Monday, January 31, 2005

Just One More...

I stayed up late last night stringing beads onto thread.  Usually this is a task that I give to the Bead Team to do, but they were tucked snugly in bed dreaming the night away.  I should have turned in, but you know how it is when you have a project on your mind ... just one more stitch, ok another, and another...  I was the same way with the beads last night.  Just one more bead, ok, another, and another...  And, as it turned out beading the hundreds of beads onto the thread wasn't that difficult after all because I did end up having some help:

Usually when I drive the 1.5 hours to go to Webs (the largest yarn store I've ever been in) I also stop at Beaders Paradise.  In Beaders Paradise they have a bead spinner made of wood that sells for about $70 -- I'm not ready for that kind of commitment, so I went to ebay and bought a plastic one for about $10 (including shipping).  Although that purchase was many, many months ago, I finally tried it out last night.

At first I totally sucked at getting the beads and the needle to cooperate together.  It was awkward to hold the beading needle and spin the doodad at the same time.  So I went back to my normal method of "stabbing" at the beads.  While this method does work, it's just slower (but still, let me add, stabbing at the beads is a quicker method than stringing them onto the thread one bead at a time!).

Then I decided to try something.  Risking a huge mess, I sat back on the couch and placed the doodad on my leg.  I tilted it slightly which gave me the ability to spin it slightly.  And sure enough, it started to work.  The beads started to climb up the needle!  This is going to make crocheting with beads a much more pleasurable experience!!

If you want to play around with one of these bead spinning doodads too, give ebay a visit and do a search for "Bead Spinner" -- presently someone has two listed for auction.  Just be sure to give yourself enough time to figure out how to operate the doodad!  :)

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Audio entry: Hats for Cancer

These three hats were
 crocheted for Cancer.
Listen to the audio that
goes with the image.

Q's & A's

I had pre-typed an entry for today and decided to "shelf" it for a later time as it pertained to me coming up with a creative idea to solve a problem (crochet related).  I decided to shelf it until I can tinker with it a bit more, get it the way I want, and then submit it for possible publication.  

I can see the results clearly ... in person (as I worked through the night, into the morning, to create a "rough version") and again I can see it in my mind as a revised item.   It's a matter of finishing a present crochet project that's currently on my hook  -- I'm crocheting some hats for a friend who's father is being treated for cancer. 

In the meantime, this the topic of "professional crocheter" keeps popping up on various lists, and in private emails to me, so I thought I'd share my thoughts a bit:

1.  How did you break into being published?
       I received a phone call from a book publisher who was told of my work.  She wanted to see a sample so I gave her my website address and told her to look at the (not so great) picture of the Sweet Baby Afghan Sampler I had won a Blue Ribbon for.  She was hooked and published the design for my afghan in the book "Blue Ribbon Afghans from America's State Fairs: 40 Prize-Winning Crocheted Designs"

2.  When can you consider yourself a professional designer?
     I was advised that once your first piece is sold, you're now a professional designer.  But I think that the key here is to not be a "one hit wonder."  That's why I enjoy being a member of the CGOA Professionals group -- you can learn so much there!

3.  How much are you paid per design?
     As I understand it, the pay scale depends upon the publication, the design, and how well established you are in the design world.  I'm still learning about this and have noticed an increase from the pay forthe first piece that I had published to the second piece which is in progress.

4.  Where do you get your inspiration from?
       I get it from an overactive imagination.  I see a fiber and let it "speak to me" or I'll see a problem and try to resolve it with something crochet related.

5.  How long have you been crocheting?
       It seems like I have been crocheting f-o-r-e-v-e-r since I've had a hook in my hand since I was a young child.  Perhaps one of these days I'll surprise all of you with an image of one of my very first original designs.  I call it "Herbie."  Sorry, no hints!  You'll just have to wait until I recreate it ... I have a fiber calling to me saying, "Dee, work me up into a 'Herbie!"

6.  Dee, what's a "Herbie."
       Ah, come on you guys, I said no hints.  LOL

7.  Just one hint, Dee?
       OK.  Thanks to the arm twisting, I'll give one hint.  It was named after the movie "Herbie, the Love Bug" but it has nothing to do with the movie or it's contents.  I just liked the movie. 

Have a great day crocheting everyone!  :) 

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Remembering Relationships

It takes a minute to find a special person.
An hour to appreciate them,
A day to love them,
ut then an entire lifetime to forget them.

I saw this on an email signature line today (I'm currently awaiting to find out who the quote belongs to so I can give proper credit) and it hit me in the heart.  I don't want to spend an entire lifetime to forget a relationship; I'd rather relish in what was good. 

I often think back to my Grandmother who spent so much time in helping shape who I am today.  Often times I'll run my fingers over her crochet and knit stitches and think of how wonderful she was to me.  I can still see her in my mind, sitting in her favorite chair, busy with her hook or needles.  I laugh when I think back to her attempts to teaching me knitting ... oh, what a nightmare that was!  :)

Here's to all those relationships we've formed in our past, our present, and our future.  May they all be good, may they all last, and may we all remember them with fondness in our hearts.

Going to the Dogs?

Now that January is nearly over, the big question that comes to mind is, "Did you get a 2005 Crochet Calendar yet?" 

If not, what are you waiting for? 

There are two I'd like to recommend:

1. The members of the New York City Crochet Guild (known as the NYCCG) put a lot of time, energy, and talent into creating their 2005 Calendar.  The calendar is just packed with delicious patterns!  If you visit the Lion Brand website you can get it on sale (if they have any left) for about $10; or you can order them through the NYCCG website (where you can get a preview of the calendar!)  I own one and just love it!

2.  The Craft Yarn Council of America (known as the CYCA) has a free calendar available that you can print out month by month with the theme of "Dog Days" -- I don't know, even though I'm not a pet owner, there's just something extremely funny about seeing a dog in a crocheted bikini.  Some of the patterns are crochet; some are knit.  But still very much worth checking out!

And speaking of days, it took me nearly the entire day yesterday to take a picture and to figure out the restructuring of ebays "sell" page.  Boy was I confused!  I couldn't quite get ebay to accept my html coding to get the page to look the way I wanted, nor get the new digital camera to grab the texture that the rose pictured to the left has.  I guess I'll have to spend today hunting down my tripod.  Oh, if you want to see the auction page I did, it's here.  Once I can get a really great picture I can finish the details for the pattern.  I guess I better schedule that in on my Crochet Calendar.  {{grins}}

Friday, January 28, 2005

Men Men Men Men, Mennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Have you seen the CBS show called Two and a Half Men? ... if so, insert their theme song into the background of your head ("Men Men Men Men, Men Men Men Men, Mennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn"). LOL I thought that'd be a great way to start today's thoughts of men and crocheting.

Men crochet? Why certainly! Why shouldn't they? In fact, you can visit my entry from September 23, called "Men Meet Monday Nights But Not to Watch Football", or my entry from a month prior to that, Something's Fishy.  So what brings this up? Well, I was watching NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Wednesday, crocheting up some roses, when Tom Green came on stage. Now, for the record, Tom Green does nothing for me -- I don't find him funny in the least bit, but being I was deeply involved with my crochet and couldn't exactly reach for the remote to flip the channel, I let the segment on TV remain. And I'm partially glad I did.

While I was not impressed with Tom sticking his head in an ice fishing hole -- twice, I was tickled when he was at a ski resort because while there he featured a man wearing a crocheted hat, and yellow crocheted pants. The man went on to explain to Tom that he had crocheted these items himself and whipped out a hook and started to show Tom. Tom with all of his lack of taste and common sense decided it would be fun to tie one of the yarn ends from the man's pants to the back of a pickup and watch it unravel. (That part of the "report" I didn't like because it was hours and hours of work being unraveled and ruining the man's pants.) 

