Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Years

A toast from me to you:

                       Here's to having a
                       Healthy and Safe
                         New Years!

              May the New Year be full of happiness,
                    endless supply of smiles,
                        thread & yarn, 
                    and crochet stitches!

Thank you for visiting with me in 2004 and helping make it so special.  I look forward to sharing 2005 with you.


Thursday, December 30, 2004

Whew! A Close Shave for sure!

The newspaper headline read "Wool Shortage" along with a bunch of follow up articles describing that there's a sheep shortage.  In the local yarn shop there was a sign posted on the wall that read, "Sheep Shortage, 2 Balls of Yarn per Customer."

Yikes!  I didn't know!!  Did you?

Fortunately for us it was in a movie.  (Whew!!  Could you imagine!!)  After being cooped up all week from being sick, my children and I had cabin fever so badly yesterday afternoon that I mustered up what little strength I had and took them to the local library.  There they picked out some books to read along with a few movies.  One of the movies we borrowed was called  "A Close Shave" ... part of the BBC Wallace & Gromit series.  I had never heard of the series, but my son insisted on getting the movie.  And what a riot this 1995 Best Animated Academy Award Winner is!!  (yes, I think I cracked a few ribs from laughing too hard!)

It's a great movie for both the young & the young at heart.  If you get a chance to see it -- DO!!  You'll like it!   (You can visit the NY Times webpage to read their review on this movie.)

Getting back to the topic of going to the local library, we were also pleasantly surprised to find that the Historical Society put together a beautiful display of Quill, Crochet (snowflakes created from thread), and Count Stitch.  Very pretty and informative

And speaking of crochet sightings ... check out the American Girl Doll website ...   they have a new doll (Marisol) featuring a crocheted hat & scarf!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Every Drop Counts

I finished reading Indigo Dying last night.  I really thought, as I was reading along, that the reporter was going to end up being the daughter of the illiterate stepsister -- but I was pleasantly surprised to have my "who-done-it" saluting skills totally surprised.  All I can tell you is to go read the book for yourself.  You'll enjoy it.  Along with information on dying fibers and the meaning of various colors, there's also recipes woven into the story line ... I'm kinda thinking about making the Cinnamon Basil Honey ... mmmmmmmmm.

I heard today that Tyne Daly is a crocheter.  I've seen a few episodes of her on the Judging Amy show and only saw her knitting.  If any of my readers see her crocheting on an episode, would you mind letting me know which episode it is?  If this can be validated then I can add her to the growing list of "Famous Crocheters."  Thanks!

I'm still quite sick; still camping on the couch.  My son is feeling OK, my daughter is starting to feel better.  Yesterday she decided to start her very first scarf.  She's using the yarn she picked out at the store, Knit Together.  The yarn she's using is called "Granada" and she's using the colors of purple, green, and a variegated that has both the purple & green along with other colors mixed in.  The fiber is ever-so-soft with just a touch of "fur" projectiles.  She's working the scarf up with single crochet stitches and is changing color every 10 rows.  She's on her 13th row and I couldn't be prouder of her!

After having enough energy to watch the late night news last night, I had my heart broken after seeing all the loss of life caused by the earthquake/tusamiami.  I couldn't help but think of my children safely sleeping in their beds while thousands others have died from this, and more may due to disease.  There is no way I can crochet thousands of items to help soothe those that have lost so much.  So I decided today that I can put off buying those sunglasses I have been slowing crocheting a case for.  And I can put off getting that well needed hair cut.  Instead, I took the money I would have spent (my Christmas money) and donated it to the Red Cross this morning.  I know it's not much, but since their philosophy is to deal "in bulk," maybe my $100 will help buy that extra food, water, or medical supplies that are needed in the eight countries effected by this.  I know, it's a drop in the bucket, but every drop adds up and eventually the bucket is filled.  If you wish to do the same, you can visit their website at and make a donation online for Disaster Relief, or you can call them at 1-800-HELP-NOW.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue to take it easy today ... and for sure I'll be giving my children extra hugs and telling them how much they mean to me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


We're all still feeling pretty bleck -- still sick. I spoke with my girlfriend Gracie last night on the phone and apparently she has the same thing we do. Yes, she agrees; being sick sucks.

So, as I leisure around I'm continuing to read Indigo Dying -- I just got to the point where the villain gets what's coming to him and I still have half of the book to go.  I can't help but want to know what's to come; it's a real "page turner!"  I also like that the author has woven in real information (on dying fibers and on herbs & such) with the story line.  I don't know how much of it I will absorb (no pun intended), but it's one of those books that's worth a "re-read" -- so I'm sure I'll be referencing to it in the future.

I haven't done much crocheting ... just working on an eye glass case when I get small bursts of energy (it's really a modified Treasure Bag).  I'm crocheting it up with a fantastic new fiber that has a blend of rainbow colors with gold flecks. The fiber "flares" now & then and when it's worked up with an "F" hook it just makes the most gorgeous fabric!  The trick is to find a button to go with it; hopefully I have one in stock because I'm not up to driving right now.  Once we're all feeling better, it will be time to go shopping for the sunglasses to go into the case.  (once I locate what I did w/the yarn label, I'll post it so you all know which fiber I'm currently dying over)

Monday, December 27, 2004

Oh! We're Sick as Dogs!

What started yesterday as a crochet & cuddle session with my daughter ended up with her getting physically sick ... and spreading to the rest of the family.  Flu?  Possibly.  It just sucks that the children have time off from school to play with their new toys but can't.

Fortunately we all got books for Christmas too.  I've been reading my new book, Indigo Dying, inbetween sneezes, nose blowings and snoozes.  I am enjoying the book, but being sick sucks.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Question from Reader: Angel Lace Technique

jdjhall asked, "I have found a piece of equiptment that was used by my Mother. It is used to stitch what I think is called Angel Lace. It is two metal bars with a piece of plastic that fits at the top and the bottom and somehow I stitch with the yarn between the two poles. I can't figure out how to use it."

Another great question!

