Monday, April 30, 2007

Did Ewe Know: Sheepish Laws & Happenings

Did Ewe Know?

You are allowed to herd 1999 sheep at a
time -- legally -- down Hollywood Boulevard
in California. Add one more sheep to the
flock and you'll break the law! 
Fact from

In London, cab drivers (prior to 1976)
were required to carry a bale of hay to
feed horses, but sheep are given the Royal
-- they're allowed to cross the
London Bridge without paying the toll.
Fact from:

In Japan, if you followed the flock in purchasing an inexpensive imported British or Australian Poodle, and it refuses to bark, won't fetch, and doesn't care for dog food, then there's a good chance you've had the wool pulled over your eyes -- you purchased a sheep! 
Fact from

And here in Connecticut, a local zoo was fleeced when a patron got in without paying admission; they're considering letting her off the hook by mowing the zoo's lawns.  The patron is a bandana wearing sheep found at the front gate.  The Beardsley Zoo is hoping Little Bo Peep will show up with an explaination.
Fact from: 
If you're attempting to read this entry through a feeder and don't see text, please visitthis blog directly.  The text is white on a black background.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

2007 CT Sheep & Wool Festival ... Where Crochet Rocked!

While the weather forecast was not up to par, crochet shined brightly at the 98th Connecticut Sheep & Wool Fiber Festival!

We awoke very early in the morning and arrived at the Tolland Agricultural Center located in Vernon, CT, in record time.  Upon our arrival we learned that there was already a group of people waiting for us to teach them crochet!  So while HHCC members Grace, Ritu and I set up the booth, we had member Elaine start the lessons.  (She's going for her
Crochet Teaching Certification)

We had several types of crochet on exhibit:  a felted bag, freeform crochet, a beaded bikini top, a shawl featuring yarn Ritu had spun herself, several Tunisian crochet pieces, and some other items.  Our focus was on using natural fibers, and projects that were not what one would consider to be "grandma's crochet."  It worked!  Some of the comments we received were:

"Wow, this is nothing like what I thought crochet was! I thought it was all doilies and granny squares -- these items are amazing!" (note: we did not have one doily or granny square on display!)

"This looks like knitting; are you sure it's not knitted?" (note: it was Tunisian!)

" I thought crochet was for grannies only; I had no idea you could do these sorts of projects with crochet!"
(note: the story about the grannies making undergarments in Europe was told, along with the story about the designer making a chair out of doilies and selling if for $40,000 -- this also helped change the opinion about what "grannies" are crocheting!)

Other fun included meeting members from various online groups I am a member of, as well as shopping and going for an Oxen hay ride.  I treated myself to some silk hankies from "A Touch of Twist" and a new wooden crochet hook from "Grafton Fibers."  Of course I couldn't resist playing with my new "finds" so I started crocheting with the raw silk -- unspun!  This drew interest from people visiting our booth/demo area and so I did an impromptu demonstration; afterwards many rushed back to the silk hankie vendor so they could buy enough supplies to try the technique themselves!  LOL

It was indeed a great day -- we taught many how to crochet, and we changed many people's ideas of what crochet is, or could be!  We met many wonderful people, and we do hope that we'll be able to repeat this fantastic experience next year!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dodging Rain Drops for Sheep?

Today is another day of rain for Connecticut, but that's Okay.  I'm willing to dodge them today in order to prepare for tomorrow's big event -- the Connecticut Sheep & Wool Festival! 

I'll be there tomorrow with members of my
Crochet Guild of America Chapter, The Happily Hooked on Crocheting Club!  The weather is forecasted to be a beautiful sunny day -- perfect for a day of shopping, seeing sheep, learning new things, taking an oxen ride & more! 

This will be our first year as demonstrators; we'll be in the white building/barn where most of the demonstrations take place, so do consider stopping by and saying hello!  We'd love to meet you!!

For details about last year's event, see my entry here: A Fiberlishious Adventure
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Earth, Wind & Fire: Baby I like the way you move ....

Earth, Wind & Fire has morphed to being more than a soul/disco/funk group that was formed in the late 1960s -- it's now a crochet movement! ... and where else can you truly see movement than in freeform crochet!?!

So, tonight, I encourage you to go and visit the 2007 International Freeform Fiberarts exhibit to see the wonderful Earth, Wind, Air & Fire works! 

...And while you're there, also check out the Tree of Life/Tree of Peace exhibit.   I'm really looking forward to seeing it in person this summer at the National CGOA Conference!

Many thanks to Myra Wood for spearheading this great exhibit!

And now, a little music ...

Spring/Summer 2007 Crochet Classes: Bethel, CT

Get help with your crochet, or learn a new technique! Class size is limited, so sign-up early to ensure your seat is reserved! 