I visited the NBC website and found the TV clip of the "Colorado" report Tom had done, but they edited the scene out.  Sorry readers, unless they re-air the program, the segment is gone. I just thought it was cool though that men enjoying crochet got national air time! :)  (BTW: If  you're the guy that was featured, drop me a line -- I'd love to insert your name here and/or post a link to your website so all can see your wonderful crochet tallents!)

Now speaking of men, I received an email newsletter from Lion Brand yesterday. (You can sign up to receive their email to byvisiting their website.)  In the newsletter they announced a pattern for a Crochet Oversized Poncho for men. Hey, it's about time! It looks great!! Too bad the pattern wasn't used to crochet Clint Eastwood a poncho to wear in that movie he appeared in, "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly." It would have looked GOOD!!  Hmmmm mmmm mmmmm mmmmm mmmmmph! {{grins}}

So, what about my little man here. Is he still practicing his crochet that my daughter taught him? No. He's been busy with homework but says he might pick up the hook sometime this weekend. So see, even if he's not physically doing it, he has it on his mind.  Cool.  :)

4:33 PM UPDATE:  I was asked if I can explain who my little man is.  My "little man" is my very young son.  Go back a few journal entries and you'll find one about my daughter teaching him how to crochet the chain stitch.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Question from Reader: (Copyright) When is it Stealing?

After this morning's earlier post addressing a question on copyright, I recieved another one. This one comes from Robin:
I have been crocheting for over 30 years. Many times I see a "new" pattern in a magazine and if I dig thru my old magazines, there's the "new" pattern from 1972. It's not the same author and there are some variations. What makes a pattern "new"?

If I look at a granny square poncho in a photo & figure out the math for it, is that "stealing" or just knowing how things are put together? If I fool around with the yarn & make something similiar to something already existing, is that stealing?

I'm just curious because the issue of copyright comes up constantly and these matters are not addressed.

Before I share my thoughts on this, Robin, let me reiterate that I am not an expert on copyright, and nor do I play one on TV.  In fact, I've only appeared on broadcast television twice -- once as a child when a TV reporter asked me to "walk into school" to be the backdrop for his report, and once as an interviewee (in 2002) when we were promoting crochet and goodwill here in Connecticut. That all aside, take my words as they are, based upon what I've read & what I've heard, then visit all the copyright links I've provided in past entries: January 12 and January 17, or visit my Copyright webpage for them. Then, if you really need legal information on this topic, then please consider contacting a lawyer that specializes in it.

In getting to your questions, Robin, I think it parallels the question, "how many times can a wheel be reinvented?" But first, lets look at it in a music perspective: In the late 1980s -- early 1990s, local radio disc jockys debated on the air about how it's possible that musicians could come up with what's considered "new music." After all, in the news there was a lot of "licks" being reported as "lifted" (stolen) and inserted into "new" music. Some may recall that Michael Jackson was hauled to court to prove that his music was his -- not lifted off of someone else's work. (we're not going to touch on the subject of his recent legal issues as this is not the time nor place for that; I'm just using this scenario as an example.) He proved to the court that he came up with his own tunes which happened to be similar to someone else's. The key here is that he PROVED it was his. The case was dismissed. (By the way, a "lick" in music [regardless if I spelled it correctly or not] is a few seconds of music that you hear at the start of a song.)

With the zillions of people that live on this planet, and that has lived on this planet, it is entirely possible for two or more people to come up with the same idea. The the two key questions are: did they write it down, and did they get the idea copyrighted?    Is this why we see those commercials on late night TV requesting people call them and have their ideas patented? Absolutely.

Getting back to the reinvention of the wheel, there's going to be a lot of new "tread designs" for tire companies to offer -- and often times they'll be based on what has performed well on the past. But if the tire designers are directly lifting the work of someone else and passing it along as their own, that's just plain wrong. And if it can be proven that it was lifted, then it's legally wrong! --And yes, it has happened in the crochet world -- even recently! ... and yes, both designers are aware of it, as well as hundreds of others who know from being on various online groups where it's being discussed. (Sorry, I'm not going to give that "dirt" here. It's up to the designer in the wrong to make amends with the designer they lifted the work from; and/or for the designer that was stolen from to pursue major monitory damages.)

So, if you're walking around your local mall and see something you like and take out your notebook and start counting the stitches and writing the pattern down, that's pattern stealing. But if you go home, and the item nags at you and you sit down and pick up your hook & yarn and start tooling around with the concept -- that's a bit different. Your stitch count might be different, your actual stitches you use may be different, your fiber may be different, your gauge may be different ... and so on. This is called "work by inspiration." If you saw something and was inspired to try it on your own, and claim it as your own, is it legal? I believe so, as long as you can prove that your "lick" is your own. But then again, I'm not an expert on copyright so you might want to look into it further.

On the bright side of things, Robin, there's a Copyright Committee that's in the early stages of forming. Their goal is to educate us on this topic. Once I hear more, I can post about it.

I hope this helps somewhat.

Copyright: Let's all Crochet -- Legally!

To recap: on January 12th I wrote an entry called "OH NO! It's stealing!" which discussed a journal/blog, I found, of violating copyright.  Then again, on January 17, due to overwhelming requests from my readers, I brought the topic up again.

A regular crochet journaler emailed me and asked the following question:
"I went to the craft store today and got the pattern for the poncho they had on display.  There is no author, nor copyright, nor manufacturer's name on the pattern.  Not even a little copyright symbol.  Can I post this on my journal without getting into trouble?"

I replied to this question in the individual's journal/blog, and thought, gee, let me address this question here too, because it's so terrific!  We can all learn from this!  So, my reply was:
"I would suggest that you call the store and ask where they got the pattern from.  Usually when a FREE pattern is offered and there's no reference to the designer the words COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT linger in the air, and I personally wouldn't touch it.

If you call the store and they hook you up (like the pun?) with the individual who provided the pattern, ask that they sign your copy (if it's their pattern).  If they cannot reveal the source of the pattern, in the future, don't take it.  Should it be
someone else's work that they stole the Right to Copy from (thus the term Copyright), you can get into just as much trouble.

It's better to play it safe.  Remember, there's no such thing as a "Free Lunch."  You might be getting it free, but someone, somewhere, is footing that bill.  Keep that person in mind when you receive something that "appears to be free."  I recommend that you get to know the source -- get to know who's "feeding you the free lunch" --because I wouldn't want to be unexpectedly served a bill (for aiding with copyright infringement).

And remember, if you cannot afford a pattern (book), check with your local library, or if you're a member of the CGOA (or one of it's chapters) ... see if they have the pattern available for loan!  Lets all crochet -- legally!  :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

"As the Chain Turns"

I'm still chuckling since yesterday afternoon. Those ladies that work at KnitTogether have an awesome sense of humor and when we get together it often comes with an "Ah HA!" moment.

One of the things I enjoyed yesterday is that we got a lot of great compliments wearing the roses I crocheted for all the employees. With the outside world being cold, frozen, and white, inside it looked like Spring had arrived. I just loved it!

I also enjoyed "converting" one of the employees from being a knitter to a "happy hooker." She's doing just fantastic -- so fantastic, in fact, that she discovered a discrepancy in a book on how to do Turning Chains. A few other folks in the store gathered around and wanted to know why I was teaching something entirely different from what the book was explaining. So, let me go into this a bit further.

