Dragonflies and Caron Cakes

Dragonfly

Caron Cakes is the latest craze at Micheal’s. The yarn is #4 worsted weight, 80% acrylic / 20% wool.  It is currently available in 26 color ways.  Each cake features five colors. The color runs are long, and are perfect for larger items like blankets, ponchos, scarves and shawls.  The label suggests the yarn should be hand washed and dried flat.

I’ve crocheted several projects with Caron Cakes and love it. It’s affordable for 383 yards – $7.99 regular price. With coupon or on sale, it can be as inexpensive as $5 a cake. I find it soft to the touch, and firmly wound so it does not split.  Occasionally, there are drip marks where dyes have splashed, but they are hardly noticeable in the finish product.

Dragonfly

My latest Caron Cake project is a Dragonfly wrap, inspired by the Dragonfly Poncho by Maria Bittner. Although Cherry Chip not my favorite color way, I am still very happy with the end result.

 

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Girls who code

Recent research found that girls, as early as the age 6, start to doubt their abilities, and think boys are smarter and brighter.  This finding is so disturbing.

The study stresses the importance of early intervention for young girls. Girl Who Code are doing just that. There mission is to build the largest pipeline of future female engineers in the United States. They’ve created a free after-school, and summer immersion programs for 6th – 12th grade girls.  Volunteers facilitate clubs all over the country. Girls learn about computer science by developing a website, app or AI that addresses a problem relevant to the club or it’s community.

A colleague asked me to present to the club she organizes at Evergreen Park Library.  Although, I am not a computer engineer or developer, I do have extensive experience in the development of website and apps.

In my day job as a interaction designer, I am responsible for creating every element on a screen that you would tap, double click or swipe.  Every interaction that you have with a website or app has been (hopefully) planned by an interaction designer.  It’s my job to define a structure and behavior of an interactive system to ensure you, the user, has a smooth, meaningful experience.

Girls Who Code

There were four 7th and 8th grade girls that attended. I was enamored with these girls abilities.  They were all very confident, and open to each other’s ideas.  Together we worked on a user flow for a fictitious app.  With paper, pencils and a mock iPhone my husband cut out with a CNC machine, the girls individually created a paper prototype of their design.

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We spent sometime reviewing and comparing their design solutions.  The girls were not only able to present and articulated their solutions, they were able to implement their design ideas into paper prototypes.

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Welcome to my pineapple

The Staypineapple Hotel chain recently purchased the Burnham hotel in Chicago. Gina Rose Gallina, crochet artist extraordinaire, was commissioned to crochet a giant pineapple for the hotel’s grand opening.

Crochet Classes With Gina Rose Gallina at The Alise

From March 5th – 9th, crafters and crafter wanna-bees could take a crochet class with Gina.   The pineapple is a welcoming symbol of good cheer, warmth and affection.  Gina’s homey classroom did not disappoint. The small room was very comfy, and featured many of Gina’s signature items.

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Gina has a knack for covering anything and everything with yarn. Considering you have more freedom with crochet, this makes total sense.  Since crochet use only one hook with one loop of yarn, you can pivot easily and make stitches just about anywhere. There can be less planning, and more flexibility with your fabric creations.  Knitting, on the other hand, is perfectly aligned loops sitting on two needles. These obedient stitches makes knitting more confined.

I have a new appreciation for crochet after taking Gina’s class.  I now want to crochet over many of the items in my house, and cover every chair and sofa with a crochet blanket.

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Cutting portraits in the 21st century

1421330105226 In the 18th century, the art of cutting portraits was an affordable,  easy alternative to hiring an artist to do a painting. These profile portraits were originally outlined and cut on black paper, glued to a contrasting color and framed. Later, the outlined was made on a contrasting paper and filled-in with black paint.

 

Fast forward to Mother’s Day 2015.  My daughter had just turned one. Using Adobe Photoshop, my husband, Dan, combined several digital photos of my daughter to accurately capture her profile (its difficult to get an exact profile of a toddler). He printed then traced her silhouette to black paper by using a window as a light table.  Her image was cut out with an exacto-blade, glued to off-white card stock and framed.

cutting portraits

For my birthday in 2017, Dan traced my daughter’s photo in Adobe Illustrator, and laser cut her portrait in plastic to make earrings.

Cutting Potraits

Dan is fascinated with shadow and is currently exploring more of this art form.  He is even taught our daughter shadow puppets.

shadow puppets

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Purple, calms the mind and body

Ombré Hood Cowl

Ombré, adjective, having tones of color that shade into each other, graduating from light to dark1.

I’ve always admired the Neighborhood Fiber Company. I first learn about them at Vogue Knitting Live in 2014.  (Yes, this gorgeous yarn has been in my stash for over 2 years!)  It was a typical love for fiber story. Karida Collins started the company in the kitchen of her basement apartment in D.C.  Encouraged by the colors around her, her talents and love for fiber built the company, and has since moved to a studio in Baltimore.

Ombré Hood Cowl

The Cowl Hood was knitted with Loft,  a super soft, luxury silk-mohair blend yarn.  The colors were named after Baltimore neighborhoods -Charles Centre, Lauraville, and Remington – created a beautiful ombré effect.  Not wanting to waste any yarn, I knitted the cowl way beyond its suggested length of 20 1/2 inches. This made for a super warm hooded cowl, just perfect for Chicago winters.

Ombré Hood Cowl

I hope to one day visit The Neighborhood Fiber Company for one, or even all, of their yarn dying workshops!

  1. Definition of Ombre by Merriam-Webster
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Stand tall, keep your head high and smile. You are a teacher.

Over a year ago, I started teaching beginning knitting at local library. I had way too much stash (still do) and thought it would be a good way for me to clear out the craft room. I was confident in my knitting skills, but a little unsure about my ability the teach. I approached the library about having a class.  Knitting isn’t for everyone. Patience and dexterity is necessary.  It was critical to the class success to remove all possible barriers and commitments for folks, so registration wasn’t required, and yarn and needles would be provided.  Students can join the class at any time or day. I’ve been knitting for over 10 years, so knitting supplies was not an issue.

I wasn’t prepared to enjoy teaching so much.  Every class is different, and I learn something from students every class.  The unexpected keeps me on my toes. I love adjusting at a moments notice.  The best part is when a student discovers their own talent!

Teaching has given me confidence in designing and writing patterns.  The class consist of five small projects – garter stitch fingerless mittens, change purse, and seed stitch, ribbed, and cable cup cozies.

Writing these simple patterns helped me appreciate the effort it takes to write, test and proof a pattern. I can only imagine the time it takes for more complex patterns like a sweater or a lace.

Students have come and gone, many stitches have been dropped and fixed, and many more have been ignored.  Great friendships have formed, and many laughs have been had.  I’m looking forward to more teaching in 2017.  I am humbled that I am able to pass on the gift of knitting.

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Come Sail Away…

Intarsia crochet boat baby blanket
I recently undertook a reversible intarsia baby blanket.  Intarsia is a method of knitting or crocheting with a several of colors of yarn.  A separate bobbin or ball of yarn is used for each area of color. Intarsia creates a pattern on both sides of the the item. It does, however, have a definite front and back side but difference is minimal.

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Intarsia patterns are written as charts. I found it helpful to enlarge the chart over two sheet of tabloid paper.

Bobbins

The homemade bobbins made with cardboard worked better than the store bought kinds. Thanks to my husband for spending hours upon hours of weaving in the ends.

I am not sure when I’ll take on another intarsia project. This blanket was a huge undertaking. When it was done, though, I could not have been happier with the outcome.

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