Wednesday, February 18, 2015

i have become techno befuddled

Ok, ugh.  I have become another stereotype.  I am the technologically befuddled old lady.

This is disturbing and comical because I spent most of my career life as a techno geek.  I used a time share mainframe in high school in the '60's.  I programmed an apple 2.  I consulted with and sold one of the early 'portable' computers. I connected via phone these early sewing machine size and weight 'portables' to a Honeywell mainframe.  I hacked the mainframe at work to create an inventory control program for the business forms the company used.  I wrote collection software for the local credit bureau, payroll software, medical billing programs.  Took a mail order course in computer repair... yeah yeah, from a matchbook cover ad.  It taught me how to solder motherboards etc, and that I liked software better than hardware.  I went back to school in the late 80's to get a masters in computer science.  I did admin work and taught C++.  I wrote 13 + computer books, learned security, got my CISSP along with a bunch of Microsoft certifications.  Did a column on Windows security for oh, 5 years?  Spoke on and taught computer security internationally.  In 2005 I wrote the best book I ever wrote, sold my house, finished up my work commitments and dropped out.

Went to art school.

Ended up babysitting my grandchildren 60 hours a week and making art and crocheting afghans.

Computers?  Something to play freecell on, shop for yarn.  Read the news.

My desktop is 8 years old.  My apple laptop, 7.  My iPad the original my dad sent me years ago when he bought a newer one.

I just bought a Microsoft Surface as a reward for going through cataract surgery and to have   something to do after.  (although you feel great right away, you can't lift anything the first week, 10 pounds the second, 20the third, etch. You can't even take a shower. So what do you do?)
And blamo.  Just like that, I realized I am techno befuddled.

My 6 year old granddaughter is more techno savvy than I am.  Heck, my 2 yr old grandson even gets it.  But I, I am struggling.  The use of touch screen, gestures, different way of finding things and doing things is NOT intuitive to me.  What is intuitive anyways?  If its the ability to figure out how to work things without reading the manual then this interface is not.  For me.  My techno background is based on the hard work of reading manuals, dipping into the guts of things cautiously.  Its of a time when just poking at things could end up not just crashing a system, but destroying it, or at the very least losing critical data.  And a crash could be its own disaster.  Systems didn't just pop back up intact with the ability to recover files, return to web pages.  A crash could mean hours if not days of  work to get things up and running.  Meanwhile, business was at a standstill.

So, not only is just trying not intuitive, who the heck would hide settings in 'charms' and side swipes, bottom swipes, middle swipes and glides--- am I computing or fighting a mixed martial arts master?

My days are now filled with discovery though.  And shoulder shrugs.  (my dad used to do that all the time as he tried to understand windows 3.1)

Please don't misunderstand me.  I do love my surface.  I can actually now download audiobooks from the library.  This has been available for several years, but apparently my browser didn't support it.  I can check Facebook for my crochet group postings.  Safari on the apple or the windows vista desktop just couldn't handle it.  You don't want to hear about the iPad.  And, no, I couldn't update those systems.  The original iPad just doesn't have the memory.  The laptop and the desktop are at there update limit.  I love the new solitaire games, and am enjoying the camera and the beautiful screen for viewing pictures.  I'm in love with the typepad cover and even my gaudy sleeve (purple polkadots on pink, at my age you need something obnoxious or you'll never find the tablet amongst the degree of a day with the grandkids.). But most of all I actually do like learning a new way of computing even if I am a decade behind and outclassed by the grandkids.

And the befuddlement?  Hey, I just found the surface manual and downloaded it,  seems I'm not the only old tech who wants to read it.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Woman of a Certain Age

Isn't it interesting how we sterotype women?  Especially the young and the old.  The young are often characterized as slutty or as boring;  the old as cougars or spinsters.  We have perceived notions of how women should dress and act if they are of a certain age.

I am interested in where this comes from.  After all, these sterotypical descriptions come from somewhere.  I think we often use them because we are lazy.  That is, we want to decide about people without looking further than our initial viewpoint.  She wore a tight, short, revealing dress.  She must be an 'easy' woman.  She crochets and wears unstylish dress.  She must be grandma.  Or the reverse;  she's a grandma so she must crochet, dress poorly, be uninterested in anything but grandchildren and gossiping about the neighbors.  She's young and advancing rapidly and wears a lot of glitz and glam so she must be sleeping her way to the top.