For newbies, Turning Chains are the number of chains needed to give the work "lift." Without the Turning Chains the work would eventually curl and we normally don't want that. Our goal is to get our work to lay flat, and the Turning Chains need to "measure up" to the size stitch that we're working on. This employee, the newbie to crochet, had paid close attention to this lesson and wanted to know why my instructions of where to place that first stitch of the new row differed from the crochet instructional book.

I looked at the instructions, and then looked at where the book was published. "Ah HA!!" That explained it all. It was European.  Not American.  Being that I am a Certified Crochet Teacher through the Craft Yarn Council of America, and a Professional Member of the Crochet Guild of America -- two of the largest craft/crochet organizations of the world -- I teach my students the American method of Turning Chains that they recommend.

What this means is that when you create the single crochet, you make one turning chain and then work in the immediate first stitch.
When you make the half double crochet -- it's two turning chains, and again working in the immediate first stitch.
But when you startworking with the larger stitches the rule changes. The double crochet starts the rule of skipping the first stitch and starting in the next thus forcing the turning chain to become the first stitch of the new row.

If you visit the CGOA's website, you'll find a chart on Turning Chains that does a great job explaining this.

Should you find yourself forcing your Turning Chain to become the first stitch for anything smaller than a double crochet, it's European. Does it make a difference? I don't think so, but some would argue that it does. I think as long as you're making the Turning Chains and your work is consistent -- then go with it.  :)


7:21 PM UPDATE:  Some of my readers have emailed me privately stating that they cannot locate the page on the CGOA website that shows the chart I mentioned for the Turning Chains.  So, to help everyone out, I've changed the link so it will go directly to the page on the CGOA website.  So now you can get to the page by clicking onto the "CGOA" reference in the sentence above, or you can Click Here.  Also, yes, I changed the title of the entry because "As the Stitch Turns" didn't really seem to fit since, basically, the entry is about Chains ... Turning Chains.  J

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Oscar the Grouch says "Stock Up!"


It does a funny thing to people.  It makes people giddy, it makes people grouchy.  Take a day of sunshine and everyone is out having fun.  Throw a snow storm at them and sheer panic sets in.

What's this?  You haven't noticed? 

All one needs to do is sit back and observe!  First, the news will come on and say, "A huge snow storm is expected Wednesday and all residents are requested to stay home and off the roads."  And what's the first thing people do?  They rush off to their local stores and stock up in a feverish rush to get all the "good stuff."

You mean, stock up on food?


On shovels?


On new winter boots?
New snow tires?

No.  And more no.

What they do, if they are fiberholics as I am, regardless of what already may be in stock at home, is to head to their local yarn shop and stock up  -- crochet hooks, knitting needles, patterns, and yarn.  Yes, lots of yarn.  Ummm, maybe even just a bit more yarn, you know, just in case the snow doesn't melt quickly enough.

I raise my hand, guilty as charged. 

I loaded up on more yarn today to make more Rose Broaches during tomorrow's storm (and possibly the storm that may hit us this upcoming weekend).

How about you?  Do you get grouchy if you don't stock up on enough provisions to carry you through a big storm?  <<wink wink>>

The Future

I subscribe to the fashion magazine "Elle" -- not because I can afford to spend $700 on a single pair of shoes, heck, $70 is more along my spending limits AND it BETTER be for a special occasion! -- I subscribe to look at what the current fashion statement is.  I want to figure out where crochet seems to fit in current fashion trends, and I've made mention of it here in my journal on a couple occasions.

So what is The Future?  Well, believe it or not, it seems to be a musical, although I've yet to find reference to it on the Web.  There's a two page spread ad in the February 2005 issue, and what I'd like to call you attention to is the poncho smack dab in the middle of the ad ... you know, on the CREASE! 

I don't care what that "fashion guy" that appeared on the TV program "The View" had to say about ponchos being passe' (or Meredith's apparent dislike for ponchos) -- they're not going out of style.  If anything, I'd say that they're more in fashion this year than last.  And the one that's featured in the ad in Elle just knocked my socks off.

If you're not interested in purchasing the magazine, that's OK.  Just make sure to flip through it at your local book store or grocers.  Turn to page 56 and be prepared to be WOWed.  It's a two tone poncho -- orange underneath, green, cream, red and blue on the top.  Yeah, I can see ponchos in "The Future."

Monday, January 24, 2005

Nothing Like a Little Controversy

It's a balmy -2.1 F degrees outside (not including wind chill) with mountains upon mountains of snow outside. So, to warm everyone up today, how about a little controversy?

Yep, nothing like a little bit of controversy to get the blood going, right?? {{grins}} First, let me say that I've added even more famous people to my
Famous Crocheters webpage. I'm pretty pleased with the growing list that takes me hours upon hours to "investigate" and ensure the information is as accurate as possible.

Second, let me say that there are people out there that don't know the difference between crochet, and it's cousin, knitting, even though, as reported by the Craft Yarn Council of America, that there are more crocheters than there are knitters. We, for whatever reason, are still slowly coming out of the crochet closet. With this said, many will say knit when they really mean to say crochet. AND, in some countries, the word in their language for knit covers all of the needle arts. At least this  is the way that I understand it.

So what about this controversy I mentioned? Well, I added Debra Messing to my list of Famous Crocheters. I've seen her work. It doesn't look knitted to me! Go ahead and check it out for yourself by
Clicking here. Afterwards, come back and share your thoughts on what you think about this. (Note: if you have a program to plug images into, you can copy the image, rotate it, and blow it up to 200% -- it will be a bit blurry, but enough to see more detail.)

My thoughts? It's crocheted. Looks like the cluster stitch (with chains inbetween) to me.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Clip: Crochet in Action?

I'm not sure if I've uploaded the clip correctly or not (could be the video clip is in my cookies or something along those lines).  If you'd like to test out the video clip of my daughter crocheting, click here.

Please let me know if you have any problems with it.  I have so much to learn about this!

Thank you, Sheila and Astaryth, for putting me on the path to figuring this technical stuff out!  :)


Technical Savvy, not

I managed to get 3 of the 5 programs loaded onto my main PC -- thus far, no crashing. The rest of the time I spent playing with the new software, and have more playing to do.  Let me explain a bit why:

On Tuesday, I wrote about my daughter teaching my son how to crochet, and how I had caught some of the interaction on the camcorder. I haven't a clue on how I did it (perhaps reading all the owners manuals would explain it to me), but I managed to get this image off of the video footage. The image to the right is my daughter, Casey, crocheting with her baby doll named Annabelle.

My goal is to figure out how to get a small snippet of the video footage of the two of them crocheting to add to her website,, that's been receiving rave reviews -- and not just from parents! It seems that there's various school systems that have deemed her website as safe for kids to visit on school grounds. When I explained this to my daughter she just smiled. She really likes sharing her passion of crochet just like her Mamma! :)

So, readers, if you have experience in taking video footage off of a dvd and uploading them to the web, can you help clue me in?  I'm thinking that I will probably have to purchase some sort of video editing software and I'm hoping that's not the case.  There's nothing like feeling like you have a zillion fingers made of sausage and unsure what to do with them -- do I press this key, that key? Click here, click there? ... hmmm, sounds a lot like how a newbie crocheter feels, huh?  Technical savvy, not. J

Saturday, January 22, 2005

I Love Hooking

It's snowing like crazy out there today.  Our weather forecast is 12-20 inches of snow; 25 inches "...would not be surprising" they added.  OK, then why not just say it's snowing out there and there's gonna be a whole lotta shoveling and hot chocolate?  {{chuckles}}

I've been out there twice already, just in the last hour, and shoveled the walkway of several inches of snow.  Hubby and kids returned home from the store where they went to get some football game goodies (food) for tomorrow.  Marshmallows were on top of the grocery list.