Location:  A Stitch In Time
  276 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel, CT
Contact: (203) 748-1002

* Dee is a member of the Crochet Guild of America.  Show your CGOA membership card at time of class sign-up and get $2.00 off of Dee's Classes! 
(Discount does not apply to supplies)

Stitch Social:
Work on your own project while getting help on fixing errors or techniques.
May 1, 8, 15, 22; June 5, 12
Tuesday mornings: 10 - Noon.  Cost: $15 per session

Absolute Beginner
Learn the basics of crochet!  This class concentrates on the slip knot, the chain, the single crochet, counting stitches, and ending off. 
2nd Tuesdays of the Month:  May 8;  June 12
Time:  12:30 - 2:30pm   Cost: $20 per session, plus supplies

Absolute Beginner, Part II
This class is geared towards those that have taken Absolute Beginner, or need a refresher in crochet basics.  Class will concentrate on reading patterns, gauge, and getting you started on that first official project.  Note: participants should already have selected pattern/supplies for their first project prior to start of class.
Tuesday: May 15;  June 5
Time:  12:30 - 2:30pm   Cost: $20 per session, plus supplies

Bead Crochet Workshop:
  Adding beads to your crochet work adds an element of elegance.  In this workshop participants will learn how to add beads using two different techniques.  Note: participants will need to bringpony beads, and worsted weight yarn for this Workshop.  A beading needle and instructions will be provided to participants.
Tuesday, May 1
Time: 12:30 - 2:30pm    Cost:  $20 per session, plus supplies

NEW CLASS!! Knitting for Crocheters!
Have you tried knitting but felt uncomfortable holding two needles?  What if there was a way to crochet, yes crochet!, true knit stitches?  Fret no more, this class will reveal the secrets on how knit and purl REAL (not Tunisian!) stitches!  You'll be *amazed* at how easy it is!
Tuesday: May 22
Time:  12:30 - 2:30pm   Cost: $20 per session, plus supplies

Private Instruction:
Need our Certified Crochet Teacher to yourself?  Book exclusive time with Dee!
Tuesdays, May 1, 8, 15, 22; June 5, 12
Time: 3:00 - 4:00 pm  Cost: $15 per 1/2 hour; $25 for full hour.  Advanced sign-up required.

Monday, April 23, 2007

And So She's Back ...

Spring Break is officially over for my children.  We spent the week dealing with water issues stemming from the heavy rains that soaked much of the NorthEast; enjoyed hanging out together doing family activities; and for me, finishing several charity projects that were on various hooks.  Tonight I'll be busy tucking in all the ends and labeling them for future donation.  Everyone deserves a week like that -- except for the water part.  You know what I mean.  :)

In all, it was a very relaxing and a productive week and I want to thank my Guest Bloggers for doing such a fantastic job filling in for me!   {{insert applause here}}  Thank you, Thank you!!  As for the winner of my "Fruit Fantasy Hat" that appears in the newly printed "Big-Hook Crochet" book, that person's name is ...

... Robin Andersen!  Congratulations Robin! (Robin, please email me with your mailing address!)  Thank you again to all my Guest Bloggers!!  :)

By the way, for those interested in getting this new book, or the "Hooks Only Crochet," or "From Knit to Crochet," these books that regularly sell for $20-$25 each are on sale for $7.95 at
AnniesAttic. If you use this link and spend over $20, you'll get a free vinyl bag with your purchase.  They have a lot of other fantastic books on sale, but since the "Big Hook Crochet" and "Hooks Only Crochet" are hot off the press -- this is an unbelievably great deal!

So ... later this week I'll be discussing my love affair with my UPS driver ...  I hear him driving up the road as I type ...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Guest Blogger: Lori

We crocheters often speak about favorite stitches, hooks and patterns we like, sharing with fellow fiberholics the joy and satisfaction we get from creating artistic and unique projects month after month. The topic we don't usually address is the reason that crochet is part of our everyday thinking, a connection to a craft that becomes part of who we are.

I had an Irish grandmother who crocheted beautiful doilies and lace items with the tiniest of hooks and I remember her creating year after year. 
I looked at the lace and thought "I am not genetically able to do that so I'll go a Hooked: A Crocheter's Stash of Wit and Wisdomsimpler route" when I was a young adult.

What I have realized over the last few years specifically, is that crocheting became an OASIS for me, a place I can create a peaceful space for myself in the tornado of life as it were. Many life events have shaken me but I was able to cope much better because I have the positive of crochet to keep me going. I found a community of women who were unlike others because they shared the same respect and enthusiasm for the craft as I did. I found myself among the smartest, funiest, most caring and supportive people I have ever met...AND THEY LOVE TO CROCHET (what a bonus).  Naturally, I must mention my teacher, Dee, the uber blogger and First Lady of crochet, as being an incredible inspiration (and occasional pain in the behind) in so many ways. Feeling a part of a community that shared your passion and commitment is a priviledge all around for which I am grateful every day.

