Wild Fibers

There is a good reason besides the obvious why those of us who work in the yarn industry take great pride in our work. If you craft with natural fibers, there is no faking the process. You can’t mass-produce animals or fleece. It is one of those few processes left in the world that is still heavily tied to tradition and custom – in the best possible way. I have always enjoyed reading Piecework, which does an excellent job of researching and presenting traditional techniques. But I just found this magazine, which I am adding to my Christmas wish list. Aside from the fact I can now live vicariously through these world travellers, I think it’s wonderful to get firsthand knowledge of where the animals are raised, as well as the culture, traditions, and lifestyle of the people who raise them.

Crochet and Knitting Trivia

I recently finished reading The Glitter Plan, which is the story in their own words of how the two founders of Juicy Couture built the company out of basically nothing. I am a sucker for American Dream stories where someone has a few dollars and through their own hard work and creativity, turn it into a multi-million dollar company. I was very pleasantly surprised to read that Gela Nash-Taylor (half of the Juicy Couture founding team) is a knitter and, like me, sits up at night and knits to relieve stress. I’ve periodically seen a photo here or there of other more famous celebrities who knit and crochet. Just for fun, I thought I’d see if I could find a list. Here is what I came up with, although I’m sure this is by no means comprehensive. I’m not sure why I enjoy yarny trivia so much, but I hope you all enjoy browsing these as much as I did!

Those who knit might surprise you. By the way, to add to the trivia fun, I am told a certain Desperate Housewife in this list used to come in our shop all the time. I just wish I’d been working there at the time!

Those who crochet might surprise you even more!

And, if like me, you still love a good track suit, this book will tell you the story behind how it all started.

Crocheters’ Turn

When I decided to do this post, I wasn’t entirely sure of who I wanted to list aside from the big names of Lily Chin and Doris Chan. But the more I dug around looking for what’s new and cool in the crochet world, the more fun I had finding all the designers who are doing exciting stuff with it!

Even though I have not yet made patterns from these designers, I was very happy to find this list!

Pattern by DarnCat Crochet

Pattern by DarnCat Crochet

There’s nothing cuter than crocheted animals, and having done animals and toys both in knitting and crochet, take it from me: crocheting them is alot more fun, and SOOOO much quicker! The nature of crochet is that the fabric you’re stitching is thicker, which lends itself nicely to creating fabric for an animal or toy which will be stuffed. I made the bunny above several years ago, and couldn’t find much from this artist to share, so I recommend Joyce Overheul’s designs at Flying DutchmanDesigns as an excellent alternative.

Laura Lynn Hanks' Chromium Star

Laura Lynn Hanks’ Chromium Star

Props to any designer who can come up with a pattern that becomes this popular, looks this cool, and is so easy to do! Considering that I had to clear my entire living room floor just to be able to spread this throw out in all its glory for this shot, it didn’t take me long at all to crochet this huge piece. And when I went to her blog, I found a wealth of talent! Visit when you have time to read and browse!

Another designer whose patterns I’m excited to try is Heidi Bears, designer of the adorable Happypotamus and numerous other equally adorable and gorgeous animals. Her stuff is so adorable and beautiful I don’t even want to have it open on my computer screen when my daughter is around until I’m ready to make it, because I know my little girl will drive me crazy begging for it. And to be honest, I sort of just want to make one for myself!

Not to be forgotten, there is also Tunisian crochet, which I have only sampled, and would love to continue exploring. Sharon Silverman is an excellent writer and designer of Tunisian.

Sasha Kagan is a knitwear designer who took the time to explore crochet and write an extremely inspirational book. I love the fact that such an accomplished knitwear designer took time out to explore crochet and elevate it to an art form. I would encourage any crocheter in need of inspiration to read her book, as it is truly one of the best out there.

There is a whole other world of crochet that fascinates me that originates in Japan. It is hard for Americans to know how to work these patterns unless they’ve been taught to simply read the charts visually. But the designer Kazuko Ryokai is the author of Crochet With Color, and gives us an excellent (and fun!) place to start.

