Bring it on! The Ravelympics…er Ravellenics! Yeah!

So, even though it’s Ramadan, I’ve decided to participate in a sport of sorts. But it’s probably not the kind of sport you’re thinking of. It’s my first time ever participating in the Ravellenic Games, which formerly were known as the Ravelympics.

Basically, by whichever name you call the actual event, it’s a time when knitters, crocheters, and spinners alike virtually come together to challenge ourselves in our projects, such as tackling new and/or complicated patterns and techniques, massive and teeny-tiny projects, and projects we’ve struggled to complete–along with the events of the Olympic games.  The goal is to “expand our knitting/crocheting horizons.” We start at the opening ceremonies (today!) and end at the closing ones (August 12). The prize at the end? Personal satisfaction, knitterly comraderie (we have love buttons for our projects and a virtual parade to exhibit our projects), and a handy-dandy blog badge which you know I will proudly exhibit here (…inshAllah…if I can finish!).

But in case you missed that lexical disambiguation of the name of the sport, there’s a little controversy there–the US Olympic Committee (USOC) thought that the name of the Ravelympics was offensive to the actual athletes of the Olympic games (as we are merely doing synchronized stash busting and afghan marathons rather than real synchronized swimming and marathons, right?!). According to the USOC, the name was also an act of copyright infringement, nevermind the fact that knitters and crocheters are actually supporting and probably aiding in the propaganda of the Olympics! So the word “Olympics” is not allowed in pattern titles, posts, and we shan’t even think of crocheting or knitting those darn rings into items. All’s fine and well (though I really do prefer the name “Ravelymipcs”), but I say to anyone who doesn’t think that knitting and crocheting is a physical feat to just look at the time it takes to make these works of art, the carpel tunnel and wrist bands that ensue, and this xTreme Blanket by a fellow French ravelry member whose photos say it all…

We have teams, rules, and everything, and this year I’m on two teams, my LYS’ teams: team fibre space™ and Team Looped Yarn Works. I actually won’t be watching the Olympic games (it’s Ramadan and I’m fasting from what limited TV access I do have! Even then, I don’t have cable to watch the Olympics!), but I’m using the Ravellenics to boost my productivity for Eid gifts. At times it feels like I’m giving myself more stress than it’s worth (I have four projects to complete in these two weeks and just today I thought about joining Team Baby-please-nap-mommy-wants-a-gold-medal (I just love the name!) or Team Tantrum (for women who had babies in Summer 2009) which would mean two more projects because a project can compete for only one team, but I must focus on getting some gifts done for family. Meanwhile, you can check out my progress on my ravelry project page.

As for when I’ll be actually watching the Olympics again, I’m planning on watching the Winter Olympic Games in 2014 (that is, if it’s streaming on the internet or something)–I’m a big fan of curling (yes, curling!), I’m Russian-by-association (my mom lived in St. Petersburg for a while, and I speak Russian, but more on that later), the games won’t be anywhere near Ramadan, and maybe by then the USOC will have enough sense to realize that knitters are supporting the Olympics and we could all use a little knitting in our lives to warm this cold world up. After all, the winter olympians will probably be wearing knitted and crocheted  items anyway…


2012 1/2: A Very Productive Year…so far

We are now past the midpoint of the year, and I’m proud to show you 14 projects that I’ve worked on since January. Only two are still works in progress (the last two photos), and they happen to be knitting projects! One of which (the Haruni leaf shawl) should be completed before the end of Ramadan during the Ravellenic games, inshAllah…(more on that later).