By the way, my favorite stitch may be the CRAZY STITCH at this point.

(Note From Dee: Lori, I love that you think of me as a source of inspiration and as an occasional pain, lol.  I greatly enjoy our time together too!  Of course you KNOW, even with all this flattery, I'm still going to want to see you model that finished [hint hint] "Doris Chan" piece next week!  {grins})

Friday, April 20, 2007

Guest Blogger: Robin

My favorite crochet stitch is the single crochet. It wasn't the first one I was taught. My older sister taught me how to chain and make a double crochet before I ever made a single crochet.Single Crochet For Beginners I figured out the single crochet with a lot of practice and one of those ancient "How to" books from Coats and Clarks. The single crochet stitch doesn't get that much attention. Generally the "fancier stitches" (shells, bobbles) are made from double crochet. I will agree with anyone if they say double crochet (or half double or treble) works up quicker and is very nice. All those stitches are great in their particular place and I do use those stitches frequently. but I like to create toys. That's why the single crochet stitch works so well for me.

My current interest is amigurumi patterns. Amigurumi is a Japanese crochet style. My sons, who took Japanese, say it very roughly translates in to "cute cute". I have to take their word for it. But I love the slightly oversize heads and the bright colors of these patterns. There are several websites for the patterns in English (, Mr. Funky's Super Crochet Wonderfuland they have excellent patterns. You can also purchase pattern bookis in Japanese on Ebay. They do have clear diagrams that illustrate the pattern. You don't have to be able to read Japanese to create the pattern if you can follow the diagrams provided.

My current toy interest has culminated in making 2 bees from a Roxycraft pattern. I didn't make them traditional bee colors and I also change the way the wings were attached. I think Roxycraft's is cuter, but I like mine just fine. I gave them to my two greatnephews (my neice's sons) for Easter and they loved them. I have enclosed my blog address so you can get a look at these bees for yourself.

Robin Andersen

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Guest Blogger: Jennifer

My Favorite Stitch!
Well, when Dee asked this question, I did not have to think too hard on the subject. I am such a basic person, and really tend to create simple things, but the one stitch that immediately came to my mind is the Triple V Picot Pattern that I found in my Encyclopedia of Crochet by Donna Kooler. (Page 151)
Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet
This grouping of stitches are such a transition from what I normally do….your basic sc or hdc! I love the lacey look of it and decided to use it to create a beautiful lime green sweater and rhinestone belt. It is definitely one of my most favorite creations!!! It was difficult to understand at first, and I was very thankful for the graph, but I eventually got the hang of it!! But I do have to admit that I still have some trouble with remembering which part of the pattern to end or begin a row with, so I have to keep my book handy when crocheting this sweater, LOL! But I am pleased to say that I believe I have mastered it!!

As for passing this stitch onto others, I am tickled to announce that Leisure Arts is purchasing the rights to this beautiful pattern and you will soon be able to crochet your own! I am so excited about this amazing opportunity!

You can see more of my creations on my website, . Here you will find links on where to purchase my finished products as well as a few of my patterns. I also blog at .

Thanks Dee for letting me share!

(Note from Dee: Jennifer included with her blog entry here a most fantastic photo of this pattern that features the Triple V Picot stitch, but it cannot be posted until after Leisure Arts publishes Jennifer's pattern. I assure you, it's well worth the wait!! Congratulations Jennifer!)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Guest Blogger: Haley

I learned my favorite stitch from my dear friend and master crochet teacher - Mrs. Dee herself! My southern heritage is rooted in a family of crafters - crocheting, quilting, tatting - historically more for neccessity than for hobby. My great-grandmother, Mama Lee, taught me to crochet when I was 9 years old. I quickly learned how to chain and single crochet but every time I tried to make a doll blanket, the work would curl. I would become very frustrated but Mama Lee would patiently and easily turn the mess into a hat by stitching up a seam in the back. I soon tired of making "hats" and turned to other craft hobbies through my teens and 20's.

When I was in the "nesting" phase of my second pregnancy, I decided to try crochet again. I'm not sure how I thought I would have any time to dedicate to learning with soon to be 2 small children at home but we all know logic and pregnancy don't always go hand-in-hand!! I began searching for a class to take and found Dee at my local yarn shop. She showed me in 2 minutes what I had been doing wrong and from then I was off and running!

