Tag Archives: Crochet

Nude crochet: Now with fig leaves!

Can you believe it? The public needs little crocheted fig leaves to protect them from crocheted genitalia.

Crochet art by Ming Yi Sung Zaleski

Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press

A piece from “Not the Knitting You Know” by Ming Yi Sung Zaleski

Exhibit of crocheted nudes returns – with crocheted fig leaves
“‘Public Art Private Parts” has returned to Washington, D.C. — only this time, the exhibit of completely crocheted pieces is drawing stares, giggles and even buyers instead of complaints.

Artist Ming Yi Sung Zaleski‘s nude figures created an uproar in 2005 when they were shown in the lobby of a downtown office building. She was asked to remove her work from the lobby show, “Not the Knitting You Know,” following complaints.

From The Times-Herald Record

I think the fig leaves are actually more scandalous than the original art. I dunno about you, but I’d feel a lot less sleazy hanging out with fabric folks au naturel than I would if I cruised up to a giant crocheted doll and lifted its leafy panties to check out its junk.

Not that feeling dirty would stop me. If I lived in D.C., I’d be bringing large groups of friends along for frenzies of fig leaf-investigation. It would be hilarious, admit it.

More from Not the Knitting You Know

Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press

More from “Not the Knitting You Know,” now with fig leaves to protect you from oddball large-scale amigurumi, the worst kind of sexual predator.

Actually, the artist’s work is funny and bright and shows a fascination with sexual identity and a deep mastery of crocheting in three dimensions. Of course, with my crafter’s eye, when I look at the gallery photos, all I can think is “Wow, that’s some really amazing shaping” and “Man, I can’t even soldier my way through a sweater. How the hell does she do it?”

And if crochet boobies aren’t your thing, check out the Fish Out of Water, a giant four-legged rainbow fish!

Digging through the toy chest

I’ve still got several ideas and techniques in varying states of completion. On the list are a two-fisted two-color brioche stitch tutorial and a pattern for a crocheted hat with kitty ears, but they’re taking forever, since I’ve been celebrating the end of finals week by barely leaving the house for two days. It’s 7:45 at night now, and I haven’t even changed out of my bathrobe yet.

In the meantime, I dug through my favorite toy patterns on del.icio.us and have brought y’all the highlights. All but the jellyfish are free. I haven’t road tested them all, but I will. Gir and Vince are next on my list, once I finish the Totoro I’m working on. Pictures will follow, of course!

Totoros and long tails

Dammit, someone beat me to making an amigurumi Totoro! Good thing, too, because it looks way better than what I could invent with my rudimentary crochet design skills right now. At least there’s a pattern!

Amigurumi Totoro
Are you ready for this level of cute? I think not.

Obsessive much?

So, I’ve figured out how to knit brioche stitch flat on single-pointed needles, instead of knitting across each row with first one color and then the other with double-points or a circular. It requires being able to knit two-handed. Is this the kind of thing the Internet would care about, or are there so few people who can knit two-handed and want to shave ten seconds off each row of a scarf that I shouldn’t bother?

I guess the Long Tail theory — basically, the idea that the demand for less-popular ideas or products adds up to a significant part of one’s customer base — will eventually inspire me to do a tutorial on it. There are a million articles about casting on, but so far I haven’t found any about making brioche stitch less fiddly, and that kind of over-specific, trivia-bordering-on-mania content is exactly what I love about the Internet.

Third-wave knittingism

I’ve spent the last week trying to buy a knitting magazine. I’ve gone into four different stores with that itch for new patterns, and walked out empty-handed until today, when I dropped the cash for Interweave Knits, telling myself that maybe Eunny Jang‘s article on steeking would be worth the cover price, even though I don’t knit much fair isle, still haven’t had the patience to get all the way through a sweater and am not especially timid about difficult techniques. I’m the type who will bust out the crochet hook and drop a stitch 20 rows in double knitting to fix a mistake without flinching.

It’s just that the knitting mags are kinda dull right now. Big, baggy sweaters … bleah. Garter stitch — please kill me. Cute little cardis … yuck. I’ve got loads of patterns stockpiled and a bunch of books I like and lots of stuff waiting to happen, but that’s not what buying magazines is about. The magazines are about the creativity fix! I want inspiration. I want to see things I never would’ve thought of, garments that spark my own ideas and make me think in new ways about knitting. IK usually has something that makes me light up, but a sweater that looks like a blazer? Not exactly brain-breaking.

It got worse at Barnes & Noble: I paged through book after book of knit and crochet stuff, bored half to tears. There were plenty of stupid, unwearably “hip” and “funky” designs that look like they were made by bored preteens (and no, I’m not one of those people who thinks Knitty’s stuff is way too “out there”) that had no innovation, no style, no nothing. Ugh.