Anyway, as it snows, and as the family gets into the, ah-hem, fun of shoveling (and sledding) I'm playing with the main computer today.  I reloaded Paint Shop Pro, and the driver for the new digital camera.  I can hear you all cheering about this {{more chuckles}} because that means I can show what projects I've been working on. 

Today's image (top, right) is the Valentine's Rose Broach I designed for some upcoming classes I'll be teaching in Bethel and Stamford(I also have future plans of taking some great pictures and creating the pattern for sale.)  Pictured is my rose; it's glittery and is attached to my name tag.  The roses I'm crocheting as store samples are not (bottom, left), but they're just as pretty in cotton twist and berroco's suede.  I already know that the employees at A Stitch In Time like them very much.

So, while most of the folks in the Northeast are thinking thoughts of snow, I'll have roses on the brain.  How about you?  Are you digging out tooand trying to keep your mind thinking Spring?

PS: The pin you see in the photo that reads "I Y Hooking" I purchased at the Stitches East event in 2003.  It's a lot of fun to wear out! 

Friday, January 21, 2005

Question From Reader: Importance of Swatches

"Okay, I'm confused on blocking! Is this, like, when instructions say to (after washing) "lay flat to dry"??? How big of a swatch do you recommend? Would one want to do this for every skein of yarn or just every type by manufacturer? Say I have 3 colors of Caron's Simply Soft, would I want swatches of each color even if the fiber content & ply are the same? I'm glad you talked about this Dee. Some of us don't think about this kind of thing and we take it for granted that colors won't run and pills won't form. Thank you!!! Sheila"

Fabulous questions, Sheila!! I'll try to answer them one by one.

1. Blocking: blocking is the method of dampening your work and "stretching it out" to take on it's final form. Let's say you're assembling an afghan, such as the one I have in the book,
Blue Ribbon Afghans from America's State Fairs. After you have all your ends securely tucked, you'll want to slightly dampen them, use rust proof pins and "stretch them out" to ensure they are all the same size prior to assembly. This will help you ensure that you're joining the squares properly, and that you have a nice uniform look. The article in the VOGUEknitting magazine I mentioned earlier today does such a great job discussing blocking that I recommend you get/read this issue even if you're not a knitter. (I'm still a very, very novice knitter, btw!).

2. Size of Swatches: I recommend a square of 6" by 6" -- which is about average of what most patterns recommend you make prior to working the actual project. Their goal in requesting you make a swatch is ensure your gauge is on track; there's nothing worse than spending hours & hours crocheting up a garment to find that it won't fit. That's why checking gauge is important. But it's also important to ensure that the fiber will hold up for what you intend to use it for. Will it pill? Will the colors run? Will it shrink? The only way to determine this economically is to abuse your swatches through various washing & drying methods.

3. Are swatches of same brand of various colors really needed: absolutely! You'll want to ensure that there is colorfastness -- nothing is worse than when a dye runs out. A great example is this is with one of the ladies I enjoy crocheting with; Ruth. Ruth worked on some charity items and noticed that her wooden crochet hook turned from a cream color to a green color from the dye of the yarn she was working with.

    So what about in the wash?  In the VOGUEknitting magazine article I've been referencing to, they recommend adding vinegar to the wash cycle to help set the dye, but there's something else that few publications will tell you. If you're mixing your yarns -- even if it's the same brand, and line, the darker the color the more dye it has. AND the more dye it has, the THICKER and HEAVIER the fiber will be. This might throw your gauge off as you do your color changes, so again, it's good to work up a swatch in each color you intend to use to ensure you'll have no problems.  Then you'll want to abuse the dickens out of your swatches.  Again, I want to mention that I recommend that you make TWO identical swatches ... one for control, and one to abuse.  You'll quickly learn if it's a fiber you really want to invest your time, money and energy in.

Finally, I want to (slip in a tune by the Righteous Brothers) and mention that when we work up swatches we can also quickly determine if the fiber has that "loving feeling."  I'm sure you know what I'm talking about ... that feeling that just feels good as the tension yarn slips through our fingers as each stitch is created, or that feeling when we rub our hands across the fabric we're creating stitch by stitch.  This is the feeling that causes many of us to become fiberholics.

As you're working up your swatches and you discover that "there's no tenderness like before in your fingertips," that your fiber has "lost that lovin' feeling, Whoa, that lovin' feeling," and there's a good possibility "it makes [you] just feel like crying, (baby). 'Cause baby, something in you is dying," then you won't love the project either. You'll be too busy cursing your fiber selection and singing the chorus:
                 Bring back that lovin' feeling,
                   Whoa, that lovin' feeling
                Bring back that lovin' feeling,
               'Cause it's gone...gone...gone,
                      and I can't go on,

Yep, Sheila, swatches are worth investing the time in. And apparently, in my case, so are singing lessons. J

VogueKnitting, er Crochet!

In the Winter 2004/2005 issue of VOGUEknitting I read with interest an article titled "wear and CARE." Afterwards I thought about it some more and decided it would be a good topic to bring up since most newbie crocheters may not have been exposed to this yet.

First, I think a look at the fiber content is important. With the strongest of urgings, I recommend that if you're going to crochet pot holders, you DON'T use acrylic. Acrylic will melt under high heat and offers the user no protection against getting burned. This is why many of the women in the pioneer days wore dresses made of wool. Should a spark from an open fire (remember, they didn't have stoves like we do today)! rise and hit their dress, the wool was dense enough to smolder giving plenty of time to douse the spark before the woman became engulfed in flames. Just keep in mind that acrylic should not be used for anything going near a heat source and all will be OK.

Getting back to the article, it discusses the need for knitters, and from this point on I'm going to say crocheters, to follow the washing instructions provided on the yarn/thread labels. This is because testing is done on the fibers (much like the clothes we buy in stores that have those little care tags sewn in). The tests indicate the best washing and drying instructions to offer a long life for your item. And lets face it, if we're putting hours upon hours into crocheting up a wonderful item, we don't want to ruin it by washing and drying it incorrectly! Just think about a wool sweater that accidentally made it into the dryer!! Yikes!!

If you're unsure of a particular fibers behavior in the wash/dry cycles -- be it machine or by hand, then I recommend that you crochet up several swatches. Put a hang tag on one and label it "control." Wash and dry the others and match it against the control swatch. Note the wear (pilling), the color, and the size. This will tell you a lot of what to expect when you work up your entire project and have it washed.

The article also discusses blocking. For those new to crocheting, blocking is used to help your creation lay flat, or take on it's proper form. The exception, the article notes, is yarn with long eyelashes (known as protrusions or projectiles coming from the core of the fiber) . For this they recommend that "you shake them to fluff." If you want to learn more, check out the magazine. If you can't find it at your local book store, check your local library.

Don't forget to check out the crochet hat and scarf they have featured on page 62, the ad on pg 47 -- that's one of the stores I teach at; and check out the rhinestone zippers too! BTW, it looks like the Spring issue will feature a crocheted handbag. Who says crochet isn't hot!??!  You know it is when it's included in a fashion knit magazine!!! :)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Book Review: Simply Felt: 20 Easy and Elegant Designs in Wool

I think that when you become a full-blown fiberholic your desire to learn more about the actual fibers deepens.  You develop this desire to want to touch and pet the various fibers while learning of it's independent characteristics.  I know, having taken a class at the 2003 CGOA National Conference of crocheting with unspun fibers, my appreciation of fibers deepened!  Just the thought of taking crocheted projects and experimenting with felting them opened a new door of possibilities for me.  But, admittedly, being time-crunched with deadlines, obligations, and family life, I really haven't had the time to experiment as much with felting as I'd like.

