Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kwanzaa Festival & Fashion Show

Man...glad to be back.  Now let me explain my loooooong hiatus...
I had to study for finals (I aced them, nonetheless).  And now I'm prepping for my first fashion show.  The sistah who's helping to organize the event said the theme is "Crocheted & Upcycled" garments, so this was right up my alley.  Of course, I'll also be setting up a booth to sell my crowns.  So far, here's what I got...


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

More New Tams!

Finally, I'm free!

...No, I actually had to take another hiatus for a couple of weeks.  Classes and teaching at my local library kept me busy as of late.  But, a good friend of mine let me copy a pattern from her hat book and I've just been cranking out these lace-style tams for the past few days.  Without further ado...




Sunday, October 27, 2013

Counting Your Blessings

Yesterday, after an energy-draining Labor Studies class, I took a trip down to Hollywood (the biggest cesspool in Los Angeles) and visited a business connect and a good friend of mine.  She gave me a bag of some of the most beautiful yarn ever produced.  So to show my appreciation, I plan on making some lovely crowns.
In a nutshell, count your blessings and cherish what you've got.  You never know when somebody in your closest circles or a random stranger will pay it forward.
Now I'm going to crochet my butt off with this new yarn.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Potpourri - 10/23/2013

Man, if you only knew...

I'll be ecstatic once I graduate and get my degree.  Haven't had much time to make anything as of yet.  I guess you can say I've been suffering from "crafter's block."

Aside from those random thoughts, there's a reason why I call this post "Potpourri."  It is because I'm posting random thoughts.  Here goes...

Random Thought #1

A month ago, I found some beautiful wool-blend yarn.  Now that may be nothing to marvel at, but the location where I found it made me do a double take once I saw it.  It was at Walmart.  Of all places that I would find top quality wool-blend yarn, I'm surprised I would find it there!  And, it wasn't just any location.  I had found this yarn at what is considered to be the most ghetto, unkempt, low-brow store in Los Angeles.  That would be the Walmart in South Central L.A., located on the Crenshaw strip.  What was even crazier was that I found this yarn in the clearance box at this location.  Normally the yarn would go for five dollars and some coins at a fabric and crafts store, but I happened to snatch this up for a measly Washington.  There wasn't much yarn, but I had enough to make this little number...

Amazing what you can do with a tiny roll of yarn
Random Thought #2

I have a question for my readers and fellow Angelenos out there:  Who the [bleep] is Bubblehead?!  Seriously, who is she?

Some Bubblehead billboard on the corner of 63rd & Crenshaw in Los Angeles

A close-up
When I first saw this billboard, I thought it was an ad for some big-budget, low-brow comic book movie.  Wrong, I was.  I would see this posted on every bleeping bus bench and shelter around the city.  After some extensive research (wasn't that much research done anyway), I found out that the person behind this garbage (which is supposed to be street art in his mind, but is actually a Sony Playstation reject) goes by the name of Mike McNeilly.  He plasters this crap all over upscale neighborhoods in Los Angeles.  Not too long ago, he started plastering this Bubblehead bitch throughout South Central.  As a result, I'd like to make this statement to Mr. McNeilly:

No one in the 'hood gives a [bleep] about Bubblehead.  That is all.
Also, if you want to talk about real street art, Mike McNeilly, then ride west down Slauson Avenue and look to your right.  Take a good look along those train tracks and you'll see actual street art.  Better yet, I'll post some on this blog if you ever come across it.

The two pictures THAT is what you call street art.  So Mike McNeilly, [bleep] you and [bleep] Bubblehead.
And that's my potpourri for today.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Crochet Across The Pond - What You Should Know

Have any crocheters out there been in this situation?

You are at a library searching for some crochet pattern books and you come across one with some of the coolest designs.  You decide to check out this book, go home, pick your favorite pattern, and follow the instructions.  After working on said pattern, your design comes out looking wonky.  Could there be a reason for this?

Chances are, if your work in progress looks busted, then your pattern was printed in British terminology.

They say that British and American people (respectively) speak in a different language.  The same can go for crochet.

