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

Monday, February 27, 2006

Unexpected Knitting

I spent the day Saturday at my LYS attending two classes taught by the incredible fiber artist Debbie New. And can you believe that I forgot my camera??!!??!! Drats. Oh well, I shall blog forward and not worry about the amazing photos I could have taken of her knitted artwork. This is her book:

Unexpected Knitting

The first class was on freeform knitting. Debbie's approach to teaching is very interesting. You can tell that she is experienced and has most likely encountered every scenario possible. Teaching freeform has to be pretty rough because it seems that most people like to knit in straight lines. In fact, I believe that they have practiced for years to make their rows look perfectly straight. Freeform aint like that! Kudos to Debbie for being able to shake them up a bit and knit outside their comfort zone. This is the scrumble that I came up with:

It's a mousepad!
Remember of course that this is my first try at knitting freeform. I could see how my crochet experience helped me loosen up. Isn't crochet inherently freeform? You can just poke that hook any ol' place, right?

This section wanted to be 3-D... who am I to argue?

I find this the most fascinating thing that she taught us. Using long tails to weave on top of the piece to blend the colors! Here is an example of how she used it in a 3' X 5' tapestry (shown in her book):

The second class was on a technique she calls Swirl Knitting. You knit pieces in rows (quite a switch from the morning class) and by mathematically placing increases and decreases you come out with swirls. Here is mine:

I'm very happy with how my first try turned out. I can see using this technique in so many differen't ways, including in crochet. It just opened up a whole different way of thinking about design. Here are two of Debbie's designs, also shown in her book:

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Joy of...

Photoshop. What did you think I was going to say?

Anywho, I've been slowly teaching myself Photoshop with the helpful Photoshop For Dummies book. I think it's called that because when you try to use the program, you so feel like a dummy. I'm pretty good with software, I'm not intimidated, etc, but c'mon Photoshop creators... give the dude a break!!!

So I wanted to cut out an image of one of my designs and make the background transparent. I looked up "masking images" (which is fancy talk for outlining) in the 8,000 page Dummies book and find out that there are ten different ways to mask an image. You know, one for furry images, one for watery images, etc. While the design in question was neither furry nor wet, I couldn't choose the correct way of masking. I closed said program, poured some..er.. milk (yeah, that's it) and watched Dr. Phil (it always makes me feel better to know that I am so not as messed up as his guests!).

Many days later (this morning) I came back to Photoshop hopeful and refreshed (plus Annie had told me it's pretty much now or never to get the photos for the 2007 calendar to her). I had a good feeling about it. I had placed Photoshop for Dummies on a prominent shelf in the family room and gushed about it for days to Chandler & Cleocatra to try and raise my Photoshop-Karma index. I think it worked a little because I was able to mask these images:

While not perfect in any sense, I feel like I actually accomplished something in Photoshop! Woo Hoo!

Square Count

Have you noticed the square count for comfortghan squares? That's right, it's up to 57 received as of today!!! Thank you thank you!! Still want to help out? Click the link at the end of the Hall of Fame in the sidebar to get the guidelines. We sure could use a bunch more squares right now!!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Shameless Plug

My brother Don is a home inspector in Nevada. He just got his first website up and running and I thought I'd give him a shout out (I like to use my powers for good). Holla Don! Welcome to cyberspace and Good luck with your venture!!

I'll look in your attic.
I'll check out your windows.
I'll stare at you.

If you are in the Tahoe/Carson City/Reno area and you need a home inspection, he's the one to call! Check out his website here:

Great Basin Home Inspectors

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Just Swatch Me!

Okay, so Super Cool Crochet Magazine asked for a couple of swatches in lighter weight yarns. I just sent them ten. Do you think that's overkill? I had fun making the same swatch over and over again with different yarns. It's a neat way to see how the stitch combinations appear differently with each one. I also pushed myself and used lighter weights that I wouldn't normally choose. (I'd blame it on my manly hands but my big brother Dan is much larger than me and does incredible lacey thread crochet.) I didn't know that Size 3 cotton would be so easy to work with!

