After yesterday’s struggle with lace cord techniques, I had little heart for anything complex. I just wanted to make something creative, homey and happy. These American Folk Art Hearts were just the ticket. Its simple and clean enough as an ordinary crochet motif, but I think there’s also a bit of the heavy, tape-like characteristic so that it could be incorporated as an Irish Crochet motif. Being able to follow this simple pattern? Heartening. Luvit.
My vineman and I attended the Maryland Wine & Grape Industry’s Annual Meeting, yesterday, February 26th. It was a great all day, all Maryland wine event with informative speakers and session tracks organized by interests—grower, winery or start-up. Ger attending the grower sessions and I concentrated upon the winery sessions with several of our Port of Leonardtown Winery marketing friends.
Special shout out (is that still done?) to Michael at A New Vine, Tim at Chateau Bon Chien, and Manolo at Manolo’s Wine Blog —it was great to meet up with my Maryland wine social media peeps! Gentle Readers interested in finding out about what is going on out in Maryland vineyards and in the wineries should subscribe to these blogs.
Also provided was the 2010 Maryland Vineyard Survey, which provided some really encouraging news regarding the state of the Maryland grape. The majority of grape vines grown in our state is concentrated geographically in the Piedmont Plateau, but vineyards located on the Coast Plains of Maryland are springing up. St. Mary’s County represents the 5th largest county in terms of vineyard acreage. Our top six varieties are the same from 2006: Cab Sauvignon, Chardonay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin and Vidal Blanc (which we grow!).
Joe Fiola, Viticulture and Small Fruit Specialist for the University of Maryland Extension, gave an informative Brown Marmorated Stink Bug update—here is a link to the information that was in his presentation. As my Virginia peeps can attest, this pest is no laughing matter for the general population or for agriculture products. The bugs ruin fruit by poking holes into the fruit with their mouths and injecting salivary enzymes into the fruit so it can be easily sucked out and digested. Problem is, this causes brown rot in fruit and many fruit crops last year were lost as a result. Of particular concern for wine grape growers are keeping the bugs out of the harvest process, as the bugs, when crushed, will emit an unpleasant odor. It sounds like this is just the beginning of a very interesting agricultural year.
The marketing sessions sparked some really good ideas for the Port of Leonardtown Winery marketing peeps. I’m really jazzed about a few ideas and can’t wait to share them with you all, soon!
What a full day! Maryland Wine Association and the Maryland Grape Growers Association held their annual meeting today and it was an all day event. When I returned to the farmhaus this evening, I was looking forward to completing an Irish Crochet Lace Motif, complete with cord. Cord at the right thickness is a bit of a tricky find. I’m experimenting with a favorite inexpensive cotton thread commonly used for dishcloth crochet. I opened my treasure trove Irish Lace pdf and dived in, thinking it would be a breeze.
It was not.
Instead of having a lovely flower or another variation of a wheel or leaf, I’m showing you how I had to go back to basics. I’ll most likely have to do some research on working with the cord, as it was more difficult to follow the patterns than I thought. Irish Lace Crochet motifs employ a cord that is then “worked over” with the light crochet thread. In doing so, it lends that solid character to the lace motif. Lace artists used to vary the gauge and stitches in their work in order to give the motifs a dimensional character.
So what you see in the picture is my practice session after numerous tries with different motif patterns. I experimented with crochet over a single cord foundation, then crocheting a second row of stitches over the cord foundation, folded back (left side) and then making a closed tendril (the loop). I also threw in a picot stitch over the closed tendril loop just to feel like I had accomplished something. I thought it was hardly worth posting over, but a lesson learned is a lesson learned. I suppose I needed to realize I will not always have a charming bit to show and that not all creative endeavors are 100% successful.
Sometimes you need time just to learn a technique in order to move on.
I really wanted to do something fun with my first project, pink Irish Roses. Something a little unexpected, fun—optimistic. Then I remember seeing—somewhere—a pillow that looked like grass with the Irish Roses applied to it. I think it was a brief glimpse of an image as I imaged search, but I can’t seem to find again. If you can find it, def leave a comment with links. The grass pillow stuck in my head so well that when I saw my local yarn outlet was having a Lion Brand fake fur sale and there was green fake fur yarn available, I immediately bought some. On a whim, I picked up some varigated green boulce yarn, too, thinking it might be a good way to stretch the fake fur yarn further. Some of the most maligned novelty yarns ever manufactured made their way into my house. All of it must be used. A formal challenge was issued.
