miscellanea

Crochet Crush: Sophie Digard

First, let’s be clear that I am not a hooker. I am exclusively a knitter. I use two needles with points on the ends to knit and purl skeins of wool into something wearable. When I use more than one color, I don’t have a squillion ends to weave in, and nothing I make can be started at breakfast and worn at lunch.

It’s not that I don’t like to crochet, it’s that I don’t grok it. What do you do with your other hand? How can anything be made with only one loop in action? (If I’m down to one loop, I’m at the end of the bind-off row which means the thing is done.) And charts without gridlines? Sheesh.

Like Walter Sobchak dabbling in pacifism (not in ‘Nam, of course), I have dabbled in crochet. Knitting sometimes benefits from a crochet edge or reinforcement, so I’m not completely useless with a hook. I can make a chain, single crochet, double crochet, and even triple crochet, but I’ve never made anything wearable. Never really wanted to.

And then along came Sophie Digard.

A talent like hers makes you want to know everything about her so you can do what she does. Where was she born? Did she study poetry and architecture in school, because her scarves have elements of both. Was she an only child given every opportunity by indulgent parents, or did she wake up from a coma one day at the orphanage asking for a skein of yarn and a size G hook?

But she’s the J.D. Salinger of the fiber arts—a rather enigmatic French genius who doesn’t have a website or blog, or any online presence, really. I could find no interviews with her and very few details about her and her art—and this is art, not craft—except that she lives in Madagascar with her family and employs hundreds of local women to produce these masterpieces. Mostly accessories like scarves, necklaces, and purses.

A Sophie Digard scarf costs more than my monthly mortgage payment, so I figured I could learn how to crochet those little puffy flowers and make my own. (Yes, I know…but a master makes everything look easy. What writer doesn’t read The Catcher in the Rye and think they could write another one?)

My crochet vocabulary is limited, so that’s what I searched for—puffy crochet flowers. Naturally, it took forever to find instructions for them because they’re called Mollie flowers. And they’re not easy to make.

Plus, if you’re not Sophie Digard, they look like this:

I didn’t even try.

And even if I did carve out a month’s worth of time to figure them out, I couldn’t duplicate the colors. Sophie works with merino wool, linen, and velvet, using up to 60 hues in a single color palette that is hand-dyed to her specifications.

Her scarves are made from several strands of laceweight yarn held together, so creating just the right color and fiber combination is something only Sophie Digard can do. (Well, Sophie and a bunch of hookers living on an island off the coast of southeast Africa.)

Just so you’re clear about the majesty of her color sense, I believed myself to be a genius when I combined these two yarns together on a hat.

Ironheart Hat by Robin Allen - A Texas Girl Knits

“People always clap for the wrong things.”

In a future post, I’ll tell you how I came to own a Sophie Digard scarf.

To Ponder: We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself. |-Lloyd Alexander-|

Submission: Sweater to Knitscene

Last month, I also submitted a sweater proposal to Knitscene for their Fall 2015 issue.

One of the stories is for Style Icons for which they gave this description:

“Look to your favorite style icons for inspiration for wearable, fashionable pieces. Any icon, any era, we’re looking for designs that would feel at home in the closets of these iconic ladies (or men) while being easy and interesting to knit.”

Their Pinterest inspiration board looked like this:

Ah…Grace, Audrey, Jackie, Bridget—women I’ve pinned on my own style inspiration board.

Which one do you think I based my proposal on?

Following an internet rabbit trail, I took the Which Classic Hollywood Actress Are You? quiz. It will come as no surprise to those of you who know me that I’m not perky Audrey or fierce Bridget.

“Remind me to tell you about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke.”

Bette was also a knitter.

To Ponder: As you move toward a dream, the dream moves toward you. |Julia Cameron|

Counting My Blessings: October 2014

In spite of some bizarre and challenging issues with a paranoid and delusional neighbor who believes I’m sending radio frequency waves into her house (seriously!—she tried to convince the sheriff’s office to file criminal charges against me), my life is blessed with infinite good stuff.

1. My friend Bob returned from a month-long visit to Canadia to visit his family, and returned with a pint of Captain Morgan rhum foncé for me. That’s a fancy way to say dark rum. It’s a blend of Caribbean and Canadian rum, and is not generally available in the United States of America. I don’t normally drink hard liquor, but nothing about my life has been normal lately. The rhum was quite tasty and I look forward to the next time Bob leaves for a month.

Worth a trip to Canadia.

Worth a trip to Canadia.

2. We had a cold snap in Texas. In early September. Calendarically still summer, and what they call the dog days of. It rained the day before, then the temps were in the low 60s the following Saturday. It was even too cold for my outdoor yoga class, so we moved it indoors. I wore long sleeves and knee-high boots the rest of the day. Bliss defined.

3. During my Saturday shift at the library I showed a little girl named Alyssa how to knit. She was maybe seven or eight years old. Those little hands and fingers trying to deal with yarn and needles. The powerful concentration trying to remember the movements.