So, while I await my turn to experiment more with felting, I visit the Grafton Fibers journal called "A Loom With a View" and live vicariously through Linda and her incredible felted creations.  Her work is so inspiring!  When I flipped through the book, Simply Felt, by Margaret Docherty and Jayne Emerson, I knew I had to bring it home to inspire me to get back into experimenting.

This book has 20 projects to try, and lets face it, yes, I do have unspun roving in my stash.  (I wonder, at times, if there's anything I don't have in my stash.)  Just flipping through the first few pages I learned that the art of felting has been around for some 600 years b.c. -- they have samples that were found in frozen Siberian tombs.  (That reminds me of the mummy of the little girl they found a few years back.  She was found high in the mountains in Peru wearing what they think is crochet -- I sure wish there'd be more information offered on this as it leads to proof that crochet is more than just a few hundred years old.)  To be able to trace the history of a particular art you're interested in is always fun, and it seems this book will help me get on that path for felting. 

As I continue to flip through the pages I find page after page of projects that are inspiring.  I love the photographs, and the little drawn "how to" pictures.  Since each project is done without the need to know how to knit or crochet, I think this is a great book for those that are interested in experimenting with just felting.  For those that know how to crochet, I think it will help blend the two art forms together even more as you can always add crochet to your work.   I'm looking forward to reading this book from cover to cover.  In the meantime, Linda, I'll continue to live vicariously through your projects.  :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Lady Luck must be sitting with me

Sheila wrote, "[I] would love to see pics of the necklace - hint, hint"

Thank you, Sheila, for the kick in the "yarn totes."  I hear you and I will comply! LOL   First let me stand up and make the confession that I somehow lost my digital camera.  I haven't seen my SLR since Christmas either (I can't help but wonder if we left it at my SIL's).  I haven't a clue why my cameras are going MIA, but life cannot function normally without them.  Especially for someone who wants to keep track of her crocheted creations and share them in her blog -- me!!  Eish!!

Whew.  It felt good to confess that!  So, now on to the good news, and then the even better news.  Remember that Santa Hat I spoke about crocheting for my boss a few weeks back?  Well, I got a check today for crocheting it.  A total surprise!  had no idea that I was going to be paid for crocheting it for him so I did a little happy dance and knew immediately  what to do with it -- yep, get a new digital camera!!  The key is to find one that won't cost an arm & a leg as I still have high hopes my MIA cameras will be found.

Lady Luck must be sitting with me right now because in my Office Max flyer they had a
3.1 megapixel camera on sale for $80 ... and with a bunch of rebates & such, it also comes with a free printer (Oh, how I could use a new printer too!!!) ... did I say that my postal carrier must love me?  Yep, in the mail was also a flyer to get $40 off of a $200 purchase.  So, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I'll be getting this digital camera & printer delivered to my front door for about $40 -- compliments, actually, from a crocheted Santa Hat.  I love days like this!!

So, Sheila, and my other readers, hang tight!  Digital pictures will be acomin'!

Let me also say that I adopted a new book yesterday -- I'll tell you all about this sweet beauty tomorrow!  :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

sibling magic

I had the privilege of spending Sunday afternoon with a wonderful lady. One of the things we did was ohh & ahh over her crochet book collection. When I arrived back home I had "the fever" -- to pick up my beads and wire and crochet myself a necklace in honor of my upcoming birthday next month.

So yesterday, while having the kids home, I decided to have them slip into their secret identities and assist me.  This is when I call them "The Bead Team." I took out some purple and silver 24 gauge wire I had on hand (oh, come on, we all have yarn stashes, but I happen to have a wire, bead, and findings stash too), and the Team went to work randomly threading the crystal and purple beads onto the wire for me.  I took a metal hook (size C if I recall correctly) and started crocheting up the wire and beads. Six strands later it was ready to have the findings added. The Bead Team and I loved the end results.

Perhaps it was during this time inspiration and courage struck together. Or perhaps it's been a desire that's been growing while watching Casey crochet up her beautiful scarf. Whatever the reason, my son asked her to teach him how to crochet!

She set her work down, got off the couch and grabbed one of the crochet hooks she received for Christmas. Then she came to me asking if he could use one of my yarns. I didn't want to seem over excited with happiness over this as I thought in doing so he might withdrawal into shyness and decide not to. So I took a moment, looked at them, smiled and said, "OK."  I picked out a nice light tan worsted yarn for him to use.

They sat together on the couch and he watched her intensely as she made the slip knot for him. Then she started talking about the hook, quoting me in saying it should be "treated as a pet, and the loop around it is like a leash. You don't want the loop too tight because it will choke it, and you don't want it too loose as the hook will get away." He nodded his head as if in agreement. Then she showed him how to yarn over and pull the yarn through. Then it was his turn.

At first the loop just kept doing the circus act of flipping over and over the hook. After he learned to hold the loop still with his finger he was able to make his first chain stitch. Then another, and another. I sat back and watched this fantastic moment they were sharing together; it's what I call sibling magic where one teaches the other something they enjoy. They were having fun making stitches together; he, working on the chain stitch, she, working on her scarf.

I grabbed the camcorder and videoed them for a few moments. Then I decided to "interview" them and ask them to explain to me what they were doing. They giggled, goofed off a bit and then got serious. They each explained the process of making chain stitches and single crochet stitches to me. How wonderful!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Spotlighting Copyright

On January 12th I wrote an entry called "OH NO! It's stealing!" which discussed a journal/blog, I found, of violating copyright. Since that time, I have received some private emails thanking me for bringing up this topic.

One person wrote, "I remember in high school that we had to write term papers. The teacher explained to us what plagiarism is, but never discussed copyright. I'm glad you brought this topic up as I'm learning so much."

Another wrote, "I never knew that sharing a copy of a pattern I liked was against the law. I thought that since the pattern was free that it was ok. Thanks for talking about this Dee."

Well, based on all the feed back, I want to remind everyone that I am not an expert on copyright, nor do I play one on TV (ha ha) -- I do have, however, a few more links on the copyright topic to share with you. Check them out; they're very informative:
          * LazyGirlDesigns
          * Copyright for Quilters and Crafters

Feel free to share this information on Copyrights with family, friends, and yarn shops.  The more we enlighten everyone, the better.  J

(Thank you, Wheat, for pointing these sites out.)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

"Seriously Playful"

During the time of the World Wars supplies were hard to come by. If you did manage to get supplies, you used them to knit or crochet items for those serving in the Armed Forces.  You made hats, gloves, scarves to help keep the soldiers warm, or afghans and slippers for the wounded soldiers in the hospital, and so on. They even had pattern books published during World War I just for this purpose.

Because supplies were hard to come by, many needleworkers got resourceful and used materials found elsewhere.  In the latest issue of PieceWork magazine there is an interesting article on how the material from bags of flour was saved and turned into garments for children. This became so popular that in the 1950s the manufacturers of flour started offering patterned prints so more decorative garments could be made. Once the flour manufacturers started offering the flour in paper, the art of saving the material and making garments went away, only to become a collectors haven for today.

This is also true of saving string from various purchases. The strings were later knitted or crocheted into something quite useful. Or not.  Perhaps it was used in some sort of Art Medium. The fun is finding when and how it was used.