Yes, it’s been a very productive 2012…14 projects and a brand new baby too! She’s my newest lifelong project…<3

Me Handling Me…Amidst Teaching Crochet

Today I went into a community center to teach crochet. Three students awaited me with happy, smiling faces full of light on couches. I rushed to be on time for them–I only had a few minutes to spare and couldn’t be late after that post. You know the one. They followed me into the room. A woman came in with them who wasn’t signed up for the class. She had no knowledge of a crochet class going on. But she sat down, paid for the class, a hook, two skeins of yarn, and learned the craft. Another student came in a little late, but got right to work quickly and it seemed to be logical for her. I had one student working on a pattern, and the rest were all absolute beginners, but they all learned to make a slip knot, chain stitch, and single crochet today. While I may have to reteach some stitches, I can’t imagine spending my Saturday mornings without these ladies. I pray they stick with crochet–I think it can be a little frustrating in the beginning, especially when your teacher can’t be one-on-one with you during the whole class, but I pray that I did them and the craft justice and that they’ll stick with me through it all…pregnancy brain and all (man, was I chewing some words up!). Overall, I’m amazed…at their drive, timeliness, and ambition to enter my world…a world that is as much in the past as it is in the present and future. A world that too few dare to enter. They are right on time.

Sr. Halima, I handled me. They handled them. And we handled some crochet stitches with smiles amidst the furrows in our foreheads! And what I’m thinking now is the possibility of the fruition of an idea that I’ve held in the back of my head and my heart for a long time…maybe this can be our Zaynab’s Circle, a circle of sisters crocheting together for charity in the example of Zaynab ibn Jahsh…but first I need crocheters. I know, I know…my high hopes…I’m getting ahead of myself, but if all goes well…hey, why not? No one’s committed to the idea but me…yet…so I can’t make any fuss…yet….:)

On Time

By (the Token of) Time (through the ages), Verily Man is in loss, Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.  (Qur’an Surah Al Asr 103:1-3)

Today was the first day of my crochet class…a class I was asked to teach, rather than initiated myself. To say the least, it was disappointing. No one showed up. Well, actually one person showed up ten minutes before class was over. And two people told me they weren’t going to be able to come. The class was slated to be an hour and a half and I arrived ten minutes early. In the end, I went through a range of emotions that culminated in tears. But don’t feel sorry for me. I learned some valuable lessons in patience this week through becoming angry at things that were not under my control. I learned how much I want to control things and have things go my way, and that when they don’t, I often feel insecure and out of control myself, which leads to anger. I got to this realization through a pep talk from a reading of the Hamza Yusuf’s translation of Imam Al Mawlud’s Purifcation of the Heart. That was last night.

But what I experienced today was a mixture of anger, sadness, and frustration. A mixture that has been all too common this week. Maybe it didn’t quite get to the anger point. No, it did. And what angered me most is that Muslims who said they would be there were not. Yes, Muslims are human, but we strive to be the best. Isn’t that what ihsan (excellence) is all about? We really are over-achievers, but in my maturation of Islam, I’ve learned that a lot of Muslims are just a big disappointment–not living up to ideals that I hold to be of such value, and that our religion holds to be of such value. And I’m not able to control or fix these things. And in this, I’m being taught a lesson by my Rabb. That lesson is la howla wa la quwatta illa billah (there is no power or might but God’s). And perhaps to just be better at being grateful in having the opportunity to reap the rewards of patient perseverance.

I just want people to realize that when you don’t show up or are late to an engagement that you’ve committed to, you are showing disrespect for the other person’s time. I know, I used to be that person. My husband used to have to wait hours for me everyday before we got married (and hey! he still married me right?), but I’ve gotten much better. I’ve learned that time is an amana, a trust. And when we are late or stand people up, we are saying that our time is more important than theirs. There are other things I could have been doing today than sitting pretty in a room by myself. But that’s okay. It was qadr (a decree from Allah), and I crocheted something functional during that time. A gift…that will warm someone’s special little newborn feet up. I used my time wisely. I hope. I pray.

But what kind of post would this be if I were just complaining about others’ disrespect for my time? Who am I, anyway? And what use would that be? So I’ll share some wisdom that won’t be a waste of your time–an excerpt from a book that made me more mannerable with my husband’s and others’ time: Shaykh Abd Al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah’s Islamic Manners. He covers The Manners of Visiting in Chapter 4, citing verses from the Qur’an that tell those who believe to fulfill their promises, as making appointments are akin to making a promise. In it, he writes:

“Keeping appointments is vital to our lives. Time is the most precious commodity; once wasted, it can never be recovered. If you made an appointment, whether with a friend, colleague or for business, you should do your utmost to keep this appointment.  This is the right of the other persons who, despite other commitments, favored you with a part of their valuable time. If you do not come on time, not only have you disrupted their schedule but you have also marred your image and reputation. If your punctuality becomes poor you will lose people’s respect. You should keep all your appointments whether they are with an important person, a close friend or a business colleague. You will then be responding to the call of Allah in Surah al-Isra: ‘And keep the promise; the promise is a responsibility.’