I hope you enjoy what I came up with! Please share your favorites with me, as I am always happy to add to my list.

New to Me

As I might have mentioned in prior posts, I have a hard time dealing with clutter. The main reason for this is because I really hate being wasteful. I don’t like getting rid of things that I still feel have life left in them, but I’m not one of those people who has constant inspiration for how to repurpose stuff. I walk into thrift stores and immediately feel overwhelmed. One of my best friends is an extremely talented artist who can take a toilet paper roll and make fine art out of it. I admire this trait very much, and so when I was at the library last week, I was intantly drawn to this book. And of course, I went to this artist’s blog and found way more goodies than can fit into a book. I don’t know if it will help me get rid of all my clutter, but I am inspired to keep trying to look at old items in a new way.

A Lifetime of Color Inspiration

I couldn’t resist sharing this with you all. Truly amazing, and so much inspiration to page through! Make sure you read through the post, as there is a link provided to view this incredible work online.

Colossal indeed!

A Boring Book, a little Cervantes en Puerto Rico, and My Opinion

De musico, poeta y loco, todos tenemos un poco. (We are all a bit of a poet, a bit of a musician, and a bit mad.) Cervantes

I love this quote, which was in Esmeralda Santiago’s beautifully written book Conquistadora. It is all about a woman who becomes a hacendada (owner of a hacienda) in Puerto Rico in the 1800’s, a time when it was unheard of for a woman to hold this sort of role. I had a hard time putting this book down, although considering I’ve had company, run back and forth to the hospital to visit someone who needed me and been managing my regular life on top of it all, reading a book this long in one sitting is indeed mad. I was in Puerto Rico a long time ago, and the descriptions of El Morro and San Juan, as well as the countryside, are just beautiful to read in addition to painting accurate verbal pictures of what I saw in person. But my favorite part of this story is how this woman truly does become a conquistadora, conquering illness and hardships and society’s preconceived ideas about women to become mistress of her own estate. It is not a particularly happy book, as the owner/slave relationships unfold and you see all the complexities of society back then. You end up sympathizing both with the slaves as well as with the owners, and realize that you cannot just upend a societal structure, no matter how evil it might be, without thinking forward to how to handle the issues that arise when change takes place. This is not in any way to say that injustice should be allowed to continue, but it is an extremely interesting read because the author makes you think below the obvious.

She also has to make heartbreaking sacrifices, and as a reader, you find yourself wondering if you would love something so much you would be willing to sacrifice what she does. It makes you realize the truth of another quote in the book:

Hablar de la historia es abandonar momentaneamente nuestro obligatorio silencio para decir (sin olvidar las fechas) lo que entonces no pudieron decir los que padecieron el obligatorio silencio. (Talking about history means we momentarily abandon our obligatory silence to tell (without forgetting the dates) the suffering that others could not express in their obligatory silence. Reinaldo Arenas, “El Central”

Perhaps the depth and beauty of Esmeralda Santiago’s book is the reason I found it so difficult to finish Friday Night Knitting Club. I had been looking forward to reading this book, especially since my own knitting group has been so much fun and such a source of inspiration. The women (and gentleman!) in my group are such great friends, and even though this book was about women who bond over knitting, it didn’t capture this element at all. I am all for chick lit, but my judgment about any book pretty much boils down to whether it grabs me or not, and this one did not. When it comes to music, movies, books, etc., I don’t care about critical reviews, but it annoys me when a writer expects to sell books filled with bad grammar and sentence structure (which this book was) and then fails to even create gripping characters or storylines. I like the idea behind the book, but I won’t be rushing out to buy anything else by this author.

I find books very inspiring, both for the opportunity to step into someone else’s head, and also just to learn of different times and places. I know alot of artists work to be well-read due to the inspiration they absorb from reading. Next up on my reading list: Tim Gunn’s Golden Rules. I truly wish Tim Gunn was a part of my life. I don’t envy the Project Runway contestants except for the fact they get one-on-one time with Tim Gunn.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 86 other followers