Bushy Stitch featured in 1st printing only! I continued to take classes with Dee and during one of our new stitch classes, she taught us the bushy stitch. I just loved the delicate lacy appearance and the fact that the stitch forms its own border as you go along. Great - a short-cut! That would come in handy since I had just 3 months before the baby was born and a 2 year old at home that didn't understand mommy's new hobby! Not knowing if the baby was a boy or a girl, I chose a nice yellow yarn and set out to make a baby blanket. My work progressed slowly - so slowly at one point my husband joked that the baby would just have to settle for a scarf! I kept plugging along mostly at night, working through/over mistakes (I made peace with the fact that the baby wouldn't mind!) until I was finally satisfied with mywork. Although it seemed a little smaller than I had originally planned, I had created a beautiful blanket for my baby! And best of all, it was a perfect rectangle - no curling at all!!

When our daughter was born, the nurses allowed me to use her new blanket to keep her warm in her bassinet. I loved knowing she was "blanketed" in love. I couldn't help but feel that somehow she was connected to generations past - that my Mama Lee was watching over her too.

We continued to use the blanket until she outgrew it. The size ended up being perfect for her infant seat - long enough to tuck around her but not too long that it was bulky. I now have the blanket safely tucked away in her keepsake box, waiting for the day it can be passed on to another generation.

I have not taught the bushy stitch to anyone else yet. I seem to have dedicated it to my daughter in my mind so hopefully one day I will have the pleasure of teaching it to her. She already shows interest in learning to crochet and she is only 3. But then she did spend her first 2 years of life going to crochet class with mom!

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!
With hooks flying, Haley

(Note from Dee: A reminder: The Bushy stitch is featured in the first printing of the Crochet Stitch Bible. In each printing since, the Large Shells Stitch replaces it.  The publisher is aware of the change but states they do not know why it was replaced; this is the only change in the book that I am aware of.  If you'd like to try the Bushy Stitch, give my Preemie Blanket  pattern a try, the pattern is free and is featured on my website.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Guest Blogger: Laura

I had recently moved and found I had time on my hands. One day when I was exploring my new town I went to a used book store and found an old crochet book. It was something like fifty-cents so I bought it.
Learn to Bead Crochet by Nancy Nehring
When I got home I found a box I had packed of my grandmother's belongings. She used to make beautiful doilys. I found one of her hooks and some old string and set to teaching myself how to crochet. At first my stitches looked nothing like hers, but I kept at it.

Two years ago, with my tax refund check, I splurged by buying myself a laptop. Once I connected to the Internet I was amazed with how much information I could find about crochet! One day I stumbled upon Dee's website, which back then had something like 80 types of crochet listed, and decided I wanted to learn them all! I don't know if Dee remembers me, or all the questions I asked her about bead crochet, but I was delighted she took the time to answer.

Today, I'm totally hooked on crocheting, especially with beads.  Some day I hope to pass on my love for it to others.  Perhaps Dee is right, writing about it might inspire someone else to try it.  I hope so!  Laura of UT

Monday, April 16, 2007

Guest Blogger: Karen

First of all I surely hope that I'm doing this right! I've never blogged! So if it's wrong, I'm so sorry! My favorite stitch is simple, but I really like it - it's the shell stitch. I learned it from a pattern, I mostly have taught myself to crochet (perhaps this is why I'm not so good at some things!), 280 Crochet Shell Patterns by Darla Simsso I think that this was the first stitch that I learned except for sc and dc and chain of course!

My grandmother tried to teach me to crochet when I was small, she made doilies using thread. I just couldn't get the hang of thread (and still can't), but when I tried yarn, I found I could do it and LOVED to crochet. I really just like the way that the shell stitch looks, it's really pretty simple, but can look elegant. I also like crocheting when I don't have to do alot of counting, etc. And the shell I can just do and not have to think too much about!

I love using it in baby afghans, they are quick and easy, and every time I find out someone is pregnant I usually start up a shell stitch baby afghan for them. As for how I've shared this stitch, I'm sad to say that I haven't shared it with anyone - not to teach them.

So, today my daughter and I are going to sit down and I'm going to teach it to her. She can chain and sc and dc and now it's time for her to learn a new one! So I'm glad that I saw this blog, it's going to give my daughter a new stitch. Gee, thanks for the chance to run my mouth a little bit, this was really fun! Thanks, Karen

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Blog for Dee!

It's vacation time for my children, so I too, have decided to join them in some major goofing off. This does not mean there will be no new entries here at CrochetingWithDee -- nope! Not in the least bit!  I am asking YOU to blog for me! 