You can read a pattern for so long and continue scratching your head until you draw blood while asking yourself, "What the [bleep] is a half treble?!"  Good question.  *clears throat*  Allow me to clarify...

A "half treble" is what we Americans (that goes for Canadians, too) know as a "half double" crochet stitch.  Here's a low-budget chart for the term differences.

single crochet = double crochet
half double = half treble
double = treble
treble/triple = double treble
skip a stitch = miss a stitch
gauge = tension
I would also suggest visiting the website below if you don't know what the hell I'm talking about:
So the next time you find yourself stumped over following a British crochet pattern, try digesting your expletives and not puking them all over the place.  Instead, just remember this blog post about the different crochet terms across the pond, smile, finish your work, and keep smiling until you've stretched out your lips.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

No More Heat Waves/Respecting The Craft

Well I can finally breathe a sigh of relief...for the time being.  We got a taste of Indian Summer here in Los Angeles, and lately it's been a drag for business.  In a nutshell, I couldn't push my hats out there because of the heat, weather-friendly or otherwise.  Though I may be a Summer baby, I'm not used to temperatures being hotter than fish grease.  That results in me showing up late to Leimert Park to sell anything (anybody out there who knows about CP Time understands what I mean) almost unsuccessfully.  That in itself is a profit killer.

Though I love to crochet (as it keeps me from blowing a fuse), we crafters gotta pay bills, too.  We have to pay for materials such as hooks, yarn, and other bits and pieces needed to make some stuff.  We even have to pay dues on sites like ArtFire and Etsy just for daily operations to keep the online business running.  And that can drain our pockets just as fast as draining hot water from a bathtub.

That brings us to another discussion (hence the double title).  Let me spell this out in bold print so that our future customers can take a hint.

Read it exactly how I typed it.  There are crocheters out there who bust their butts (and ash up their fingers) for hours making whatever their niche product is.  For instance, my specialty is hats.  Certain hats might take me forty-five minutes at best, while others take me a few hours.  What some people fail to realize why crafters charge a specific price for their crocheted pieces is that they should take in the cost of time, overhead, and supplies.  I and countless others (whom I'm sure most crafters have encountered) have come across customers who would try to nickel-and-dime their way out of paying full price for a hat, shawl, or whatever.  Put it this way--it ain't gonna fly.  Cheating a crafter out of the original price for a handmade piece is on the same level as calling somebody's mother a bitch--most likely guaranteed to receive a dirty look or even a tongue lashing.
So just remember those three words in bold, underlined print in case you find yourself wanting to purchase something hand-crafted either for you or as a gift to a friend.  These words are indication enough that there are people out there (much like myself) who take crocheting very seriously.  However, if you are one to bargain for something handmade for a cheap, tacky price, then consider getting something made from a knitting machine in a factory.
Well, that closes this chapter for tonight...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Song of the Week - 10/8/2013

Today's song is...

While I am a crafter and love the art of crochet, I'm also a hip hop head.  Just thought I'd point that out.  However, if you don't care about that last statement, skip to the rest of the post.

All that aside, this song foretells the demise of the rap industry.  If you listen hard enough, you'll know what I'm talking about.  Nowadays, these new-wave bubblegum rappers will sell their soul just to go platinum and make millions of dollars for (excuse my French) putting out shit.  But lyricists who put out music with a message don't get radio play or recognition.

I'm going to keep this post short and sweet today.  I'm having a fix for some sour cream & onion potato chips and a giant bottle of H2O.

And That's All, Folks!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Crowns Galore!

Feeling like TheraFlu...Good to be back.

I've been under the radar for a while, mostly on yarn runs and tackling a weekend class.  But here are some recent hats I made...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Songs of the Week - 10/1/2013

To make up for missing last week's post, I'm going to share with you two of my favorite songs of my life soundtrack.  The first one is...

Now tell me this ain't some good, nasty, stank breath funk music, and I'd have to make you write me an 8-page essay on the various old school artists from the '60s to the '90s, included with works cited in MLA format.