It is enough to know that our kind Prophet (saws) gave an appointment to one of his companions. The companion came three days later. The Prophet (saws) gently reprimanded him saying: ‘You have caused me some trouble. I have been waiting for you for three days.’ The companion probably had an excuse for this delay; however, he had no means by which to inform the Prophet (saws) about his inability to keep the appointment” (pp.37-38). What does that say about those who don’t keep their appointments in this day and age when we have phones, smart phones, e-mail, and many other methods of communication? Only two people contacted me?

I guess I could reinterpret the lack of communication as politeness. I mean, I don’t call people when I know they’ll be busy. I wouldn’t want to disrupt a class. But what about  a text? Or what about just saying, I’ll be a no-show, so that I can do other things with my time? My time which is extremely limited as a pregnant mother with a toddler. But again, I’ve resorted to this all being about me and my precious time. I’m an only child, I have issues with selfishness I know. Maybe I’ll read that section in the Purification of the Heart next. At least I realize that I have a problem being self-absorbed and am not in denial…

But still, why are Muslims always late? (Or the majority of Muslims late, to be fair). And why didn’t people show up for my class? Maybe it’s the general Muslim lack of respect for arts and crafts. They’ve been sidelined for science and math, and other occupations. But art is important. And it deserves as much respect as science and math. If any Muslim tells you otherwise, refer them to the Prophet’s wife Zaynab ibn Jahsh. You can read a little bit about her in a previous post here. I will be writing more about her in days to come, inshAllah to be published in an anthology, but my point is that there is a place for art in Islam. Art can be a means to give charity as in the example of this Mother of the Believers, but it is also a charity in and of itself. In his work entitled Following a Madhab, Imam Zaid Shakir, says we can’t all run off to be surgeons or doctors or even scholars. Someone has to pick up the trash. Someone has to clean the poop. And someone has to make sure we are in buildings. And I’ll add that someone has to be creative enough to make those jobs bearable by making things beautiful. The arts have a place in every sphere of life–from architecture to the design of books. Would you even read most of the books that you pick up if they didn’t have a pretty cover? Some people are visual-learners, you know. Would you really know where the stomach is located in relation to the esophagus if someone didn’t draw it? And could you keep warm in the winter if someone didn’t figure out how to pull loops of fiber through itself to make knits?  It’s a fard kifayah (mandatory obligation) for different occupations to be done by some one, but the jobs don’t have to be done by everyone. And while I wasn’t expecting everyone in the world to show up for my class, I did want a few some ones. How did the excitement of children coming to art class that I witnessed only three years ago become replaced by utter disdain and disrespect with adulthood?

I just want to warm up this cold world. I just want to carve out a little niche of light to make this world a better place in my small corner of existence. Whether through writing or crocheting or teaching my children to be good people. I don’t really care the method (though I’d prefer all three). But you must learn from my mistakes…and other’s mistakes. Even if you never show up for my class, do me a favor and read Shaykh Abd Al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah’s books Islamic Manners and The Value of Time. And never be late for another class without a reasonable excuse. May those who I’ve been late for forgive me for my tardiness. In my obsession with myself today over the lateness (and absence) of my students, my mom informed me that I’m always late for her. Even today. As being determined to teach my one late student in ten minutes turned into twenty minutes, which in turn made me late for my appointment with my mother. Ya Rabb!

what my students would have seen...had they been there.


