A place to help this dude keep track of his thoughts and ideas on his way down the fiber arts superhighway...

Friday, September 30, 2005

Hands Free

I have received a couple of comments and actually quite a few emails asking for me to post a pic that doesn't have my hand in front of my face. It dawned on me that I am doing what my mom always did. It is nearly impossible to find a photo of her without her hand in front of her face. So in order to please my peeps here is a photo without my hand in front of my face:

Huge Thanks

Thank you to the people that have already donated to Habitat for Humanity by ordering gear from my Cafepress store! Y'all rock!!

Men Who Knit Anecdotes

I have received some amazing anecdotes about men that knit and about dogs and yarn. Keep 'em coming! This book is going to be fantastic! Oprah, are you listening?

He's Crafty (Beastie Boys reference y'all)

I managed to knit eight more inches on my sweater for the book today too. I love how the colors are turning out; it looks like a watercolor painting!

I also have all the ends woven in on the swatches I'll be sending out this Monday. I have to work on the actual sketches this weekend which will be difficult since the weather turned cooler last night. I want to be outdoors!!! Hey, I could sketch outdoors... brilliant!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Hurricane Relief

I know we have all have been wondering how we can do more to help those hardest hit by the recent hurricanes. I have decided to donate all proceeds of sales from my Cafepress store from now until the end of the year to Habitat for Humanity.

I will keep a running total in the sidebar of this blog. To kick it off I'm going to start the pot with a $150 donation. If you would like to help out you can go to my store here:

The Crochet Dude Gear

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Swatch Protector

I have been swatching like a madman the last few days. I took my sketchpad with me when I left Houston (thanks a lot Rita) and brainstormed a bunch of ideas. Now I have it narrowed to the five most interesting (at least according to me). I'm trying to get the sketches and swatches ready to mail on Monday since the submission deadline for these is at the end of next week.

This picture was taken in the Mediterranean last month. Don't I look relaxed?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Knit Man Knit!!!!

Yesterday I overnighted to NYC the crochet design I was working on for Lion Brand Yarn Company. They called me just before Rita came to visit and overnighted the yarn to me and I took it with me over the weekend. It was a good project to keep my mind occupied as the storm progressed.

Today I started on the sweater that I am knitting for the Men Who Knit book. It's a double-roll crew neck sweater made with Artyarns Ultramerino 6, which is 100% merino wool that is hand painted. The sweater is of course designed by Annie Modesitt.

This is how much I was able to get completed this morning (about six inches). I love how it is turning out. The great part is that I do believe I get to keep the sweater once they are finished photographing it.

I've only been knitting since February so I'm happy with how it is turning out (and that Annie had an easy design for me to work up). Just wait until you see some of the other designs too! They are amazing!!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Back home!!

Hi everyone! Thank you very much for the prayers and positive thoughts that I received over this last weekend. It was a nail biter, that's for sure. I'm happy to report that upon arrival home last night I found only minor damage. I'm taking today off to work on getting it all cleaned up.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Batten down your stashes!

That's what my friend Sherri emailed me! Very good advice. I wanted to let everyone know that I have taken every precaution possible to be safe as Rita gets closer. Please join me in sending positive thoughts and prayers to everyone who will be effected by this storm. I will post when possible to keep you updated.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Baby blanket - photo

Here is the pic I promised of the baby blanket I made over the weekend. I didn't get it finished-finished until this morning. Somehow getting all my photographs into rubbermaid tubs (thanks Rita, now go away please) took precedence. That being said, the blanket is ready to be shipped this a.m. (click for biggy view and note my foot placed strategically to show actual size of blanket)

The pattern is by Terry Kimbrough and is called "Pristine". Terry is such a talented designer and her patterns are fantastic! This one is was published by Leisure Arts in a booklet titled "Heirloom Afghans for Baby".

More Fun With Cats

In case you've grown bored looking at photos of stuff on cats, or actually putting stuff on your own cat, here is another site to entertain you. It's called Cats In Sinks.