Grand Champion Yarn

I received the box of yarn that I had ordered for the Herrschners Grand National Afghan Contest 2007. Anyone else entering? I love a good contest, especially one where the prize includes a free trip to Wisconsin. (I'm from Michigan so I have a deep appreciation for Wisconsin. According to my brothers when we were kids Wisconsin is where they caught the sun at sunset and shipped it to Detroit overnight so it could come up the next morning. That was cute until I argued with my Jr. High science teacher about it. Am I rambling?) Anywho, the yarn is fun, colors are pretty, I have the design in my noggin, now to get busy with it in my "spare time".

eBay Winnings

I made this afghan a few years ago as a Christmas gift for a family member. I hadn't crocheted in a few years and didn't really know what I was getting myself into. In fact, I thought I could finish it in a week or two. It actually took over a month.

That was 7 years ago and more than once I wish I could ask for it back (what good is it doing in their closet?) But of course that would be weird and in some places wrong, so I just resigned to the fact that someday I could possible inherit it back (creepy - but you know you've done the same thing). Then someone at Crochetville gave the heads up that an afghan was being auctioned and to make this longer than necessary explanation even longer, I bid and won.

Whoever made this one did a fantastic job and used the original colors called for in the pattern (which are long since discontinued). Someone suggested I get a groovy round bed to put it on. I'm thinking I may have it professionally mounted and hang it in the family room. Wouldn't that be amazing?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

After Glow

I'm just overwhelmed with the well-wishes that I received since my one-year Bloggaversary! I had never received so many comments and it was quite a thrill. Now I know what Crazy Aunt Purl must feel like!! Seriously y'all, thanks for making this dude so happy!!

Thank you for the great gifts that I've received over the last few days too! Here is a bloggaversary bouquet from Imaginary Maggie:

And this incredible crochet hook from Sondra!

Super Cool Yarn Co. II is baaaack...

I received a call Thursday afternoon, received the yarn Friday afternoon, and just shipped the design (overnight) this morning. Gotta love these deadlines. Actually, I won't admit to liking deadlines, but I see that they help me get projects finished. Even if I set an arbitrary deadline for myself it helps me work harder. I have three projects that I've had on the back burner since before the holidays but I haven't set a deadline for them, so guess where they are? Simmering on the back burner still! Hello, anyone remember Coliseum? Nouveau Riche? Do Your Manly Vest?

That's not really the vest I designed, nor is it actually me. But I couldn't find a post where I talked about Do Your Manly Vest so I improvised. Gotta love Google!

Super Cool Crochet Magazine

I wish I could tell you the details, but I can't. However, I was contacted by a Super Cool Crochet Magazine and they are interested in one of my designs for a 2007 issue! I'm just amazed! Either my designs skills are improving or I'm just the squeeky wheel they are trying to grease. Oh heck, either way I'm so stoked! They've requested a couple of swatches more using a different weight yarn, but it sounds like it's going to happen. Woo HOO!!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Dude is One Year Old Today!

Happy Bloggiversary!

It was one year ago today that I figured that I'd give The Crochet Dude a shot and present him to cyberspace. Who knew what would happen over the next twelve months?