JD, that piece of equipment is called a "fork" (sometimes called a "staple") and the end result is commonly referenced as "hairpin lace." The concept is that you take your "yarn over' and loop it around one of the prongs creating an airy piece of fabric.

There are many websites offering instructions, such as and (the bella site has graphics!)

Most of the time this technique is used to create lacy garments ... like shawls and ponchos. It's also used for making afghans. The book, "Hairpin Lace" by Jules Kliot may interest you. I do have a write up on this book on my Book Review page.

I hope this helps, JD. J

Question from Reader: Foundation Rows

A question came from Sheila (along with the image to the right) asking "Say you chain 11 and start crocheting in the second chain, always keeping 10 stitches per row. Why is it that the first row always seems shorter than the rest of them? In the pic below, my starting rows are at the top. See how they curl?"

Great question, Sheila! (I hope you don't mind that I "wrote" all over your image.)

First, let me state that when we crochet it is natural for the first row to curl. After we do a few more rows, there's enough "meat" to give the fabric weight to stop the curling effect.

Now, if the work "tapers" as it looks to be doing in the image Sheila provided, then that's a tension issue. (See the letter "B"?) Since we all tend to crochet a bit differently, it's learning to control tension that will prevent that taper look -- or, when all else fails, we should cheat. This is also known as "fudging."

One of the pages on my website offers Tips & Tricks ... and there I talk about using a different sized crochet hook for starting your work. If you've found that the beginning rows are too tight -- then start your work with a hook one size larger, then switch to the hook you intended to work with. If you've found that the beginning rows are too loose, then do the opposite. Use a hook one size smaller, then switch to the hook you intended to work with. This will result in the rows lining up (see letter "A".)

If you find your ends are curling -- well, then that's a "TURNING CHAIN" issue. What happens is that when we create our rows, we need to make a chain that's equal to the height of the stitch we're working with. If we don't, then our work will not have that "lift" and the fabric tends to curl up.  Give the
Turning Chains page by the CGOA website a visit.  It does a great job of explaining how many chains are required for which starting stitch AND where it's placed! ... and that also will answer the question on why your work might be "FANNING OUT" ... if you're making your starting chains incorrectly, you could be increasing or decreasing your stitches!

I hope this helps you, Sheila, and possibly other Crocheters out there. 

I want to give one more tip on this subject: If you think you're in the last stitch of the row and it's NOT a slight struggle -- then it's not the last stitch of the row! Remember: struggle=last stitch!   And don't forget to count those stitches after finishing each row! You'll be glad you did!  :)

Keeping In Stitches

This has to have been, despite an allergy attack, one of the nicest Christmas Holidays for my family. Mainly because of the snow storm that pelted the Midwest. Because of that snow it slowed work down here for my husband, and instead of him getting home so late that Christmas Eve would be ruined, he was home EARLY!!!

We packed up the gifts for our relatives and headed off for an evening of celebration. I gave our nieces the Treasure Bags that I had stuffed with Mary Kay Satin Hands samplers (It helps to be a MK rep!  In thinking ahead, this might be a good Valentines gift for the kids teachers!  <<wink wink>>) I let each niece pick out the bag of her choice and they were a hit!!  They loved them!!

On Christmas, it was an all-day affair of opening gifts. We don't allow the children to just dive in -- instead they open them one by one after declaring who the gift is from.  Then, once it's open, the gift is inspected for it's "coolness" and given the appreciation it deserves. We hope that this will instill in our children the appreciation of the thought that went into the gift, rather than the gift itself.

After taking a break in the afternoon, I couldn't wait for my daughter to open the gifts in her stocking. When she finally did, she found that she now has her OWN crochet hook set and crochet hook holder! Perfectly timed if I do say so myself!   You see, we went to Knit Together, a store in Stamford, a few days before Christmas and she picked out some new yarn. This was her prize offered by the Connecticut Chapter of the CGOA for winning a Blue Ribbon for her crocheting this past autumn at the CraftAdventure -- check out her website for more info on that -- she was thrilled with getting her own crochet hook set!! This means no more asking Mom for permission!  (In all due fairness, my daughter does own one custom made hook.  I'll go into detail on this in a future journal entry.)

In turn, I received the most precious gift from her -- a crocheted necklace with beads!! I don't know when she crocheted it, but she said that "...Daddy helped."  It's a precious gift I'll wear with pride and always treasure!  :)

BTW: The song on this journal entry was sung by my son.  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday too! 

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Seasons Greetings

In Case You Missed It: Crochet Fantasy Press Release

As of Dec 10, 2004, a verbal agreement has been reached between All American Crafts, Inc and Fiber Circle Publishing to transfer publication of */Crochet Fantasy/* magazine. Long the leader in fashion crochet projects, both companies look forward to this second generation of ownership and the possibilities a change in editorial direction offers. In the future, look for more articles and a focus on technical education to join the already well established emphasis of crocheted garments and accessories. Selling a magazine is always an emotional issue for the founders, and All American Crafts did not come to this decision lightly, but their love of the needlearts can be seen in this opportunity to continue supporting their crochet audience.

Many details still remain to be worked out, and information is still being exchanged on both sides. We anticipate the sale to be complete the first week of January. Fiber Circle Publishing will resume fulfillment of all active subscriptions. Unfortunately, the ownership change and other factors has caused a slight delay the next publication date - look for the next issue in late-February on newsstands, in local yarn shops and subscribers mailboxes.

Fiber Circle Publishing looks forward to /Crochet Fantasy /joining their hand and machine knitting publication,/ INKnitters/, and the opportunity it affords them to bring quality material to an expanded audience.

Diane Piwko
Fiber Circle Publishing

This is great news!  Crochet Fantasy was a great magazine and many of us were saddened with the unexpected announcement that the publication would cease.  One might go so far as to say that this announcement is a "Holiday Miracle!"  J

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Sleepy with a Gold Star

Ugh. I'm as sleepy as a a hibernating bear right now. One more day. Just one more day that I have to endure listening to the annoying buzzer of the alarm clock. Then, there will be ten blissful days of sleeping in. For now, I'll cling to my hot cup of coffee and await it's magic powers of transforming me into fully waking up.