Today, we took a family field trip (as I like to call them) to Looped Yarn Works, the LYS nestled in D.C.’s Dupont Circle…precisely one block away from where I used to work back in my international development days…if you haven’t been to this store, you don’t know what you’re missing. The feeling is great, with all kinds of fiber candy to delight your senses. I never found so many original looking things in a yarn shop before…from knit/purl/balls of yarn earrings and brooches to yarn already beaded to yarn that literally screamed out to me, “Make me into a party dress! Make a shawl for yourself already!” I mean the yarn talks. If you can’t hear it, you’re deaf to fiber. And if you don’t listen or answer the call, you’ll be regretting it. Badly.

The atmosphere in the place was so nice…whereas Old Town’s Fibre Space might be considered more of an indie/younger-crowd type shop, I got the motherly vibe from Looped. It’s very cozy. The women working there were very embracing…one of the owners, Susan, wanted to know my name, and shook my hand and helped me find the perfect green which I can’t find anywhere without a hefty price tag…Kerry, who also works there, taught my TWO AND A HALF YEAR OLD DAUGHTER how to wind a ball of yarn…they felt like family…

I will be back there. Believe me. When I finish this dress. In this yarn that I picked up today. InshAllah.

The granny-apple-sour-apple-green that alludes me...even this picture doesn

Mmmmm..yarn candy..

Knitting 101: “Purl towards Mecca”

the beginnings of my first swatch

Oh my goodness, I just learned to knit. Call me a crochet snob, but I never thought I’d enjoy using two needles to make stitches. I knew the day that I’d learn was coming soon, but I thought that it would feel more like a chore to achieve a certain goal rather than make me feel good. Now I can’t seem to stop and I want to learn more, more, more. It’s like a different kind of a food, an inspiration…and I’m actually pretty good at it! But what’s really got me is the fact that I just want to stitch again. I have started so many projects in the past couple of months just to frog them or leave them unfinished, and now I just want to finish something. Look out! I think there will be some finished objects coming your way soon! A special shout out of deep gratitude to Jessica for taking the time to teach me this morning! I will never forget to purl towards Mecca :).

What’s up with the owls?

So, have you noticed all the owls floating around? They are everywhere! On fabric, jewelry, hats…it’s hard not to find them! But I wondered why they were popping up everywhere…so I googled the fashion trend and here’s what I found. Owls are flexible…adaptable, if you will, to many aesthetic tastes. For instance, they can be seen as symbols for wisdom, intelligence, protection, or mysticism, and depending on the colors and depictions used, they can be serious, whimsical, cute or scary. So they are versatile to grown-folks and little-folks tastes. And I must admit, they are growing on me. I saw the cutest matching mommy and me pajama set in a catalog…I yearned for Noora and I to be twins. (Yeah, I have this thing for matching with Noora). But since my husband and I decided not to dress Noora in clothes with figural embellishments when it could be avoided, I won’t buy those pajamas. But that doesn’t mean that those fowls still aren’t cute…especially when they are appliques or make up the entirety of a little person’s hat. I’ll just settle on making this Forest Friends Hoodie for Noora, or the Springtime Friends equivalent by Anji Beane….complete with Moroccan hood (YEAH! Now that’s a touch I love!)…and I’ll probably end up trying to make one for myself too…of course, fowls and other animal friends excluded. Anyways, by the time I get to this pattern, the trend will probably have moved on to mushrooms or snails. And that’ll be right on time for the embellishments that I’m going to add instead of our furry creature friends :). But on the other hand, there’s always the Ermeline Moroccan-esque jacket, and the matching mommy-counterpart…just saying! we could be twins…next fall!

Crocheting a Beard?

I read about this phenomenon last May, but I was waiting for a time when I could intelligently respond…have you ever heard of a knit or crocheted beard? You don’t believe me? Just check out this site or this site! I first read about it on Green Prophet. Apparently, it was all the rage last year in Europe as a type of facewarmer–what a great alternative to the regular ski mask, no? But what I loved about Green Prophet’s article was highlighting the fact that a beard is a sunnah (a Prophetic tradition) and a beautiful symbol of manhood and maturity. I must admit that while I’m all for the natural beards that men grow, I was a bit perplexed by the idea of a yarn-made beard. I mean, women are wearing the beards too…hmmm…can we think of a more feminine facewarmer option? But I could see myself making this beard…if I had a son one day…and we were going skiing…so his face could be warm…and he could be just like Dada…and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). 🙂

Back in Business

With my handy-dandy Creative Comfort Wrist Support Wrap, I’m finally back in business…the business of making Noora a blanket. She has turned into a blanket-hoarder and has fits when she doesn’t have a blanket in her crib or when she’s laying down. Even in this hot 100-degree summer, she’s trying to snuggle up under my Snuggie, so I’m gonna make her a blanket for Eid out of openwork motifs from Jan Eaton’s book, 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws, and Afghans. And this my first motif from the book…check my ravelry project page for updates until I’m done!

