Winging It

Flying by the seat of my pants…

From video tutorials to written patterns, I find myself just looking and watching, sometimes for several hours on a given day. A boon and a bane because there are so many people out there creating new patterns, rediscovering new stitches and new methods with which to create crocheted and knitted items, it just boggles the mind.

If you start watching that popular, online video site, to see how that one stitch is accomplished, you could end up watching many more video tutorials before you realize that now you won’t even have time to practice that first pattern, let alone any of the other three you also watched being done. Not today anyway. And, when you go back to it the next day, heaven help you to limit yourself to that one only.

But, that’s how I roll, it seems. I don’t like having my days mapped out for me. Lord knows, I had my fill of that in my heyday as a nurse. Now that I can, I enjoy following the muse; the creative spark that impels and motivates me is what I wait on, grasp at and play with. It’s a way to fly that many wouldn’t enjoy but it’s what makes me feel free and at peace.

ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER…

Recently, I learned a few new stitches. This may not sound like much if you’re not a crocheter, but if you are, you know how cool that feels. When you learn to crochet, you learn basic stitches : chain, single crochet, double crochet, treble crochet and slip stitch, mainly. Then there’s the half-double and half-treble and doing increases and decreases. Then, there’s the day you get the crochet stitch encyclopedia which gives you swatch patterns, edging patterns, applique’ patterns, lacy stitch patterns and afghan stitch patterns – and with that, you think (albeit, briefly) that you’ve got it all!

Then you find out that there are communities on the internet that crocheters (and knitters) all over the world join to post their creations. And what creations they are! Have you seen the crochet designs coming out of Northeastern Europe?! Have you checked out what they’re doing in South America? OMG, these people are talented with a hook! There’s just so much to see, and so many who are willing and delighted to share their expertise. This is what the internet is so immeasurably good at and useful for, it makes me happy and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. I only wish I had discovered it sooner; but then, I wouldn’t have an inventory of crocheted items topping 100 in my shop, would I? I’d have spent most of my time just looking, more than likely.

Although I like to “follow my muse”, I realize I must limit my time if I’m ever going to get anything of worth done. These “new” stitches require practice, ie. time. Once practiced, the stitches can be incorporated into projects. I’m not sure if I’m searching for the “perfect” item : shawl, scarf, hat, gloves, slippers, home decor item, what have you,  or just have a short attention span, but, I like doing something one time and moving on to the next. It is as though I’m on a scavenger hunt or something. Or it may be just that I know, repetition can be boring.

Cloche with flower

Cloche with same flower as practiced on the place mat above.

Starting and finishing takes discipline…

Here’s a recent example of the method to my particular madness: I saw this interesting stitch on a blog along with photos of how to crochet it, so I studied it and tried it out. While I was on that blog, I saw an interesting flower stitch that was different and I tried it, too. The flower didn’t come out as it was pictured, so I quit on that and started a row of that other stitch pattern. After a while, I had a completed double row (not exactly the same but acceptable) but couldn’t figure out how to continue the pattern using that same stitch. Now what?!

I had started something, which is great, but – big question – am I going to finish something today, or not? I may have several projects on various hooks or needles at one time, but I have to finish something at some point. I decided that I was going to figure out a way to use that row I’d completed to turn it into something! The featured image, the flowered place mat, is what I came up with. As I’ve described it elsewhere, it’s not wonderfully executed but it is serviceable for my own use. The place mat incorporates the flower (which is terribly done, by the way) and the orange stripe is that other stitch pattern (also terribly done), but most important, it’s a completed item which is useful and has been called “pretty”.

The hat photo is a melange of knitting, Tunisian crochet and regular crochet, I just went kind of nuts with it. I embellished the cap with the same flower pattern as before. This time the flower came out much better, nearly perfect. So, two new stitches: one learned; the other not-so-much, but still-working-on-it. And, in the meantime, two starts and two finishes! Both items are to keep and use, because they’re ‘not up to specs’, as they say. But, this way, I don’t end up with nothing to show for my practice, so I start and finish and that’s a good thing.

The "perfect" crocheted bowl

The “perfect” crocheted bowl

SOMETHING TO SHOW…

Having spent a couple of days and evenings in pursuit of the new and exciting, I realize, soon enough, that all this practice, while fine and healthy, doesn’t feed the shop inventory. I must have something new and exciting to place on the shelves of the shop. I need to create something that someone else can see and, hopefully, decide they must have for their own use.

Looking at the yarn stash, I pick out a color of yarn, then another and finally a third. I decide I like the mix and get to work. Still not knowing for sure what the result will be I start crocheting an oval, which then becomes a circle (another hat? surely not, I think). The stitches finally become a very lovely and usable bowl shape. As often happens, I fall in love with the finished item, but realize I will have to part with it in order to accomplish what I’d set out to do – show it and sell it.

I’m excited about the addition, too. I know I can make another if I really want one for myself, to give as a gift or donate to the church bazaar. But, for now, I’ve added to the shop, and that’s important. I took hurried photos. I can do more to show the bowl’s best advantages, I know. That is another portion of the creative process that goes into the management of my shop. It is my showplace, and I have plenty to show.

WHAT”S NEXT??

Cooler weather is upon us, and holidays are coming. I like to make gifts and last year, I made everyone on my list something hand made, whether crocheted or knitted, sewn or painted. There will be scarves, hats and gloves, surely. Household items as well. But, who knows what’s in store? Wood burning is fun, and so is needle felting. Macrame jewelry is a newer sideline and I’ve only just started getting into that, but with good results. I made one son a necklace, which he really seemed to like and am making another for another son’s birthday. Whether or not such items will show up in my shop eventually, only time will tell, but if I was a gambler, I’d bet on it.

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