Monday, September 19, 2005

It's a Girl !!!!

Friday afternoon I received an order via the Internet for a pink baby blanket like the one from February 22nd. As fate would have it, my little stash did not contain any of the pink yarn needed, so I had to go out and shop for some. It was about a thousand degrees and 140% humidity (welcome to Houston) as I headed out. One block from the yarn shop I drove into a deluge. Seriously, it was raining so hard that my little Saturn almost started to float. By the time I had bought a few skeins of yarn it was sunny and thousand degrees and the humidity was up to 165% because of the rain. I drove home dry and ended up watering my lawn and gardens. I heart Houston.

I had a busy weekend trying to get everything put away from the vacation but I was able to get the blanket almost finished. I'm hoping to ship it this afternoon or tomorrow morning. Pics tomorrow.

Yap Yappity Yap Yap

I'm thrilled with the anecdotes that I have received via email about men and their knitting. More more more!!! Click here for some questions to help guide your submission.

Also, don't forget to send me anecdotes about your dog and yarn. Did Fido eat a project? Did Fifi hide a WIP that you still haven't found? Has Poopsy held chunky alpaca silk for ransom? Email me the story!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Against All Odds

Despite Cleocatra's adament determination that I NOT finish this comfortghan... **click for biggy view**

I give you the evil eye, humanoid...
"I give you the evil eye, humanoid..."

I managed to get it finished although I'm not sure The Cat is very happy about it. She pawed at it pathetically for about ten seconds then sauntered away in disgust. I guess she'll have to find another WIP to try and hatch.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Where's Drew?

My yarn angel blessed me with a copy of the new Interweave Knits crochet issue that came out recently. I have received emails saying that they found my blog because of seeing me mentioned in this magazine! How cool is that? So, after sitting down for lunch with my yarn angel I flipped through the magazine, flipped through it again, then on the third try I found it! It was very cool to see my blog mentioned in such a great magazine.

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to find where The Crochet Dude is mentioned in this magazine.

This is the first time I've been included in a major national magazine and I am thrilled. Woo hoo HOO!!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Comfortghan Challenges

Assembling a comfortghan (comfort+afghan..clever, no?) is very rewarding and consists of several challenges.

First: One must collect enough squares to make the afghan the right size. Collecting the squares can be quite easy if you are in an established system like Heartmade Blessings. It also can be quite difficult if you are sending out spamesque emails begging your Internet friends to help. Either way you have to come up with the correct number of squares in time to still comfort the recipient. "Hi, remember when you were sick two years ago? Here's a comfortghan to help make you feel better now."

Second: The squares need to look attractive once together. This can be quite a challenge when someone interprets your request for "happy" colors to mean safety orange & lime green. One hopes the finished ghan will comfort the recipient, not cause seizures.

Third: The squares have to be more or less the same size before assembling. I lean toward using 12 squares that are 12 inches each. If a square arrives that is 14 inches (and one hopes that it is square, but that's not guaranteed) it's easy enough to rip out a row. Likewise if the square is 10 inches it's easy to add a row or two.

Fourth: Arranging the squares so that there is balance and harmony. One of the neatest aspects of a ghan made with squares from 12 different crochetiers is that you see each persons style and taste represented. Laying out the squares on the floor and arranging and rearranging them is probably the funnest part for me. I do the trick I learned in art school where you squint at the ghan which essentially eliminates the color and allows you to see the intensity of each square. I then arrange them so that the most intense squares create a pattern such as a zig zag, or an X, or four corners, etc. It's an easy trick and creates a sense of balance, which hopefully leads to comfort for the recipient.

Fifth: The yarn that you use to join the squares together, along with the joining method can make or break the final ghan. After I've decided the arrangement of the squares I look for a color that is hopefully represented in a majority of the squares. If there isn't one I will go with a contrasting color that will visually unite the squares. Then I choose a joining method based on what type of squares I have received. If I receive mostly "flowery" squares I will join using pretty frilly stitches that will make the ghan as feminine as possible. If the squares are manly then I will join using stitches that create a tailored geometric feel to the ghan.