I was at the Mall last night with my children. I know! I know! What about that journal entry stating that said I don't shop in December. Good point! Well, I normally don't. But I got a call from my dear husband who's been working 80 hour weeks, begging for help with his holiday shopping. So off we went.

I don't shop at Old Navy. I'm not exactly sure why I don't ... maybe it's the commercials, or the gray flooring. Whatever the reason, I don't normally go in and check out what they have. But last night they did something that lured me right in. Can you guess? LOL -- yes! They stuck a tantalizing crocheted item within my side peripheral vision! (Shame on them! Preying on my crochet radar! tisk tisk tisk -- lol)

Wasn't it just a few days ago that I said "Flowers will be blooming?" Well, this poncho (see image on the right) is what did it. The kids and I went in and checked it out. The flowers reminded me instantly of those seen in Irish Lace ... and I couldn't believe that, with the amount of work that went into it, that they could sell it for $24.50. It was obviously imported. Here, it would cost at least that much for the cotton to crochet it.  It was pretty though.  (No, I didn't buy it. It wasn't on hubby's list.)

I do want to say that it was a great feeling donating 4 sets of hats, mittens & scarves to the Harmony House yesterday. I included two giant (foam) puzzles and two bead kits. I know it will help at least some of those that under the House's protective wing this holiday season.  I do want to send a BIG THANK YOU to Chris for knitting up the hats!

I also want to thank my hubby for the GOLD Star ... he said that with all the crocheting for charity I did this year, along with donating the time at my children's school, that it was well deserved.  Thanks Sweetie!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Become Teacher Certified in Crocheting

2005 Certified Instructor Programs

Craft Yarn Council's Certified Instructor Program - CROCHET
January 28-30, 2005
Friday, 6-9 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m-5p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Fashion Institute of Technology
Seventh Avenue at 27th St.
New York City
Cost: $125

When there's cookies in the oven, it leaves very little time to edit entries to make them the way you want.  So now that the cookies are done and the house smells sooooo good, I thought I'd take a moment and fix this entry.  (Thank you Rose for pointing out that AOL decided to code my entry and make you all squint and say, "Wha???"  LOL)

If you're into knitting, or are looking for more information, give their website a visit: If you're already taking the course via correspondence, they'll apply a credit to the class cost.  Contact them to learn more.

Ah, Snow!

There's something blissful about waking up, listening to the radio and discovering there's no school.  It's such a wonderful feeling to squash all sound and drift back into lala land.  And it's even more blissful when your children make the same discovery and decide to join you for a snuggling session under the quilt while the heat kicks on and warms the house.  Ah.  I love moments like that.

It's impossible to look out the windows this morning.  There's sheer ice covering every one.  It must have been very windy last night blowing all that falling snow and freezing ice.  That would explain why I can't see out the windows.  The announcer on the radio said we got 2-4 inches of snow depending upon where you live.  We live on a hill.  That means there's maybe 4-6 inches out there.  I'm not looking forward to shoveling it.

I did manage to crochet another scarf for the Harmony House last night in the glow of the Christmas Tree.  Yes, we even finished decorating it yesterday, and as I sat there and worked each stitch, I focused on each ornament we placed on the tree.  Every one has a special meaning of a time or place in our lives.  I had taken special note to show my children their "Special Ornament" that holds the picture of them at their first Christmas; the ornament also happens to match their stocking.  They took pleasure in that and asked what their first Christmas was like.

For my daughter, at eleven months old, she was most interested in those two front teeth.  Yes, they had finally cut through and she had biting power.  She made sure she tasted every piece of wrapping paper her little fingers grasped.  For my son, at just barely five weeks old, he was more interested in a dry diaper, a full tummy, and a nap (and his crocheted blankie I had made for him).  At his second Christmas he learned to taste the wrapping paper just as his sister had at her first.  Ah, memories.

So, the big question, IS THERE ANY CROCHET ON DEE's TREE?
    Well, yes there is.  I will admit that I cheated.  Well, I shouldn't say I cheated because that's not the feeling I got from it when I purchased it.  I'm more like a patron of the arts ... supporting other crocheters by purchasing their work.  Yes, that sounds better.  So, what is it then that's crocheted and on the tree?  Twelve crocheted snowflakes to represent the twelve days of Christmas. 

As for the rest of today, I'll be wrapping up the last of the gifts, crocheted, but of course (yes, crocheted by me).  And maybe a batch of Thumb Print cookies to be baked up with the children.  Of course this does mean that I'll need to blow the dust off of my cook book.  (lol)

Yes, snow days are fun!

11:30 AM -- UPDATE:  All that dusting off the cook book for nothing!  No Thumb Print Cookie recipeGreat thing for the Internet ... found one!  Just click onto the link to enjoy.  I'm off to go whip some eggs & stuff together.  Enjoy!  ~Dee

1:05 PM -- ANOTHER UPDATE:  Note to self:  eggs do not go in the cookie batter.  Omit chocolate chips and use White Chocolate Chips; omit jelly preserves for middle and use deep, dark chocolate.  Make warning label to read that glass of Milk is required while eatting these yummy treats.  Kids ate two each already; awaiting for sugar rush to kick in (I have snow shovels awaiting to help them burn it off).  <<grins>>

Sunday, December 19, 2004

So it's "In" fashion ... who knew?

My husband read my journal entry for yesterday and noted about the part where I have three scarves completed that I'll be donating next week. Wait a minute. Next week is here! They'll be donated either tomorrow or on Tuesday (the weather will make that determination).

I showed him the scarves and he said, "Wow, they're just like the ones the ladies at the
Windsor store wear. They're really long." He continued, "I told them that you crochet and are always coming up with various designs -- that you'd love to see something like this."