This week, I'm asking you to write an entry about your most favorite crochet stitch!  For ideas in your writing, consider answering the following questions:

  • Did you figure the stitch out on your own, learn it from a pattern, or was it taught to you by someone you think fondly of?
  • Was it easy to learn, or difficult?
  • If it was difficult, how did you feel about it once you mastered it?
  • How have you used that stitch since first learning it?
  • And have you passed on your fondness for it to others?

  • Write your entry of at least 250 words (it can be longer), positive in theme, and email it to me midnight (eastern time) by Saturday, April 21st, 2007.  If you have links to projects that feature that stitch, send me those too and I'll include them when I post your entry here.  If you have a blog, or website, include those links too.  If you don't have a blog or website, then think of this an an opportunity to try blogging out!  You never know, your entry may inspire someone to try YOUR favorite crochet stitch!

    In return for blogging for me this week, your name will be placed into a crocheted bowl where a random winner will be drawn.  Want to know what you're blogging for?  A chance to win the very hat I designed & crocheted for the "Fruit Fantasy Hat" that appears in the "Big Hook Crochet" book!

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    Saturday, April 14, 2007

    A Phone Conversation With Auntie ...

    "Hello honey, it's me, your Auntie," she cheerly stated when I answered my cell phone.  I smiled; I knew why she was calling.

    "I received a bright yellow box yesterday from a very nice young man," she cooed. That would be the DHL guy delivering my package addressed to "The World's Greatest Aunt;" it's amazing those delivery people knew exactly who she was!  {{VBG}}

    "I couldn't wait to see what was inside the box," she continued, "so I opened it immediately!  Ohhhhhhhh honey, (note: she's the only one I allow to call me "honey" on a regular basis) your work is so beautiful!"

    She received the black hat & scarf set created with designer yarns she had picked out, along with an additional red hat that worked up so beautifully with Berroco's Cotton Twist.  All three pieces were designed especially for her.  These were in place of the crazy afghan I had initially started for her some months back.  The afghan got sidelined the day I took her to the Wool Connection during their Going Out of Business sale: holding up some beautiful fibers, she expressed a desire for me to design a special hat & scarf set for her.  So like the good niece that I am, I did.

    "I can't wait to show these to the girls," she went on.  "I know they'll be ooohhhing and aaahhhhing over your work too."  I was delighted she liked her gifts, and thanked her for her compliments. 

    "Oh honey,"  I want you to come and teach the girls how to crochet.  Will you? I want us to learn how to crochet little hats for babies."

    I told her I can arrange to come visit her to teach her and her friends how to crochet.  She got even more excited, "Really, honey? You'd do that for me?"

    Of course I would. After all, she is the World's Greatest Aunt. And what better way is there to celebrate her 80th birthday than to host a crochet party with all her friends? :) 
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    Friday, April 13, 2007

    Did Ewe Know: Sheep Not Immune to Crime Spree

    Did Ewe Know?

    Scientists are learning how animals have changed their behaviors to make their lives easier. The crows in urban Japan will drop nuts in the cross walks of busy street lights, await for cars to run the nuts over (thus cracking the hard shell), then waiting for the traffic light to turn red (to stop the traffic) so they can safely fly down and scoop up the cracked nuts.

    Apparently, this is also true with sheep.  They have discovered a way to "sheepishly" hurdle themselves through fences in order to raid local village gardens.  As reported by the bbc, the sheep have taught themselves how to roll over, and through, the metal cattle guards, and once the sheep have it in their mind to go baaaaaad, there is little that can be done to stop them.  The sheep reportedly don't scare easy, and often times will win in the game of "chicken" when crossing roads.  The bbc states, "Several drivers have had to swerve to avoid hitting the animals and damaged their cars or been given a terrible shock."

    The National Sheep Association states, "Sheep are quite intelligent creatures and have more brainpower than people are willing to give them credit for."  This gives new meaning for when good wool goes bad.

    If you are viewing this entry through a feed, please note that the background is black and the text is white.  Visit Dee's Blog to properly view the entry. 

    Wednesday, April 11, 2007

    Question From Reader: Locker Crochet Hooks

    Hi Dee,
    You mentioned a locker hook in one of your blog entries. Can you tell me what that is? I am a new crocheter and have started collecting hooks.
    Thanks, Mary

    Hi Mary,
    What a great question! As you know from reading my blog, I have been hooked (pardon the pun) on the Amazing Needle for the past couple of weeks, and this has lead me to the discovery of the locker hook which can be used for the Amazing Needle technique.

    I think of Locker Crochet as a hybrid technique because it borrows characteristics from crochet, latch hooking, needlepoint and rug punch to create durable items like rugs, hotpads and purses. In America, the technique is best known as "anchored loop" whereas in Australia it's known as "Locker Hooking." The technique involves interlocking loops with the specialty crochet hook that has a large needle eye on the other end. The hook grabs the material through a canvas and is then slid off the back end onto yarn or thread that is used to lock the stitches in place.

