Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thank you, CraftWorld

If you're from the Philippines and you like to crochet or knit or do crafts in general, you probably know about the amazing, unbelievable, giddiness-inducing, hyperventilate-worthy super event that was the CraftWorld Closing-Out Sale, which fellow crafter Trey Ajusto so benevolently shared with the online crafting community in her lovely blog.  And though I was on a general buying freeze at around the time I read the post, the image of an entire room filled with piles of crafting supplies proved too strong even for my iron will, which found itself supplanted after a most wrenching split-second internal struggle.

So anyway, without further ado, allow me to present my CraftWorld haul: 

First up, the craft tools.  I'd have been happy enough to find these in the mall even if I had to get them at the regular price, but to have been able to get them for as little as I did is almost surreal.

And then, some threads I hadn't known existed till then, but which I'm happy enough to acquaint myself with:

Lastly, the most astounding find of all: a collection of vintage needlework magazines that had been bound into a hardcover, which I got for a whopping... (brace yourselves)

Click to see some of the contents

... 10 PESOS! 

And no, that's not a typo. I really do mean TEN pesos.  That makes every pattern in there almost quite literally, in both senses of the word, priceless!  And if you must know, I still take it down from my shelf every day to assure myself that it's not a figment of my imagination.

* * *
(A Little Journal-y Note: I went to the garage sale with my friend, crochet designer Mimi Alelis. It was kind of neat how we always ended up picking out different items from the same pile.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Fat Bottom Bag: A Tale of Two Too's

The fat bottom bag was one of the first in what is now an extremely long and ever-growing list of crochet patterns I obsessed over.  After spending hours looking at photos of every finished project I could find, I decided that I wanted one in every color and, as any crafter's wont to do, almost immediately began hoarding the yarn I needed to see the dream through. To give you a rough idea of what that colorful dream looked like in my brain, here's a photo of one of my favorite versions of the bag, made by Anna of Anna Virginia Fashion:

Photo used with permission
Thanks to Samantha Margano's free Fat Bag pattern (English translation here), I've since made two fat bottom bags for myself, each of which I've already been able to use once. Here they are in action, in optimal-angle (granted, blurred and dim) glory.

And yes, there's a reason why the "optimal angle" shots are ones that show them at rather hard-to-make-out angles.  It's because the size of each is nowhere near what I want them to be.  Teal Fat Bottom Bag came out on the small side and is rather floppy (having been crocheted at a loose gauge), whereas Yellow Fat Bottom Bag is too big, or perhaps I should say gargantuan.  (Yet another blurred image coming right up, this one's blurred to a point of photographic unacceptability but I feel I have to include a more truthful representation of the bag and this is the only one I have on file).

my fat bottom bag version

Perhaps the worst part about the wrong turns I made with these two bags is that they were either deliberate deviations I'd made from the pattern or due to important steps I'd skipped in my eagerness to be working on the actual project.  If only I'd paid attention to gauge! If only I hadn't added those extra stitches! And most importantly: if only I'd had a clearer idea of how big it was supposed to turn out anyway!

That said, I hope I've made it clear that the errors were my own and not the pattern's.  Really, if you like to make bags, you should try making this one.  It's simple, clever and guaranteed to present new insights about bag construction. Which is why I must soon try my hook at another fat bottom bag in the near stash-busting future, during which I resolve to:

  • Crochet a swatch.  I'd prefer the resulting fabric to be on the sturdy, un-drapey side as this will show the gathers of the bag better.
  • Work out the final dimensions in inches or centimeters (on an aside, may I ask, which do you prefer to use?)
  • Make every necessary computation.
  • Come up with a formula to share with everyone.  