So, who knew that the scarves I crocheted up for the Harmony House would be on the cutting edge of fashion! :)

Now, while I'm at it, I want to commend Sheila for continuing the List of Good Deeds to Pass on the Holiday Spirit Give her
Journal a visit to read about ideas that won't cost a cent!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Life is Full of Disappointments

Life is full of disappointments.  It either comes from us having our expectations too high or from random roads we take in our lives.  We can't help experiencing disappointment.  It's a part of life.

I can remember as a young child all the lean Christmas's, and I vividly remember the time when Santa never came at all.  I remember having to run to school in the winter as I had no coat. Running, I thought, would help keep me warm. Heat in the house?  No, there wasn't any of that.  We used the oven to keep warm. Did I ever talk to my friends about this?  No.  It was easier to listen to their magical night of treats from Santa, and to check out their new coats, or go to their house and enjoy an afternoon of playing -- and heat.

Today, although I'm not in any means a financially rich woman, I am fortunate to be in a better position than I was as a child.  I have a supporting family and a talent for creating fabric with my own two hands.  Was life disappointing then?  Sure it was.  But a lesson was well learned.  No matter how hard it was then, we always had each other.  The memories of our times together are precious to me, just as the times are that I spend with my family today. 

Yes, life can be filled with disappointments, but I believe we don't need to dwell on it.  Instead, we can turn the experience around and help someone else who wears those same shoes, or worse, no shoes at all.

Even though I have already crocheted & donated 30 scarf, hat and mitten sets, along with many new toys to our local Salvation Army, I have decided to help one more organization this year.

The Harmony House.  The Harmony House provides shelter for 16 homeless women and their children while providing skills and resources to help them live a more stable life.

I have been working on what I call "Scrap Scarves."  What that is is scarves created in blocks of color until I no longer have any left.  The end result is a scarf that is a rainbow of color. I have finished three, and will match them up with hats and gloves to complete the sets.  I will be donating them to the Harmony House next week along with various children's beading kits I happen to have a little stock on.

Yes, life has it's disappointments -- but through our actions and good hearts, we can let the goodness shine through.

Here's ways you can lighten up someone's holiday experience:

  • Pay the toll for the car or person behind you.
  • For every person that cuts you off in traffic, let three people get in front of you.
  • Make a donation to a local charity in the name of a loved one that has passed on.
  • Go grocery shopping and fill a small basket with various non-perishable food. Then take it to a homeless shelter or church for distribution.
  • When you're holiday shopping and there's a sale of "Buy One Get One Free," take the free item and donate it.

  • The end result will be that your heart will sing knowing you've done a wonderful deed, and that someone in need will smile knowing someone in the world cared.

    If you're doing something to help lift the feelings of disappointment, feel free to post it here.  Lets spread the feeling of giving this holiday season.  :)

    Friday, December 17, 2004

    Hoofin' It

    Last night was the Christmas Show put on at our children's school.  I think there were more crochet sightings there this year than last year!  (LOL)  First, let me say, that the show ROCKed!  The kids were just awesome!  

    Second, I was approached by the coordinator/choreagrapher who advised me that they were going to reuse the "hooves" I crocheted like a madwoman last year.  Don't know that story?  Well, grab a cup of eggnog and read on.  

    Last year in late November/early December (I don't recall the date exactly) I was approached by the coordinator/choreagrapher of the Christmas Show.  She knew I was a crocheter and requested that I crochet eight sets of reindeer mitts, hooves  really, for the children to use in the upcoming show.  I agreed to this thinking there was plenty of time. 

    I went home and checked my stock, checked it twice actually, in reference to which fiber was naughty (scratchy) and which was nice (smooth & fun to pet).  I picked a roll of chenille in the most delightful brown and worked up a single "hoof" and sent it in to school for critique/approval. 

      Time went by.  Actually, a LOT of time went by, and a few days prior to the show, I bumped into her in the parking lot.  She said she loved the sample, but could I make it smaller? 

    It was three days before the show.  Could I?  I said I'd give it my best.  So, I grabbed an "F" crochet hook and set to work. 

    Night and day I worked on them ... each done with single crochets and slip stitches.  Stitch, stitch, stitch.  Anywhere I went, I took them with me.  Stitch, stitch, stitch.  Dinner?  Yeah, right.  It was take-out with paper plates.  Stitch, stitch, stitch. 

    It was down to just a mere half-hour before the show was to go on that I was near finishing the last hoof.  Twenty minutes.  Stitch, stitch, stitch.  Fifteen minutes. Stitch, stitch, stitch.  Ah!  Done!  I handed them over to her and apologized for not tucking and securing my ends in.  There simply was no more time. 

    I went out into the audience and took my seat.  The show went on, but no where were the hooves to be seen!  In the segment where the reindeer came out to do their number, they had no hooves on!  "Oh, no!" I thought.  "Could there have been a mishap with one of the hooves?!"  

    Well, apparently the coordinator/choreographer caught on that they were forgotten.  So at the end of the show she sent the reindeer back on stage to do an "encore" presentation -- this time with the hooves on, and a special mention of the hard work it took for me to create these hooves especially for the show.  I was relieved that it wasn't a "mishap" in my work; the kids simply forgot to put them on.  The parents cheered for the children as they did such a great job, and for the next six weeks I wore a brace on my wrist to give it well needed rest.  (Later I was advised that she had miscounted -- she really needed NINE sets.  Check out the picture, you can barely see them on the kids hands.  She forgot about poor Rudolph!  Goodness!  Pass some of that eggnog on to me, OK?  It's spiked, right?)  

    Flashing forward to this year, the reindeer act was axed, and instead the children were dressed as farm animals (you know, the Manger theme?) ... and on their hands were the hooves ... complete with ends sticking out.  I'm going to have to figure a way to rescue them and finish the job!  (lol)

    Thursday, December 16, 2004

    Move Over Pine Needles, Flowers Will be A'bloomin'

    Last week I was asked to look at a knit magazine.  In it contained pictures of beautiful roses that were knitted.  The underlying theme was that they were knit in strips, rolled then secured with a bit of sewing.

