Saturday, 30 April 2011

Miami Dolphins linebacker Mike Rivera loves to crochet!

Miami Dolphins linebacker Mike Rivera might want to get back to football, but the NFL lockout is allowing him plenty of time to crochet.

Really? Yep.

"People say 'crochet, isn't that something old ladies do?'" said Rivera, "Football is masculine and testosterone driven, but I think it shows you can do other things and be well rounded."

Rivera picked up the hobby on a trip to Guatemala, where a former classmate was teaching. His first attempt at a stocking cap took 15 hours, but soon he mastered the skills needed and started cranking out hats in about an hour. After returning from Guatemala he visited his friend Mike Harrity, a Kansas associate athletic director in charge of community outreach, and presented a tiny crocheted hat as gift for his baby daughter, Grace.

"It looked like something you'd walk into the mall and pay $25 for because baby stuff is expensive," Harrity said.

Harrity knows a good thing when he sees it. And he's helping to keep Rivera, who played on KU's 2008 Orange Bowl team, busy during the NFL lockout. He helped Rivera get in touch with the local Boys and Girls Club and earlier this month the linebacker began teaching crochet to 8- and 9-year-olds at Hillcrest Elementary in Lawrence, Kan.

The 250-pound linebacker, who prefers backwards caps and jeans to helmets and pads, is nimble with the needles.

On a recent visit to Hillcrest Elementary School, Rivera brought a special guest -- his mother, Judy, who brought treats for the kids. He introduced himself simply as "Michael."

It took his students nearly two days to realize that they were learning a craft traditionally taught in home economics from a professional football player.

"Football is just something he does, and does really well, but it's never defined who he is," Harrity said. "He's always used football as a platform to help the next generation of folks."

Rivera, who doesn't watch TV or play video games, spends most of the time he's not working out volunteering in the community and said he's considered setting up a website to sell his hats as a side project and thinks he will end up in teaching when his football career is over.

"I love being able to see the growth in a young kid," Rivera said. "He starts somewhere and learns some things and you see the improvement. It's just something I know I want to do at some point in my life."

Thursday, 7 April 2011

What's in a name? More than you think sometimes!

What's in a name? More than you think sometimes!

When I first started out the HappyBerry brand it was actually meant to be called NannyBerry. A name I think I will always be fond of. It is actually a fruit but its quirky name I felt was a happy nanny character which went well with the baby and children brand I was looking to create.

Sadly, even though I had checked the domain name was available, it had been snapped up before I had a chance to design the brand. Rather than pay a greedy domain name grabber I decided to take the sad decision to think of another name and the Happy Berry brand was born. A similar fun name!

The fun story doesnt end there though. Even though I have been a fan of Japanese culture for many years and have spent time over in the Far East I later discoved that Happy Berry is in fact a fictional fashion brand in a Japanese comic series! How exciting I thought and what a coincidence !! Just as adorable too.

Neighborhood Story is a manga by Ai Yazawa. It was published by Shueisha from 1995 to 1998 in the magazine Ribon and went on to become a movie in 1996, as well as a drama CD and soundtrack.

So what is it about, well, Mikako Kōda and Tsutomu Yamaguchi are two students that attend Yazawa Geijyutsu Gakuen, a special high school for the arts in Tokyo (named after the author, who makes a cameo appearance as the school's principal) and reside in the same apartment building as neighbors where they have built a long-standing friendship since infancy. Mikako Kōda is driven by her dream of becoming a fashion designer and having all the stores sell her handiwork under the brand name "Happy Berry", Mikako is at her most conspicuous when she is inspired or in a stormy mood for one reason or another!

So there you go, what's in a name? Sometimes something much more than you think and maybe what can seem a negative at first can turn out to be so much more exciting and happy!! (^-^)

Monday, 4 April 2011

Polish artist crochets her surroundings, one thread at a time

On the second floor of Christopher Henry Gallery on Elizabeth Street, you'll find a room covered entirely in crochet. 

From far away, it looks like a kid's playpen cloaked in colorful baby blankets. But close up, the viewer finds that everything is real — in a corner sits a crocheted toilet and sink; across the room is a bed with the results from a fake STD test crocheted over it.

The 33-year-old Polish-born artist, who asked that her first name not be used because everyone simply knows her as "Olek," said the piece isn't about crochet.

"It's about making art," she said, her long blonde hair cascading over her shoulders, matching her long flowing skirt, which, of course, is also crocheted.

Lining the walls of the makeshift studio apartment are crocheted text messages that Olek has received in her past, complete with the date and time they were sent. As we talk, Olek tidies up the soft room, readjusting cupboards and bedsheets, then perches on the bed herself. She has been extremely busy working on new projects, she said.

Probably lost in the speed of her hard-working fingers, which have crocheted over an enormous amount of surfaces over the past eight years, are countless miles of yarn. Olek has recreated crocheted cars and costumes, but perhaps her most well-known pieces are her crocheted street bicycles.

"I have always been making street art, doing things on the street," she said. "I want to make pieces that get to a bigger, broader audience, because galleries are sometimes limited."

The first bike Olek crocheted ended up distinguishing her approach to her future street work.

"Everything I put in public is temporary, and when I first put this bike up in front of a market it was bright pink-colored, and everyone loved it," she said.

Eight months later, the bike disappeared and it wasn't until later that Olek found that it had been taken down because it had become dirty and had lost its original glow.

"The older things grow, the more people want to get rid of them," she said. "New York is all about the new pushing out the old. I want my work to be ephemeral."

Growing up in Silesia, Poland, Olek was always creating and winning art contests. But in eighth grade, a teacher who valued conservative art discouraged her from entering an arts high school and ultimately an art college. She continued working on her own, however, and moved to New York in 2000, joining an artist residency.

Here she has thrived and exploded with energy — crocheting entire rooms, costumes, bicycles, cars, bridges and even trees.

"I take something with me wherever I go," she said, referring to the crocheted street installations she has brought to various cities around the world.

Rather than judging how long it takes to knit her projects by the hour, Olek said it took her "12 movies" to crochet just one bike.

"I watch movies while I crochet," she said. "My fingers work so fast I can constantly look at a TV screen. I don't even look down at what my hands are doing."

And perhaps this is why Olek's main quote on her website reads, "A loop after a loop. Hour after hour my madness becomes crochet. Life and art are inseparable."

The exhibition, "Knitting is for Pussies," is up until May 2011 at Christopher Henry Gallery at 127 Elizabeth St.

Over £140 ($225) has been raised for the Japanese Red Cross

March was a terrible time not only for Japan but for the Mad Hatter too as we watched the news reports closely and tried desperately to contact our friends and family in Tokyo. Thankfully everyone was confirmed as safe but the disaster touched us so personally that we wanted to do our bit and so decided to design a very kawaii kokeshi doll to help raise funds for the Japanese Red Cross.

And what a success it was! Thanks to the kindness of our friends around the world we managed to raise over £140 around $225 which will help feed, clothe and keep warm the families that have been affected.

The charity sale which took place on has now ended but if you wish to still help them why not pop by the pattern page which is now listed for free and make one to perhaps send out to friends or family you know that are living in Japan to show that you are thinking of them and their continuing struggle.

Thanks again everyone!! (^-^)