Gothic Square (Motif #94) from Jan Eaton's 200 Crochet Blocks

Feminine Football Motif Set

My sister-in-law is expecting…did I tell you? Well, the pressure is on to crochet something for her little one…but that’s no fun with my carpel tunnel. So I have to work up something quick and fast. The baby shower is today. Yes, sometimes I procrastinate. But it really wasn’t my intention.

Football Motifs

I’d been looking for a football motif pattern because my sister-in-law is a HUGE football fan. I looked through the boys and girls racks at the stores, but couldn’t find anything that said feminine and sporty, so I thought I’d make a shirt for her unborn daughter which celebrates her mom’s interest while still staying feminine. So I found this football motif here and I’m using it à la Linda Permann’s Tiny Tee Appliqués pattern (see the book, Little Crochet). So out came the embroidery floss–and this is the first time I’m crocheting with embroidery floss and a size B hook. It actually only took like 1-2 hours to do the motifs, but I waited a whole week and half to sew them on! I waited until today, the day of the baby shower! (I needed my mom’s help–I’m not that great of a hand-sewer….yet!)

Football-esque Mary Janes

On the car ride, I made some mary janes for my niece-to-be…how do you like that for last-minute crochet? (Though in retrospect, I must admit that I only gave her one of the mary janes as the other one still had a couple of rows to go…I added some football buttons I found at JoAnn’s too). Yeah, those aren’t handmade. Carpel tunnel, remember?!

Feminine Football Motif Set

Ribbed Cardigan Complete!

Okay, I didn’t make my deadline, but it’s finally complete. And it only took me one month. After making rows and taking out rows, Noora’s Petite Purple Cardigan is finally ready to be shown to the world. And shown to the world it was. It was featured on Linda Permann (the designer’s) blog, as well as the ravelry page for the sweater. Whoop whoop! I’m so proud of myself–my first sweater, and only my second crocheted apparel item ever!–I think my hooks and I are going to be friends for a long time…so here it is, roll out the red carpet…introducing Noora’s Petite Purple Cardigan, made in Omega Sinfonia mercerized cotton…perfect for the chilly days that come and go in the spring and summer! Oh, and I made those buttons too…

Noora's Petite Purple Cardigan

Yeah, I took a screen shots of my celebrity too….just in case you don’t click those links ;).

From Ribbed Cardigan Ravelry Page

From Lindamade's Blog

Noora’s Ribbed Cardigan

I know it’s been kind of quiet…you were due for two more sneak peeks by now, right? Apologies–I’ve been working on a sweater for Noora. It’s a spring/summer sweater designed by my favorite crochet designer, Linda Permann. I’m altering it to be 3/4-length sleeves because Noora dislikes having her arms covered, but it’s still chilly out!

So I’ve been working on the body of this sweater for a little over a week now. I was actually aiming to have the sweater done in a week–on the same day as Little Crochet‘s (the book the pattern comes from) one-week anniversary (April 12th). What ambition! I should have known better. Everything was going great except…

About 6 inches over the required size...

I completely lost gauge. Gauge, for those of you who don’t know, is the rule to live by in crochet. If you don’t have gauge, your pattern can completely go off. A baby sweater could turn into an adult sweater by being off 1/2 inch…and that’s exactly what happened to Noora’s sweater. That half an inch added up to be about seven inches over in the long run, in effect making a ribbed corset body for myself, not a sweater for Noora. What a pain, too, because I really struggled to finish the last ten rows in two hours on one night in an attempt to meet my deadline of completing the sweater by this Tuesday, April 12. Sighs.