  • 232 posts
  • 140,000 hits
  • 3,000+ comments logged
  • 10,638 views of my Blogger profile
  • 10 free patterns created
  • 50 designs published
  • 10 designs created for yarn companies
  • Featured in newspapers in countries such as the USA, England, Canada, & Australia
  • Received six marriage proposals.
  • Featured in magazines such as Knit.1, Bust & Interweave Crochet
  • $175.00 raised for Habitat for Humanity
  • 1,000+ subscribers to The Crochet Dude newsletter
  • Able to meet Crazy Aunt Purl, Lady Linoleum & Ellblo among many other fantastic people (you know who you are!)
  • Signed my first book deal with Lark Books
  • Coauthored that book with knit goddess Annie Modesitt
  • Taught myself to knit and went on to knit one of Annie's designs for that book
  • Selected by Accord publishing to do editing work on the 2007 Crochet Pattern a Day Calendar
  • Blogshares.com current value is B$4,724.63/share (buying may be difficult)
  • Technorati Rank: 11,745 (264 links from 129 sites)
  • Top crochet site on the Crochet Top Site List. Have you voted?
  • 289 people have pinned my Frappr Map.
And if I think of anything else I'm going to come back and add it to the list. If YOU think of something I should add to the list, let me know!

Thank YOU!

Seriously, I'm so grateful to each of you that comes to my blog and enjoys my designs. I love reading your comments (hint hint, leave one right now) and I feel like I've made some fantastic friends here!

Cleo has enjoyed this year too!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Let The Comfort Commence!

I just returned from the post office where I found that squares have begun to arrive already! Woo hoo! I'm so stoked, and very thankful!! They look fantastic, and will soon be shipped off to the appropriate Heartmade Blessings assembler so that each square can fulfill its comfortdestiny.

I have started a Hall of Fame in the sidebar where I will keep a running tally of how many squares have been received. I am also listing out the donors so they can get their kudos on!

Thanks again everyone! I'm just blown away by the support and generosity of the fiber community!

Chandler is obviously impressed in that feline "you woke me up for this?" sort of way...

Football Afghan Pattern Info

A few people asked about where to find the patttern for the football afghan I showed on my blog yesterday. The book is from Annie's Attic and you can find it here:

Annie's Favorite Special Occasions Crochet Projects

It's a great pattern because you can make the colors around the strips of footballs to match the team colors. The one I made in the photo used the colors of the local football team. The book also has patterns for each season of the year like Halloween, Christmas, Independence Day, etc. There are still a few patterns in the book that I plan to make someday!

Clutter B Gone!

I shipped out three big boxes of extra yarn this morning. They are all going to people that work on comfortghans and I'm sure will be doing much good very soon. I have phase two fairly well planned in my head, but nothing is on paper yet. That studio is going to be so cool!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Phase One

Remember this?
*unfortunately you can click this photo to get a better view*

I spent a good portion of Saturday going through all this yarn, bagging it up into categories (I should have bought stock in Hefty and Ziploc!) and deciding what stays and what goes. You see, the first incarcation of The Crochet Dude was a craft booth at a local craft mall. I had purchased yarns to stock the craft booth with all kinds of goodness.

*click them for biggy view*

Now I find that many of those yarns are obsolete. The craft booth is long gone, and my focus has changed from selling goods to selling designs. I love finding fun crochet items at craft fairs and craft booths though!

Next Phase

I knew that before I could seriously think of annexing another room to my studio space I had to do some cleaning. I needed to evaluate what yarns were going to help me reach my goals, and which ones were just going to slow me down. I bagged up a lot of the yarn that works well for comfortghans and am in the process of donating them to Heartmade Blessings. One large lot of pretty Christmas yarn is going to Crochetville for their upcoming auction. No fibers actually were thrown away, just redistributed to where they will do more than collect dust.

This is my studio now!
*fortunately you can click this to get a better view*

Friday, February 10, 2006

Judi's Tapestry

Well folks, here is the tapestry I've been working on for a while now. Bringing it together is the hardest part; laying it out, stitching it together, working out the architecture so that it hangs properly. And after all the work, and with the assistance of two very helpful kitties, I present Judi's Tapestry:

Judi's Tapestry by The Crochet Dude(tm)

Now why'dya hang my bed on the wall?