I've always tried to think about people with an open mind.  No matter how they are dressed or act in my initial encounter I try not to judge.  I know that I fail.  But I try.

Imagine my thoughts as I look back over my life and see the stereotypes I could be slotted into at different ages.

Then there is my now.  I am a grandmother.  I am retired from a very technical and successful career.  the most important thing in my life right now is those grandchildren.  And I crochet.  Doiles no less.  Its nice to know that in spite of my striving to battle stereotypes I am one.  I am a woman of a certain age.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Christopher Wool's Fiber Focus

Ok, yes, I know Christopher Wool is painter not a fiber artist.

But what if he one day took up crochet?

Thursday, at the Art Institute in Chicago I got to wander, almost alone, through the exhibition of his works.  Immediately, the gigantic swirls remind me of tangled yarn, the stamped flowers fabric (indeed many were created with the roller stamps used to paint walls to look like wallpaper, which, if you recall, years ago might have been, silk tapestry.), even the blotches and layered work like projects I have worked with multiple fibers, or reworked over and over throughout the years.

some yarn i have

I sat often, and long, and looked, and drifted within the layers; eyes following the tangles until they were often words or faces, subimages.  I was so greatful for the the benches.  So often there are only a couple within a large exhibit.  I want to spend time with these paintings and cannot stand for as long as I want to.  But the benches aren't my only viewpoint.  I see the paintings from across the room. I march right up to them and lean in, eyeballs as close as the guards will let me.  I take closeup shots with my cheap camera.  Then i walk back until I can get the whole painting in my frame. Snap.  Its marvelous that I can take these pictures.  I'll post them later to my computer and display them in a slide show on my large tv screen hanging from the wall next to the bed.

a small piece of Wool's Untitled, 1995

Infrequently, others drifted by.  How an they see these painting without stopping?  How can I leave?

They're large.  Hundreds of cm tall and wide.  Enamel on metal. Silkscreen on linen.  Images to remember.  To get lost in.  They'd make good pictures on sheets.

I read later that he grew up here in Chicago, the South Side in the 60's.  Later, in the 70's he went to art school in New York City.  His father a molecular biology professor, his mother a psychiatrist.  I too am a child who spent her teens and early twenties in that period of social unrest and cultural dissent.  Is that why his work speaks to me?  Unlike Wool, I had no formal art training until my late fifties.  But I knit and embroidered and made outlandish clothes.

The exhibit at the Art Institute also displays some of his iconic 'word paintings', large block letters spell out common words across a substrate without any nod to fitting the word or words as you might on a page.  So, a painting might say spokesman but as


slows down your ability to read it right?  you should see the one's with many words.  hard to decipher.

It strikes me that I could do something like that by knitting words into my next garment.  I wouldn't worry that you couldn't read them quickly, it wouldn't be like a t-shirt where you wanted to display a slogan, but would be a display on the figuraity of letters and words, instead of their meaning.  Of course, you'd try to read them anyways, and that would, like the viewing of Wool's word pictures, pull you into the art, make you part of the performance.  My moving in the garment, changing the appearance of the letters and making it even more difficult for you to read it, another dimension.

Would, if I riffed off his swirly, layers, spotchy, erasured bits, and knit over a crocheted motif , crocheted over a knit cable, strung loose yarn about, or painted across it, would I get something that gave you chills as you thought you saw hidden in the bits something else?  A dancing ghostly presence,  a chorus of wee people?

Untitled, 2009

I'd probably get a mess. 10 times. Maybe 100. And yet, perhaps, one result would be something I cared about, something that might mean something to you.  After all, we don't get to see the 100 painting's he painted over or burned at midnight.  We didn't sit in his studio day after day to see the painting grow into the marvel hung in the gallery today.

And what might Mr. Wool say about that one hat we like? (and why would I care?)

I've read that he takes lots of photographs.  Collects them in his own albums.  Some of this pictures are in the catalog.  I can see loops of hose, the tangle of wild flowers and their stems, faded ceiling painting, a cat almost hidden by the dark and dirty alley eyes shining in the light, junk overflowing a large truck as it travels down a road, telephone poles and wires.

He captures what he sees, then makes things to be looked at.  "What he makes pours over your eyeballs" (Richard Prince) ...and enters your brain, what do you see when Christopher Wool is in your brain...(paraphrased)

Some people, like Christopher Wool, makes the things of our unconscious out of the images of everyday.  Some people write about people like him. Some of us our inspired by him.