See what a difference gauge makes? This is the difference between a 3.75mm hook and a 4mm hook.

Luckily though, there is ravelry, a sort of facebook for crocheters and knitters, where you can friend people…and talk about your issues. And guess who is in my friends list? Linda Permann–the designer of this cute sweater! She knows me by name now simply because of this sweater. The only idea I had was to just rip back the sweater until it was the appropriate size, in effect, lose some rows. Yep, rip out all the rows I worked until midnight to do on the last night. Shoot, if I only knew that then…thankfully though, Linda agreed that I should be able to proceed that way without having to do crazy math on the pattern, but reminded me to keep gauge with the rest of the sweater that I have to do…

I must admit that I broke a couple of rules during this project. I didn’t make a gauge swatch to begin with, and I didn’t size down my hook like I usually do (I always use a smaller size than the pattern calls for because my stitches are slightly looser than the more accomplished designers’). But I’ve learned my lesson now. Never again. And I’m so happy I discovered this before I made the rest of the sweater–the sleeves, the floral motifs…ah! Taking out about ten rows is much better than taking apart a whole sweater! So away with you Size 7 hook! I’m going to my trusty G hook so I can keep gauge and…finish this sweater…this time, by April 26th–the three week anniversary! I’m giving myself some leg room here….just in case…

Oh, and by the way, this is what the sweater is supposed to look like when it’s done.

Ribbed Cardigan by Linda Permann, photo courtesy of Linda's ravelry page

Spring Sneak-Peek #1

Nylon Rose Cloche

Hello again! I’m back from my “vacation”…with your first sneak peek into Noora’s spring/summer hat collection. Here’s number 1… a 100% nylon cloché embellished with roses, leaves, and a floral edging, with thoughts of fresh air in mind for warm, sunny days.

Inspired by Noora’s love for her Daddy’s kufis, I made this girly-girl version of a kufi for Noora to play dress up in. Problem is, Noora still prefers Daddy’s kufis. Oh well, I tried.


One for me, one for you…

In the midst of my work for Noora’s Nursery (my crochet storefront), I noticed that Noora thought that every hat I made was hers. It’s amazing. A girl that’s not quite two recognizes that her mom makes her stuff out of yarn…and whatever she makes out of it…is hers. Including daddy’s kufis, and hats for other little girls. So in the spirit of keeping the peace, I had to make several hats for Miss Noora, some like other hats I was commissioned to make…Here’s a survey of how my time was spent this past winter (and this is by no means all of the hats…for more, see my ravelry project page):

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Work Vacation

I have been fulfilling a lot of local orders and with one more order to go, it’s about time for me to take a “work vacation”–to borrow the words of one of my favorite crochet gurus, Linda Permann. It’s not a vacation in the traditional sense, as I will be working all the way through it to tie in some loose ends, such as creating some new hat designs for the spring and summer, inking some of my neglected freelance writing projects, and playing with new patterns for Noora’s Nursery in both senses of the word. But first on my agenda is updating this website! So stay tuned–this website should be revamped hopefully by February 14th! Some sneak peeks and links for what I’m up to to follow, and if you just can’t wait to see what I’m hooking, you can always visit my ravelry project page which is always updated! I plan to be off my “vacation” by mid-March.

Welcome to Good AfterNoora!

It used to be Noora’s Nursery. It was cold outside…and an online storefront was born out of this artistically-minded mama’s desire to create unique and Islamically-inspired items for her baby daughter, Noora. It all started with a hat that I wanted to make to match all Noora’s multicolor coats. So I began to crochet, onlookers began to ooh and aah, and Noora’s Nursery was born!

I made items to order–customized to your unique specifications. But now this mama has retired Noora’s Nursery for a new adventure. A challenge, if you will…devoted to my journey in crochet and learning other historical arts of the hand (sewing, embroidery, cross-stitching, etc.) as well as parenting interests. Crafty things that I never thought I, a fine arts teacher, would get into until A.N. (After Noora). I didn’t think The Sandal, my primary blog devoted primarily to topics of Muslim interest, was the place to do it. So Good AfterNoora!

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