    On Monday, while doing lunch duty at my children's school, one of my students waved me over.  She excitedly pulled out a Lion Brand pattern featuring a rose.  "Oh, Dee! You've just got to help me figure out how to do this!!" she exclaimed.  I briefly read the instructions over and declared her more than ready to tackle this pattern.  (It's construction theme is much like that I saw in the knitting magazine.)  She smiled at me and we made a date to meet.  That was yesterday, and she did just fine!

    On Tuesday, while teaching in Stamford, one of my students whipped out the same Lion Brand pattern and said, "Dee! I want to do this! Tell me there will be a time when you can go over this with me!!"  I smiled.  Yes, it appears Roses are in full bloom and I'll be teaching a workshop on various flowers come February.

    I checked the Lion Brand website but could not locate the pattern.  Perhaps it was just released and they haven't had time to post it.  In the meantime, it appears that the store known as The GAP has jumped on the blooming band wagon and is offering crochet roses for sale (check out the flower to the left -- to see more that The GAP is offering, click onto it) So, no matter where we turn, everything in fashion, it seems, will be a'bloomin'.

    Wednesday, December 15, 2004

    Ranting and Raving

    Never, in my wildest dreams, would I have ever thought that I would have to sensor a comic book marketed to children. But that's exactly what's necessary thanks to DC Comics.

    Last year I subscribed to the comic Superman for my son as one of his Stocking Stuffers. Of all the comics that arrived in the mail throughout the year, I only (barely) approved of two issues for him to read!  In yesterday's mail was his latest issue. I flipped through the book and my jaw dropped open with a silent scream to follow. There, in the comics, was Lois Lane holding a woman's undergarment up for Superman to see. She's asking him who they belong to.

    OK, I get it. In the latest issues of Superman, he and Lois are married. And at times when there is distrust in a relationship, actions and questions like that are asked. But what I don't get is how this material is relevant to a six year old, or even a reader twice his age! The news keeps reporting that sex sells -- but I don't understand why it has to be introduced to our children. Is there a realistic reason why children shouldn't be given every opportunity to enjoy their innocence??!? This just makes my blood boil! Arg!!

    So, obviously I'm not going to renew his subscription. I'm going to put the comic where it belongs -- in the trash. For this years' stocking stuffer I subscribed to the magazine called Ranger Rick. (I went to magazinevalues and got the subscription for under $10 for those that may be interested.) At least this magazine is geared for children, and had a website for me to check out PRIOR to subscribing.  Never again will a DC Comic be allowed in our home.

    Now that I'm done ranting, I do want to rave a bit. My husband requested I crochet him a hat using three colors (work related). But he didn't want it like a spiral hat (see image to the right). So I started it a few afternoons ago while waiting for my children in the school parking lot, and continued until late in the evening. Oh, who am I trying to kid? I finished it in the early morninghours. (lol) What resulted was a hat that was solid with one color on the outside, another solid color on the inside, with the third color as the brim. And, it's reversible! I haven't a clue as to what happened to my digital camera -- but once I locate it I'll get some pictures up.

    In the meantime, I can tell you his response:  W O W !!!!
    It's freezing outside today, and he took it to work.  I get to hear later if it "fits the bill" in keeping him stylishly warm.  :)


    UPDATE  (12/16/04):  Robin asked which issue is the latest DC Comic that I mentioned above.  For those parents that also want to avoid it being in their child's hands:

    More Info:  No. 822  Feb 05
                       "Have Superman and Superboy finally met their match?!"
                       ISBN 6194120001


    Monday, December 13, 2004

    NASA Gives Plaque a Facelift

    A plaque that was originally designed to
    be carried on the side of NASA's Pioneer
    10 spacecraft, launched in 1972, has had a
    face lift. Now along with depicting human
    figures, among other things, it shows the
    world's hottest fiber art: Crochet!

                            *Not really. I'm just having fun tonight. :)

    Reader Asks Question: Copyright

    Yesterday I received an IM (instant message) from Rose.  She read my entry on Copyrights and wanted to know why it's OK to make copies of patterns found in library books.  What a great question, Rose!

    The answer I provided to her is that books at the library change the rules ever-so-slightly.  The books are publicly owned and are there for all to enjoy.  Think to a child doing a research paper.  They'll head off to the library and research their topic.  Then they'll make copies of the material that's relevant to their project -- not copy the entire book.  Then, as they write their paper, they'll reference to the material they copied, not write it word for word (because then that would be plagiarizing)

    Think of it as when we use books, magazines, newspapers, videos, DVD's and such from our local libraries as a means to take the material out for a test drive.  If we like it, then we're more apt to go out and purchase it for our own personal use.


    Main Entry: [1]copy·right
    Pronunciation: -"rIt
    Function: noun
    Date: 1735
    : the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, and sell the matter and form (as of a literary, musical, or artistic work)
    Dictionary term by Merriam-Webster

    Reminder:  I AM NOT AN EXPERT on COPYRIGHT, nor do I play one on TV.  Please visit the websites offered in Saturdays entry.

    Sunday, December 12, 2004

    A Million Stitches -- Now, or Later

    When I teach a class of 'newbies' to crochet, I recommend that they practice.  Practice, practice, practice.  This will help in reinforcing the stitches and techniques learned in class, as well as help with tension issues.  One day, while teaching at Knit Together, John, the store owner said, "They can do their million stitches now and become good at it quickly, or do the million stitches later, over a long length of time to become good at it eventually."  Meaning it's up to the person to decide on when they become good at it.  (secretly, I think it was a major hint to my lack of practicing my knitting.  LOL)

    On the road to practicing, I recommend that my students consider crocheting a scarf to donate to a worthy cause, or even 6" X 9" squares to donate to the Warm Up America campaign.  Since the items don't need to be exactly perfect, it's a win-win situation.  The student gets the well needed practice, and someone in need benefits from the donation.