    TheYouTube video below is a great introduction to the technique. Of course I'm already thinking that the canvas could be replaced with one that was entirely crocheted ...

    For finding Locker Hooks to add to your collection, I purchased one made of bone from There is not much listed on ebay yet, but I did find a couple available on Amazon. A search on the Internet may net you more results.
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    Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    Everything I've Learned about Knitting

    I am learning so much about knitting with my crochet hook!  Yesterday, after helping Margaret figure out how to post her YouTube video to her blog I sat and watched it over and over again.  At first I thought it would be great to learn it and use it with the Tunisian technique, perhaps eliminating that "starters curl" that happens so often.  But then I thought, why do Tunisian when I could crochet my knitted stitches? 

    So I got out my "amazing crochet hook" and tried Margaret's Italian Cast-On technique.  I did it!  I learned how to cast on, Italian style, and set to work practicing my knit and purl stitches!

    Then, since I was using Lion Brand's "MicroSpun," a fiber notoriously known for it's softness and it's splitting properties, I was forced to A. rip out all my work and begin again, or B. to learn how to frog individual *knitted* stitches and then pick them back up again.   I am proud of myself; I learned how to frog individual knitted stitches and how to pick them back up again.

    Are the end results farse knitting, such as the results from Tunisian?  No!  Per my conversation with Andrea of, who sells the hook, the end results are true knitted stitches!  So, in fact, I am knitting.  Only I'm doing it with my crochet hook.  And better yet, I'm enjoying it!  And that's what it's all about, isn't it?  Enjoying the process as well as the end results?  :)

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    Monday, April 9, 2007

    Q: How Does One Start A Flea Market?

    Holidays are great because its an opportunity to visit with friends & family you may not have seen for awhile.  Yesterday we visited with my husband's family.  They're such a passionate group, that you never know what they'll share with you next.

    Mr. Dee thought it would be fun to bring all the books my crochet work has been featured in (check out the left hand column of my so see just some of them), and Dee Jr. decided to wear the sweater I recently designed for him.  I was honored to be a part of their "show & tell."  Mini~Dee wore a necklace & bracelet set she created to "exclusively" go with the outfit she was wearing -- she looked like a million bucks!  :)

    While they had fun showing their various crochet theme items off, my future sister-in-law thanked me repeatedly for the scarf & hat I gave her at Christmas time.  "Everytime, I wear them, I always get compliments," she said.  "And they kept me quite warm too!"  I was happy that she was enjoying the set so much.

    Then one of my brother-in-laws said, "Dee, ever since you asked me to keep my eyes open at local flea markets for crochet hooks, I've been doing just that."  He smiled.  With that smile I knew he had found a treasure -- a real treasure.  He pulled from his pocket the following:

    Did your mouth pop open in looking at this beauty?  Mine did.  "Whoa!" I exclaimed, "what a beauty!" 

    He handed it to me to inspect closer.  I looked at the head, the throat, the elongated neck.  I placed my fingers around it's body and felt how wonderfully balanced it felt.  I noted the three rings.  "Oh, this is an incredible find," I repeated over and over.

    "I got it for eight bucks."

    "No way!" I said disbelieving.

    "Yeah, the guy wanted ten, and I countered with eight.  I got it at a local flea market I frequent often."

    "Whoa..." was all I could reply.  Thankfully I had the camera near by and snapped a few pictures. 

    He's saving it for his wife who has a renewed interest in learning how to crochet.  I'm thinking I need to go to flea markets more often.  :)

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    Friday, April 6, 2007

    Finding Inspiration

    The other day cathcrochet asked: "I love going to the fiber festivals and diving into luscious fibers. I find yarn that I love, purchase it, and then go in search of a pattern. Isn't this backwards? I struggle trying to find a pattern that will use this yarn I have purchased."

    And then yesterday, after teaching my crochet class, a customer asked me, "Do you think it's odd that I drive all the way from Long Island to purchase yarn for my stash and then search for just the right pattern?"

    My answer is No.  I don't think of it as backwards or as odd that people, such as img from LollyKnit on Flickr.commyself, do this.  I like to think of it in this perspective:  A artist goes on vacation, takes lots of notes and photographs of places that inspire.  Then visits various museums and art galleries for more inspiration.  And then spends time collecting various materials for the next project.  Those materials may sit for a day, a week, a month, a year. Perhaps more.  But when that creative "must do it right now!" inspiration hits, that artist knows they have all the materials within reach.  There will be no stopping the drive to create because all the materials will be awaiting.