Sixth: The cat.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I'm Listening

Yesterday I spent the majority of my time sending out a list of questions that I developed for MWK&TDWLT to those gentlemen who have shown interest in having their profiles/anecdotes included in the book. If you are a man that knits or know a man that knits please feel free to copy these questions and email me the answers:

  • How would you describe yourself?

  • Tell us who taught you to knit. Was it difficult to learn? What specific challenges have you faced in the learning process?

  • What quality or attribute do you feel will most contribute to your knitting success?

  • What type of yarn do you enjoy using the most? Why?

  • What has been your most rewarding accomplishment as a knitter?

  • Describe the most significant or creative project that you have completed.

  • How do you determine priorities in scheduling your time?

  • Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a difficult project. How did you handle the situation?

  • Give us a specific example of a time when someone criticized your work in front of others. How did you respond? How has that event shaped the way you approach knitting?

  • Describe the system you use for keeping track of multiple projects.

  • Describe how knitting has changed you as a person.

  • What projects do you hope to accomplish as a knitter?

Ladies, don't feel left out! If you would like to submit an anecdote that relates to knitting and men or knitting and dogs I would love to see it!

Today I'm hoping to sketch up some design ideas that I got while traveling around the Mediterranean. It is so beautiful over there it's hard to NOT be inspired!

Monday, September 12, 2005

It's what time where?

I woke up yesterday in Barcelona and went to bed in Houston. Don't get me wrong, it was great to be in my own bed again and the cats were VERY happy to see me, especially Chandler who wouldn't stop licking me. (I finally had to dive completely under the covers and then she wouldn't stop meowing until I came back out.) It is a little sad though when the vacation ends. I took about 2,000 photos and I can't wait to go through them!!

Today is vacation recovery day: groceries, laundry, lawn mowing, etc. It's amazing how quickly life catches back up with you! I was a bit sad this morning putting my breakfast dishes in the the diswasher pondering the fact that I hadn't had to do dishes in the last two weeks. I need a vacation.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Gracias a Santa Ana

After a comedy of errors that took me from the upper deck of a double-decker bus that was topless (the bus, not me) and a sudden rainstorm, to the lower deck where it was 327 degrees (fahrenheit) and finally spewd me out of the bus in a claustrophobic panic two stops too soon, I stumbled upon this nice lady crocheting up a storm with her two kitties. Was it a sign?

After a careful review of my popup Barcelona map I took a few unexpected turns and came across this store right in the busy section of the city.

In the window I saw this!

So after winding my way through the store, up the stairs and literally into a back room (the nice sales lady closed the door behind us) I was surrounded by two stories of wonderful yarns! (of course I didn't think to photograph the place, I was stunned!) She led me to one section that was all yarn made right here in Barcelona and wow did I have a hard time choosing what to buy. I ended up getting 500g of a wonderful variegated wool (see pic) and 250g of some incredible royal blue mohair (see pic).

My trek has ended. I can come home now.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Oh how I wishagain I was in Spainagain...

I'm back in Barcelona again. I know that yarn is here somewhere. Today I toured a house designed by Gaudi which was fascinating. My map said that there were three houses in a row of interest, but I had no idea what I was stumbling upon. I wish I could upload photos because they are just spectacular.

On my way to eat lunch I passed through a very large plaza with a bazillion pigeons living in it. I bought some pigeon food to feed them and very quickly discovered why I kept hearing children screaming. The birds know what those food bags are and do whatever it takes to get the food out. I was pretty much covered from head to toe in pigeons for about fifteen minutes (until the food ran out). The irony of course is that I didn't get pooped on even once!

I found out the hard way this evening that the people of Barcelona do not eat dinner until 9:30pm. I was so hungry. Not that I would spend from 6pm to 9:30pm in the bar on the roof of my hotel. I'm just saying.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Nice Naples...