Now let me warn you, this next song I'm about to post has a highly sensitive nostalgia bomb, so play at your own risk (unless you're willing to get hit with a form of shrapnel called Memories of the '80s).

This song right here equals two words: Saturday Morning.  I don't know about any of you reading this post, but a weekly custom in a black household was that after the cartoons were finished and the kids were done munching on some cereal, it was time to put on Soul Train.  Though I may have been born in 1984, I still remember it as if it were yesterday.  The intro, the music, the dance moves, the fashions--you name it.  And the host himself, with that smooth, silky baritone voice, Mr. Don Cornelius, you will be missed.  And last I mention, the ever-famous Soul Train Line towards the end of the show had me and my cousins glued to the TV.  Memories, indeed...

Well, those are my songs of the week.  Also, my thoughts on this post:  You can really start a house party with YouTube, the way technology is.  Now I'm going to pick up my hook and yarn again and get back to crocheting some more dread hats, as I nod my head to some of this good funk right 'chea.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Back at Work

Man, this heat....

Summer may be done in Los Angeles, but the hot weather says otherwise.  And school has been draining me for the past couple of days.  I have one weekend class and another one in late October.  Hopefully I don't conk out by then.

Just last week, I got an order for a custom hat.  A brother from the East Coast (currently residing in L.A.) wanted something to cover his dreadlocks, but the hat somehow came out looking like this crown I have in a crochet pattern book, called the Notty Dread (so much for tweaking patterns).  Well, here it is...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Been AWOL for a week...and starting another business venture

Let's just say that school right now has been kicking my butt.  Specifically in the Financial Aid department.  But I'm not out yet...that is, until I graduate next year (*Luigi voice* yay for me).

It's going to be some time before I can get my crochet business off the ground, so I'm giving you readers out there this link:

Yup, I'm pushing jewelry.  I'm even thinking about making some myself.  That doesn't mean that I'm putting my hook and yarn down, though.  That reminds me...I got a little story to tell you.

I made quite a lot of jewelry when I was 12 years old.  Yes, I still crocheted, but I was a clumsy little kitten for the fact that every hook I touched wound up missing in action.  But back to the jewelry thing...I did all that.  I still have a birthday necklace hanging up on my door since 1996.  My mother would buy me little Lisa Frank jewelry and needlepoint kits from a place called Pic 'N' Save (now known to citizens of Southern California as Big Lots).

I'm showing my age, aren't I?  Well, I don't care.  (LOL)

While crocheting is still the bulk of my craft time, I imagine dabbling in other things.  Jewelry was recently one of them, except there was no imagining.  After visiting a Jamaican store in Long Beach to help boost my sales, the owner gave me some pieces of what used to be wind chimes.  So I went down to the local craft store, bought some findings and fish hooks, and made some earrings from those former chimes.  Needless to say, my dear auntie (the baby of the family) currently has them in her jewelry box somewhere.  True story.

Now in case you missed that link, here it is (again, of course):

I owe you guys some pictures of what I've been crocheting lately, except the school computers at the campus I'm attending lack the proper software.  I would use my Android phone to take photos, but even that wouldn't look so professional, would it?

I'll be back on Monday, everybody.  Sadly, this is all I can come up with, because my brain is so burnt out that I can't even think of a snappy outro to end this post.  I need a Sprite...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Favorite Crochet Blogs

I love meeting folks who love crocheting as much as I do, so today I'm comprising a list of my favorite crochet blogs on the interwebs.

I lied...this isn't actually a list.  But, I do have some favorite blogs I'll be showcasing for a few weeks...starting with this:

Purple Sage Designz

The creator of this blog has some beautiful crowns and skirts.  I believe if she were in Los Angeles, she'd make a killing at Leimert Park.  But hey, she enjoys life at her pace, and that's all that matters.  One of her tams that caught my eye was this hat with colorful feminine stripes (just like she calls it).  I like how she stitched the design.  I don't know the details to explain it, but I do know that she did some fine work.

