Saturday, April 30, 2005

Scary thoughts

I'll be making a list, checking it twice -- running around, making sure I don't forget something tomorrow, because that wouldn't be nice!  I need to finish my daughter's veil (sew on one more ribbon) ... so this means I'll need to drag out my travel ott light as my floor lamp's bulb blew.  (I did order a replacement through; they offered free priorty shipping and the bulbs were on sale.)  Plus I want to sew the label onto my bag ... that shouldn't take much time; I'll call that my "reward" if I get all my work done today.

I want to thank everyone for emailing and letting me know where I can find teddy bear tights.  I mentioned yesterday that I was going to be on the lookout for matching tights and said I'd go into it further at a later time.  But, with so many thinking that I want to put tights onto the bear, I think I should explain this now.  The reason I'm looking for tights that match the fiber I'm using to crochet up the bears is for when it comes time to stuff them.  I want to cut the tights up and use them as liners between the chinchilla and the stuffing fiber which is normally white (sometimes you can find it in black).

Doing this will help "color" the white stuffing in case any wants to show through, and it will also help keep the stuffing from squishing out from excessive hugging and washing.  So I'm on the lookout for teal and fushia colored tights for this purpose.

Now, the title of today's entry is just a tiny bit about what I have to do today, but it's more so about this ebay auction for an 1800s crocheted bedspread.  I don't know what the time limit is that ebay lets auctions be viewed (even after they're over), so be sure to check it out as soon as you can.  I can't see myself ever bidding/auctioning off such an item with such a scary history, but then again, perhaps some of you, my readers, would.  Let me know your thoughts.

Friday, April 29, 2005

"CrochetWithDee" selected as Editor's Pick

Hi Dee,
I am pleased to announce your Journal, CrochetWithDee, has been selected as one of our 'Editor's Weekly Picks.' It will be featured at starting today, and remain there until next Friday.

Congratulations and happy Journaling!

Journals Editor

What a complete surprise!!  Thank you Joe!!!  J

Soft Whispers, Cont.

Yesterday afternoon was the big rehearsal for the "big day."  Since they were short by one boy they opted to have my daughter lead the procession, calling her Princess.  Normally she's on the shy side, but this she liked. 

Earlier in the day I took some black fabric and created a liner.  I added the snap closure, then I ran the two pieces together through the sewing machine along the top of the liner. (This was quite risky to do, but I liked the end results!)  As the children practiced, I worked on my Soft Whispers bag by carefully whip stitching the liner and the bag together at the top, careful to hide the sewing machine stitches. Then I sewed on the button.  It's nearly done; just need to add "my label."

When my husband came home from work, he was amazed with it, calling it one of my "signature pieces."  I plan on writing down the pattern just as soon as I have a bit of free time.  What I can say about the pattern is that I liked the results of using two strands of the Plymouth "Whisper" together ... there are areas that are a bit darker, and areas that are a bit lighter.  I think it adds to the character to the bag. 

I also had time at the Church yesterday to start on one of the Comfort Teddy Bears.  I've decided to use Lion Brand's pattern with Chinchilla.  I'm using an "I" hook, and all I can say at this point in the project, is that if you cannot crochet by feel yet, do not attempt this.  You'll go blind!  Keeping track of your stitch counts is an absolute MUST ... but, if you're up for a challenge, then go for it.   

In working up the first 11 rows, I find that this intensely soft fiber will be great for giving feelings of comfort when "Mommy, I love you" and "Mommy, I miss you" are softly whispered into the teddy bear ears; and of course, will be perfect for hugging.  Yes, I think in going with the chinchilla instead of chinelle was the right choice.  I'll be on the hunt for matching tights -- I'll go into detail on why at a later time.  :)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Petting Soft Whispers

I feel as though I've been running a marathon; almost as though I've been planning a wedding. But I haven't. I've been busy taking care of many details for my daughter's upcoming Communion! After this upcoming Sunday I can get back to my regular schedule of chaos! {{grins}} But until then, I need to stay focused on all that needs to be tended to.

What this all means is that I've been under a bit of stress and needed something to take the edge off. What better than to start another crochet project, right? I can hear your thoughts processing this and screaming, "Oh, no she didn't!!" 

But, yes! That's exactly what I did! I took on ANOTHER crochet project!!

Late Sunday night I grabbed two balls of Plymouth's "Whisper" novelty yarn. It's a pretty nylon fiber with a touch of eyelash that when worked up has a tendency to scream at you, "Pet me! Pet me!" The color I used is called "Neutral" -- it's the dreamy yarn I had picked up last month during the
Crochet Partners field trip to WEBs, a huge yarn shop in Massachusetts. By the time I was ready to turn in for the night, I had whipped up three inches with my "J" hook.