Would that all our time was there in that space all of the time.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Pleasures Post Failure

I'm a practical knitter/crocheter.  I know that not everything I do is going to turn out well.  Sometimes it's the pattern.  Sometimes it's the yarn.  Sometimes the needle or hook.  Many times its the time of day, my mood, my respective alertness, the light in the room and on my work, what I had to eat a little ago or last night, the second drink, how tired I am of , well you name it and and this is a new one for me,,, (ha!) my overestimation of my skill level or my underestimation of the projects difficulty.

In other words; its mostly me. And, no, I'm not ashamed of it.  I take responsibility.  But its not my fault.  See, I picked the pattern (or made it up), the yarn the tools and I chose to work where I did, eat or drink what I did.  and even where I overestimate my skill or underestimate the pattern, well I still made that choice.

I repeat.  I take responsibility but its not my fault.  

Sounds contradictory.  What I am saying though, is that other big word above.... shame.  being at fault implies shame.  Yeah, its the language.  My goodness.  Its a craft, a project that is not for sale, does not have to be displayed, can be taken apart, thrown away, or, many times serve as the project that taught me a, b or c (a new technique, a yarn/needle/stitch combo that doesn't work well that I don't like to do... blah, blah)  So there is no need to feel any shame.  Accepting responsibility means I don't blame anything or person for the failure.  Realizing its not my fault, removes the same.  Makes me un-faulty.  I'm human, I make mistakes.  I'm human, I can admit them, take responsibility, correct them.  I can do what's right with the results.  But I do not have to bear the shame.  (Oh thank heavens its a craft and I can even throw the results away ---- I paid for the yarn, I own the results.)

I know this seems like a lot of discussion for a less than perfect result after the completion (or non-completion) of a craft project.  But that's the point.  It is a craft project.  Its not a space shuttle hurtling through space with people on-board.  Its not open heart surgery.  It's not a moral dilemma.

The problem comes when we, crafters and artists treat our failures as if they are the failures of space shuttles and surgeries.  Oh I'm not saying its wrong to cry a little and stamp our feet when things are not as we anticipated. I'm even a big one for holding a funeral for particularly bad results or maybe burying the entire uncompleted project for a few years.  Goodwill will accept all those unused skeins (and even the jumble of your attempt)  if you really must remove the evidence from your house.   I am saying that that should be a brief hiatus in our proceeding with the next project.

As crafters and artists we can also take pleasure in our failure.

That's right.  Pleasure.  (No, I'm not a yarn sadist.)

As crafters and artists when our efforts result in results that do not please us we can (after a little tears and foot stomping) start a new project.  And, I propose, the pleasure in starting a new project after a failed project is much more intense than that of starting a new project after a wildly successful one.  Think about it.  After a tremendous effort you complete a project that is perfect in every way.  Others complement you.  You gaze on it with great satisfaction.  Oh what a wonderful artist/crafter you are.  You can't wait to show it off.  It's one more confirmation on you value and worth.  You may delight in this project so much that you even delay starting anew one.  Or, you charge out and purchase new supplies and engage in grandiose pipe dreams about your next masterpiece.  But once you find yourself on the top of the world how can you get higher? Sooner or later you're going to crash.  We all know that multiple successes only lead to failure.