In this line of thinking, if it can be knitted, it can certainly be crocheted. And even though today, here in America, we're not under the same constraints of getting supplies (other than budget constraints) many are enjoying crocheting with more unique materials, like licorice -- or even shoe laces and rubber bands.

Shoe laces and rubber bands?

Sure! Why not! And in fact, Sheila Pepe did just that! Go ahead, give the article, Strings Attached: UCSU art exhibit is seriously playful" a visit.  Then the next time you see a piece of string, think about it's potential rather than it's intended purpose.

Note:  If you opt to visit the news article, read past the part where it states that the exibit is named "Hot Lesbian Formalism."  It's not meant to offend anyone ... the artist was joking around when she named her exhibit, and I think it's well worth reading about.  I would not knowingly provide a link to any material that could be offensive, but if you have children (those under the age of 18) reading my Journal, you may need to creatively explain to them a few things because of the artist's title...

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

My Journal is One Year Old today!! It's been a fantastic year of sharing thoughts, ideas, and projects with you, my readers, and I'm looking forward to sharing another year!

To celebrate today, give the story
Knitters tell yarns about getting hooked a read. Even though the article is knit slanted, it certainly applies to crocheting too: "The new generation of women knitters [CROCHETERs too!!] in some way come to a lesson in feminist history when they take up knitting [or ANY needle work, like CROCHETing!]. Our culture today is so fast; young women, especially, think they can show up with sticks, a ball of yarn, and walk out with a completed item."

What this means is that we should stop and take the time to celebrate life.  Grab a hook and some fiber and create a memory one stitch at a time that lasts for generations!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Coffee Musings

The blogger with the copyright infringement has done the right thing; she took the patterns down.  Good for her.  It's better to be safe than broke.  I understand that the homepage for Vogue Knitting has a blurb on copyright, but for the life of me I can't find it.  Maybe it's because I'm tired from staying up late & still being sick; maybe it's because I haven't had enough coffee yet.

I'm nearly done with the poncho for the publication.  It's taken so many hours upon hours to get it just right.  You know, I find it interesting that when I break out of my "safe zone" (we all have them!) of favorite colors, the end results can really take your breath away.  That's what this project has done for me.  I'm really liking this creation, and if my family says "Wow" one more time, my head will swell too much for me to be able to fit it through the doorways.  Of course that could just be congestion from this cold that has me thinking this way.   ha ha ha

Today I'll be tending to my son who's now sick (what's WITH this family!!) and typing up the pattern for the project.  As I do so, I can only hope that once this pattern I put so much heart, soul, and time into, is published, the pattern doesn't make the round of folks abusing the copyright.  I can only hope they'll do the right thing and purchase the book.  After all, a good sale of the book could mean future projects may possibly be published, and that would mean an income for my family.  An income that, for the present time, would all be spent on Kleenex & Advil as we try to beat all these winter flu bugs going around.     

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

OH NO! It's stealing!

I can understand wanting to share a pattern with a friend. I can understand wanting to share a pattern with the world. But unless you own the copyright to the pattern, you can't. It's against the law unless you do it legally.  (this means that you either have permission from the copyright holder, or that you are the copyright holder.)

I found a blog yesterday, another journal, that posts patterns. Not having a lot of time to really investigate it, I added it to my list of Crochet Journals I enjoy visiting, and planned to visit it again. Having a bit of time on my hands, I did so tonight.  I scrolled down into the Journal entries, and the further down I got the more my mouth dropped open.  (Oh NO!)

The blog is clearly in copyright violation. No where does it state that the owner has legal permission to repost these patterns. So, because I don't want to be one to help break the law, I immediately removed the blog from my journal listings. And the worst part, the blog is up for a vote for favorite on the web. If you go to view the listing of journals/blogs I visit, you can see where I removed it. It now states "LINK REMOVED: COPYRIGHT VIOLATOR." (No, I will not state the name of the blog in this entry as I do not want to send it any traffic.)

My point in bringing this up, is that if you really like a pattern, post a link to the website.

           If you really like a pattern, post a link to the book it's from.

           If you really like a pattern, buy one for your friend.

           If you really like a pattern, shout it out to the world -- BUT BE SAFE! DON'T POST THE PATTERN! ...even if it is a FREEBIE!

If you do post a copyrighted pattern without permission, rather than it's source, it's stealing.  Get caught you'll be digging deep; $helling out big bucks for damages. And that doesn't even cover your lawyer's fees. Want to learn more about Copyright? Then check out this webpage I put together: Protect Yourself: Learn About Copyrights

If you cannot afford to purchase patterns, there are lots of free ones on the Internet -- and at your local library. 

Chaos. It's not just in my house.

As the sea of tissues and undone household chores pile up as I try to recuperate from this cold, chaos is settling in. Fortunately the kids are pitching in so we won't need mathematics to construct instructions to explain this.

Mathematicians have, however, constructed crochet instructions for the "Lorenz equations that describe the nature of chaotic systems." This has been the raving news on many online crochet groups and is worth checking out if you haven't done so already.  In all, there are three pages to visit.
1. Crochet Pattern of Chaos Published in Mathematics Journal
2. The original News Release: Crocheted chaos
3. Pictures of the Lorenz manifold (AKA as the Crocheted chaos model.)

And, if you're up for the challenge, they even provide the instructions for you to give it a whorl. It's only 25,511 stitches ...

Will I give it a try? Doubtful. My head is so congested I'll probably need the owners manual to figure out where the ON switch is for the vacuum cleaner.  ;)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Running Wild

Tiny little snow flakes have been falling since late afternoon.  Our area is expected to get 3-5 inches of snow before freezing rain (sleet) settles in.  This means that tress that have already been heavy holding several pounds of ice will be heavier.  And this could mean a power outage for us since our neighborhood is "established" (AKA "older") with mature trees.

But losing power doesn't mean that we will necessarily need to use candles.  No, the family can just gather around me and bask in the glow of my red nose.  I so know how poor Rudolph felt.  The good news is that I feel a surge of energy coming to me (it could mean I'm finally beating this cold!) -- the bad news is that I'll need to use the energy to go shovel before it turns into heavy ice.  Hubby is still at work.  Phooey.

So what have I been up to other than clinging to a box of tissues and camping on the couch?  Well, I received a catalog from the Fire Mountain Gems & Beads folks.  Don't know why; I don't recall shopping with them or requesting a catalog.  Nonetheless, I'm tickled that they sent it.  I spent this afternoon flipping through their hundreds of pages of beads & findings and let my imagination run wild.  Normally this is a bad thing, letting my imagination run.  But having kept it cooped up, it was time to let it roam.

In my mind I have a zillion things I'd like to order.  I do have a birthday coming up (kinda), so maybe a Wish List is doable.  I get so many compliments on my wire & fiber crocheted necklace that I'd like to make more.  It's just deciding which beads, which findings to use that make the creative journey so much fun.  And this is why, besides trying to conserve my physical energy to concentrate on beating this sickie bug, that I let my imagination run wild.  Oh the possibilities!!

After all, that's got to be better than being the standby lighting in the event of a power outage.

If you're interested in adding beads to your crochet work, check out the following links:
BeadWrangler has a lot of how-to's, including video!
Bead & Button Magazine (you can subscribe for less at this site:  magazinevalues) has lots of great ideas, including mixing with crochet!
* Check out the book, Bead Crochet by Bethany Barry.  It's got some really imaginative pieces in it combining beads & crochet!

Sunday, January 9, 2005

Meryl and Barbie have a Commonality

It's been another weekend of being "under the weather."  At first, I thought it was just another allergy attack.  No such luck.  After I arrived home from teaching yesterday I was out for the count.  I only awoke long enough to eat a bowl of soup.  I slept in this morning, attended a meeting, then came back home and slept more.  If only I could shake this bug for good!

