Hyperbolic Crochet at Worldcon75

August 18, 2017 at 8:52 pm | Posted in Crochet | 2 Comments
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I’m a geek at heart. I read a lot of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and follow a few related places on the internet. But until a couple of weeks ago, I had never been to an SF  convention. I needed to remedy that omission, and I did it in style: Worldcon is the yearly convention of the World Science Fiction Society, and it takes place in a different city every year. This year’s Worldcon was going to take place in Helsinki, as Worldcon75. Since I love the Nordic Countries and haven’t been there for a while, this was my chance to combine two good things, and I took it.

After paying for my membership, progress reports started to trickle in, and in all of them there was a call for volunteers. Worldcons are a completely volunteer-run endeavour, so without people to help, nothing would happen. I generally enjoy being more than a passive consumer of things when possible, so the call for volunteers made me go look at the website, where the different areas they were looking for volunteers in were listed. Almost immediately, my eyes stopped in one place: Craft Corner? – sounds great, and I’m sure I can make myself useful there. A few emails later, I was discussing ideas of things to offer to people in the craft area of Worldcon with the lady responsible for the Craft Corner, and I want to talk about one of the ideas we actually implemented today.

What kind of craft might be of interest to geeks of all sorts? I’ve been fascinated by hyperbolic crochet for many years and had the opportunity to see the original Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef in London in 2008 – and even to create a small part for it! Thinking back to that I mentioned the idea to offer a community project making hyperbolic crochet pieces together. As opposed to a reef, where you need lots of people and many many hours to get anywhere even remotely impressive, I thought we could create a single big pseudosphere, with different people working on the piece throughout the five days of Worldcon. I was curious myself how big a piece we’d be able to create.

When I arrived for Move-In the day before Worldcon started, the area that was planned for this project was still just an empty bit of floor with a couple of dividing walls. We obviously needed some furniture. When asking where to get tables and chairs, the reply was: “How many do you need?” A table – and lots of chairs was my spontaneous answer. And both materialized just a few minutes later thanks to some of the lovely volunteers making the whole con possible. I made the perfect choice with that one … crafters don’t want to sit there all alone, they tend to form groups and chat while working. There were almost always people sitting on that table when I went by. Unfortunately I have no pictures of the workspace to share with you, simply because I forgot to take one with all the excitement of the con.

I had created an instruction sheet to be displayed at the workspace. The idea was to explain what this is all about as well as to give clear instructions for people on what to do. I think I mostly succeeded with that one. If you want to have a look, here it is: Hyperbolic_Crochet (link to PDF). There’s an error in the footnote, UK and US need to be the other way round, but I only noticed that on the last day. We had five laminated copies of this, and put two up on the dividing walls and taped the other three to the table.

So, what did we make from those instructions? Here you go:

Hyperbolic Crochet Community Project @Worldcon75

You’ll notice that’s more than one piece, in fact, there are four – the big piles of wool on the left and right, the one from colourful thread in the middle, and a start of a fourth one right below that one.

So, how did we get there? What worked, and what would I do differently if there’s a next time (and there might well be)?

  1. Workspace: A table and lots of chairs was perfect, as I already mentioned above. If circumstances allow, a bit more cozyness would have been nice, but we did just fine with a bunch of plastic folding chairs.
  2. Materials: We had a grabbag of unloved wool from somewhere, which all the big pieces are made from. While this worked, I’d prefer to get new yarn (any cheap acrylic or cotton would be perfect for this kind of project) in all the colours of the rainbow for several reasons:
    • While I tried to only keep similar-sized yarns in the bag for the project, this was approximate at best. All the yarn having the same properties would give a more consistent result. You can see how much cleaner the piece made from perle cotton looks. The perle cotton was actually intended for my tatting workshop (but that’s a whole other post), but whoever did the shopping seemed to have gotten a great deal and we had much more than we needed. Add a 2mm crochet hook I had with me, and there’s a good-looking project!
    • Not everybody who wanted to contribute was able to work with wool. While we had the cotton thread as an alternative, it would have been nice to have all the projects suitable for everyone who wanted to help.
    • Yarn of unknown origin can also bring other allergens with it. Our bag seemed in part to be infested with cat hair – not a good thing for a community project where you want to draw lots of people and not make anyone sick.
  3. Instructions: Those mostly worked fine. There were a few hiccups here and there, but the nice thing about hyperbolic crochet is, that as long as you don’t care about exactly modelling a specific mathematical object, it is fairly forgiving of minor hiccups. As long as you keep increasing at mostly the same rate, things will look good.
  4. Number of projects: As I wrote above, my original thought was to see just how big a piece we could make together. Given the sociable nature of crafters in general, I should have known beforehand that that wouldn’t really work. With the bonus project from the perle cotton, we already started at two and added an additional hook for the bigger yarns pretty soon, from which a third project developed, which was a good number, I think. There were additional projects trying to sprout on occasion, but since we didn’t have any more hooks to go around, things mostly kept concentrated to those three projects. So, next time get a few more hooks and actually try to do a small reef or something?
  5. What will you do with it? This was one of the most frequently asked questions by both contributors and onlookers. And it was a question I didn’t have an answer for. It wasn’t something that I had been thinking about beforehand, because I wasn’t even sure that this project would take off at all. I left the results with the people running the exhibits area of the con, and currently have no idea where they are.