People may make fun of homey, faux fur products, but let me tell you, those that work with this media are intrepid. Fake fur yarn is exceedingly difficult to work with. One false stitch and the fur threads tangle into the stitching making it exceedingly difficult to tear apart and rework. After several unsuccessful attempts, I finally paired the boucle with the fake fur and found it crocheted up more sucessfully. Its still not easy—I’ve told my vineman that it is like crocheting sod as he just shook his head at my current project. So what you see here is a first third of my grass pillow with pink/orange Irish Rose embellishments.
Boy1 is in total love with the novelty of a faux grass pillow but wants me to change the flowers to something a bit more manly. The faux grass drape is pretty stiff—its much like a strip of sod, except there’s more grass on the other side instead of mud and roots.
Guess who cannot wait for the green of Spring? Now back to Irish Crochet Lace. I bought also some cotton yarn that I think will make a decent cord.
Actually, its called “First Wheel” and I found the pattern on handweaving.net, along with a treasure trove of other Irish lace motifs to work through, so I think I’ve got a game plan for the days ahead. Which is awesome, since I’ve barely made the deadline for getting my daily crochet in on time—mostly due to google searching and oo-ing far too long. The link I provided gives you the ability to download an 82 page pdf of a DMC publication—click the bottom pdf on the right hand side of the page. DMC was a manufacturer of threads
For today’s motif, I first used my bamboo thread, but i found it too light and decided to rework the motif using the trusty 6 strand floss. I also used another 6 strand floss for the cord, but i don’t think the floss was heavy enough to represent cord. There should be a profound delineation or ridges in the motif. Its just not showing too well. I’ll look into finding a suitable heavy cord and away we’ll go!
I love these tiny flowers. The pattern in order to make them is pretty universal: ch 2, 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook. Join with sl st to first sc. (ch 2, 2dc, ch 2, sl st) in the same sc, sl st to the next sc], 6 times, making 6 petals.
These flowers are easy to whip up and when you use a 8 gauge hook and 6 strand thread floss they make little blossoms that are the size of a quarter. Larger hooks, thicker yarn, bigger flowers. I’m pretty much addicted to making these flowers and I think they are a good counter part to the green sprig of leaves. I’d also like to see these organized into a circle of flowers motif. I see them used as single accent for hats, stacked into bunches or sprinkled across household items like pillows and afghans.
What would you do with them?
My second day is all about green, green, green. Its late February and my longing for green becomes covetous. My usual fix is to spend a day at the US Botanic Gardens Conservatory, soaking up the filtered light, the lush atmosphere and the humid air. This year, my schedule just won’t allow, so I was happy to find a sprig to work up.
The leaf pattern came from http://www.mypicot.com/crochet_flowers_patterns04.html which is a free download from http://www.mypicot.com.
I chose to have a little fun and experiment with 6 strand floss—the type boy1 and his friends use for their friendship bracelets. I’m learning how to read crochet symbols so I found that having both written instructions and symbols helped me understand the symbol-based pattern easier. If you use an eight gauge crochet hook and all six strands, you’ll use about half a skein, so this is a pretty rich little project. Later, I’ll experiment with less strands and a smaller hook. I’m looking forward to mixing the strands as well, like I did with the Irish Roses. This was such a pretty motif that I’ll think about adding this to my natural color bamboo thread curtain plans.
Mypicot.com has many really great free and paid patterns and is a great resource that I know I will revisit throughout the year and share what I learn with you.
Have you heard of Noah Scalin? Among Noah’s many achievements is his “Skull a Day” project, where every day for a year he created a skull using a variety of media. From that project came several books: Skulls and 365: A Daily Creativity Journal: Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life! Check him out on Facebook and Twitter—he posts other individuals’ attempts at creating something every day. Noah is inspiring, to say the least.
I’ve decided to round out this developing almanac in offering 365 Crochet—where I work and share a crochet project everyday. I’m mostly interested in exploring Irish Crochet Lace, so you’ll see motifs, mainly. I’ll share what I’m learning and where I learn it.