Now think about your work after a failure.  There is a critical difference here.  Actually there are at least  two.  First, you have learned something to avoid.  Maybe you need to lower expectations.  Perhaps a simpler lace project is in order.  (I doubt the makers of those incredible intricate cobweb lace shawls with borders that take as long to knit as the shawl itself, made them as their first lace project).  Perhaps a particular yarn or yarn/needle/hook combo is not a good choice.  Maybe you could limit yourself to one glass of wine for an evenings knitting (or maybe none -- try an expensive grape juice/pure cherry juice or other exotica instead).  Lets all pledge to get the temperature/lighting/seating just right for working.  Sometimes all it takes is the attitude that you will frog a project that is not coming out as expected and redo that funny part.  Or, maybe, you can get that frame of mind that says no matter what, THIS project is for the pleasure of doing, not for the pleasure of done.  Second, its a new project.  Its exciting.  New yarn, the growing visual effect as you build stitch after stitch, row after row.  The comfort and calming nature of continued movement, the rhythm of your work.  All of the things that make interesting art, repetition, movement, color, line. unity, balance, contrast, emphasis, variety may be there.  The anticipation, even before you start, is almost ecstatic.  Choosing and gathering the materials;  Displaying them across a neutral toned area such as a tan carpet, an off-white sheet; Studying the pattern and checking the measurements of the finished project against what you need for size and fit.  Perhaps making a cloth garment to those measurements;  Practicing a new stitch; Even the preparation of gauge swatches big enough to match required gauge and to check for drape.  all of these things add to the excitement.  Oh, and don't forget the many hours of pleasurable work.  Even if your project is for someone else, the work part, the anticipation, the gathering, that's for you.  You may even get the cross pleasure of sharing.  If this project is for someone else, they may join you in selecting the pattern, the yarn.  They may enjoy seeing the project grow and imagining how it will look when done.  If its for you, or that's not decided yet, will you work on it during meetings with others?  My library even has a stated policy that its ok to knit or crochet during a book club meeting.  These meetings are not about your work, but you do get to share them with anyone who pre or post meeting wants to see. (I even had a person comment, post heated discussion meeting, that they avoided argument with me because I had these big pointy sticks.)

So these are just a few of the pleasures that I get out of doing crafts and art that are intensified right after I fail.

And now, of course, I have to own up.  I just failed.  That is, the very last thing I did before this post was knit a sock and my sock makes the beautiful pattern created by the designer look ugly.  See, I had some trouble with the yarn and needles.  The yarn was quite splitty and the lace needles (a new brand for me in sock knitting) didn't help.  I used the two circular needle technique (my first time doing this) and the stitches caught on the join where the needle joins the cord.  I had some trouble with a stitch (turns out others did too and there was a simpler way to do it - the problem could have been avoided on my part if I had spoken up before working half the sock), because of the splittyness and the poor lighting I lost my way and found mistakes in my work long after making them (still, I could have frogged back and fixed them).

The project was a test, and the pattern did have multiple muddy areas. The sock came out too large.

But the ugliness is mine.  Other testers chose better their tools and yarn, spoke up, frogged and figured things out.  I got frustrated and made it work, but am unhappy with the results.

Still, right now, I can look at the sock, I can look at the picture of the sock, I see all my errors.  I see the good parts that I did.  I see things and pattern combinations that astounded me and have given me ideas for their use in other projects.  (I see a use for the leftover yarn)  and I am ready to frog the entire sock, take the revised pattern provided by the designer, choose new yarn and new needles (actually, old needles of a different brand) and make a pair. The pleasure in their making now that I have removed some of the causes and attitudes that caused my failure in the first place will be immense.  The anticipation is already making me hum (me, my body and soul though I remain mute here in the library)  --- oh wait till I am riding my bike home!  there will be song, there will be smiling, there will be imaginary tricks - a few loop-d-loops and other feats of fancy - there will be an excuse to order new yarn!  happy dance, happy dance.

And though I must order some new yarn and will not be able to start the socks when I get back to the studio. I have many, many new projects to start. (And I have a few mid progress as well).  this feeling of birthday/xmas morning/romantic evening (well maybe not quite the latter) will serve me well as I return to my way.

Friday, February 28, 2014

A Triumph of the Web Knitting and Crochet Community

Ok knit and crochet wear designers and pattern publishers fess up.  You, with rare exception, don't adequately test the patterns you publish.

Do you disagree?  Read the following description of what adequate testing is and then let me know.  I'd love to promote your work, I'd love to purchase your work, I'd love to make your designs.  (Well, the making part would depend on if I liked the design.)

Adequate testing, I believe, is the testing by more than one or two testers of the completed pattern.  Specifically, each size that the pattern is offered in must be produced.  If the pattern has no size (for example a shawl or hat only offered in one size) then it must be tested at least by two testers and any comment about "one size fits all" should be modified to at least "one size fits many".  i.e. a shawl designed for the average size 14 women might overwhelm a petite size 1, or look silly on a size 50.

I repeat, a pattern for a garment must be tested at least once for every size it is published for.

We, the knitting and crochet community deserve nothing less.

And, now, its possible.

Oh I know what you as a designer, or you as a publisher are thinking.  That's completely impossible, silly, cost prohibitive and time consuming.  Why there would have to be multiple test knitters or crocheters. We'd have to provide them with yarn... too expensive.  It would be too hard to manage and exhausting to complete.  We'd never get any patterns published.