2007 Crochet Pattern A Day Calendar

I found out yesterday that I have been selected by Accord Publishing to do the pattern editing for the upcoming calendar! Woo hoo! Annie has sent me the file with all the patterns (very cool stuff people) and I get to make sure all the abbreviations are the same, etc. Now that Judi's Tapestry is finished I'm going to hunker down and get busy with these patterns!

Squares for Heartmade Blessings

Thank you for the amazing response to my desperate plea for squares for Heartmade Blessings. As the squares start to come in I am going to keep a running total in the sidebar. Also I will email each of the square donors privately to let them know that their square(s) arrived. Thanks again!! Now go bust yer stash!!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Wanna Bust Some Stash?

As some of you know I am actively involved with the comfortghan group "Heartmade Blessings". We send out ghans to people in need of comfort either from illness or loss of loved ones.

We have had a flood of requests for ghans over the last few weeks (historically the most we've ever had requested in a one month period) and now have over a hundred pending afghans that we are lovingly trying to get sent out as soon as possible. This is where you come in! If you wanna bust some stash and provide comfort too, please consider sending us a square or two (or twenty!). Here are the guidelines:

What kind of yarn can I use?
Please use 4-ply acrylic, worsted-weight yarn only. No 2-ply or 3-ply. No cotton, no wool, no thread, no bouclé. Caron, Red Heart, and Wintuk are some of the common brands used for HMB squares.

What color yarn should I use?
There is no need to go out and purchase a particular color, unless you want to. Using colors from your current stash is perfectly acceptable (except black).

What colors are least requested?
Black is never used arbitrarily for a comfortghan, and solid black squares should never be used in a comfortghan.

What size are the squares?
The most common size is a 12" square. It takes twelve 12-inch squares to make a comfortghan (three squares across by four squares down). This has become a very manageable number of squares for most assemblers to work with.

How do I measure the square?
Brands of yarn and various colors work up differently, so it's important to measure each square you make, no matter how many you've ever made. If you're within an eighth or quarter inch of 12", you're good.

What's all this talk about knots?
Please, please, please NEVER use a knot anywhere in your squares without leaving looooong tails to weave in. When you begin your square, leave a tail of five or six inches (some people prefer seven to eight inches), then start your initial chain. When your square is finished, leave another long tail (six inches, e.g.) before you cut the yarn. If the manufacturer's skein has a knot in it, cut it out and treat it as a color change.

How do I weave in the ends?
Use a darning needle or tapestry needle. In a granny square, for example, the very end of the last round will end up in a corner. After you've cut the yarn about 6" long, use the needle and 'sew' the yarn through the 'half moon' section in the corner (just below the corner, actually). Then skip a stitch and weave the needleback in the other direction. Pull the area tight -- just a little bit tight -- and cut the yarn. Then fluff it out and you'll never see the woven end. Be very loose with the needle; easy does it, as you don't want it to pull too tightly and ruin the look of the corner. With other types of patterns, use the needle to 'scootch down' to a lower row, then sew the yarn about an inch or two in one direction, skip a stitch, and sew back across in the other direction, then cut the yarn.

What pattern should I use?
Pretty much anything goes. The granny square is a perfect pattern for almost every comfortghan, but any pattern you're comfortable making, go for it. Remember, you're never obligated to make any square you're not comfortable making. If you just want to stick with a granny square pattern, you are more than welcome to do so. You can find a group of patterns here.

Can I make a sampler square?
Yes. If you crochet a sampler square, please make sure it's a perfect square. If it's 10" vertically and 13" horizontally, it's not a 12" square. Just keep in mind that an assembler is going to add another round of edging to the sampler square.

What should my last round look like?
It needs to be flat on all four sides. You should end it with a round of sc, hdc, dc, granny clusters, or other 'regular' stitches. Anything frilly or ruffly or a shell-type edging may work on a completed afghan, but not on an individual square. Also, it's easier for the assemblers if your square has an uneven number of stitches in each corner (3 or 5). When your square is finished, pretend you're going to add another round and look at all four sides of your square -- will someone else be able to insert a hook in every stitch? Feel free to leave the tail hanging out instead of weaving it in. Assemblers are very willing to weave in the ends after they've edged the square.