4. Lately, I’ve been wrestling with making some major life changes, and my BFF Tina mailed me this magnet o’ wisdom as encouragement to git ‘er done.

Not that I live according to sayings on magnets.

Mind you, my life has already begun, but it’s all locked up in a box and nothing ever happens anymore.

5. A gal on Ravelry messaged me that she found my blog a few months ago and is “thrilled” to follow my successes. Aw.

6. I live in a free country that allows its citizens to vote their leaders into and out of office without inciting violent protests.

7. I sleep in a warm, comfortable bed. Every. Single. Night.

What blessings are you counting this month?

To Ponder: Every increased possession loads us with new weariness. |John Ruskin|

Fulfillment: Holiday Pattern for Knit Picks

I received the yarn from Knit Picks for the holiday thingamabob* they want me to design for them. It’s their 100% acrylic Brava Worsted, and I needed three different colors—white, black, and orange. The white has a subtle iridescent sheen to it and the black is dark, dark, dark, both of them very soft. The orange is kind of strange, though. Rather crispy and squeaky. (Knitters know what I mean, but you non-knitters can imagine the yarn equivalent of a Cheeto.)

Not for the obvious holiday.

I’m a knit-with-wool-or-go-home kind of girl, but this item will be used in such a way that wool is not a good idea†.

I knit the main part of it, then let it sit for a few days while I avoided embroidering certain details that would bring the whole thing to life. My embroidery is about as accomplished as my hand-drawn pictures, which is to say, they belong on a half-blind grandma’s refrigerator. But the deadline‡ for the final pattern was coming up, so I had to do the best I could.

Knit Picks is going to send my pattern to one of their test knitters to work up the sample they’ll use on their website, which is the only reason I submitted something that requires embroidery.

I photographed the embroidered parts, then emailed everything to Knit Picks (a day early, thank you), emphasizing that the photo was only a guide.

The gal who manages the pattern submissions wrote back “he looks great!” I’m pretty sure she’s not a half-blind grandma, so she must be kind-hearted. I wish I had a sister like her.

Anyway, I’m glad that’s over with.

Knit Picks plans to offer these patterns free of charge on their website, and will be releasing them a few at a time starting in September (I think). You’ll hear about it here first.


*The reason I’m referring to this as a thingamabob is because of a television show called Haven. It’s a low-budget, poorly edited, cheesy, lightly sci-fi drama produced by the SyFy Channel that I should despise, but I love (for the first three seasons, anyway). In the As You Were episode in season 1, a lot of main and supporting characters are stranded in a mansion on an island during a thunderstorm (Velveeta, right?), and one of them has been taken over by a “chameleon” that’s offing them one by one, but they don’t know which one because they all look and act like themselves. At one point, all of the characters are in a room sizing each other up, and one says of the main character, Audrey, who had proposed a way to catch this thing, “How do we know she’s not the thingamabob?” Audrey states emphatically, “I am NOT the thingamabob!” That struck me as especially funny during that tense scene, and I started using the word all the time. Now I finally get to use it on my blog.

†Probably the only time I will ever use the phrase, “wool is not a good idea.”

‡A hard deadline is the only reason this master procrastinator gets anything done. That, and my Butt-in-Chair partner, Melinda, which is the subject of another post I’ve been meaning to write.

To Ponder: Many wealthy people are little more than janitors of their possessions. |Frank Lloyd Wright|

Pinterest Mashup: Toothpaste

I follow lots of different kinds of pinners on Pinterest. Knitting boards, of course, but also boards for style, design, the comforting images of snow and rain, coffee/tea, modernist architecture, inspirational quotes, The Big Lebowski, and tiny houses.

Every so often, a couple of pins sit close together and editorialize each other.

Today we have some knitting that looks like a tube of toothpaste.

I’d Rather Dine Alone

Why don’t they have mouths?

The story goes on to say:

The Moomin Cafe chain, which is dedicated to a series of Finish (sic) picture books that are popular in Japan, adopted the policy to help customers feel more welcome and comfortable while dining alone.

A few questions:

  • Who wants to sit across from something that looks like it dripped out of the chef’s nose?
  • Wouldn’t you feel like a complete idiot sitting at a table with one of these things?
  • How often are those costumes going to be laundered?
  • Will you have to converse with them or are they going to just sit there and watch you eat?
  • Will you have to specify whether you want to dine with Moomintroll, Moominpappa, Moominmamma or Snork Maiden, or will your companion be assigned to you?
  • Why isn’t it Moominmaiden?
  • How are you going to handle all the pitying looks from the other diners who have friends to eat with?
  • Will you enjoy the constant interruptions to your meal by children wanting to have their picture taken with the thing?
  • What about all the snarky comments on the photos that are going to circulate on Facebook and Pinterest?

How about you? Have any questions or concerns?