    While visiting the Craft Yarn Council of America's website, I found that a lady near "my neck of the woods" has been doing just that with a group of Elementary School Children.  Check it out: Waterbury, CT: Crosby High School Knitters

    Saturday, December 11, 2004

    Copy + Rights = A Tangle of Information

    One of the stickiest subjects I've come across in my passion for crochet is copyright. With some of the online groups I belong to, the topic ends up getting "mean" and feelings get hurt so the topic is banned.  With more & more new crocheters joining us in our enthusiasm and passion for this art form, I think there should be some place to go to learn about it.  After all there's a lot of misinformation, along with confusing information, mixed in with a few "I don't care's."  And although I'm far from being an expert on this topic, I believe that we should care. That we should be informed. 

    So I thought I'd discuss some of the issues here, and provide some links on copyright:
    1. There's been discussion of stores "making pattern copies" to give to their patrons for buying yarn, or to sell.
    If the store where you are purchasing your supplies from is doing this, then they're breaking the law. The only way they can legally make copies is if
          A. It's a pattern they wrote/copyrighted
          B. They purchased the copyright 
          C. They have written permission from the copyright holder to make X number of copies

    2. There have been auctions/sales of patterns copied onto paper, or CD
    If the pattern date is prior to 1920 (as far as I understand) AND the copyright has not been renewed, then it's OK. To protect yourself (because you don't want to be a party of copyright infringement), buy the original!

    3. It's OK to copy a friends' entire book, after all they already paid for it.
    Nope. It's not OK. The only one that can make a copy from that book is the owner -- and for their own personal use (i.e., to write upon while working a pattern up, or to make it more portable during travel). The other time it's OK to make copies for personal use is if the book is from a public library. But it's not a cart blanc to copy the entire book.

    4. I'm teaching a class on this, so the copies will go to my students.
     Again, this is a huge no-no. If a teacher is to provide copies then the teacher needs written permission to make copies unless it's his/her pattern. Otherwise the students are responsible for purchasing the materials just like the teacher was.  (this is why I started creating my own patterns)

    Why is it important to respect the copyright?
         Well, I think the movie industry did a great job explaining this with the commercial they came out with a few years ago:

    The commercial starts out with a head shot of a movie star that explains that each time a movie ticket is purchased, it doesn't just help pay his/her salary. The commercial moves off of the star and starts to show some of the innerworkings of the movie process -- of people who get paid to help make the product come to life: the lighting crew, the editors, the directors, the make-up artists, the wardrobe crew (and those that sew the costumes), and so on.

    This is true with crochet patterns. Think of a commercial explaining it. There's a head shot of a crochet designer that explains each time a pattern or book is legally purchased they get a tiny piece of the proceeds. Then the camera pulls back and the viewer sees the pattern testers hard at work, the photographer and the lighting crew taking pictures of the work, the models, the editors putting the new material together for an upcoming publication, the printers, the ink producers, the paper producers, and so on. 

    There's a lot of people involved to make it happen! And each time an illegal copy is made, it's money out of their pockets, food they can't put on their table, bills they cannot pay.  And sometimes the publisher goes defunt, like the recent stopping of the publication Crochet Fantasy.

    Are crochet designers paid a lot of money? No. I don't think so. In the book, Blue Ribbon Afghans from America's State Fairs: 40 Prize-Winning Crocheted Designs, I represent the state of Connecticut.  I have an original afghan pattern that takes up eight pages of this fantastic book.  How much was I paid for the pattern? Fifty dollars.  See, it's not a lot of money.

    So if the pay for patterns is not so lucrative,  why do designers continue designing? Because they're passionate about our art, crochet, and they want to see it thrive. But it won't thrive if people continue to make illegal copies.

    You can learn more about copyright by visiting the following websites:

  • Thursday, December 9, 2004

    Focusing on What You Want To Learn

    In the December/January 2004 issue of Working Mother magazine, there's an interesting article called "Seek and Find A Mentor" by Claire Witcomb.

    Claire interviewed Karen Greenbaum who states during the interview:
    "Mentoring isn't about someone holding your hand and promoting your career -- it's about your actively seeking the skills you need to grow. Find a person (or two or three) who has those skills ... and ask them for ideas. Think of yourself as a continuous improvement project and create you own custom-fit program, filled with as many mentors as you can find."

    (I like this magazine. I was first introduced to it through the daycare center my kids attend. It's filled with lots of articles that I've found helpful through the years.)

    Getting back to the topic of Mentorship, I agree with this article! We can learn so much by asking questions of those at the top of their game. The more I reflect on this article and relate it to my own crocheting, I can see that this is clearly what I've been doing for the past several years.  From taking classes with the top crochet experts and asking them questions, from joining the national organization known as the CGOA, joining online groups, attending conferences, and events ... all to constantly gather useful information to help me grow as a crochet teacher, an artist, a mother, and person overall.

    I think that when we're reading blogs/journals, at times it's much like finding a mentor.  You read them, and take away from them, hopefully, information that will help you solve a future problem, or even inspire you to try something new -- or (gulp!) to even finish that nemesis project that has been constantly nagging "finish me!!"

    Through blogs/journals you can even have a "virtual cup of coffee" with the writer by (to quote Karen from earlier) "...screw[ing] up your courage to say 'I've noticed that you're very good at X. Could I have a cup of coffee with you?'" -- well, it's not really sharing a cup of coffee, but by leaving comments for the writer sometimes a mentoring relationship "may blossom -- or not."  We won't know until we stick ourselves out there and inquire.

    The key here, based upon this Working Mother article, is to expand upon your knowledge, in work and in life.  I like that philosophy.

    "Focus on what you want to learn, and be ready to break through your own color, gender and comfort barriers. ~Karen Greenbaum

    BTW:  If you're looking for a mentor, you may want to become an Associate Professional of the CGOA. You can visit their website for more information.

    Tuesday, December 7, 2004

    "house cleaning" chores aren't so bad

               This is AWESOME!
                 Great job Hon!

    Last night I stayed up late, burning the midnight oil as they say, to put the finishing touches on the Santa Hat my boss requested I crochet for him.  After tucking in my last tail, and even adding a couple bells to the pom pom, I laid the hat on the computer where I knew my dear husband would see it this morning before heading off to work.