It sounds as if my square needs to be absolutely perfect.
No, not at all. Every square is stitched with love and we all know it. The individuality of each square, whether it's simple or complicated, adds to the wonderful variety of a comfortghan.

What are tags?
Please do include a tag on each square you make. It can be your business card, a piece of an index card, a paper luggage tag, even a small piece of paper - anything, really, with your name, city and state, and e-mail address. At minimum, your first name and state.

Once you have them ready you can send them to my address:

Drew Emborsky
PO Box 10027
Houston, TX 77206

If you are unable to help with squares we can take postage donations too! Stamps of any denomination help!

Thanks everyone!!!

Monday, February 06, 2006

4 of 6

During the Super Bowl I made some progress on a new tapestry. This one was a door prize that was given away last year in San Francisco at the CGOA conference. The winner asked for natural colors, greens/browns, etc. I estimate that I have about four out of six feet here with these squares. I'm showing them to you now because I am always amazed at how a group of seemingly random pieces can look so good once the tapestry is all assembled and hung. I'm hoping that this will be finished and shipped within a day or two! (after pics coming soon - stay tuned)

This Blue House

I don't have a pic to show you so you'll have to use your imagination! I was able to get the next exterior wall of the house painted over the weekend. This one was a bit larger and higher than the courtyard walls. I'm not very good with the heights y'all, but managed to get it done with a bit of tingly feet and slight hyperventilation. I can feel the effects today of going up and down that extension ladder!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Vintage 1938

Last year my big brother Don, better known as "The Naked Inspector" (he does home inspections in the Carson City/Reno/Tahoe area and uncovers everything, clever, eh?) was here visiting and of course he inspected my house, he's nice that way. Anywho because of the excessive humidity in Houston he recommended that I get the house caulked up and repainted (we estimate it had been about 30 years since the last time it was painted).

To make a short story longer, he visited before The Crochet Dude was ever blogging, publishing designs, etc. and I had a lot of time on my hands. This blog went live a few weeks later and I've been trying to keep up with it ever since! And did the house get painted in 2005? No, I don't think so! So, to be proactive (yeah 2006!) I am painting it when I have an hour or two here and there. Yesterday I finished up the courtyard.

courtyard before

courtyard after

Of course there is no patio furniture in the after, but hopefully that's not too distracting. I'm happy with the color and how it's turning out. Neighbors keeping stopping by and cheering me on. I live in 1952 I think. One of them brought me homemade brownies and a glass of milk.


What does all this have to do with crochet, you may ask? Well, nothing...and it just makes me wish that I could do more in a 24 hour period. I could hire someone to paint the house I suppose, but where is the fun in that?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Yikes. and oh yeah... YIKES!

I invited my friend Trish from across the street over to see the new sofa. I was telling her how the t.v. was going to move into this room and that I was going to expand my studio into the current t.v. room, blah blah blah. One thing led to another and I showed her my current studio and she exclaimed "wow!", and for the first time in a while I looked at it through another person's eyes. Conclusion? It's a holy mess and way too small!!! (see pic - which unfortunately will enlarge if you click on it, revealing the messiness even clearlier - which is too a word... anywho).

I blame the holy mess on the way-too-small, even though I know that my mom would have said "just put each thing away when you are finished with it and it will stay organized". And going against what I'm sure Dr. Phil would advise I'm going to throw some space at the problem. I'm convinced (at least in the process of convincing myself) that if I just had 100 square feet more all of this would look neat and tidy. And hey, I could go to IKEA and get some cool Swedish-style shelves that would make the place look professional. And I reaaaaaaally want to build cat walks all around the walls like in those extreme homes on HGTV, so Cleo and Chandler can run around above me and watch my creativitiness.