And so you, the traditional designers and publishers continue in your old ways and so your days I believe are numbered.

I foresee a time in the very near future when publications and designs will tout their testing of all their designs in all the sizes and they will be more successful than those that can not.

I foresee a day when patterns that are not tested in every size will be the minority.

I foresee a day when we can't imagine a time when they were not.

But I'm getting a little ahead of myself here.  You may not even realize that today, most patterns are not adequately tested>

What, you the knitter or crocheter ask, the designs are not tested?

Oh, they are, but not enough.  In the traditional scheme of things a designer designs a garment in a smallish size, one that will fit those typical models. a sample is made of the design in the yarn specified in the design.  The designer may produce it, or it may be sent to a tester along with the yarn.  The sample is returned to the designer (or the publication) to be modeled and photographed.  The design is written in the current standard for writing for knitwear or crochet wear and modifications are incorporated in the design that should morph it into a a multiple of sizes according to standards published for each size.  The pattern is edited for conformance to standards and the math is checked (i.e. with the number of stitches in each row produce a garment that is wide enough bust and hips long enough for arms etc.)

The problem, as many of you who knit or crochet will readily confirm, is that when you go to knit or crochet the pattern, since it hasn't been tested in your size there may be mistakes not caught by the editor, or the pattern may not have been scaled well.  For example, a pair of pants I once knit were scaled for multiple sizes but the difference between the front and back rise (the amount of inches from the crotch to the waist) was just one inch no matter what the size.  Look at a pair of your jeans and measure the front and back rise.  Is it only one inch?  Well, my experience is that it may be in smaller sizes, but in larger sizes no.  i.e. is your butt bigger than your lower belly?  Its like producing a tight fitting sweater with the front and back the same length and no accommodation for breasts.

Still, you may be thinking, to get every size tested does seem like an enormous expense and a very tortuous production.


With the bounty of the web, and the eagerness of knitters and crocheters to have new patterns and to talk with the designer and others working on the same pattern.  With the need of some of them to get help or to express their own ideas, to be of help,  to be a part of a community, the impossible becomes the possible.  The web has already changed the way the pattern business works and is changing it even further.

All the aspiring designer has to do is find her community. She does not need to offer expensive gifts of yarn, nor need to collect the sample knits so she can publish the results. She does have to be willing to help her community in making her garment, and be willing to listen to innumerable voices.  Some of these voices will be whiny, or overly critical but they may also be cheery, enthusiastic and appreciative.  When the projects are done, pictures, not garments are available to the designer as well as a rich history of information about her design and a solidly constructed pattern ready for the public.

Ah, the community, where can it be found?

You have no further to look than  Ravelry is a free web site designed for knitters and crocheters to post pictures of their projects, find their own community of like minded crafts persons and artists and explore new areas of their craft.  Designers can also publish their patterns with a link to where they can be purchased, or even sell them as downloads direct from the site.  There are groups, i.e. communities on ravelry that exist purely to test a specific designers work.  Even more importantly there are groups where multiple designers can offer a new pattern for testing and testers can apply to participate in the test.  The tester receives a copy of the pattern but uses their own yarn and keeps the finished product.  Each design has a thread in the groups discussion pages and testers can ask questions, note where they are in completing the test, comment or suggest ideas for the designer to incorporate.  Designers follow the thread helping and responding to comments.  At the end of the test (a deadline is set at the beginning) a tester adds their completed test as a project on their own personal page and incorporates a link to the designer.  The designer provides the tester with a final copy of the pattern.  Because projects in ravelry can be searched, potential purchasers for the design can see multiple examples of it and the designer has multiple pictures to refer potential purchasers to.

Its a win win, but of most importance, is that the individual purchasing the design can have confidence that the design has actually be produced in the size that they wish to make.  This is an advantage that is light years ahead of the current knit and crochet wear industry.

And yes, there are many people quite willing to participate in such testing.  I've been a part of one test and am currently participating in another.  In the first I made a shawl and in the second I am making a pair of felted slippers.  Next I'm going to select a sweater or dress.  The group I am working with is Free Pattern Testers. I'm enjoying the process immensely.

I hope that the designers will capitalize on the wonderful advantage they have, that their patterns have been tested in all the sizes that they offer.