    When I got up this morning, he had left a note for me stating the above.  I have to agree with him!  This is one of the MOST luscious items I've ever created!  All I need to do now is to vacuum it.  Yes, that's right, I said "vacuum."  And it's Lily Chin's fault, er, idea. (lol)

    Her idea is to secure panty hose on the end of the vacuum hose and to "suck" out all the eyelash rather than to pick it out strand by strand to fluff it out.  So, with a 90-minute school delay this morning due to yesterday's storm, I'll have plenty of time to do my vacuuming.  (See, some "house cleaning" chores aren't so bad when we implement them into our crocheting... LOL)

    I'm hoping I've only misplaced my digital camera ... in the meantime, I'll take a picture with my regular camera and post a picture sometime this summer (LOL: knowing my frequency in getting rolls developed, this is so true! LOL)

    As far as the details on this Santa Hat goes, I crocheted it using three balls of Sinsation chenille, and one hank of Cherry Tree white & silver eyelash.  I "doubled up" on the eyelash as I crocheted the brim as otherwise it was too thin and didn't look right.  I didn't write the pattern down as I created it, but it was essentially created from the brim to the tip using mostly half-double crochets.  The length of the hat is exaggerated (a bit long), but I think it just WORKS with the fibers my boss picked out for this project.  (Whee! What fun, John! Thanks!!)

    Monday, December 6, 2004

    MMmmmmm mmmmm!

    The other day I mentioned how I love good news.  Well, now I can tell you when you can watch for that good news too! Celeste reports that her pattern will be published in the 2005 May/June or July/August issue of Quick and Easy Crochet! ... so if you want to subscribe to it, or if you want to give a subscription as gift this holiday season, be sure to checkout the website magazinevalues.

    Yesterday, when the weather was not so frightful (we're in the middle of a snow & freezing rain storm), we went to
    Jones Family Tree Farm and picked out a most beautiful Blue Spruce Christmas tree.  While we were there we visited their Gift Shop where I found a beautiful cream & red (thread) crocheted ornament. Of course I bought it!  Right along with a jar of Maple Pecan Pumpkin butter.  MMmmmmm mmmmm! lol

    I need to hunt down Freddie in the next few days. She's the editor of the Chain Link Newsletter put out by the
    CGOA.  She works for a yarn shop that sells a design software package I'm interested in.  It appears that Santa wants the specs on the software... (it's different from the software I mentioned the other day) I must contain my excitement because just because he's asking about it doesn't necessarily mean it will be under the tree.  (Hey Santa, it's OK if it's not. Pressurized coal works too! lol)

    I did manage to stop by the Craft Basket today.  They will close their doors in just over a week.  It's sad they're going out of business.  Everything in the store is 50-60 percent off.  Surprisingly, they still had some yarn left.  And not so surprisingly, some of it came home with me today.  MMmmmmm mmmmm!

    Sunday, December 5, 2004

    They have row counters for people like me!

    You are interchangeable. Fun, free, and into
    everything, you've got every eventuality
    covered and every opportunity just has
    to be taken. Every fiber is wonderful, and
    every day is a new beginning. You are good at
    so many things, it's amazing, but you can
    easily lose your place and forget to show up.
    They have row counters for people like you!

    What kind of knitting needles are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Oh, this is so true! (lol) I visited Hazelnut Latte's journal and saw she had her quiz results posted and couldn't resist seeing what my results would be.  It turns out we're the same type of knitting needles hanging on the display rack!  (well, actually based from her journal posts she's using hers!  Mine are apparently still in the packaging!  lol)  Now, the real question is, what type of crochet hook am I?  Hmmm. I wonder if such a quiz exists...

    Getting back on topic, I wrote that the answer from the quiz is so right in describing me!  I do tend to be involved, and yet easily lose my place.  But, in all fairness, I do have two youngsters who HELP me lose my place! (lol)

    Take this past Wednesday for example ... I was to attend the Connecticut session of "Coffee,Crochet and Chat" at one of our local book stores.  I was all set to go. I was in the process of dropping the kiddies off at school when my dear daughter discovered she left her book bag and lunch at home.   This meant I had to DRIVE all the way back home, then back to the school again.   I was also soaked by the heavy rains and had to tend to that too.  By the time I realized it, I had "lost my place" and missed out on the crochet session. (bummer!)

    Would the row counters help in this situation?  It's doubtful. But since I was at the bookstore already, I decided to check out the new magazine published by Vogue Knitting called Knit 1.

    It just came out in November and is getting rave reviews!  I liked what I saw and decided to treat myself to an issue.  Inside, I saw a VERY pretty beaded bracelet being advertised that can be used as a row counter... and, BTW, if you're interested in knowing if it contains any crochet patterns, you'd be happy to learn that this trendy magazine does!  The bracelet may not help keep me on track, or encourage me to get those knitting needles out of their packaging, but it would be pretty to wear!  <<giggles>>

    And speaking of being trendy ... we all know that crochet is, but now designers are REALLY starting to catch on.  Be sure to check out the fashions at  AND be prepared to have your crocheted socks knocked off! J

    Saturday, December 4, 2004

    Dreamin' of a White Christmas

    While we're making plans on visiting Jones Family Farm to get a fresh Connecticut homegrown Christmas tree, my thoughts also drift, like white fluffy snow, over to decorating possibilities. (I'm really liking that tree on the bottom right, dear.  Let's be sure to get that one!)

    Crochet has long been known as an art form with the greatest potential for recreating what we see in nature with fiber. That fiber is known as thread, and the items recreated can range in size depending upon the thread size and hook size used. And, usually, when this topic is brought to light, the first thoughts in most people's minds are doilies. But we're not talking doilies here. We're talking tree decorating possibilities!

    The year my husband and I married, I decorated our tree with white lights, and crystal/glass ornaments with red ribbons. The year our daughter was born, I decorated our Christmas tree with white and pink lights, white and pink ornaments, and pink ribbons. (Are you thinking ahead of me? Yeah, I bet you are! lol) When our son was born, I decorated our tree with white and blue lights, white and blue ornaments and blue ribbons.  So now, what about the ideal crocheted Christmas tree?