And to the creator of this blog, Miss Angelika, I don't know what you're doing at the moment but I just want to say keep up the good work.  Hopefully you come across my lil' ol' blog and drop me a line.  And keep crocheting, too!  Good work begets more good work, in my opinion.

Right now I'll be calling it a night.  I need to get ready for a crochet and knit club gathering today, and I have a class to teach tomorrow.  I guess I'll be leaving this blog at a de facto cliffhanger for now...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Song of the Week - 9/17/2013

Time to put down the hook and yarn for a few minutes, so I can introduce today's Song of the Week.  But before I begin, let me just bow my head in silence in respect to the victims of yesterday's naval base shooting in Washington, DC.  This song is dedicated to them.

The Song of the Week is...

Let me just say that this song is one of the most beautiful pieces of hip hop to have ever been produced.  This is actually my all-time favorite song ever made.  Though I was only a mere eight years old at the time of its release, I immediately fell in love with it (during that era I was a big-time Kris Kross head).  To this day, this song still gets heavy rotation on my playlist whether I'm on a bus, train, or at home playing my Super Nintendo (Confession:  Whenever I hear this song, I automatically think of the classic video game Street Fighter II).

Well, that wraps up today's post.  I need to get back to stitching up some more crowns...

And...that's all she wrote.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Swapmeet Yarn Store

I somehow came across this yarn store in the Westlake District of Los Angeles while on a search for a new nose ring (I always lose 'em when I get sick).  It was located inside one of the many swapmeets along Alvarado, across from MacArthur Park.

The cliché of "kid in a candy store" has been overused per se, so I'll just say that this will be one of many places I plan on hitting up for yarn.  Though I don't mind the travel to certain areas to purchase some of the finest yarns my little wallet can afford, sometimes it can be tiring catching six buses and seven trains (it's obvious I'm exaggerating) to this city and that city just for a discount.

On that note, I'll be signing off.  Until already know the drill.  Now work those hooks!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I'm thinking of selling on ArtFire...

It's going to be quite a few bumps (and potholes if you live in L.A. like me) in the road, but I'll be selling some stuff on ArtFire once I get up off the ground.  I mean, really off the ground (school supplies cleaned me out for the time being).  So until then, excuse this little blip on the radar while I go home and crochet some, yesterday.

Speaking of which, I need to hurry up and stitch some hats faster than blast processing on a Sega Genesis.  I've been nursing a cold this past weekend and this sudden drop in temperature hasn't been a large help (Southern California has been going through a nasty heat wave for the past week).  So I have a lot of time to make up and plenty of yarn to use up.

But hold up now...don't expect me on ArtFire just yet.  There are still some technicalities to be worked out, such as cash (Everybody needs a few Jacksons and Franklins in their pockets, right?) and cards.  No, not the plastic...I really mean some business cards.  Gotta get my name out there somehow.  But first I have to pay bills so I can make sales (and unfortunately, pay more bills), then I can finally establish myself as a seller on ArtFire.

Well, I gotta split.  I'll be back like a TV show after a commercial break.

Song of the Week - 9/10/2013

In tribute to the late Cal Worthington, owner of many car dealerships on the West Coast (including Worthington Ford of Long Beach), the song of the week is...

Now don't start jumping out your Converse Chuck Taylors just yet.  Some of you might be expecting me to post somebody like Snoop Dogg up in here, but I'm trying to keep this blog clean (no disrespect to the Doggfather)!  (smile)  I chose this song because it reminds me of my youth, growing up in Los Angeles in the mid- to late 1980s, watching Cal's zany commercials when we weren't occupied with the radio, and just having fun in a nutshell.

Since I'm paying respects to well-known folks in the SoCal, I also want to say RIP to Mix Master Spade.  Thank you for bringing us good hip hop artists like King Tee, Toddy Tee, and DJ Pooh.

Now I shall pick up my hook and yarn again, and resume crocheting.  Hopefully I'll have some more stuff to post...and even sell.

In Memoriam - Cal Worthington

Today I shall put my hook and yarn down to pay respects to a beloved car dealer who made Angelenos like myself laugh with his wacky commercials...and his "dog" Spot.