Go. Join the group.  Join a test.  Be a part of this emerging community and look for and support designers who have had their designs tested in this way.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fun with Doillies

I remember grandmothers house in the 1950's.  There were, doillies everywhere.

I love these little bits of lace.  They lay under vases, over the backs of chairs, centered on a round table.  Most of them were white, but ocassionally a right red or green or maybe a natural colored big of complex stitchery laid formally, drapying a table, or deocrating a tray. 

Tiny, intricate stitches;  designs confusingly charted.  Who makes these things anyways?

I've tried to make them before, but the tiny stitches and complex designs defeated me.

Then there's the space thing.  As in lack of it.  I have a very tiny living space and though I have a very big studio in which I pursue my art, it's, well, a studio.  No real places for doilies amidst the projects in the works, the art supplies, the stuff that may or may never be art someday.  So, I do admire the wonderful delicate and fancy stitching on the doilies, I just don't have anything or anyplace where they could be, or where they'd look ok.

So today, at this grandmother's home, there are none.

I guess I could make some as gifts, but there are doilies available, mass produced somewhere, that look pretty good.  Why go to all that trouble of making you're own?  Why bother gifting someone who just bought 10 at hobby lobby for a couple of bucks a piece?

I'm sure those of you who do a craft or an art struggle with this too.  Where to put it all, who to gift and will they appreciate it?  Well why do anything?

So, for whatever reason, I seem to be seeing doilies in my dreams and in my mind as I do other things.  I'm hesitant, at first, to be frustrated by the tiny.  Why, I'm thinking, do I have to use size 10 crochet thread and a size 7 steel crochet hook and make something that takes weeks and is 7" in circumference?  What kind of crazy person would do that?

Perhaps, what I should do, is morph these doilies into something else.

So I grabbed some worsted weight yarn, and an H hook and I'm off.  There is something very relaxing about crocheting around and around in ever changing stitch pattern as something grows bigger and bigger.   Maybe that's why they do it, the doily makers.

The traditional yarn is made with cotton crochet thread.  Maybe you've seen it?  Aunt Lydias, or the like, size 10, 400 yards in a ball no bigger than a mug of coffe. You use a small, steel crochet hook and at my age, you can hardly see the stitches.  You can make several doilies from one ball.

Use a bigger yarn, and you get, well, a bigger thing. 

My first attempt, in grey, I left some holes and I got sort of a vest. But, I don't actually like it, that is, I don't think, I'd like to wear it anywhere. Besides, I didn't have enough of one shade of gray worsted yarn to complete it.  Luckily I had enough of several grays and I was able to complete it.  Still, I like the idea of a doily as vest.  So maybe I'll try again.

And hey, maybe it was just too small for me.  On a child it looks great!

Too bad she moved.  Redo...

And, make one about 2x this and try it out again.

Then I found this group on Ravelry (, group search on rugs) , that is for rug makers and suddenly, it all makes sense.  That great big lacy thing I made would look great as a rug, if only it had a little more thickness. The ladies on the rug group say, a multitude of things might be good for making a rug out of a doily patternm.  Rope, upholstery piping, macrame cord, yarn.  But they say use 3 strands of yarn held together. 

Since yarn is what I have, well here goes. 

By the end of the weekend I almost have a rug, and I used only yarns from my stash, that is, yarns I've bought over the years, or had gifted to me, or picked up cheap or no cost from thrift shops or hobby swaps.  No, I didn't have enough of any one color to make the rug but I had multiple skeins or partial skeins of wine, dark purple, red varrigated and several shades of beige.  Here's where the real skill, and just maybe the art comes in.  I am using someone's doily pattern but I have to understand both the pattern and how to blend and present color in multiple crochet stitches in order to get an end result that transforms a stack of miscellaneous fiber into WOW!

One week later:   The result?  A beautiful rug.  Grandmother, I think, would be proud.  Is it art?  Who cares?  It looks good and will make a great rug , or even a lap rug on these cold winter days.

Learned a great lesson here.  I didn't have even enough to complete some rows of one color , but since I was holding 3 strands together I was able to blend 3 of this then 3 of that and get pretty close for the row.

And, I've made the doily also in size 10 thread.  I've found a new way to display doilies.  (Thanks to the Doily Heads group on Ravelry).  I've crocheted around a metal macrame hoop and stitched the doily to the hoop.  Now I can hang it in the window or on the wall.