On Monday I had volunteer lunch duty in my daughter's class.  So for the first time, I brought in a non-charity project to work on. The kids just loved coming up and touching it. Many had said they had never seen such a yarn, and they were curious as to how my work would turn into a bag. "I think it's going to be a hat, " one child remarked, "because it doesn't have any handles." I advised that the handles would go on last. "I think it's going to be a foot blanket because it's big enough for my feet," another child added. (What an interesting idea; filed it in the back of my brain for future investigation.) I kept making my stitches, and kept answering back that it would be a handbag.

I continued to work on it as I later sat in the parking lot waiting to pick up the kids. We returned home, and later in the evening I went back to working on it. Very late Tuesday evening, the handles were added. And that's what you see here. All I need to do is add a liner and the button and it's done. I hope to use the bag at the Communion; it matches my outfit perfectly.

It wasn't my intent to add another project, but when making the phone calls, finalizing the details and such, each crochet stitch helped relax me and helped me maintain my focus in making sure that this would be a wonderful day for my daughter. And hey, if I overlooked something, or if one of the details fall through, I'll have my bag to pet. It's as soft as a child's warm "I love you" whisper.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Thirteen years!!

The National Vital Statistics Report says that Americans have an overall life expectancy of 77.3 years. Hmmm. There's also a report out that states that Americans have an average of sitting on the couch for 13 of those years. Thirteen years!!

Thirteen years is equivalent to 113,880 hours. I crochet, on average 55 double crochet stitches every three minutes, so let's see ... (punching & crunching some numbers here...) that would mean that I will do some two million stitches during my couch time! Awesome! (2,087,800)

Anyone know what the average amount of projects a crocheter will create in a lifetime? LOL

Hey, if anyone is keeping tabs on Lily Chin's crocheting ... on average she'll do some 3,530,280 stitches! Wow!! I guess it pays to be the World's Fastest Crocheter, like last year where she pumped out some 140 hats for charity!   :)

Of course, thinking like this gives the concept "couch potato" a whole new persepective ... maybe sitting on the couch isn't such a bad thing if you're able to crochet for that time!  LOL 

Monday, April 25, 2005

"... come on sugar let me know ..."

I'm getting back into the swing of things after having my kids home for a week (Spring Vacation), so I'm running a bit behind this morning.

However, it wouldn't be right if I didn't share this little gem that came through one of the online groups I enjoy ...

Remember my Rod Stewart dream?  Well, now you can (for those that are his biggest fans) snuggle up with their own Rod Stewart afghan!!  Yep, click here for the pattern.   

                               "... come on sugar let me know ..."

Oh go ahead and sing the song ... I am!  LOL 

     And no, I do not intend to make the afghan; it's bad enough that I'm singing!  J

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Question from Reader: Changes to Journal

Dear Dee, I see you changed your image. It's cute. Why are you standing next to a lion, and what is on your head? Thanks, Debby

Hi Debby,
Thank you for writing me and noticing I've made some changes here on my Journal. I thought that after having the same image up for a year that it was time for a change. I scoured what images I have and thought this one paints the best picture of my personality -- I love to have fun!

That picture was taken last year at the Knit Out and Crochet Too event that was held in New York City. I wore my black poncho which I've written about here in my journal before, and I wore a hat I designed for a contest my local crochet group had. (Since my main PC's crash, many pictures were lost, so I'll have to get busy taking more pictures of the hat.) The hat is entirely crocheted, including the feathered trim going around.   If you look at the picture below, to the right where I'm sitting with an attendee of the event, the feathers on the hat really show!

The lion I am pictured with is the mascot for Lion Brand, the yarn company.

This is what I have left, image wise, of last year's KOC2. (you can see where I lifted my image out of this collage to add it to my journal.) Ah, the KOC2; what a great time that was!

For more information about Knit Out and crochet Too events in your area, visit the Craft Yarn Council of America's website at

So, Debby, you didn't say.  Do you like the change?  :)

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Shop With Dee (huh?)

I had a fantastic journal entry for today but my sausage fingers accidentally deleted it this morning.  (Arg!!)  I plan to recreate in the next day or so, so please bear with me.

I want to thank that *special someone* for nudging me to open my own "shop" ... I'm delighted that you like the images of my crochet work featuring my prized crochet hooks and one of my "comic" designs.  So, it's official! ... go here to check it out:   No clothing yet, but I can add it if there's interest.  Please, let me know what you all think.  :)   ... do note that I've ordered from CafePress prior to opening my CrochetWithDee shop, and I was very pleased with all of the products. 

