than blue, so I used that as the border. The finished blanket is about 51 x 62 inches. It's wonderfully soft and warm, though a touch on the heavy side.