On the bright side of the news I found two more Famous Crocheters.  One is Meryl Streep.  The other is Barbie.  Yeah, I know, Barbie is a toy.  But she's a 40-year old toy and loved by all.  All except Ken, that is.  They got divorced a few years back.  I guess he wasn't bringing in enough revenue for Mattel.  All that gossip aside, most of us knew that Barbie was a knitter ... I mean after all, she has her own Knitting Toy that comes out every few years or so.  Even my daughter has one!  Barbie admits to being a crocheter in the movie, "The Princess and the Pauper." 

And, speaking of daughter's, mine is still working on that scarf.  She does a row now and then, and it's coming along nicely.  I don't want to push her into completing it, that's up to her.  But I did buy her three new colors to add to her scarf.  She'll get them for her upcoming birthday.  As for me, I'm going to go crawl back under the covers and poke my head out when the sun shines, or when I start to feel better.  Whichever comes first.

Friday, January 7, 2005

Question from Reader: Tunisian vs. Double Ended

Dee - Is a double ended crochet hook used for Tunisian crochet? If so, I think my sister is doing this. Was strange to see a crochet hook with a hook on both ends!!!

Hi Sheila,
What a great question! :)

Yes, a double ended crochet hook can be used for Tunisian crochet, but take note that the technique and the end results differ slightly.

One of the webpages I have been working on has recently been discussed on the CGOA Professionals Group; that page is the
Types of Crochet which currently has some 70 types of crochet listed. Designer Darla J. Fanton took a look at it and offered the following information:

I thought I might mention a couple of things that I noticed in regard to crocheting with double-ended hooks. Cro-hook is a trademark of the Boye company and Crochenit is a trademark of Mary Middleton (currently under license to Annie's Attic, I believe). The only thing different with Crochenit is the size of the hook. Mary developed the special plastic hook with the red and green stoppers to go with her publications back in the 1970's. The same stitches used in Cro-hook or Crochet on The Double and the same turning of the work is used in Crochenit.

The term Crochet on the Double came about when I designed the first projects in the technique for the Needlecraft Shop and they wanted a special term they could trade mark. I joking tell my students if I had $1 for every time I have been asked the difference between Cro-hook, Crochet on The Double, and Crochenit I could retire. The answer is there is no difference other than marketing and trademarks and the fact the Crochenit hook only comes in one size. If anybody ever asks you about "double hook" that is a generic term I have started using just because it is shorter than saying double-ended crochet hook and since I work with all the companies that own the trademarked names I don't have to worry about upsetting any of them by inadvertently using the "wrong" name at the wrong time. I thought you might find these little tidbits of information interesting.

...And boy, Darla, do I! Thank you!!

With that said, Sheila, crocheting with a double ended hook usually means that you're crocheting with two skeins of yarn at a time. This produces a fabric that has one color dominate on one side, and another dominate on the other. Give
Marlo's Corner a visit to see some images of crocheting with a double ended hook. You can also visit the official crochenit website that Darla mentioned.

Of course, to stretch your crocheting dollars, if you don't want to invest in both types of hooks, you can try using an eraser.  The eraser placed over one of the double hooks' end will act as a stopper.

I hope this helps to clarify.

Thursday, January 6, 2005

Question from Reader: Tunisian Crochet

Hi Dee, I saw on your blog that you will be teaching Tunisian crochet. Can you tell me what that is? Is it hard to do? I wish I lived closer to you. Your classes sound like fun. Thanks, Jessie

Hi Jessie,
I may not be local to you, but if you find yourself looking to take some classes on Tunisian Crochet -- you can do so at the
CGOA Regional Conference that's being held in Pennsylvania this March. Julia Bryant of Canada will be teaching them. You can see some wonderful creations on her website. (she has the classes she'll be teaching listed on her website.)

In the meantime, you can check out the chezcrochet
Tunisian Crochet page where there is a lot of information on this crochet method.

Is Tunisian hard to do? Well, I think that all depends on how quickly you catch on to the idea of having a large amount of loops on your hook at once. The method does slightly mimic the knitting technique -- and in fact with the Tunisian method we can actually mimic knit and purl stitches (it really blows knitters minds to see us do that with just a hook!)With anything, Jessie, it takes practice.  And for some, patience with themselves. The more practice we put in, the easier it gets.

I also think that knowing a variety of different crochet methods will open up new creative possiblities for you.  Check out some scarves I crocheted last year for my kids teachers ... the one in the mauve coloring was done in the Tunisian technique.

Of course if you should find yourself in Connecticut and would like to take some classes with me, I'd be honored!  Keep an eye on my Class Schedules [BETHEL/STAMFORD] and let me know if you plan on being in the area -- I can help point out some local hotels and yarn shops that may interest you.

I hope this helps.

Monkeying Around

Last night I added another Famous Crocheter to my growing list thanks to Gracie. I believe this makes 19 so far.

While watching Jay Leno last night, I think I may have spotted the 20th, but need confirmation first. Jay had on Patricia Arquette, the star of the new TV series "Medium." They were talking about her love of the holidays and got to chatting about Halloween. She said her 2-year old daughter loves sock monkeys so she hand made the costumes for her & the baby's daddy. She reached to the backside of the couch and with Leno's help showed off this huge sock monkey costume which she said took a lot of "stitches" to do, and with me sitting here in Connecticut watching the show on the telly, I would have sworn that they were CROCHET stitches. Big ones; maybe done with an Q hook.  Alright Patricia, you're on my list of "potentials" -- just waiting for confirmation.   :)

Now if you're snowed in today, too, and happen to have a pair of wool socks laying around, you can make your own sock monkey and then crochet some clothes for it.  Go ahead, knock your socks off! ... these make great items to give to charity. J

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Crochet Trivia: Did Ewe Know?

Did Ewe Know?

During World War I,
sheep were kept on the
White House Lawn.

Their job was to keep
the lawn mowed, thus
saving manpower for
the war effort

In turn, their wool
was sold to raise funds
for the Red Cross.

No "Coffee, Crochet & Chat" Today

As I sat here this morning with my first cup of coffee in hand, I gave Sheila's journal a visit ("Just Another Hooker") and couldn't help but laugh. Today she's professing that she's a "Hooker" and inquires if there's a cure for our addiction. Ummmm. No, Sheila, there is no known cure and if anyone wants to start a fund for (research) finding one, we'll all just jump on them and tie 'em up with crocheted lassos.

So speaking of this jubilee addiction, I received my latest issue of Quick & Easy Crochet and quickly flipped through it. I wasn't really giving it all the attention as I could/should have as I was preoccupied with other thoughts. But once I hit the last page ... OK, I'll wait while you run & get your January/February 2005 issue so you can see what I'm talking about ...

           la la la la ....
                      la te da da ....
                              hum de de deletta ...  (I never claimed that I COULD sing)

Oh good, you're back. OK. Turn to the very last page (the page on the right hand side) and look in the upper left corner of the page. See the winners that they're announcing? That "Red, White, and Blue" afghan was done by one of my Chapter members .... That's it pictured to the left; unassembled. She initially came up with the design for our very first Charity drive. I loved the design so much that I told her to submit it and she did. And she won!! I know I already mentioned this just a short while ago, but to see the image printed in a magazine .... well, I was giddy. I know she'll be tickled when she sees it too.

I also want to mention that another member of our Chapter won Honorable Mention ... Oh, I'm like a kid set loose in a candy store, or more like a crochet-aholic set loose in a yarn shop! Yee-hawl!! (sorry, I just had to do one of those "Howard Dean's") Congratulations ladies!!