All in all, I consider this project a success. The workspace quickly developed into a meeting space for craftspeople to come for a bit of downtime and a chat, and it gave me a go-to place as well. I’m not the best at going up to people and starting conversations – this way, loads of interesting people came to me! This is actually one of the ways that volunteering helps me to get more out of a big event like a Worldcon – you have things to do and automatically get into contact with other con-goers that way.

Since that blog post already has way too many words, I’m leaving you with another picture of that pretty hyperbolic pseudosphere made from perle cotton:

Hyperbolic Pseudosphere from Nr. 8 Perle Cotton

SAL Update: Seashells #12

August 6, 2017 at 7:05 am | Posted in Embroidery | 14 Comments
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Another tiny bit of progress today! This is the second-to-last shell to embroider.

Previous version:

Seashells 2017-07-16

Today:

Seashells 2017-07-23

 

I learnt a new stitch today! The ridges of the little starfish shell are worked in colonial knots (link to the Youtube video tutorial I ended up using). After the first couple of tries, those were very easy to do.

Here are the other members of the SAL who are posting today. Make sure to check out their work, it’s amazing: Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Lucy, Jess, Sue, Kate, Debbie Rose, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Linda, Catherine, Mary Margaret and Timothy.

If you would like to join in please contact Avis, who will give you full details.

Scrappy and Useful

July 23, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Patchwork | 1 Comment
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My old ereader hadn’t made the healthiest of impressions lately, and to save myself from the horrors of it breaking on me in the middle of my vacation, I got a new one. Of course the new one has a different size than the old model, and besides, its bag was getting a bit tatty from being carried around all day, everyday. So, a new bag was in order, and what a good opportunity to use up some of those scraps! I pulled out a coordinating set of leftover strips from my scrapbox and got to work:

Ereader - old and new

Old on the right, new on the left. And since I’m sure you’ll want to see the bags instead of the books, there you go:

Bags for Ereader

Both are made using the same steps: prepare a piece of batting and backing, and sew the strips directly onto it, saving the quilting. The first strip (at the opening) is sewn right on right directly together with the backing, so after turning there isn’t an open seam there. When the batting and backing is all covered with fabric strips, fold into bag, give the flap its final form, and edge all the open edges with bias tape. To make that step easier, I sewed the front and back together using a straight stitch first, which is then hidden under the bias tape.

A quick, satisfying and useful project, and a few scraps gone!

SAL Update: Seashells #11

July 16, 2017 at 10:02 am | Posted in Embroidery | 13 Comments
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Another tiny bit of progress today!

Previous version:

Seashells 2017-06-25

Today:

Seashells 2017-07-16

There’ll be spangles adorning the stripes of this one, and I’ll add the colonial knots where the spangles won’t fit when I’m doing the goldwork. The instructions also say to fill the stripes with satin stitch in the lighter colour of the leftmost shell, but in the photograph on the kit that clearly hasn’t been done, and it’ll be busy enough with the spangles attached, so I’m skipping that part as well.

Just two shells left for the silk embroidery now!

Here are the other members of the SAL who are posting today. Make sure to check out their work, it’s amazing: Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Lucy, Jess, Sue, Kate, Debbie Rose, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Linda, Catherine, Mary Margaret and Timothy.

If you would like to join in please contact Avis, who will give you full details.

SAL Update: Seashells #10

June 25, 2017 at 8:51 am | Posted in Embroidery | 16 Comments
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In spite of it being way too hot to be doing fine needlework, I’ve managed to get the snail shell done!

Previous version:

Seashells - 2017-06-04

Today:

Seashells 2017-06-25

Only three smallish ones left for the silk embroidery, and then on to bedazzle all of this with lots of gold and glitter.

Here are the other members of the SAL who are posting today. Make sure to check out their work, it’s amazing: Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Lucy, Jess, Sue, Kate, Debbie Rose, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Wendy, Linda, Catherine, Mary Margaret and Timothy.

If you would like to join in please contact Avis, who will give you full details.

SAL Update: Seashells #9

June 4, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Posted in Embroidery | 15 Comments
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Summer has arrived, and I’ve been preoccupied by another project lately, but still there’s a bit of progress.

Previous version:

Seashells - 2017-05-14

Today:

Seashells - 2017-06-04

Maybe I can finish the snail till next time?

Here are the other members of the SAL who are posting today. Make sure to check out their work, it’s amazing: Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Lucy, Jess, Sue, Kate, Debbie Rose, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Wendy, Linda, Catherine, Mary Margaret and Timothy.

If you would like to join in please contact Avis, who will give you full details.

