Friday, December 26, 2008

The Secret is OUT

Well, it's not really a BIG secret. I did tell a few of my crochet designer friends. And the people at the workout club where I teach and workout know. At least some of them. But many of them call it knitting. What am I talking about? Well, read on and you'll find out. Or, if you have the Winter 2008 issue of Interweave Crochet click here, you can read all about it in Doris Chan's article, Gauge Crashers.
So this is the big secret. I am a crochet designer, teacher, and tech editor. I also am a group exercise instructor. (We used to be called Aerobics Instructors, but then we started teaching so much more than aerobics, that the "powers that be" changed the name to Group Exercise Instructor.) No, that's not the secret. But it does have a lot to do with it. I have been teaching aerobics and group exercise for years. And years. And years. I sometimes taught two, what we used to call "jump around" classes, a day. Then, I taught Step classes. And Spinning, or bicycle classes. And, I worked out in the weight room. I loved it, but my knees didn't. So, in the past 5 or 6 years, I've limited my Group Exercise teaching to Pilates/core classes, and Body Pump - a choreographed weight lifting class, done to music. While I love teaching these classes, I realized that they were not enough. I had to do some cardio exercise. So I tried the rowing machine. Nope, not for me. I tried the Stair Master. Nope, not for me. I tried an upright stationary bike. Nope, not for me. They all hurt my knees. The only thing that I could do, that wouldn't hurt my knees, was biking on a recumbent bike. So I started doing that. And I read a book, or watched tv. Until the day when I wanted to work out, but I had a crochet project that I had to work on. Well, I thought, why can't I do both? I put my yarn and hooks into a vinyl bag with handles, put some scissors in there also, and paper and a pen for note taking. And made my way to the club. I got on the bike, and started to crochet, and well, the rest is history! That's now what I do when I work out on the bike. I crochet. Oh - I can't crochet everything on the bike. If I have to concentrate, or measure something, or figure out a tricky part in a pattern, I don't do it on the bike. But, if it's easy, mindless, or repetitive, I can do it. Of course, not a big project. Mostly little ones, or the beginning of a bigger one. I usually am on the bike for an hour, and crochet for anywhere from a half hour to the entire hour. And - I get the strangest looks from some of the other members. And also, some interesting comments. While most men and women will ask me what I am knitting, one man knew I was crocheting. He was riding the bike next to me, and when I complemented him on knowing crocheting from knitting, he said he knew how to crochet! Men usually don't admit this.
I know what you're thinking. She must be nuts! How can she multi-task like that? Exercising and crocheting at the same time! Okay - I'll confess something else. I HAVE to exercise. It's what I do - and I have to stay in shape to teach. And it keeps me healthy. But, I LOVE to crochet. So, I combine the two when I can. Sometimes, it's the only time during the day when I do get to crochet. I crochet, or try to crochet, every day. Even if it's just a couple of rounds on a tote bag, while I'm riding in the car with my husband on the way to see a movie - as long as I can make a few stitches, I feel good. I used to think that this was crazy - me having to crochet all the time. But then, I read this book - The Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell.

His theory is that the people who are good at something aren't good because they're born that way. They're good because they practice at it. In fact, he says, it takes about 10,000 hours, over approximately 10 years, to be successful at something. So - even though I have been crocheting and designing for way more than 10 years, I don't want to lose that. So I practice. And practice, and practice some more.

The same goes for teaching. I have taught on the high school level, at the college level (while I was studying for my Masters and my Ph.D.), continuing education classes for group exercise instructors, calligraphy, typography, and of course, crochet. I taught for many years on the local level before I thought I was ready to teach nationally. I still teach crcohet locally, and I am continually learning from my students. I am continually practicing. I never want to stop!

Now you know my secret! I crochet while riding a recumbent bike. I bet there are others like me out there. Where do you crochet?

So, read the article. It's really very good. Lots of info about why you may not be able to get the gauge that the designer got. And visit my other blog - TheCrochetDoctor -
to read what I have to say about gauge! (June 14, 2008, and August 18, 2008, are the two entries.) And if you want to know more about gauge, leave a comment or question here or there.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sham Wow WOW!

I reported before about my trip to Houston, and seeing the International Quilt Show. What I didn't tell you about the show was that they had a BIG market place - with lots of quilting equipment and material, there were some yarn stores, and then they also had some side booths selling other stuff. We stopped at one booth selling ShamWows. These are cloths that are supposed to wipe up spilled liquids, and soak up water and other liquids really quickly. So, my friends and I stopped to listen. At first, we laughed - the salesman's patter sounded just like the ads you see on TV. You know - But WAIT. If you buy it now, you can get another one free! Well, that meant we'd get 6 ShamWows (3 to a package). But it was still just a joke! However, I was designing some felted bags at the time, and started to think how this ShamWow would help me when the bags were drying. Maybe it would make the drying process quicker if I stuffed them in the bag, instead of the newspaper I usually used. So, as we were walking away, I asked one of my friends if she would be interested in splitting the cost with me - we'd each get 3 ShamWows for half price. She agreed, and so we told our other friends where we were going, and amidst much of their laughter, we headed back to the ShamWow booth.
Now, fast forward another week. I felted a bag, and stuffed it with the ShamWow and some newspaper to let it dry. It dried overnight! Really! Overnight! I never had that happen before.
Then, fast forward another couple of weeks, to last night - Saturday. I had two more bags ready to felt. When they came out of the washer, I just put a ShamWow on the bottom of each bag. I didn't use any newspaper (my husband had thrown all the papers out just that morning). I followed the directions - wetting the ShamWows first. Then I squeezed the excess water from them and put them in the base of the bags. After a couple of hours, I examined the drying progress. The ShamWows were soaking - the bags were nearly dry! So once again, I squeezed the excess water from the ShamWows, put them in the base of the bags, and set them out to finish drying. This morning, the ShamWows were soaking again, and the bags were dryer. I couldn't do anything with them then - so I once again squeezed the excess water from the ShamWows and put them in the base of the bags. This evening, when I checked on them, the bags were dry, and there was just a little excess water to squeeze from the ShamWows.
So - all of you who laughed at my purchase (and you know who you are!) I have one thing to say. SO THERE!
I have to wait for the handles to finish drying (I didn't ShamWow them on purpose - they were the control!) And when they do dry, and I put the bags together, I'll post a picture of them!
Moral of this story - well, I'm not sure there is a moral. But ShamWows are great!