As for today, I'll be calling my kids school and letting them know I'll be keeping them home today.  This also means I'll be missing the "Coffee, Crochet & Chat" session we have at our local book store once a month.  We live in the boonies high-a-top of the hill where the deer and the antelope like to play. (OK, so I've never seen an antelope in the neighborhood but we do have brown bear sightings. Does that count?) Anyway, my point is that a huge storm is coming in with rain, sleet & snow and the weatherman said it wouldn't start until this afternoon. Hmmm. Maybe he should do his weather reports from my yard ... thankfully I'm prepared for the long haul. I have coffee, I have yarn. And I'll have my kids safely at home too.

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Question from Reader: Left Handed Crochet

Dear Dee,
My sister crochetted me the most beautiful scarf for Christmas. Now I would like to learn too. The problem is that I am left handed and most of the books I have looked at only offer instruction for right handed people. Can you help me?


Sarah, I think it's fantastic that you want to learn how to crochet, and I'm tickled that you're asking me for information on this topic.  I don't think it makes much of a difference that you're left handed -- and, here, I'll list some suggestions for you to try.

First, no matter what printed material (i.e. book) you purchase, there will be diagrams or pictures showing the steps for making the various stitches. While it is true that the majority of them are geared for those that are right handed, you can take your book to a copier place and request that they make "transfer image" copies. What this does is to flip images & text over -- remember, you're only interested in the images. The method of "transfer image" is used mainly for creating T-shirt iron on transfers, but this works well for flipping the images over to make learning left handed easier.

When you are surfing the Internet and you come across a tutorial and can only find image references for the right-hander, print the page using the "transfer image" option on your printer. If you wish to view it on your PC without having to print it out, keep a mirror next to your monitor. Position it so that you can view your monitor through it. The mirror will flip the image(s) to make it left hand interpreted

If you opt to visit websites such as that offer crochet videos for sale, there is usually no way of knowing if the content includes video for lefties.  If you purchase the video and find that it is geared for right handed crocheters, try the aforementioned mirror trick. Again, the mirror will flip the image making it easier for you to see how a lefty would make the various stitches.

You may want to consider placing the following websites in your list of FAVORITES as they do offer left handed instruction:

  • Finally, you may want to consider taking a class. When you go to register, inquire if the instructor, such as myself, can offer you left handed instructions.

    Or, when all else fails, try crocheting with your right hand. Since crochet is technically created with two hands, you can crochet like my best friend. She's a lefty, but crochets with her right. Control the tension with your left, hold the hook with your right. It's worth a try. J

     The key, Sarah, to learning left or right handed crochet is practice. Practice, practice, practice.

    Monday, January 3, 2005

    Bethel Crochet Class Schedule

    Today has been a bit stressful -- from my son getting sick in my automobile, to discovering that my PDA went completely dead and losing all my data.  Add to this that an order arrived and was missing components, and that AOL/Hometown are giving me grief making it impossible to update my Class page.  ARG!  I certainly will be practicing my New Year Resolution later this evening!  J

    In the meantime, to solve the need to post the Class Schedule for those that are interested, I'll place it here until I can get it moved to an official webpage.  If you're interested in taking any of these classes, please contact the store called
                              A STITCH IN TIME  @ 203-748-1002:

    Tunisian Crochet
         Thursday, January 27: 
         10 AM -- Noon  
    You've seen them hanging there on the rack, or perhaps they're sitting there among your crochet hook collection: it's that long crochet hook.  What is it used for?  How is it used?  In this class students will learn the technique known as Tunisian Crochet, also known as the Afghan Stitch.  This technique creates a most beautiful fabric that's perfect for adding your Cross Stitch passion to.
    Level:  Beginner/Intermediate
    Supplies:  Tunisian Crochet Hook (size G, H, or I works best); 4 ply yarn
    Cost:  $25

    BYOP:  Bring Your Own Project
          Thursdays: January 27, February 10, or March 3
          12:15 PM -- 2:15 PM    
    Come for one hour or come for two.  Bring in that pattern you need help deciphering, or that crochet project that has become your nemesis.  Sign up for this class to get the help you're looking for while also learning tips and tricks to make your crocheting hobby easier.
    Level:  beginner/intermediate/advanced
    Supplies: bring your own project/pattern
    Cost:  $15 1-hour; $25 2-hours

    Absolute Beginner
         Thursdays: February 3, February 17, or March 3:
            10 AM -- Noon 

    Have you tried to learn how to crochet from a book and just don't get it?  Has it been awhile and you need a refresher?  This class was designed with you, the beginner, in mind.  In this class you will learn the slip knot, the chain, and the single crochet, the importance of turning chains, how to add on a new skein, and how to properly end off.  Come, be inspired, and learn the fastest growing needlework in America!
    Level:  absolute beginner/beginner
    Supplies: 4-ply yarn (light color); crochet hook size G-H-or I, any book/magazine with beginner stitch diagrams
    Cost:  $25

    Valentine Roses
         Thursday, February 3
           12:15 PM -- 2:15 PM 

    Look at the latest fashion magazines and you'll see that romance is in the air.  Flowers are everywhere!  In this class participants will learn to create two different types of roses that you can add to your crochet -- or knit -- work.  Wouldn't it be fun to crochet beautiful roses to pass out to your friends and family for Valentine's Day? 
    Level:  Beginner/Intermediate
    Supplies:  Crochet Hook (size G, H, or I works best); 4 ply yarn
    Cost:  $25

    Joinings & Edgings
         Thursday, February 10  
         10 AM -- Noon
    Have you been crocheting a zillion granny squares until the time has come to assemble them?  Have you worked up the pieces for a sweater and not sure how to put the pieces together?  Does your work seem to be missing that final touch?   If so, then this class is for you.  In this class you'll learn the proper techniques used for sewing and crocheting your work together, along with discussion of how you can finish your work with a simple edging to pull it all together.
    Level:  Beginner/Intermediate/advanced
    Supplies:  project to be assembled, or 4 - 8 squares to practice on; Crochet Hook (size G, H, or I works best, or hook used for project); 4 ply yarn; tapestry needle
    Cost:  $25

    Modular Poncho
    Thursday, February 17 AND Thursday, March 10
           12:15 PM -- 2:15 PM
    Session  1 of 2
    :  In the first session of this workshop participants will select various types of fibers to use in designing their own unique poncho based upon personality traits and fashion trends.  If you ever wanted to create an item that gets the "WOW's" then this is it!  Homework will be assigned to continue on to the second session.

    Session 2 of 2:  In the second session of this workshop participants will bring in their completed homework assignment and work on assembling their ponchos and adding the final touches.  If you're not signed up for this class, you may want to stop in the store for an impromptu fashion show as students will surely be admiring each others works of art! 
    Level:  beginner/intermediate/advanced
    Supplies: variety of crochet hooks, the larger the better; up to 10 types of yarn; tapestry needle; pen or pencil for note taking; tape measurer; yarn pins/markers
    Cost:  $50

    Thursday, March 10
    10 AM -- Noon

    It doesn't have to be just luck for the Irish!  Shamrocks can also be used to add more flair to your needlework!  In this class participants will learn the trick of crocheting the shamrock motif that can be used to wear alone, such as on a pin, or to be sewn onto a garment, or used to adorn a scrapbook page or gift. 
    Level:  beginner/intermediate/advanced
    Supplies: white or green 4-ply yarn, tapestry needle, size G-H or I hook
    Cost:  $25

    For classes in the Stamford area, please visit the website