Tuesday, September 30, 2008

a small gift

One of my very favorite things about my job is that I get to work with so many interesting, kind, hilarious, brilliant people. I love my professors and wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

One of the people I've really gotten close to is a wonderful adjunct professor who also happens to be a Buddhist nun. She and I have worked on a couple of very big conferences together and she is such a patient, hardworking and longsuffering person (as you might expect), not to mention the fact that she is constantly in the process of translating some ancient Tibetan literature into English, which is mind-boggling/awesome to me. I had been wanting to give her a gift, something handmade, but kept running out of time or ideas, so I was a little bit embarassed as well as flattered when she asked me to make her a hat like my Parisienne caps, but in a color that she could wear (they're only allowed to wear Burgundy or Gold). It took a lot of searching but we finally found a suitable color and I ordered a lot just to make sure I had enough. I tried to give her the hat as a gift but she wouldn't hear of it. Fortunately though I had a whole skein of the yarn left over, so I found this pattern and thought it would be perfect.

The first step was easy enough; the pattern was clearly written and I worked it up in maybe two afternoons; no sweat. Then I arranged it on a mixing bowl for a mold to see what it would end up looking like:

(that cloth it's sitting on is a Nepali brocade that my friend gave me after our last conference as a thank you gift)

Looks great, right?
Then it needs to be starched; both because I was/am broke and because I don't know where to buy commercial fabric stiffener, I opted for the homemade formula listed with the pattern. Sugar and water, soak it, let it dry, three days and you have a bowl! What could be easier! Except:
It really looked like a kindergarten craft project that had been drizzled in Elmer's glue. It was um a little bit heartbreaking. There is something very, very wrong with the formula for that homemade stiffener. I'm assuming it has to do with the complete wrong proportion of sugar to water, but since I have not a clue how to fix that proportion or what would be the correct way to do this, the only thing I can recommend is to AVOID THE HOMEMADE STIFFENER. Bad. Bad bad.
I finally calmed down and decided to try to fix it instead of tossing it and starting all over again. It took three weeks of careful wiping with a damp washcloth, drying for two days, wiping the other side, drying for two days, and repeat, but I finally have something that looks like a gift a grownup might give to another grownup:

I'm really really happy with it and I can't wait to give it to her this afternoon!

So the moral of this story is, this pattern is wonderful, but PLEASE spring for the commercial stiffener, unless you're really looking forward to producing a big sticky crusty awful mess :)

By the way, when I gave Ani her hat, she said a quick blessing in Tibetan over it, which she said is traditional before putting on a new piece of clothing, to commemorate all the work that went into it. Which is hands-down the best thanks I've ever gotten for anything.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Best Friend

A few months ago, one of my best friends, who lives far away, sent me a picture of a ski cap she saw somewhere and asked if I could make something similar. Having learned (and fallen in love with) crocheted ribbing from Celeste's fabulous City Girl Cap pattern, I got really excited about designing something for a friend. And thus, the Best Friend Beanie was born.

A few weeks ago (still blazing summer weather in DC) my best guy friend and I did a photo shoot with all of the beanies I had made for my etsy store for Fall:

One nice thing about having Jared model is that, of course, he is a beautiful boy. He's just astoundingly photogenic. Which is almost a shame because inevitably 80% of the photos I take have me in the middle of talking or sneezing or sneering or looking dubious or are otherwise unusable, so I ruined a whole lot of good Jared pictures :)

Another nice thing is that Jared's head was made to wear beanies. I've never seen a beanie that didn't love Jared. He was actually known to some of my acquaintances as "your friend who always wears the hat." They're kind of his thing.
A few years ago I was living in St. Petersburg. I was cold and miserable and homesick as hell. I went to check my e-mail and there was a link to a video. On the video was Jared's face. "Hey Allison," he said, smiling his perma-smile, "guess what time it is?" He reached off camera, made an "are you ready??" face, and pulled on one of his ubiquitous beanies. He pointed at his head and did a dance and sang "beanieweathertimebeanieweathertime!" and laughed like he does.
That was how I knew that it was Fall back home, and also how I was reminded, yet again, how much I love my best friends.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Full Disclosure

The heat index was 98 degrees when we took these photos yesterday. And yes, I was miserable.

But I had bought a spot in the Etsy Fall Fashion Showcase so I needed some Fall things up. I was patient with DC weather for two weeks; the mercury was slowly dropping into the pleasant high 60's, and then...well, Summer hadn't finished tormenting us yet apparently.
(You'll notice that if it were actually as cold as that scarf would merit, my legs and feet would be frostbitten, but I refused to walk outside in knee-high boots in the 80% humidity...)

Just looking at these pictures makes me crave Fall. Please please please, have mercy on me, Climate!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I've been a busy girl

I promise.

I've been crocheting up a storm, not to mention my little 10-day jaunt to the UK (oh how fabulous). But I've somehow met all of my project goals, and over Labor Day weekend finished up everything I wanted to have finished up.

After learning elann.com is discontinuing the glittery-fab yarn I made scarves out of, I frantically bought up a couple of bags full and made a few more scarves; I'm saving the rest for something bigger later. Got photos of the new colors, and re-did the old color so everything would be uniform:

Those are up on etsy starting today.

I also finished a slew of hats for the fall, and did a photo shoot of those on Sunday with my best guy friend, I really can't wait to see how those come out.

AND, I finished up a prototype of a new scarf design for fall, which I'm really really excited about. In that way that one gets excited when an idea actually turns out as cool as it was meant to be, which I'm discovering only happens about 20% of the time with me so I'm really trying to savor it ;) So I'll be making a few scarves as soon as the yarn gets here. In the meantime, I'm enjoying a little bit of "fun" crocheting for the first time in...a while. And by fun I mean the afghan I started for my grandma for Christmas. A full-size afghan in three months on top of all of the other million projects I'm anticipating? No sweat (eeeek)

I found something really exciting this morning. In my etsy store I'd been getting a whole lot of un-looked-for hearts, and I didn't see myself in a treasury so I couldn't figure it out, until I saw this scroll across the bottom of the front page. Holy. Cow. I squealed, at work. Fortunately I was the only person in the office at the time. I am so so so flattered and excited. Geez. It's not on the front page any more, but STILL. Holy cow.