Yesterday I arrived in Naples (Italy) in the morning early and went directly to Pompeii. I was here last year so didn't expect to see anything new. However my tour guide took me through many different buildings that I didn't get to see last time!! That made me very happy. Let's just say that the people of Pompeii were quite naughty. I have pics.

After Pompeii I took a bus to the base of Mt. Vesuvius. You know, the volcano that buried Pompeii and is still active? I then hiked to the top and walked around the crater. It's very exciting to know that at any moment the volcano could blow its top! The view of the bay of Naples was no less than spectacular and I could see as far as the island of Capri.

Needless to say there were no yarn shops on the top of the volcano or in the ancient ruins. Onward...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pro-crete or Con-crete?

I did my best to find yarn in Crete yesterday. Not much luck. I did find some fantastic hand painted pottery though! I do believe that my holiday shopping is officially finished! Woo hoo!

I tried to upload a photo of Mykonos yesterday but it was just too slow and kept timing out. I was amazed at the beauty of the island and can see why it draws so many people. And of course the thousands of cats that live wild on the island make it a unique experience. Many of them are very sweet and friendly. I was speaking with one local gentleman and he said that they believe the cat to be the most intelligent creature on earth and have much respect for them. An island where cats rule? Don't let Chandler and Cleocatra find out!! They may attempt the final takeover of Chez Dude!!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Little White Houses...

In a few minutes I'm heading into the little town of Mykonos, Greece. It's an island in the Mediterranean famous for its little white houses with blue trim, cats everywhere, an area called "Little Venice" that has Venetian style buildings right up to the water, and the shopping of course. I wonder if I'll find that elusive yarn here...

I'll let you know how the side trip to Delos island goes (the birthplace of Apollo). I would hate to get thrown in jail for dying there. It's illegal to be born there as well, so it's a good thing I'm not preggers. I'm just saying.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

When in Rome...

One doesn't necessarily buy yarn. All I found was brand names that seemed familiar and were obviously something I could order off the Internet if I so desired. So, in lieu of buying fibers I walked 600 steps through narrow sweaty passages to the very top of the cupola of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. What a view! (If I had a higher speed connection y'all I would be sharing some awesome pics. For now, you will just have to trust me.)

Going Down
I also went into the lower level of the church to see the tomb of John Paul II. There was weeping and wailing and a choir that sounded like angels. I don't think my little digital camera was able to capture the mood. I spent most of the time in line trying to avoid one particular weeper that used her hands to express her sadness, much like trying to shake a cockroach off her.

Cat Flangin'
I overheard a man on the street who was obviously from the deep south say "you cain't flang a cat in Rome with hittin' a church!". It's true it seems! I went to another church a couple of miles away (walkin' y'all, it's the yarn trek exercise program... you can't stumble upon a yarn shop in the subway!) Santa Maria de Angelis was a cool find, a church built over Roman baths. The church itself was designed by Micheangelo and quite beautiful. It's also the site of the original prime meridian.

Cooked in Greece
I'm now on my way to Greece to continue my search for the perfect yarn. Do they have sheep in Greece? I guess I'm about to find out! It's going to be hot and sunny so at the very least I'll come home with some color in my face. I'm going to Mykonos because apparently the island has good beaches. I may take a side trip to Delos which is the birthplace of Apollo. Apparently it's against the law to die there, so it will guarantee me one more day of trekking.

Friday, September 02, 2005

New Yarn Safari

In my life mission to find that perfect yarn I find myself trekking around the Mediterrenean. I haven't blogged in a few days because the search has been exhausting and all encompassing. So far I have searched Barcelona, Nice & Monaco but have yet to find that Yarny Grail. Today I will scour Rome and see what I can come up with. I'll keep you updated when I can.

Reality Check

I'm getting very sketchy reports of the aftermath of Katrina and my heart goes out to all those souls. I hope and pray that help reaches them as soon as possible, and I'm proud that Houston has been able to take in so many thousands of people in need.