    Since there are, in nature, no two snowflakes alike, may I suggest crocheting a variety of snowflakes for your tree? As the snowflakes are being blocked, sprinkle them with ultrafine fabric glitter. You'll LOVE the end results!

    Next, thoughts of garland comes to mind ... but lets update it a bit by adding some fine crystal beads. That will add some real shimmer when the lights twinkle!  Oh, and let's not forget about ornaments! There's been talk of using metallic spray paint to add a whole new look to them!!

    It's a bit late in the season for me to even consider having our tree decked out in crochet as I have other crochet commitments ... but just as one would bestow holidays greetings for a White Christmas, one can also wish for one decked out in crochet.

    And just in case gift tags are needed for those holiday presents, make it crocheted ... or at least just print out the gift tags that feature crochet, like the one to the left.  (See?  I made this tag simple by already adding my name to it!  lol)

    Friday, December 3, 2004

    ...Think of all the fun I'd miss...Santa, baby

    Oh, can it be true? There's software out there to help me get organized with my crochet? For real?

    It must be. The website states that they have software for the crocheter who has everything, but can't keep track of it all!

    The software they're offering is for use with PDAs. PDAs are like little personal assistants in the shape of a mini computer that fits nicely in handbags.  I have one and love it.  (I got mine through Dell's website.) 

    So, what about this crochet software?  The website states that the software will do the following:

  • Projects Database
  • Measurements Database
  • Abbreviations and Terms Database
  • Hooks Database
  • Patterns Database
  • Books and Magazines Database
  • Yarn Database
  • Hook Conversion Chart
  • Yardage Estimate Calculator
  • Buttonhole Spacing Calculator
  • Increase/Decrease Calculator
  • Metric/English Conversion Calculator
  • US vs. UK Terms Chart

    Oh, and how sweet!   It says you can use your desktop with the software to synchronize the information. Hmmm.  (please pardon my drooling at the mere thought of being that techno-savvy!!)

    Santa baby, if you're reading this, I am interested!
    They're even offering a free trial!
    I've been an awful good girl, Santa baby,
    So hurry down the chimney tonight (& download it for me!)
    Boo doo bee doo
  • Thursday, December 2, 2004

    Scarves, Scarves, Scarves

    It seems I've been crocheting scarves for months, and looking back, I have!  First for charity, then for my children's teachers. Now I'm working on a scarf (and hat) for my father. I'm using the yarn called LanaGatto and it's HEAVEN to work with.

    It's a wool/viscosa blend that I picked up on clearance ... 95% of it is actually is wool, and one would think that it would be quite itchy. But it's NOT!! Perhaps this is because of the 5% viscosa they blended in (viscosa is rayon). This yarn is so incredibly soft that I can't help but pet my work after finishing a few rows.

    The scarf is simple ... just 22 single crochets -- an "I" hook. The color I'm using is #6970. In the picture to the right, the color looks nearly black. In reality, it's a cross between royal and navy blue with bursts of color now & then, sprinkled with little white threads throughout.  It's beautiful.  I'm hoping my father likes it as much as I'm enjoying working it up.

    Later today I'll be donning on a Santa hat and ho ho ho-ing it downtown to our local Salvation Army. I'll be joining other members of our CGOA Chapter to haul in a fantastic bounty of goodies for all the boys & girls in need. We'll be donating some 80 plus sets of hats, mittens and scarves, and many, many brand new toys. This is what the holiday season is all about: Helping Others.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2004

    I LOVE Good News!!

    One of the ladies that has been a member of our CGOA Chapter since it's start in 2001 sent me an email yesterday. She has such a great & giving heart!

    Our first charity drive as a Chapter was crocheting Special Comfort Pillow Afghans to donate to Friends of Karen, Inc.  (a nonprofit group that aids terminally ill children & their families in the Westchester & Fairfield counties).  Celeste came up with her own pattern (see image on right) that everyone just fell in love with. After she donated it, she made another, and this time wrote the pattern down. She then submitted it to a contest that the magazine "Quick & Easy" was having and went on with her life.  Well, as you'll read, she was having a rough day...

    Wed 11/17 I went home from work to prepare for a test at the Hospital for Thursday. Drank the awlful Phosophos Soda and sat down to look at the mail. Only to find tucked inside of a catalog the envelope advising me of my win. Somehow the whole test thing was suddenly minimized in my brain, I guess I had a more exciting item to think of.

    I was truly surprised and in shock when I opened the envelope. WOW I really won 1st prize and my directions will be published. Yes, I was honored and excited but really I have to reflect on how it came to be.

    And how did it ? It was the result of my heartfelt effort to do something for others "Friends of Karen" which at the time of creating it, I never even dreamed of winning anything. My intent was just to comfort someone .

    You know I have to say, the best reward above all winning anything is to fulfill the opportunity to do for others. Its the feeling, not a prize thats the best .

    "Rewards are always the greatest when we give to others" .

    Well said, well said!!

    Congratulations Celeste!!

    Crochetaholics Anonymous

    1. I will not stuff crochet supplies in every corner of my house.

    2. I will not keep nine projects going at one time.

    3. I will not pick up more yarn, hooks, and patterns when I have a ton at  home.

    4. I will not let my crocheting area look like a condemned area.

    5. I will not relegate the kitchen table to crochet.

    6. I will not attend crochet shows just to pick up more ideas.

    7. I will not stock up on more crochet supplies just because they are on sale.

    8. I will not go off on a tangent when anyone mentions, "MAKE ME A COPY OF  THAT PATTERN????".

    9. I will not let my crocheting distract me from fixing dinner.

    10. I will not stay up all night crocheting.

    11. I will not save pattern labels, free leaflets, extra copies of patterns, etc.

    12. I will not buy every crochet magazine I see.

    13. I will not make promises I cannot keep.

               See you at the yarn store(s)!!!! :-)
     (This was sent to me in an email today; I love it and had to share!)