    One of the designers I am mentoring (as part of the CGOA Professional Mentorship program) asked me about procrastination.  I admit I suffer from procrastination from time to time, but I don't think about it as procrastination.  Rather, I think of it as time to "let the creative juices simmer."  To prepare to change the procrastination phase into the action phase,  I'll clean my work space, make a great cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate, light a scented candle and then hold a particular yarn in my hands.  I'll rub a strand of a particular fiber between my fingers; I'll look at the texture; look at the color.  I give the fiber time to "talk to me" about what it wants to become.  If it doesn't answer me within a few minutes, then I know it's not ready.  I move on to another fiber, and another until one speaks up.  (*During this time it's also important to keep your ears open as a fiber hidden in the back of your "yarn collection" may be trying to get your attention too!)

    This is why it's important to have a yarn stash.  So when that moment of inspiration hits, you can quietly sit with the fiber and inquire, "Are you the one?"  If it answers back affirmatively, then you're in for a wonderfully creative time.

    As for buying enough fiber for some future project, I know that's hard to do.  This is why I strongly encourage buying just one skein of an intended fiber first.  Swatch it up and see if you liked the way it felt as you created each stitch; as it looks worked up in stitches -- and don't forget to beat the living dickens out of that swatch!  Doing so will tell you about the wear.  If the fiber meets your standards, then by all means, go out and enhance that stash to your heart's content!  If it doesn't, then you've just prevented a "wet dog" from taking residence in your yarn stash. 

    For those new to the concept of having a yarn stash, you know, it's not much different from visiting a clothing shop and purchasing a great outfit just because you like it -- then waiting for the right event to wear it to -- and then running out to find the perfect matching shoes.  I know you know what I'm saying here!  We've all done it one time or another!  LOL ;)

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    Wednesday, April 4, 2007

    Excited to go "MAD"

    Who knew that spending six hours in Maire Treanor's "Irish Clones Lace" classes, what, nearly six years ago?, would lead to excitement about going "MAD"?

    I'm talking about my doily pictured here on the right.  After attending Maire's classes I spent the next two weeks, a total of 75 hours, completing this piece.  I then rushed up to West Springfield, MA, and submitted it as my first piece in their judging competition.  It won a Red Ribbon.  I was thrilled.

    Then, awhile later, I was asked to submit it to the Lacis Museum in California for an exhibit they were doing.  I was again thrilled.

    Today, I shipped it off NYC ... to MAD to be exact.  MAD is short for the "
    Museum of Arts & Design."  My work will be part of a demonstration being offered by Barbara Hillery Van Elsen, Fiber Artist & Founder of the NYC Crochet Guild, on Thursday, April 12th.  The demonstration is entitled, "Non-Conformist Crochet" and promises to be an exciting evening as she "... demonstrate[s] and examine[s] the origins and techniques of freeform and freeform lace, and compare[s] examples of pieces done by a variety of freeform artists." 

    I am planning on attending in person, and I'm also looking forward to seeing the "Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting" exhibit while I'm there -- everyone has been raving about it, and what I've seen in the MAD catalog, it's well worth checking out!  So a week from tomorrow I'll be going MAD -- and enjoying every minute of it!  I can hardly contain my excitement!!  :D

    Tuesday, April 3, 2007

    The Fun, the Fiber, & the Friendships

    I received my confirmation for the summer CGOA Conference yesterday; I'm so excited!  This will be my fourth Conference and I'm really looking forward to the fun, the fiber, and seeing friends again!  

    Last year it was all about the Lacy Leaf Cocoon pattern that was featured in the
    Spring 2006 Issue of Interweave Crochet. (Even I wore the Lacy Leaf Cocoon that later won a Blue Ribbon at a local fair when I combined it with a matching tank top!) This year I think will be a 'Doris Chan' Conference with many attendees wearing items they've crocheted from her book,  Amazing Crochet Lace. I know many members from my Chapter, like Priscilla, have been working on projects, as well as students in my Westport crochet classes.  It will be interesting to see how many "Chan Spottings" there will be!  Of course it will also be a lot of fun spending time with Doris and many other wonderful people!  :D

    In the meantime, I have some designing to do.  Both children will be in the Fashion Show and this means Mini~Dee needs something special to wear "to the ball."  I also signed up to donate a bag for the auction which will raise money for the Helping Hands Foundation.

    Counting down: 97 days.  Yes, I'm really looking forward to the Fun, the Fiber, & the Friendships.
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    Monday, April 2, 2007

    It Pains Me ...

    A few weeks ago Mr. Dee told me one about one of his co-workers who was diagnosed with cancer.  She already started treatment, and has started losing her hair.  To combat the hair loss, she had her beautiful blond locks cut real short.

    I asked him to inquire what her favorite colors are, but not to hint as to why.  She said purple and blue.  I went to my stash, took out a ball of the now coveted "Marlene" fibers (they've been discontinued), grabbed my crochet hook and set to work.  When I was done I held an incredibly soft hat with wisps of fibers and a hint of gold.  I wrapped the hat in tissue paper and requested he deliver it to his co-worker.

    He called me later that afternoon to tell me of her delight in receiving the chemo hat.  Tell her, I reminded him, that it's full of positive thoughts and the the gold in the fiber resembles the sparkle of her eyes.  He did.

    This morning he called me from work to say she told him that she wore her new Chemo Hat all weekend long and loved it.  In fact, she had also worn it to her Chemo treatment on Friday and received many compliments.  While I am delighted that she loves the hat, and that she received so many compliments with it, it pains me that we still need them.  I look forward to the day when NO more chemo hats will ever be needed again! 

    ~ . ~ . ~

    We're coming up on the first year since loosing my Aunt Josephine, and losing blogger Pamela Hilger of JustOneGirlsHeadNoise; she touched so many lives!  Pamela's blog is still there, but the pictures have been removed.  I don't know how much longer the blog will remain, but people, like myself, are still stopping by.  Some still leaving messages for her, and for her grieving family. 

    The followingis from an entry Pamela wrote one day after she went for a Chemo treatment.  The hat she references is one I crocheted especially for her with the same "Marlene" yarn ...

    "most days the patients sit chatting quietly with each another .. yesterday morning there was a woman and her husband there i had seen on several occasions .. she was always quiet, never making a fuss .. just sitting there in those sexy hospital gowns in a hat on that reminded me of Gilligan's Island
    Pamela Hilger
    "i pulled my chair closer to hers and inquired, polietly, about her condition .. although her husband tried to interject on several occasions (to save his wife the effort of breathing i suppose) i really DID want to talk to her, to her hear side of her story .. pretty soon her gracious husband "got it" and was content to sit back and listen .. then i asked if her Gilligans hat held any sentimemtal significance .. she shook her head no

    "i pulled my hand crocheted chemo cap from my head (i was wearing my black and green one) and then i asked her if she'd noticed my chemo cap that was crocheted by a friend of mine .. she ran her hand over the cap, exclaimed how soft it was .. i encouraged her to put it on so we could see what it looked like .. and she looked like a queen .. a chemo cap fit for a queen .. just about that time my technician came to fetch me and i told her to keep the cap, it looks like it was made just for her and she looks beautiful

    "and tomorrow i know when i see my new friend, she'll have a smile on her face and a beautiful new chemo cap on her head .. its amazing, even when you're at your sickest, just doing a little something to make you feel pretty sure does do a long way"

    Pamela, we miss you! 

    For those wishing to crochet chemo hats, I have a free pattern here.  Or if you'd rather sponsor a hat, you can do so for $35; contact me for details on how.  Profits are donated to the American Cancer Society.  Like I stated, I look forward to the day when NO more chemo hats will ever be needed again!

    Update: Those looking for the luscious Mondial "Marlene" yarn, check ebay

    Sunday, April 1, 2007

    What do Potatoes Have to Do With Crochet?

    I think my CGOA Chapter's Crochet Display turned out fabulous!  We divided the four shelves to represent 4 different categories:  Modern Twists, Laura & Rose (Ingalls), Irish Crochet (history), and Charity Works. 

    We learned from last year's display that our Charity Works draws the most onlookers when its on the bottom shelf: when we use dolls to show off preemie sets, or other items we donate, it draws young children.  This year, for the children a bit older, we added a bowl of potatoes.  Yes, that's right, a bowl of potatoes!

    When my husband first saw the pictures of the display, he was a little concerned;  "Won't the potatoes rot?" he asked.  Then a moment later (we all knew this question was coming!) he added, "...and what do potatoes have to do with crochet??"

    Ha!  With him asking those two questions I KNEW we did a great job on the display!  If he's asking those questions, so will others.  This means we created a display with curiosity, and with curiosity comes a history lesson!  Mission accomplished!!

    While I assured him the potatoes would not rot, and nor would they draw any critters to come munch in the library, our son, Dee Jr., provided him with the history lesson of what potatoes have to do with crochet.  "Dad," he answered, "the people were starving. Their potato crops were rotting so they had to learn how to crochet in order to make lace to sell to the wealthy people; otherwise they starved to death!" 

    Ha!  That's my boy!!  He was also proud to tell his Dad that the potatoes were made of panty hose. (Apparently making soft sculptures was big during the 1980s ... if you'd like to give it a try, there's a sewing pattern

    If you'd like to check out the display in person, visit the Bethel Library in Connecticut; the display will be up for the entire month of April!

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