Saturday, August 26, 2006

Survey says...

Well, the purse crocheted out of torn strips of fabrics got the thumbs-up from my co-workers for inclusion in the United Way silent auction ... but just barely.

Kelly said "absolutely" -- she thought it was "fun" and she liked the handles (a tactful way of overlooking possible dorkiness of the purse itself?)

Anna was definitely enthusiastic, saying it had a bohemian, "hippie-chick" quality that would easily draw bids.

Most diplomatic of all was 22-year-old Christie, who listens to edgy music and wears hip, urban black most of the time. She looked thoughtfully at my crocheted offering, paused for a moment, and then said with heartfelt kindness: "I wouldn't buy it - but other people might."

Y'gotta love a kid who can come up with that sort of honest answer on the fly!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

When crafts collide, I can't decide

The jury's still out on my most recent effort for the upcoming silent auction for United Way.

Well, OK, it hasn't exactly gone before a jury. But I definitely need to run this purse past some young, hip sorts to see if it fits into the "fun and quirky" category or in the Land of Eternal Dorkdom.

Here's how it started -- I bought Designer Style Handbags by Sherri Haab in my quest for inspirations for the silent auction. There are some really cute ideas in there, including some wacky decoupage techniques for cigar boxes -- stuff I'll never do, but it was fun to read about them. One purse was a simple bag crocheted out of 3/4-inch strips of fabric. The author points out that the print won't show on these narrow torn strips -- only the color matters. So, it's a good way to use up any oddball novelty fabric that's taking up room in your stash. mean like THIS?????

So a couple of hours later, here's what I had instead:

It's lined with muslin, so it certainly is functional as a handbag. My only anxiety is that it might really look more like a grandmotherly potholder. And since I've been the most vocal advocate of the "no icky crafts" rule for the silent auction, I'd better get some opinions from trusted fashionistas at work tomorrow.

If it gets a thumbs-down, at least I'll know that -- on a rainy Saturday afternoon in August -- I finally got some use out of that enormous size-P crochet hook in my craft drawer!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Getting ready for the silent auction

Next month, my department at work will host another silent auction to benefit local United Way agencies.

Last year was our first year to do it, and it was a big hit with other employees. They loved all the handcrafted items, along with other things reflecting the personal talents of our team. One of my co-workers contributed a beautiful handwoven basket with embroidered liner; she also brought a set of gorgeous wine glasses with hand-painted embellishments. We had painted boxes, crocheted afghans. There were certificates for rounds of golf, and for family photo shoots for holiday cards. I brought a couple of quilts and a knitted scarf. It was quite a kick for all of us to have other employees wander through the department all day, ooo-ing and ahh-ing over our humble creations and writing down bids that would go toward the United Way campaign. One woman's fresh-baked apple pies brought in $40 each!

With quilted purses and totes being so popular right now, I thought I'd try my hand at making some for this year's fundraiser. I'm having so much fun! Here are a couple that I've completed so far.

I'm not sure I'm crazy about the embellishments, but I'll keep fiddling with them. In the meantime, it's fun to have little easy-to-complete projects to cross off the list.

Friday, August 18, 2006

It'll keep you in stitches

My recent unpacking of stuff out of storage reunited me with one of the best knitting resources I've ever had: Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns. If you like to knit, it's absolutely worth the investment.

First published nearly 40 years ago, this book -- all 300 pages of it -- has straightforward, easy-to-understand instructions for hundreds and hundreds of different knitting stitches. And lest you feel overwhelmed by the choices, make note what the author wrote in the forward in 1968:

"...suppose that you are a novice knitter or one who has done only 'plain knitting ' for years and imagines that 'all that fancy work is too complicated.' It is important, then, for you to realize that many of the most attractive patterns are astonishingly simple to do. All the pattern stitches in this book can be done by anyone who knows just four basic knitting operations: how to knit, how to purl, how to make a yarn-over stitch and how to use a cable needle."

True to her word, Ms. Walker keeps everything easy. She organizes the stitches into basic categories - from simple knit-purl combinations and color-change patterns to eyelet patterns, fancy-texture patterns, cables and even lace.

Her brief commentary on each stitch (and ways to use it) is both helpful and charming. Few of us will probably be knitting the lace gloves or winter suits she sometimes mentions. But it's great to know which stitches are reversible, have little elasticity (or a lot), or feature "a pleasing texture of horizontal corrugations," as she writes about the Roman Rib Stitch.

In fact, the Roman Rib stitch worked out nicely on the little blanket I knit last week as Dan and I drove to Cincinatti and back. I'm so glad to have this book close at hand again!

To double your fun, check out the Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, too. Both are classics, and you'll never be at a loss for knitting inspiration again.