SAL Update: Seashells #8

May 14, 2017 at 7:39 am | Posted in Embroidery | 11 Comments
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We’re on to the next shell today!

Previous version:

Seashells - 2017-04-23

Today:

Seashells - 2017-05-14

The snail is worked in long and short stitch in sections with two colours alternating. I really like the effect, and it’s a lot less tedious to work than all the chainstitch filling before.

Here are the other members of the SAL who are posting today. Make sure to check out their work, it’s amazing: Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Lucy, Jess, Sue, Kate, Debbie Rose, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Wendy, Linda, Catherine, Mary Margaret and Timothy.

If you would like to join in please contact Avis, who will give you full details.

Challenge 2017 – Fall Jewels

April 30, 2017 at 8:48 am | Posted in Patchwork | 4 Comments
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Every year, my quilt group issues a challenge to make a small 40×40 cm quilt using specific materials. We show the results in our yearly exhibition. Here’s last years entry.

This year, I was a bit stumped to start with, and took a while to come up with an idea for this:

Challenge 2017 - Materials

There’s some gorgeous-looking but hard-to-work-with blue velvety stretchy fabric, which I had already stabilized with some iron-on interfacing in the picture. Then there’s a nice ribbon in a kind of olive colour, and a button. There were different buttons to choose from, I spontaneously went for the leaf.

So, what to do with the loot? The blue fabric, while it looks and feels lovely, is not very patchwork-friendly. In addition, turns out there’s not very much of it, which killed my first plan. At the end, I took the leaf button as the topic and central point of the quilt:

Challenge 2017 - Finished

The idea was to show the gorgeous colours of fall leaves lying on a lawn. The panel in the middle was made with English Paper Piecing, leaving a hexagonal hole in the middle. I then prepared the backing and batting, layed the dark blue fabric – two strips for the sides and a hexagon in the middle – on top of it and attached it with a couple of seams. Then I put the panel on top, securing it on both sides where the ribbon would be attached later. Everything else I secured with the free-motion quilting. First I did leaf forms on the fall-coloured areas, and then meandering for the background. In hindsight, I think the thread I used for the meandering is a bit too strongly coloured, especially on the pale tiles. After quilting, I hand-stitched the ribbon on top where the panel overlays the blue background. From the colour scheme, this will fit nicely into my living room, so I finished it as a pillow cover, which is a nice use for those 40×40 cm pieces.

I’m leaving you with a detail view of the quilting:

Challenge 2017 - Detail

SAL Update: Seashells #7

April 23, 2017 at 9:54 am | Posted in Embroidery | 15 Comments
Tags: ,

Progress! The big shell with the chainstitch filling is done!

Previous version:

Seashells - progress 2017-04-02

Today:

Seashells - 2017-04-23

There’s just a tiny bit at the bottom left that will be filled with long and short stitch, and then it’s on to shell No. 4.

Here are the other members of the SAL who are posting today. Make sure to check out their work, it’s amazing: Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Lucy, Jess, Sue, Kate, Debbie Rose, Christina, SusanP, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Wendy, Linda, Catherine, Mary Margaret and Timothy.

If you would like to join in please contact Avis, who will give you full details.

Seven Sisters – a leftover challenge

April 16, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 4 Comments
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Last year, our quilt group went away for a weekend retreat for the very first time, and we managed it so everybody could come! To mark the occasion, one of our members, who tends to end up with all the leftover material for our raffle quilts, collected all the leftovers, made 14 nice packages out of them, and we drew lots to choose from the packages. I got a pretty early number, and from all the packages still there at that time, here’s what I chose:

Seven Sisters - the Leftovers

I immediately fell in love with the paper-pieced stars and the colour scheme. But, what to do with them? The challenge was to use our package to make something for this year’s exhibition, coming up in November. After a while of having the pieces laid out and thinking back and forth, I decided to make a tablerunner. I’d have to add a few stars and quite a bit of background, and I was lucky again that the same friend who set the challenge still has about half a bolt of the background fabric, so I could get some from her. Otherwise I’d have had to be very creative. As it was, it just was quite a bit of work, since I wanted to mix the differently coloured stars up, so I needed to disassemble the blocks first before I could sew them together again. I learnt quite a few tricks about English paper piecing that way – and the fact that there are quilters that sew so densely that it’s almost impossible to get the pieces apart again, while with others you just have to look at the seam sternly and it will fall apart on its own.

So, here’s the table runner ready for this year’s exhibition (I even already attached a tunnel):

Seven Sisters - Finished Tablerunner

I decided to quilt spirals in the dark hexagons, so the stars could pop out even more:

Seven Sisters - Detail with Quilting

Oh, and you’re interested in how the original raffle quilt looked like? I was as well, since this quilt was from 2005, when I wasn’t yet involved with this group. It took quite a while, but after repeated asking one of the members found a picture she took back then, so here it is, and you can see exactly where my leftovers came from:

Seven Sisters - Original Raffle Quilt (2005)

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