Ah, yes...Cal Worthington, the man who started with a dealership in Texas in the 1950s and made his way through parts of the Southwest, one of those parts being Long Beach, California.  He brought laughs to SoCal airwaves with his random animal appearances in his commercials, and a catchy jingle we misunderstood as kids because if we sang it out loud within parents' earshot, we were guaranteed a pop in the mouth.

Mr. Worthington was just 92 years old at the time of his death.

From the New York Times:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Song of the Week - 9/3/2013

Here at The Soul Stitchery, I love to listen to music while I'm crocheting my butt off.  So what I'm going to do is list one of my favorite songs each week until I'm good and tired of doing it (or until break).  Ya dig?

The song of the week for today is...

(drum roll, please)

Ah, J damn producer to have graced this earth.  Sadly, he died over seven years ago from lupus complications.  But let us not mourn his transition to the hereafter; instead, we shall celebrate his music and his accomplishments.

Now the reason I chose this song is...  Okay, there's really no concrete reason except I just like this joint.  What other producer can make beats with only a 7-bar break?  (ignore this question)  Just sit back and take a good listen.  Or, if you're like me (wanting to hear a track sans lyrics), here's the instrumental.

The instrumental (from my take on the song) has more of an erotic aura compared to its album version.  But hey, that's just me.  They both sound almost equally erotic (thanks to Herbie Hancock's "Come Running To Me" as the core sample of the beat).

Now y'all stay tuned for the next Song of the Week, hear?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The 4 P's of Crochet

What exactly are the four P's of crochet?  For one, it's something I imagined when I couldn't finish a project (or product, in my case).  I'd get bored, frustrated, and just abandon the work altogether.  These lessons are also what I teach my students if they find themselves at a dead end, or not knowing how to do a stitch.  Here are the four P's of crochet:  Prayer, Patience, Practice, and Passion.
Prayer:  This one is most important, as it is the foundation for learning this craft.  As you sit and crochet, you are calling upon God to make something beautiful for people to admire.  You want them to feel the love and energy you've put into making your project, so always remember to pray before you begin.
Patience:  I try to emphasize this with my students when they get irritated from not doing a stitch correctly.  It works both ways because the students learn to be patient with every stitch they've done and will do, and I learn to be patient with my students as they encounter bumps in the road.  It's a great experience for both the pupil and teacher.
Practice:  Crocheting is easy once you get a feel for it, but it takes practice to make beautiful pieces.  It's like learning to speak a new language.  Crochet, in and of itself, is similar to a language.  One doesn't necessarily have to know all the terminology, but should at least be proficient enough to know the basics.  Once she has learned the basics, then she can leave the rest up to her imagination.
Passion:  If a person is interested in the art of crochet, she must want to do it.  She must also have that drive, ambition, and willingness to learn.  And once she learns, many doors will open.  Soon, she will have the inspiration to make and design many projects along the way.  It can start with a fellow crafter, a book, or the latest fashion.  All she needs are a hook, some yarn, and a vision.
And those, my crafting brethren, are the four P's of crochet.  Always use these lessons when you start a new project.  They will help to strengthen your spirit as you complete each stitch, and you'll even have fun in the process.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Labor Day Festival

We're having yet another big festival in Leimert Park this weekend, and I am most certainly NOT going to miss it.
I wanted to make more hats, but I had to get through the beginning of the semester first.  So here are two that I've finished this week.
Ocean Blue Tam (color variation #1)
Ocean Blue Tam (color variation #2)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Fedora Collection

I want to give my readers a heads-up:  If I don't have any new posts, that means I'll be busy with classes.  Though crocheting is a full-time gig for me, school is first on my list of priorities.  But enough of all that...

Here's a collection of crocheted fedoras I came across on my flash drive.  Pardon me if the lighting sucks; my digital camera was full at the time and I had to resort to my Android phone as a makeshift until I could clean out my memory card.

