Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hairpin Crochet

One of my latest fascinations has been with hairpin crochet. I remember as a kid my Nana would make hairpin crochet and I could never quite figure it out. Nana was also a fan of the broomstick as well and made many a rug using this technique.

Hair pin crochet forks aren't that available here. In fact I cant recall having ever seen them in the craft stores until very recently. My favourite Craft joint Spotlight, has one of those discount clearance tables up the back in the wool section. I stood there for about an hour a few weeks ago, sifting through the remnants of odd balls of wool, odd goggle eyes, beads, light up knitting needles that haven't seemed to really catch on, a pile of miscellaneous patterns and a few humble hairpin prongs. These had been respectably reduced from $4.99 to 50c each. And how I love a bargain, so I bought 4 in different sizes and challenged myself to learn how to use the things.

The major challenge is starting off. It is one of those left - right spacial things that once you get the hang of, is quite relaxing. However, until you do get the hang of it, hairpin can be incredibly frustrating! The flipping the thing around totally messed my head.

This was my first major hairpin project. I used a pattern on the web and adjusted the length. The yarn is a 5 ply cotton and acrylic mix that I found in Lincraft in Brisvegas. Given this was my first attempt I chose a heavier yarn in a bright colour that was easy on my eyes.

Having now mastered the hairpin knack, it has become a major time waster. Recently I travelled to Cairns in far North Queensland and decided to do a day trip up to Kuranda in the rain forest. This was a fabulous outing as I got the train up, and the Skyrail back. Whilst waiting for the train I pulled out my hairpin, determined to make the most of any down time. As quick as you can say "double crochet" I had a swarm of English and European Tourists watching what I was doing. One of them asked "is this a local Australian Craft". It was one of those moments when I realised how little the general person knows about crochet. This group of tourists weren't gen ys either! They were the over 50, retirement tour group!
So whilst sitting at the train station north of Cairns here was I showing a bunch of Tourists, the craft of hairpin crochet. My kids would have been horrified as the boys have banned me from CIP ( crocheting in public) since the time I tried at the light hook at the movies! The picture below is from the skyrail over the rainforest. This has to be one of the most amazing pieces of scenery and engineering I have ever experienced.

So here is the wrap I made a strip of in Cairns. I used a pretty cotton mix that has a slither of silver sparkle through the thread. I was trying to get a lighter, dressier type of effect. I learnt doing this that stitch markers are a good idea to stick on the prong to keep count of the 50s of loops. I nearly went nutty checking the count on this.

This little pink skinny scarf is an experiment with a left over ball of cotton thread. I wanted to try the loop technique of joining. This is where you weave the loops of the strips to join them together. I made 4 strips out of the ball and am happy with the result.

You can see in the close up how the loops interweave.

I am now experimenting with what else I can make as I think I have more than enough wraps now. I am trying a bag and have a few other ideas in my noggin. My Nana would be pretty proud of me if she was still around.
Thanks for looking!

(c) crochetroo

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Pesky Possums

I cant believe how long it is since I last blogged. I haven't stopped crocheting though!

Meet the possums. I called these guys Pesky, because they have taken me forever to perfect! Possums are a protected species down here but are pesky when it comes to eating the fruit off the passion fruit vine, and the paw-paws in the back yard!
I humbly declare that I think these are my cutest critters yet, and well worth the wait.

I remember my husband reaching up into a carton in his under the house blokes area in search of a hammer. He found asleep in there, what he thought was our cat, stroked and lifted it down to see it was a possum. Scared the living daylights out of him! Not to mention the stunned look on the possum as he scampered away.

These often hang about our bird feeder and you can hear them scratching around on the roof at night. They are a real pest if they get into the ceiling. Many years ago one did and my son couldn't sleep at night because of the racket. We thought it might have been a rat (UGHH) but the pest exterminator man trapped it and yep, it was a possum. Possums are protected here so he took it out to the bush and released it.

The challenge for me was to make several species as each has distinct characteristics.

Ring tail possums are a medium sized species. Fully grown they are the size of a kitten or large guinea pig. They range in colour from a beautiful russet red to brown with a tinge of grey. Tails are very long with a distinctive ring and often have a white tip. Ears are very small and close to the head. I did this one in a rusty brown. Here he is hanging about in the gum trees.

Brush tail possums are a larger species and when fully grown they will be a little smaller than an adult cat. They have a grey to grey/brown coat on top, and can be a soft cream to a beautiful ‘pumpkin’ colour underneath. Their ears are large and stand up from their heads. Tails are black and fluffy.

The brush tail is a bit of a nuisance where they have been introduced in New Zealand. While they are a native species here and we put up with them, over seas they are regarded as lowly vermin!

I think the brush tail is a lovely critter with a fluffy tail. Early settlers would kill these for their skins. Possum fur has a similar feel to mink. Possum were introduced to New Zealand from Australia approximately 150 years ago to establish a possum fur industry. They thrived in New Zealand to the point that they are now considered a pest and a threat to the native bird life and flora.

And here is the tiny Glider possum. There are several species of gliders including sugar gliders and pygmy possums. All gliders have a membrane running down each side of their body which they use as sails to glide from tree to tree. These are tiny marsupials which can fit in the palm of your hand.

The pygmy possum is now an endangered species. Urban cats and dogs have significantly reduced the numbers as has deforestation. I was interested to learn that in some countries sugar gliders are kept as pets. They are particularly cute and easy to handle.

Leadbeaters possum is the animal symbol of the state of Victoria. It was thought to be extinct, however a few have been found and it remains an endangered species. The recent Victorian bush fires would have really damaged their native habitat.

Possums are another of our fascinating marsupials who have their babies in a pouch. They are also arboreal living in the tree trunks and nocturnal, coming out at night.

I hope you like my pesky possums. I have the patterns listed on etsy. My next crochet challenge is the Tasmanian devil.

Thanks for popping in, and do leave a comment!

(c) copyright crochetroo Australia 2009.