So just you wait, you elusive Fat Bottom Bag, you. I'll have the better of you yet.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Not so Mild Eww Encounter

So I've been slacking off on writing a blog entry and this particular one has been a draft for almost a month now and is thus way behind on the headlines, but given that this is: a) not a newspaper but, b) MY blog which, c) very few people read (Hello by the way to my dearest plum, thanks for reading!), I'll pretend I didn't agonize at all about the delay and will just plunge right in:

About three months ago (in August 2012, specifically), a destructive combination of the southwest monsoon, a low pressure area and a tropical storm named Gener wreaked havoc on much of Luzon (the northern archipelago of the Philippines).  To translate the rather scary-sounding meteorological jargon which I myself don't fully understand, it means that it rained practically non-stop for almost an entire week. Now, anyone who lives in Metro Manila has got to be familiar with the mysteriously immediate effect that even the most moderate of showers can have on our country's truly sterling public works, case in point being the way traffic crawls to a stop after, say, just 15 minutes of steady rainfall.  Given this example and depending on your location, you can probably imagine or you probably know firsthand or from the news how immense and tragic the destruction was after said week of non-stop rain.  (If you're one of those people who have to imagine, I've included links to a few news articles at the end of this entry, if you're interested in reading more.)

Thankfully, though, our house was spared the unwelcome intrusion of flood water (it appears our street is somewhat high set) and Typhoon Gener for the most part just came and went with nothing more than a 6-hour blackout to disrupt my family's rather laidback daily routine.  Actually, considering the magnitude of the damage that many suffered, I ought to strike out the 'for the most part' from that last statement and say with absolutely no qualifications that Typhoon Gener came and went with no disruptions whatsoever to our household life.  But for the purposes of this narration, however, do bear with my allowing that inaccurate little bit to remain as a transition to the next part of my anecdote, which begins a couple of days after the rain stopped in the form of white, powdery, utterly benign-looking flecks ever-so-lightly sprinkled on the sides of my shelves.

'Light' and 'benign' are the worst words I could have chosen to use for a first impression. In a matter of days, the benign-looking powdery mildew spread over the entire surface of every wood and particle board surface inside my room, which translates to roughly every piece of furniture I own.  And the best thing about mildew?  You can't just wipe it the same way you would a dusty shelf, because the mildew will release its spores into the air at the slightest pressure.  It took me about a month to get the infestation under control, as I had to empty out each shelf (I have three in my room), drag it outside where I could clean it without reintroducing new spores, wait for it to dry completely, drag it back inside and finally, clean and place every item back inside.  The hardest part was getting to the underside of my bed, which seemed to be the mother ship given the thick layer that covered every inch of brown wood.  Since the bed wouldn't fit through the door and had actually had to be assembled inside my room, I couldn't clean it outside as I did the shelves and had to settle for the more arduous task of covering the wooden portions of the bed with cling wrap in order to seal in the mildew and hopefully, cut off its oxygen supply.  (It doesn't seem to be working out that way, though-- I took a peek just now and the mildew appears to be alive and kicking inside the cling wrap barrier).

Now, on to what I learned from this whole nightmare:

A. On Killing Mildew
  1. Do not attempt to wipe off the mildew with a rag right away: the mildew will just release its spores into the air as soon as you do.  Instead, fill a spray bottle with some kind of cleaning solution and spray it onto the infested surface before wiping with a rag. 
  2. On effective cleaning solutions.  Baking soda mixed with liquid dishwashing detergent did not work well for me, as spots of mildew would reappear after only a couple of days.  Bleach seems to work better at killing mildew--of course, bleach is pretty harsh stuff so I'm sure you can't use it in every case.
  3. Wear a mask.
  4. Clean off mildew as soon as you spot it to keep it from spreading.  
B. On Preventing Mildew
  1. Keep things as clean and dust-free as possible. Apparently, mildew can subsist on dust particles, and given the, errr, not-too-clean state that my room was in when the rains happened, I'm not surprised it spread as much as it did.
  2. Use plastic storage containers when you can.  I find them pretty pricey, to be honest, but they do such a great job of keeping growth and critters out so I guess they're well worth the investment.
  3. Open up your windows and let the sunshine in!  Since fresh air is drier than stale air, this helps reduce the moisture in the atmosphere of your room. 
  4. For crafters: keep yarn in plastic bags.  If you're like me and you like to buy hoard clothes from thrift shops with the intention of repurposing them, make sure to wash articles right away.  I have an awful suspicion that the mildew that infested my room was a foreign species that lived on, yes, one of the items I thrifted and left lying around my room.
So anyway, I think I've gone about 200 words over the acceptable length for a blog post, and if you're still there, dear reader, I thank you for bearing with my drivel and wish you a most happy, hygienic, mildew-free existence.

And that's it for now. 

Some Articles on Typhoon Gener: