Thursday, September 30, 2010

Question From Reader: the 411 on Lands End "FeelGood"

My aunt wants to send knitted squares for the blankets that you are making. She saw it on the CBS morning show. Where does she send them? Jackie

Dear Jackie,
How wonderful your Aunt will be participating in the Lands End Feel Good Campaign!  I know you said she wants to knit her squares, but if by chance she is a CGOA Member, she can have a cone of Lands End yarn sent directly to her by emailing erin.haasATlandsendDOTcom. Please note I do not know if they're making this offer to the Knitting Guild members. -- have her hurry as she needs to do this by tomorrow, 10/01/10.

If she doesn't need yarn, and would like to mail in her squares to Warm Up America for distribution, here is the shipping address and contact information:

Warm Up America
FeelGood Campaign
469 Hospital Dr. Ste E
Gastonia, NC 28054

She can also visit the CGOA's website and search for a Chapter near her, as I understand several, such as my Chapter, are participating in this charitable program.  Another option is to have her drop off her squares at a local craft or yarn store that is participating in the Warm Up America program.  If her LYS is not a participant, it doesn't hurt to ask the store manager/owner to consider getting involved.

For more information, please visit Land's end ( and Warm Up America! (

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Hip, Hip, Crochet!" on the CBS Early Show

At 3:00 AM I opened my eyes to find out if it was 4:00 AM.  Nope.  Back to sleep I went.  At 3:59 I opened my eyes again, beating the rooster-crowing alarm.  It must have been the anticipation of the day as I have no other explanation how this self-proclaimed night owl was able to wake so early in the morning!

By 5:00 AM, with coffee in hand, I had joined up with four other of my CGOA Chapter members -- we were going to New York City to help Brett Bara, host of the popular PBS show, Knit and Crochet Now!, launch The FeelGood Campaign on the CBS Early Show.

Lands End is donating 5,000 pounds of yarn to be crocheted & knitted into 7"x9" squares that will be assembled into afghans by Warm Up America volunteers.  The afghans are then donated to people in need.
The goodies I received,
& my two crochet hooks.
The goal: to get as many crocheters & knitters involved as possible to help make the 64,000 squares.  (Or as my Chapter member Jennifer says, rectangles.) 

We arrived at the General Motors building in plenty of time.  Lands End was giving participants a super soft scarf that retails for $39.50.  We were then directed to select a cake of yarn (yarn wound into a "flat" ball; see picture), and to begin crocheting & knitting squares while standing in the CBS Early Show plaza.  For the first 20 people to finish a square, they received a special Lands End tote -- I was one of the lucky 20.  In fact, during the entire 2-hour taping, I managed to whip out 3 squares for the cause!  :)
Brett Bara & some of the many squares
crocheted & knitted during the taping.

What was the Lands End yarn like?  It was every bit of soft as they claimed.  However, the yarn does not have a lot of twist to it so it is much like using Lion Brand's Micro-Spun yarn.  My specialized "Maestro" Graydog crochet hook, size "J," worked beautifully with the Lands End yarn.  My beautiful "Apple" hook, by Brainsbarn, size I, did a great job too. (In the picture to the right, Brett is holding up one of the squares I completed during the taping!)
CBS Weatherman, David Price
with Zippy's afghan.

One of the funniest moments during the taping was when the weatherman, Dave Price, came over to our area and noticed our newest member, Zippy, working on an afghan.  He asked if he could borrow it, placed it around his neck like a large scarf and said "Hip, Hip, Crochet!" while proceeding to give the daily forecast.  The funny part was that the afghan was still connected to the yarn in Zippy's hand!  She had to keep "feeding" him yarn as he walked the plaza during the taping (see Dave on the left).

After the taping was done, we were invited for a tour of the CBS studio.  Very cool indeed!

It was then time for us to head to the Lion Brand Store, but I think I'll save that story for another time.  It was a very long -- and fun -- day  today and I need some rest.  :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chester, Barbara, Susan, Zephr - All in the Family?

I love living in Connecticut. I love the rolling hills; the various sized cities and towns; and the history -- especially when it it is tied into my crochet world. I also love eBay.

One of my eBay finds arrived today. It is a an antique Susan Bates crochet hook, still in the original packaging.  It is known as a Clipson crochet hook.

On the bottom, it reads:

"C. J. Bates & Son, Inc. Chester, Conn. 06412
Made in U.S.A. Manufacturers Since 1873"

According to the papers turned over to the Dodd Center at UConn, C.J. Bates was Carlton J. Bates, born in 1848.  He founded the company in 1907 at age 59.  However, if we use the date on the crochet hook packaging, C.J. technically was producing manicure sets, crochet hooks, and knitting needles since he was 25!

In the early years of manufacturing, the name Chester was stamped upon the products, such as the crochet hook pictured below (I acquired it in 2008).  The manufacturing company was located on a 17-acre site in  Chester, Connecticut, until they discovered that the sludge waste stored in a lagoon was contaminating the groundwater.

Based upon a discussion on Crochetville, the Chester brand name was changed to Barbara Bates, and then Susan Bates sometime in the 1940s (after the passing of C.J. Bates in 1941).  In another online group discussion, is it said the name was changed from Chester to Zephr. Based upon an exchange I had with Jean Leinhauser, the Susan Bates name change happened in the 1930s.  The only evidence I have is what is before me ... a hook and its' packaging -- so I know the link between Chester and Susan Bates is solid. 

To further the discussion of Chester/Susan Bates hooks, you might find these links interesting: The Hook Lady's blog post: has some great pictures of more Chester/Susan Bates  hooks for me to add to my collection. (She's such an enabler! lol)   And, she has a great picture showing vintage & modern Susan Bates crochet hooks here:

Is this Susan Bates?

 Today Susan Bates is part of the Coats and Clark Company.   If you know more about the history of the Chester/Susan Bates crochet hook, I'd love to hear from you!  :)

Edited to add:  After reading this blog post, HHCC President Grace emailed me this evening stating, "'Marcia Lynn' is also a line of hooks & needles made by CJ Bates out of Chester Ct, not sure how this line fits into their history"

It seems CJ may have been very busy in the naming of his crochet hooks.  ;)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Winning At The Big E

I love attending the Eastern States Exposition Fair held in West Springfield, Massachusetts. It is the ninth largest state fair in the United States. I've been attending since the late 1980s, and never tire of it.

I was there yesterday with my family, and with my CGOA Chapter, The Happily Hooked on Crocheting Club. We had a booth in the New England State building to promote crochet. Here are some of the highlights, in no particular order:
  • The father of a childhood friend sought me out to say "Hi."  It was so nice to see him!  He dialed my friend's number and let me say hello to her; she just recently moved back to Florida. It was good to chat with her.
  • I got to meet some of my blog fans like Firemanshunny.
  • I screamed. Rather proudly.  My Mini~Dee won "Best in Division" for her crocheted shawl in the Junior Division.
  • I got to line dance on stage with the Connecticut Line Dancers.
  • I won some prizes for my crochet entries -- I won't know what prizes until after the Fair when I pick up the entries.
  • I helped my Chapter put on its First Ever Crochet Fashion Show featuring the shawls from the Fiddler production back in April. 
  • I got to meet a crocheter from Bethel, Connecticut, who specializes in miniature crochet; she showed me pictures of crocheted doilies she made that are about the size of a US dime!!!
There was so much to see & do yesterday!  SOooo much fun!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Miracles, Saints, and ... ????

Ah, there I am, hard at work at my new desk; correctly spelling out my name and letting the ink dry.

I love to joke with my crochet students that the United States Postal Service likes to recognize me as a saint, as in "St. Anziano," (much as they did for Santa in the movie Miracle on 34th Street) but for me it isn't true.  It is just a typo.  I might have the patience of a saint, but I am not a saint-- yet. LOL

Miracle on 34th Street
What am I doing in this picture on the left?  It is a moment captured in my personal history, documenting that I am at the very first stage of fulfilling what you, my crochet fans & students have been asking for for ages -- and it is something that has been on my Bucket List for a very, very long time.  Can you guess?

I cannot give any other details other than, well, that this is way cool!  (Feel free to speculate.) What I can say, quite loudly and excitedly, is this: "Whoohoo!!!!!"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Brain Mush; aka. Wee-Hour Inspiration

There comes a time, and usually -- sometimes unfortunately -- that time comes in the wee hours of the morning.  It is the time when I should be asleep instead of being awoken with a  moment of inspiration -- one so powerful -- I am driven to leave the comfort of my bed to head to the sofa, grab a fresh skein of yarn, and a crochet hook to quietly begin crocheting the project I see in my brain. 

If I'm lucky, maybe 15 minutes of stitching is enough to quiet those creative juices from flowing; then I can quickly return to dream land.  But sometimes some of these wee-hour inspirations demand much. more. time.

To get around that, I had decided that this time I would sketch my idea out, write a bunch of notes, including what stitches are to go where, increases, decreases, and so on.  That seemed to work.  Or so I thought.  I found myself re-awake at 6:00 AM, excited to get the project started!  What?!  No coffee first?!  Nope.  There I was.  Awake.  Stitching. Stitching. Stitching.  Now I'm on the final rows....

Hours later my children awoke from their peaceful slumber, looked at the project and asked, "What on Earth is that!!??"  What can I say, it's one of those wee-hour inspirations; LOL.  I don't think any further explanation should be required.

Now I'm on the last leg of the project, and I'm still not sure if it will work out exactly as my imagination has it pictured ("some assembly required" seems to have been omitted from my notes!).  I'm already thinking of creating another; this time taking more notes and using another yarn & hook for results closer to what I had imagined.

Has this ever happen to you?  At the moment my brain is mush thanks to sleep deprivation.  I'm going to have to reread Mary Beth Temple's Hooked for Life: Adventures of a Crochet Zealot, to see what insight she has for this phenomenon.  For now, I'm off to get that cup of coffee, and to finish those last few rows...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Owning a Piece of Grammie

On Wednesday, as I was driving to our local "Coffee, Crochet & Chat" session, held at Borders in Danbury, Connecticut, I saw a pretty new vehicle -- in the color of burnt orange. Hmmmm. Didn't I just days prior see one in avacado green and think that was pretty too?? Now I'm thinking, whoa! Wait a minute! Burnt Orange?! Avocado Green?! Are those not the two main colors from the 1970s we've been avoiding like the plague ever since? ... have you noticed these two colors creeping boldly into today's yarn lines???

Aside from mixing these two colors together, many crocheters tend to shy away from the Granny Square. And the reason is because it seems everyone, especially the Press, associates crochet with being *JUST* granny squares. Of course, we crocheters know crochet is much, much more than that!!

With thoughts of crochet's yesteryear, I decided to bring in for Show-N-Tell something my cousin Kim recently gifted to me. It was a little "sample" of granny squares crocheted by my Grammie Gloria back in the 1970s! Kim's note read, "Gloria crocheted these squares back in the 1970s. The blanket was so HUGE when she gave it to me it was really NEVER used. Gloria said to "...give it to Goodwill." Now how could I do that after all the EFFORT? So I decided to share with you all -- so ... do with them as you like."

Kim had disassembled the huge afghan, divided it up, crocheted a boarder around each new section to create lap-ghans, then sent them to various family members. Now I'm the proud owner of actual crochet stitches lovingly made by my Grammie! (see picture to the right)

As I am not one who uses lap-ghans, I am thinking of one day disassembling it further to make two throw pillows for my bed. As they are shades of pink, I think they'll fit right in. Of course I'm not going to admit to it in public, but yes, I'm kindasorta still digging the colors from the 1980s (pinks & greens). -- If I wait long enough, maybe they'll come back into fashion like the burnt orange and avocado green from the 1970s. And granny squares never go out of style. After all, they're classics!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Great Commute

I moved! Whoot! Whoot! ... off the kitchen table! Funny how you invest in a really nice desk, have kids, and then find yourself looking for a new work location due to 4 precious words, "Mom! I have homework!!" For the past two years I have been working from the kitchen table.

Now, I know there is nothing wrong with working from the kitchen table, as many wonderful people do so! But I think it was more than time I attempt to recarve out a "professional space" to work from home at.

Naturally, when you live in a small home with three other people, it is much like living in New York City, or any other major metropolitan area -- real estate is at an all time premium. I hear what you're thinking, "But Dee, didn't you say your Dad is going to let you build a studio in his basement?" And the answer to that is yes. And he is working on it, trying to solve a water issue that appeared after some heavy rain storms this past spring. So, back to carving out a small workspace for me here ...

It turns out my local Target store was blowing out (i.e., had on clearance) some simple desks. Not too big, not too "heavy looking" ... I left the store without it. Then this past Sunday, after attending my local CGOA Chapter meeting, I stopped by Target again. And bought the desk.

Some may think it isn't such a big deal to move off a kitchen table to an actual work space, but for me, I'm looking forward to the commute. ;)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Crochet Classes @ The Village Sheep!

I am delighted to announce I will be teaching local crochet classes at The Village Sheep located in Washington Depot, Connecticut, this fall! To reserve your seat, please contact Maggie at 860.868.9276.

Please contact me if you have any questions about any class(es) you are interested in.


Crochet Cap: Crocheting-in-the-Round
Have you crocheted a circle that ended up looking like an ameba, or have it accidentally "cup?" In this class participants will work on crocheting a simple fall/winter hat while learning the rules of crocheting in the round. Participants should know the basics of crochet, such as foundation chains and single crochet stitches.
Skill Level: Easy/Intermediate
When: Thursday, September 30, 2010Time: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Cost: $25 plus supplies

Pattern will be provided to participants.

One-Piece Mittens
Learn to crochet perfect fitting mittens even the beginner crocheter can create! Perfect for gift-giving!
Skill Level: Easy
When: Saturday, October 9, 2010Time: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Cost: $25 plus supplies

Pattern formula will be provided to participants.

Beautiful Crochet Trims
Have you ever wondered how to add crochet trim to your knit work? Figuring out the hook size, and how many stitches will become a breeze after attending this class. Participants will need to bring with them at least 2 knitted (or crocheted) squares of at least 8" in size to practice on, as well as a variety of crochet hooks. Participants may bring with them any crochet trim pattern book they'd like to have help with.

Skill Level: Easy
When: Saturday, October 9, 2010Time: 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Cost: $25 plus supplies

Tumbling Cluster Scarf
What happens when crochet stitches are stacked and linked? It creates a very unique looking fabric with “soft & springy” stitches! In this class participants will learn the trick of linking clustered stitches to create a scarf both rich in texture and style!
Skill Level: Easy/Intermediate
When: Friday, October 22, 2010Time: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Cost: $25 plus supplies

Dee's popular "Tumbling Clusters Autumn Scarf" pattern will be provided to participants.

Crochet 101: The Absolute Beginner
Right handed? Left handed? More experienced as a knitter but need to know how to crochet in order to add those perfect touches to your projects? If you've answered yes, then this is the class for you! This class is designed with the absolute beginner in mind: learn how to properly start your work, the importance of the foundation chain, how to create the single crochet, how to count stitches, how to build on your work to create wonderful fabric, and how to properly end off. Everything you need to know to properly start your journey into the world of crochet!
Skill Level: Absolute Beginner
When: Tuesday, November 2, 2010Time: 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Cost: $25 plus supplies **student will need a how-to crochet book/booklet**

Crochet 101: The Absolute Beginner
Right handed? Left handed? More experienced as a knitter but need to know how to crochet in order to add those perfect touches to your projects? If you've answered yes, then this is the class for you! This class is designed with the absolute beginner in mind: learn how to properly start your work, the importance of the foundation chain, how to create the single crochet, how to count stitches, how to build on your work to create wonderful fabric, and how to properly end off. Everything you need to know to properly start your journey into the world of crochet!
Skill Level: Absolute Beginner
When: Sunday, November 7, 2010Time: 11:00 PM- 1:00 PM
Cost: $25 plus supplies **student will need a how-to crochet book/booklet**

Tunisian crochet is traditionally created with a long crochet hook. But what if you could make your stitches vertically rather than horizontally? We're talking about linking stitches together to create beautiful stitches on the fly for a solid fabric or for adding an interesting design accent to any work/pattern! NOTE: This class was sold out at the 2009 & 2010 CGOA Summer Conferences.
Skill Level: Intermediate/Advanced
When: Sunday, November 7, 2010Time: 2:00 PM- 4:00 PM
Cost: $30 plus supplies

Sunday, September 12, 2010

HHCC Chapter Love

We had a great Chapter meeting today. I want to thank Fluffy for volunteering to pull two names for the Creative Crochet Jewelry book give-away. Thank you to all who submitted their names for the drawing. The winners were Grace and Sandy. I'd also like to thank SoHo Publishing for making this give-away possible; it was a lot of fun to do!

Also at the meeting I gave away almost all of the 60 Scarves in 60 Days buttons I ordered to give to my Chapter members for participating in this Challenge. I can't believe the number of scarves already turned in! I think it is wonderful!

I took "Herbie the Amigurumi" to the meeting today too. I'm not sure who had more fun (LOL), the HHCC members sure had fun meeting him -- playing with his legs & hair!

Next month will be our Chapter's NINE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!! I love being a Chapter member and do hope everyone has an opportunty to belong to one. To learn more about CGOA Chapters, and/or to start your own, visit and let the fun begin!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Herbie the Amigurumi

Back in January 2005 I hinted that one day I might share Herbie, one of my very first original crochet designs -- ever! -- with you. It is hard to believe that A. it has been five years since I posted that, and B. that you all have the patients of a saint! ;)

What finally made me brush the cobwebs off my brain and bring Herbie back? I think nostalgia.

My children recently switched schools; they are now attending the same middle school I had attended as a youngster. I had a favorite teacher back then. His name was Mr. Kollar. He drove a much-loved blue VW "bug," and was a huge Yankee fan (in the time when the Yankees did not win very often!). Mr. Kollar helped bring me out of my shell; I went from being VERY shy, to gaining confidence to speak my mind.

At the end of that school year I gave Mr. Kollar a "Herbie." I recall he was surprised with my gift, and even inquired as to what it was. I told him it was my design, made by my hands; he seemed impressed. I told him it was my way of thanking him for a great year.

Recently some of my then-classmates posted some school pictures from those days (no, I'm not going to tell you who they are, or where to go looking so you can all go see at how geeky-looking I was back then! lol) -- and they also mentioned he is still teaching!! Although now he is teaching at the high school.

So, I'm thinking, wouldn't it be cool if next year my Mini~Dee has him as a teacher and SHE ends up also giving him a "Herbie" at the end of the school year? ((would he remember???)) For that, I'd love to be a fly on the wall! :)

Now you can crochet your own Herbies. They work up quick, and you can use your scrap yarns. Mini~Dee has given my Herbie her stamp of approval, stating "...they are fun to make, and work up quick!" (She made the orange one while she tested my pattern.) There you have it: Herbie: he is hard to resist befriending! :)

At the moment this pattern is only available for sale through

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"Crochet Anonymous"

When I visited my husband's work-place yesterday afternoon, some of his co-workers approached me stating, "Your work is so beautiful! Your husband brought some in to show us!"

He did?? Wow, how cool!

When I inquired with him, he confessed it is true! He has been smuggling my crochet projects out of the house to show off to his co-workers who were interested in seeing it!

If that's not enough proof to show how much of a crochet-supporter he is, consider this: When I volunteered him to assist the CrochetKween with a secret project at the CGOA Conference this past summer, he was game! ... The man can seemingly do it all: live with my yarn stash, speak enough crochet language to take crochet-dictation, can tell the difference between crochet and knit, proudly shows off my crochet projects, and now, will offer his acting skills for crochet videos. Even though he has of yet to pick up the hook and officially learn how to crochet, you gotta love him! :)

Bravo to all those who helped make this video, "Crochet Anonymous"; job well done!!! :)

And just what do Crochetaholics have to pledge at those meetings? It seems the 13-step program was anonymously emailed to me back in 2004:

With an enabler like Mr. Dee, I don't see myself going to a Crochetaholics Anonymous meeting anytime soon! LOL

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

7th Annual "60 Scarves in 60 Days Challenge!"

Today is the official kickoff of the "60 Scarves in 60 Days Challenge!" -- and it is the 7th Year I am challenging crocheters, knitters, and weavers to hand-create a scarf (or more!) to donate to a local charity!

I no longer hold the Challenge here on my blog as it has grown so much through the years! <-- I love that SOooo many people have taken up this Challenge, and many come back year after year!! If you are interested in joining us, please visit us here on Ravelry:

... and if you're interested in getting your own "60 Scarves in 60 Days" gear, please visit (coffee not included.)