Corded Yoke pulloverWho needs more retarded felted bags or floppy, boxy sweaters? Can we please knit things that aren’t modeled by cheerfully square scrapbookers or teens wearing deliberately bad “vintage” ’80s get-ups or dreamy-eyed urbanites in flowing hippie gear? Who would drop $150 for the yarn for a chenille tunic? How many goddamned armwarmers and fingerless gloves do we need? (And if there are so many of them, why do I keep inventing new ones?) I get this knitting is fun, but that doesn’t mean my clothes have to be “fun.” (Hats excepted, I think.)

I guess the answer is less bitching and more change. Anyone else care to generate some revolution with me?

When you assemble, you make an ass of … me. And, um, ble.

Davina bag

Still on a roll with the finishing work! I’ve assembled the pieces of the Davina purse. It took hours: It turns out I’m spectacularly bad at marrying pieces of fabric at opposite angles, especially when they’re blocked to different gauges. Like, seriously bad at this — as in, I haven’t been this bad at anything since I started knitting, when it took me six freaking weeks before I could create a non-wobbly, marginally even piece of stockinette with a stable stitch count.

Now it’s 4 a.m. and the bag actually looks like a bag instead of a long strap and a couple of very, very small place mats. I’d be excited, except I can’t look at it without thinking of the work still left to do: securing all the yarn ends, finishing the sides of the strap so the raw edges don’t show, lining the bag and installing a zipper. The sewing part’s easy when you have a sewing machine like mine, I hear, but I sort of haven’t learned to actually use the thing yet, so hand-sewing it is. And bonus: I have carpal tunnel, and I’ve never sewn in a zipper!

Tomorrow’s going to rule. I can tell already.

Speaking of bear hats

Observe: bear hat, the prequel!

I made this one for myself last year — a top-down beanie with a seed-stitch brim, half-assed seed-stitch earflaps and long i-cord ties. While everyone else was getting all dressed up for a giant party, I frantically added bear ears and asked everyone in sight things like “Do these curl enough?” and “Does this look OK?” and “Does this say ‘bear’ to you?”

I only got to wear the hat out twice before my boyfriend and I went to visit a good friend, whose 12-year-old daughter was hanging out with us one night at some crazy hour of the morning. I plopped the giant, fuzzy hat on her head and tied the ends under her chin, and then everyone in the room put their hands to their mouths and drew back and said “Oh my god! So cute!”

I thought Damn, I was really hoping to actually wear that one, and immediately gave her the hat.

Her dad’s a photographer, so we all trooped out to the studio, picking our way over the air mattress where my boyfriend was crashed out asleep in a small, pathetic pile, fired up some lights and took some pictures of her, being very careful not to step on my boyfriend’s head.

If you’ve ever wondered if a super-expensive, super-elite pro camera makes a difference, IT DOES. The detail is mind-bendingly stunning, the colors are vivid and the precision is off the charts. It also has the heft of a brick, practically, and makes you go all gawky and nervous when you pick it up. I’ve been interested in photography since I was 15 and a gadget nerd since I was born, and touching this thing made me feel so awed that I snapped a couple shots and handed the thing off like a hot potato immediately. I am an idiot.

As to giving away the hat — that happens a lot to me. I keep finding things that I think are awesome, or making things that are awesome, and then I pretty quickly stumble on the person the item should actually belong to. Sometimes the things need a little work — a novelty yarn that’s beautiful but just not meant to be mine, a bike that needs cleaning, shoes with a slightly loose heel, or — most memorably — a beautiful old velour men’s jacket with a falling-apart lining that stank like it had been steeped in a cigar-smoking old man’s sweaty armpits for two decades.

I fix the bikes, repair wobly bits, re-skein yarn, soak the the jacket overnight in two gallons of water and a whole box of baking soda and then painstakingly whip-stitch the lining back to the jacket, and then pass the things along to their rightful new owners. There aren’t many things that I love too much to give away.

I’m not saying this to sound sanctimonious or overly angelic. Get anywhere near my iPod, my Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, my ice cream or my skull collection, and you’ll find out what a selfish, unyielding pig I am.

Also: Robot crochet

Anyway. There is a little crochet going on. I am working on a toy: a little red robot, inspired by one of my very first true Internet loves, explodingdog. If I could make crochet toys with a fraction of the expressiveness of Sam Brown’s wobbly, deceptively simple stick figures, I would be touching genius.

I love the red robots that show up in the drawings (not as much as the people, but close). I’m not a big fan of making direct copies of other people’s ideas, so I cracked open my little ideas sketchbook and drew something cuter. It’s funny: with animals and people, I like bizarre, grotesque imagery, but with things that aren’t alive or seem especially alien to us breathing types, I like them to look cute or unnervingly humanoid. I want my animals freaky and my toasters adorable, I guess.