Why crochet? Its a homey art, much like cooking. It fits a Vineyard Wife like a pair of pruning shears, work boots or a harvest lug. I crocheted as a child—my aunt Milly and grandma taught me. With my aunt far away in Missouri, my grandma gone and my momma afflicted with dementia, crocheting brings them back to me. Officially, I think we can blame Laura Ingalls Wilder. I started reading her series to boy2 and nostalgia crept in. Faced with an impending air flight to Savannah, I looked for something quick to keep my hands occupied. I grabbed some crochet thread, the smallest plastic crochet hook I could find and loaded a few free flower patterns on my iPhone. Here are a few of the first crochet flower I mastered, the Irish Crochet Rose:
These flowers were made with some scrap crochet thread I bought at the Savannah College of Art and Design’s book shop. Its two threads, one thin orange thread and one thicker fuchsia thread. Irish Crochet Lace is really interesting. I love the flower motifs. Ultimately, I’d like to string the motifs I make into a really large panel—maybe even a curtain!! That would be a cool way to end a year…or two.
Here is the free pattern I learned: http://crochet.about.com/library/n030803.htm
Here is the video that taught me the slip stitch to the back of the petals. Really useful!
I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn throughout the year with you!
This photo makes me happy. After stumbling upon the Savannah Bee Company on Twitter, I’ve desired a visit to this temple of bee products for months! Happy to have found myself in Savannah this past week, I made a bee-line to their West Broughton Street storefront’s homey screen door.
Cool and inviting, the Savannah Bee Company’s walls are lit up with gold and amber bottles of honey lining the store’s sunlit walls. Further in the back of the store were encaustic works of art; honey and tea pots, as well as body care products. Where to start—Where should I start? Suddenly, the day was as bright and full of possibilities as Christmas Morning. So sad that I was resolute in only having one carry-one bag! I wanted one of everything in their store.
Savannah Bee Company staff are bright and attentive. They seemed to instinctively know when I wished to be left alone and when I was ready to ask a few questions about their products. They encouraged exploration of their products and the shop has a honey tasting bar. Enamored as I am for my local Southern Maryland honey, I really didn’t think honey had a wide variety of tastes—but I was wrong. The taste of honey is nuanced with the type of blossoms available to those bees. So your local honey will taste slightly different from my local honey. How cool is that?
When you approach the honey tasting bar, you pick up a plastic spoon, hold it under a honey pump and carefully pump a taste of honey onto your spoon. I was able to taste Savannah Bee’s Black Sage, Tupelo, Orange Blossom, and Sourwood honey. Each was distinctly different from each other and I loved rolling that just-right sweetness over my tongue. Savannah Bee’s Orange Blossom is quite like the Orange Blossom honey one could find in their grocery store, but the Black Sage, Tupelo and Sourwood honeys really stood out. I loved comparing the light, fragrant Black Sage against the stronger, richer Sourwood. The Tupelo honey was a great middle ground between the two, but ultimately, my heart went with the Sourwood honey and I picked up a sample bottle. I also tried a slice of their raw honeycomb round on a slice of granny smith apple and loved the contrasts of flavors and textures. The honeycomb round is quite lovely and if I was to have a Spring time party, I would surely offer the round with apples, cheese and crackers. It makes a gorgeous presentation.
I tried the body care products, next, and was smitten with the hand and nail salve. It has a wonderful way of immediately soaking into your skin and leaving your nails shiny. I loved the spearmint/olive oil fragrance. Reluctantly, I left the tin behind. How sad to be committed to my single carry-on luggage! What I could not leave behind was the lip tint. Its so superior to regular lip balms in odor and application and the tint leaves just the right berry-stain on my lips!
I also splurged and bought the Savannah Bee’s canvas tote, since I love their logo design—but I also want to visually spread the word about their wonderful products. I’m thinking its the perfect size for my daily grocs or my weekend carry about to the vineyard.
Upon my return home, I immediately got out my jars of local honey from the spice cupboard. I set up an impromptu honey tasting bar for me and my vineman. We tasted the three honey samples—two local honey jars and the Sourwood. We noted the differences in honey tastes and my vineman agreed the Sourwood honey was different from any other honey he had tasted. I’m looking forward to adding the Sourwood honey into my tea—but right now, I just enjoy sneaking tiny tastes with my ice tea spoon.