Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wordy Says, "Look Into My Eyes"

Meet Wordy the elephant. He's a talented little guy who hopes he can be the first elephant to chair the Chicago Symphony Orchestra trumpet section. Wordy plans on auditioning some time in 2009 and, if his playing doesn't impress the CSO's new conductor, he's hoping his "begging face" (which he's been practicing almost as much as his repertoire) will get him where he wants to go.

I will give Wordy to Traci Nelson, one of my student employees in DePaul University's Department of Writing, Rhetoric & Discourse. Traci is preparing for graduate school auditions this quarter, so I have a feeling that she'll need someone cute, soft and squishy to travel with her around the country.

Traci is both an amigurumi recipient and one of my benefactors. For her birthday this year, I decided to make her a "Mini Me", complete with a fully-hooked head of hair and golden trumpet:

Traci also commissioned me to make a full tea set for her roommate and best friend, Olivia. I found this to be a great challenge, and I made everything freeform. The result: I fell a bit further into amigurumi madness, and she and Olivia ended up with a crocheted, full-sized tea set, complete with spoons and sugar cubes:

I do wish that I'd taken notes while creating the teapot (which Traci and Oliva named "Christina," in honor of me;)--I like her shape. . . and I also like the fact that I built a storage "core" that goes all the way down the inside of the teapot's body.

Prior to Wordy, I've made two other elephants. Frank was a pink elephant who wore a top hat (and never sat down once he put on his pants) . . .

. . . and I made Hansa for the Woodland Park (Seattle, WA) elephant keepers upon learning of the sudden death of their super cute baby elephant.

I was living in the Seattle area when Hansa was born, and she (the baby elephant) brought me back to the zoo again. (I hadn't gone in about a decade.) Hansa was a playful little stinker who would run around the zookeepers (and knock over the tub, wrap her trunk around the water hose and steal reward carrots) while her mommy received her morning bath. When I learned that Hansa passed after only six years, my heart sank. Because I'd since moved to Chicago, I didn't know how to honor her life or how to communicate to the elephant keepers how much I appreciated their efforts and educational outreach. I crocheted this elephant and sent it to the zoo with a small thank you note.

These two previous elephant creations had caught Traci's eye. She loves elephants (almost as much as she loves playing the trumpet and drinking tea). In fact, for quite some time, she had her eye on Frank. When someone purchased him at a craft fair, she was bummed. I think Wordy, her New Year gift, will make up for my selling Frank before she could buy him. Anyway, Frank was more of a "Rat Pack" wanna be of an elephant; Wordy is more Traci's style. I imagine the two of them playing pieces together and talking "best practices" about everything from breathing techniques to the most efficient ways to clean a spit valve.

Welcome to the world, Wordy!

**Wordy is a variation of a pattern found in Amy Gaines' book, Cute Little Animals. The other elephants came from a pattern I found in a crochet magazine quite some time ago.

The Traci Trumpet "mini me" and teaset are my original (Dekvenga Delights) patterns.

Hooking Into The New Year,

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

. . . And Then There Were Three

DePaul Blue Demons never looked so cute! (Yes, I work at DePaul University in Chicago.)

My Blue Demon "Good Eggs": Should I Be Suspicious of Their Crooked Smiles?

Three down, and only six more to go! Ideally, I'd like to have an army of nine by Monday, but I'll just need to see how fast I can truly work my hook.

(Here's a teaser, Dear Reader:) That said, while looking at these little guys, I find myself devilishly tempted to take a minor detour before returning to demon making. If I do, you'll be the first to know.

For now, we must part--I hear the call of my hook!


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dekvenga Made Me Do It, But My Couch Says It All

Dekvenga, My Invisible Friend, Lounging on That Which Contains My Darkest Secrets

My invisible friend, Dekvenga (Deck-venge-uhh), is driving me crazy. She's served as my council since I was nine years old, and rarely has she ever steered me in the wrong direction. She's been with me through my crushes on Han Solo (Star Wars) and Simon LeBon (Duran Duran), and she even endured graduate school and the dozens of workshops where I eventually churned out an over-intellectualized-now-permanently-shelved novel. (And she's watched me move through all these phases without even one eyeroll. Then again, she is invisible, so who can say?) Dekvenga knows how I work and what works for me; however, when she thinks she knows what I "should" do but feels that I'm moving too slowly, she can get downright annoying.

This blog is partly the result of one of those things.
I've wanted "to blog" for about a year now, and I made the mistake of mentioning this notion to Dekvenga back when "the blog" was merely a germ within my imagination. She jumped all over the idea and then bit into it and asked, "when?" with such frequency that I began to wonder whether or not she had a bit of a terrier in her.

I might live in Chicago and have a splash of hot pink in my hair, but I don't really consider myself cosmopolitan. Most of my leisure time (r)evolves around yarn. . . and it takes a heap of talent to turn yarn into something glamourous and gossip worthy.

Then I thought about the couch I bought earlier this year--and I realized it was time to unleash a deep, dark secret: I didn't buy the couch just because it's pretty. . . I bought it because of what it might hide.

Beneath that pretty green-blue pool of plump cushions is a wonderful big "bonus:" space.

Regard! Here's the dirty little secret under my couch cushions:
That's right: my couch holds most of my yarn stash.

Under each cushion (including those on the two ottomans) is a deep, sealed-bottom bin where I keep my stash well-organized and clean.

I have heaps of chunky, chenille and boucle (left)

. . . and more lash and novelty yarns (right) than many craft stores carry.

But wait, there's more:

Despite all my couch's storage space, I still need to stash under my bed and in the one built-in bookcase in my teeny-tiny studio apartment.
Here (left), you'll find all my wool, acrylic and scrap yarns. The tins and bins on the top shelf hold notions, various knitting needles, pom pon makers and all the safety eyes and noses for my amigurumi creations.

. . . and, in case you were wondering, yes, those four conical things atop the case are giant bobbins of chenille weaving yarns that I use to make plushies.

Because I want to keep all my yarns clean and untangled, I've become "basket crazy." There might be a method to my madness, but, after all is said and done, it is the madness that feeds my stash.

I have so many unfinished projects (promised to many near and dear friends) and Works In Progress (WIPs) that I could nearly weep:

A Family Photo: all My WIPs in One Location

The Skull Scarf I Promised (and continue to promise) Bob, My Ex--
I Started This Before He Became My Ex
So, what does all this mean?

While sitting and crocheting on my couch with Dekvenga this past week (as we chatted yet again about erecting a blog), I began to ponder what my stash might look like in another five years. I freaked, and then I realized that I am the only one who controls my stash's destiny. Before I begin to bust my stash by becoming a yarnifactor (i.e., one person's overflowing yarn bins is another yarn-lover's new treasure), I want to try and work through all those skeins I adopted and brought into my home.

This blog will document my progress (and, likely, stumbles) as I bust my ass to get through my stash. I will not rush, and I will not churn out crap just so say that I've knocked out another skein.

Where will I begin? Right here, with a few of my current WIPS:

The First WIPs to Watch

Curious to know what these things are or what they might become? If you answered, "yes" (and I hope you did), then subscribe to my site--or, at least, stop by every so often--and see what I'm pulling off my hook and needles.

Also, here's another reason to stay tuned: I hope to post a free pattern every so often!

Okay, I need to put away my stash and get cracking! Wish me luck!

In Yarny Goodness,