Also: knitting

And knitting: I mostly finished inventing another cabled fingerless glove pattern, then lost a stitch, increased to make up for it, and then a couple inches later found the lost stitch gleefully unraveling itself down through several cable crossings, waaaaay beyond a point where I could retrieve it. I was already slightly uneasy about the length and fit of the glove, so I figured the hell with it — might as well rip it all out, start it over, adjust the width and have something that’s perfect instead of “almost there.” Which means I get to start over again.

The only thing keeping me from hurling the yarn to the back of the dark, damp cabinet under the kitchen sink or someplace equally dank and remote is that once they’re done, I’ll have the pattern written out all the way in two sizes, and I’ll be able to make a pair for myself.

And they will rule.

A sense of progress

A piece of the purse is done! This is mostly because instead of cleaning the garage or going out to a party in the city or clearing the desk or handling the pile of thrift-store fabric piled between the bed and the dresser, I hung out watching “A Life Less Ordinary” and crocheting. This is alarming: I haven’t started any other projects since I started working on this bag, and I haven’t abandoned it halfway through and stashed it in with the growing yarn pile. Yet. The bag will have four feet of strap instead of six because I was losing my mind with the stupid seven-stitch-wide boredom machine. I was running out of yarn, anyway.

Now the strap is blocking. By “blocking,” I mean “it’s getting the hell blocked out of it.” I attached the two ends to make a big loop, soaked it with water, hung the loop over the shower head and hung one of my big enameled pots off the bottom with a coathanger. Now it looks stretched out like someone’s neck in the movies when a highwayman holds a sharp knife to someone’s throat and demands all their money and the person’s head is held so high up to get away from the blade that you can hear him breathing funny. Ahh, cotton, the fiber that takes all the abuse you can dish out and begs for more.

Now if I can just find my pins, I can cure the other two pieces that are supposed to be rectangular of their slight but definite trapezoidal tendencies and then the bag will be ready for assembly and finishing! And then photography! And then it will be flung as far from me as possible because no way in hell would I carry around a pink bag with me in public.

Not for more than a couple days, anyway.

So much pink

Pink! So much pink!

At least I’m getting to a point on the bag where I have to start thinking about finishing. This whole “create vast swathes of fabric from string” phase is nice, seeing as it’s near-impossible to screw up, but I’m spoiling for the more challenging parts of the project.

Yesterday my brain was practically spilling over with neat ideas for an appliqued design to go on the front of the bag and I can’t wait to get rolling on them. Note to self: Draw at least a few rudimentary sketches in the sketchbook before the ideas disappear into the ether, blown there by a few hours of pagination while I’m at work. Nothing like drawing boxes in Quark to slowly kill the spirit!

Man. The macro capabilities of the camera I’m using are, like, suck and a half. I’m all spoiled by the boyfriend’s beautiful digital SLR. I kept trying to get one part in focus and in all the pictures, the plane that’s nice and sharp is actually six inches behind where I told the camera to aim. I ain’t no raw amateur at macros, either, so I know it’s not just me, and I know I had it set to “macro.” The Cann S45 is a great, sturdy little camera, but it definitely balks at being told to take pictures of things less than two feet away. Which is a problem — who wants to see pictures of yarn taken from across the room?


I’m crocheting away like mad, showing an almost alarming level of dedication to that foofy pink bag I’ve decided to design. From scratch. As a first crochet project. For a pattern I’m going to write.

As I work, I also pause to add to the hectic, out-of-sequence scrawls filling several pages of a little notebook that at least half of the time I actually remember to tuck into my knitting bag. Those cryptic little notes will one day become a pattern.

Nerdy design geek that I am, I’m only a third of the way through the actual bag, and I’m already dreaming of the finished PDF. What will I use for accent colors?, I ask myself. How do I want to shoot the picture for it? And when I look actually look at the notebook to find out how on earth I did that one thing on the other piece that looks like that instead of this, I ask What the fuck is going on here?

There are a lot of scribbles and a lot of little circles with long lines rising from them, and there are things written next to the lines that I think are meant to clarify the mess beneath. They don’t do much about the omissions of little last-minute, “Uh … maybe this will work” adjustments and impromptu increases. (Corners, man. Corners are rough.)

There’s also the difficulty level. I was pretty sure that it’s a beginner pattern — straight lines, no increases, almost all back-and-forth rows — and then I got to the strap and thought “Hmm. Afghan stitch. That looks pretty cool.” It does, too, especially with a variegated yarn with short repeats. It’s such a narrow little strip of crochet that I don’t need the special hook for it, but does it still count as a beginner pattern if you have to learn a whole new kind of technique just to do it?

Not having ever made anything from a crochet pattern, I don’t actually know what a beginning pattern is. I haven’t found a beginner-level pattern that doesn’t make my eyes cross with boredom just looking at it, so making one is out of the question. And I must know what the skill level of the pattern is — how else do I design a really, really cute icon for it?

Update: To hell with Afghan stitch! Curled too much and wouldn’t behave. I may have come up with something cuter, though.