Rustic Autumn

Winter Blue, shown in an O.G. style

Wood Brown

Men's Black Charcoal

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Fitted Cap Collection

Lately I've been busy on what I call my "yarn runs," where I just go on Craigslist, to thrift stores, or to Walmart (occasionally) to get yarn for a bargain.  But enough of that...I have some fitted hats to show you.

Rustic Brown & Cream Fitted Hat
Green Tea Frappe Hat - Inspired by Starbucks
A Lighter Variation of the Green Tea Frappe Hat

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Crochet for the Financially Impaired

Any of you crocheters out there ever wanted to buy some of the finest yarns to have ever been spun, only to realize that you're hurt in the pockets?  Well, read on.

I'm sure you know this scenario:  You go to a craft store or a novelty yarn shop and spot the yarn you've ever so desired.  The yarn is so beautiful, so lustrous.  That is, until you look at the price tag.  The cost is so high that even a skilled pole vault athlete couldn't jump over it.  Trust me folks, I've been in that situation.

Instead of killing your wallet at a big box craft store or a novelty yarn shop, try going to your local thrift store or upcycling place to find some good quality yarn for a few Washingtons ($1 bills if you don't know your presidents).  Or, if you're one of those internet junkies, then go on Craigslist and see if you can find somebody who's destashing.  You may just luck up on that special yarn you've been searching for all this time.

Happy hookin', y'all!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Today's Big Festival

Every day in Leimert Park, we gather together to honor many icons throughout black history.  This weekend we are paying tribute to Marcus Garvey by throwing a parade and festival to celebrate his legacy.
Be that a special event or the weekly African drum circle, I'll be selling my crowns at the park.  For the crafters who are not in the greater Los Angeles area, take a trip down here once in a while.  And I do recommend you visit this park on a Sunday to get a taste of black culture and heritage.
Here's a sample of the hats I'll have on display.
Rustic Autumn Rasta Tam
Brown Military Fitted Hat
Small Mesh Tam (made from leftover yarn used for the fitted hat)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Even More New Crowns

Just a few more days until the Marcus Garvey festival and here are some more tams I plan to sell at the event.
Blue-Toned Mesh Tam
Big Rastafarian Mesh Tam

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Miscellaneous Hat Collection

I figured I'd knock out this post before I headed to the city of Long Beach to meet with a fellow soulful crocheter and a good friend of mine.
Not only do I crochet tams and skullies for sale, but also fitted caps and fedoras.  Go ahead, take a look, and leave a few words.

Rustic Green Fedora (made with rug yarn and hemp cord for edging)
Earth Umber Fitted Hat
Rastafarian Fitted Hat
Land & Ocean Fitted Hat

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Some More Crowns

Here are some more tams I whipped up.  Hopefully I can make a lot more for the upcoming Marcus Garvey festival in Leimert Park next weekend, but this is it for now.
Variegated Rastafarian Mesh Tam
The "Goodwill" Tam

Friday, August 9, 2013

My Teaching Gig

A couple of weeks ago, I started teaching a crochet class at my local library.  And I must say, to quote the McDonald's motto, "I'm lovin' it."

Here's something else I want to share about the art of crochet:  If you pick up a hook and some yarn, make sure that whatever you're going to create comes from your spirit.  I see crocheting to be a very soulful and theraputic craft, as you are channeling energy from within to every stitch you work.  So if you're feeling down or if somebody rubbed you the wrong way, just pick up a hook and yarn and let your imagination go wild.

Happy crocheting, y'all!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

More New Crowns

A couple of new hats I whipped up since yesterday
Jamaican Flag Tam
Baby Tam, or Large Skully, however you wish to call it

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

One ABNORMALLY Huge Rastafarian Granny Square Tam

I made this some time last year.  Sadly, I couldn't get any of my customers to take it off my hands.  Oh well, in due time...
Man, this thing is huge...

Monday, August 5, 2013

All New Crowns

If you good folks out there want me to fix you up one of these babies, go ahead and leave a comment and e-mail so we can touch base.  ^_^
Semi-Mesh Skully
Southwestern Scrap Tam
Top: Black & White Double-Strand Tam
Bottom: Blue Double-Strand Tam with Bib