So maybe that's who makes the intricate tiny stitches thingies, crazy people like me.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Hats for People with Big Heads

Some people have bigger heads than others.  No, I don't mean swelled heads as in filled with one's own importance.  I mean physically bigger.  As in hats are generally, and especially for women, created in a 'one size fits all' design.

Somehow the producers of hats think that even if our bodies may be created in many different sizes, our heads are all one size.  Oh, hats for men may be created in different sizes, that is is you want to purchase an expensive cowboy hat, or a fedora, or other hat, but what if you can't afford those hats, or what if you are female?

Oh, I know that most of us don't wear hats anymore unless its winter and we want a ski hat or something warm and they are stretchy right?  One size truly can fit all, right?  Wrong.  The knit hats you find in Walmart and even those you may pay a lot for at the mall or in the boutique or on-line are generally made, with few exceptions, in one size an for a head that ranges from 21 to 22 inches in size. If I, or other members in my family of larger than average heads (23, 24 and larger in size) attempt to wear them they do stretch out to pull down over our outsized domes but then, a couple of minutes later, pop up to sit like little comedy hats or pop off our heads entirely.

This is frustrating, as is the problem when we find adorable hats of other structure that we might want to purchase and wear but that are only available in one size fits all.

So we attempt to knit them ourselves, or get someone to knit them for us.  Ahah!  Most knitting and crochet patters are also sized for the "normal" head.  Purchase the yarn, knit the hat and lo, off it pops.

As an experienced knitter and crocheter I can often modify the pattern to fit.  But what about the rest of the world?  Knitting hats is one of the simple projects, often suggested for new knitters.  New knitters do not usually have the skill to modify a pattern  Nor do many experienced knitters.

Relax, big heads of the world and those who wish to provide warm coverings for same.  I'm going to attempt to provide a few simple patterns designed with the larger headed person in mind.  Those of you who create wearable art (and those of you who might like to ) can use this information and create wearable art for big heads. Yes!

Here's the first one.

 Here's the first attempt at a pattern.  Experienced knitters go ahead, and please send me comments on how I can make the pattern better for all knitters.  (I'm not a pattern writer, but I am going to have to learn by doing.) A crochet version will follow (in an latter post) as will a downloadable pdf pattern to my Ravelry site (I'm whizard on Ravelry.)

Hat # 1 for Big Heads

Yarn:  Brown Sheep worsted.  1 skein and a little bit of another if you choose to make a stripe.

Needles:  Size 8 double pointed.  5 needles recommended.

Guage:  20 Stitches and 6 rows to 4 inches

Additional materials:  at least 1/16 yard of flannel fabric in a color to match the main color yarn.

Using main color, cast on 84 stitches to  4 needles.  (if you only have 4 needles, CO to 3 needles)
Join, making sure not to twist work.
Work in stockinette stitch for 6 rows.
Work in reverse stockinette stitch for 2 inches.  Changing from stockinette stitch (knit all rows in the round) to reverse stockinette stitch (purl all rows in the round) forms a turning edge, and a small hem.  You will stitch the hem to the inside of the hat at the end.
If you wish a stripe, cut yarn leaving a 3 inch tail and join stripe color. (see note on jogless knitting)
(If you do not wish a stripe continue in main color,)
Work in reverse stockinette stitch for 1 inch.
Cut yarn and rejoin main color.
Work in reverse stockinette stitch until total height of work (whether worked with stripe or without stripe) is 6 inches.
  *Purl 12, purl 2 tog* repeat from * to * around.
A:  Purl around.
B: *purl one less stitch than previous row, purl 2 tog* repeat from * to * around
repeat A and B until the total stitches on all needles is 24 then repeat row B 2 times (total stitches remaining 12)
Cut yarn leaving a 6 inch tail and weave tail through each stitch, pull gently to close hole at top of hat.
To finish, fold the hem created at the beginning of the hat to the inside and stitch to the inside.
Weave in any ends.

Note:  Jog less knitting.  When you add a stripe to a pattern worked in the round the spot where the color changes will produce a jog, a really obvious point at which you changed color and it won't look particularly pretty.  To prevent this, join the new color and knit the first round normally.  When you reach the beginning of the second round, slip the first stitch, then knit the rest of the round.  Knit any following rounds normally.  When blocking, pull slightly at the jog area to even the lines.