I also hope to announce that I'll have a logo ... an official logo! ... by the end of next week (fingers crossed).  If all goes well, I'll give the details of who I went through, and the designing process.

See; I've been busy today!  <<grins>>

Have a great night!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Happy Anniversary

This month celebrates the start of my sixth year of teaching crochet.  I was thinking that I should celebrate somehow ... so as I watched "Survivor" last night, I crocheted.  I finished crocheting a scarf that I'll donate this winter, and I also crocheted up a hat to match.  I think the best feature about the scarf besides the little pink heart I surface crocheted on it, was that my daughter helped me crochet it!  I can't think of a better anniversary gift than that ... the gift of love, the gift of sharing.  :)

So, yeah, I'm starting my sixth year of teaching crochet!  What an incredible journey it's been!  (For more information on my journey, visit my website and give the page "a note from Dee" a visit.)  It feels good to be out of the "Crocheter's Closet" and encouraging others ... the experiences and the people I've met on this journey have just been awesome!  ... or better yet, to quote MasterCard, "priceless!"

Now interestingly enough, (talk about timing!) a new yahoo group formed just a few days ago and already has over 50 members in it ... it's filled with crochet teachers and those looking to become crochet instructors.  If this appeals to you, then come join us.  The link is in the "favorite sites" box to the right ... look under the heading "online crochet groups" and click onto "TEACH CROCHET."  I hope to see you all there!  J

Thursday, April 21, 2005

serenity in crochet?

I had an odd dream last night.  Maybe it was due to the drop in degrees, or the huge bursts of wind rattling the windows, or the sound of tree branches crackling and falling, or maybe it also had to do with my finishing another Preemie set (blanket & hat) and the scarf for charity I started late last night.

Whatever the reason, I can still vividly recall "hearing" in my sleep Rod Stewart singing, "If you want my body and you think I'm sexy come on sugar let me know.  If you really need me just reach out and touch me..."  But what made the dream odd was that his backup singers were skeins of yarn, the band was twisted hanks of yarn (the drummer was banging on the drum with crochet hooks) ... and they were shooting a video for MTV to go with the song!  The video was all on how to make textured crochet stitches and petting the various types of yarn.  Weird, weird, weird; I know!!  (Odder yet, I don't have cable, so watching music videos is not something I'm used to!)

Well, I suppose if I'm going to get this song stuck in your head (and possible dreams) then the least I can do is offer you, my readers, an interesting news article ... go ahead, download the song to your ipod and then go here: Find a pocket of serenity in crochet hook and an iPod  (this is the first time I've seen a news article offer a free crochet pattern!)

OK now, sing with me: "If you want my body and you think I'm sexy come on sugar let me know.  If you really need me just reach out and touch me..." 

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Blog Rings


2.       Hip Hooks Webring
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3.  I messed up my html coding, so the coding below really belongs to Donna of Yarn Tomato.  (5/14/05: I tried to fix my html code but couldn't.  I'll just have to wait for Donna to email me about my official joining.  The html code I'm using here I lifted off of Donna's site.)
                Crochet Blogs
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Archived Questions from Readers

I enjoy helping others find answers to their crochet questions.  To make finding questions I've answered here in my journal easier, I plan to archive them here.

If you have a question (other than pattern requests), please send me an email or leave the question here in the comments section.

Question from Reader: Angel Lace Technique

Question from Reader: Foundation Rows

Reader Asks Question: Copyright

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

Question From Reader: Importance of Swatches

Question from Reader: Tunisian Crochet

Question from Reader: Tunisian vs. Double Ended

Question from Reader: Left Handed Crochet

Question from Reader: One Handed Crochet

Question from Reader: Crochet With Ribbon?

Question from Reader: Taking the Best Shot

Question from Reader: Hook Size

Question from Reader: Crocheting with Chinchilla

Online Musings

Last night I spent a little time visiting other journals. At one, the line from the story book Little Red Riding Hood came to mind, "My, what big eyes you have!" ... but it would be more like the character, Mike, from the movie Monsters, Inc. ... "My, what a big eye you have!" that would be more fitting for this particular blog I intend to encourage you to visit -- so, no matter which line you like best, it's still worth going over and checking out. Go ahead, don't be chicken!

And speaking of chickens, at this blog is the ultimate hat that really should be tried in crochet (we can use the popcorn stitch). I think it would, for sure!, take the humdrum out of the long winter seasons we traditionally have here in New England!

Comically speaking, you'll then  also want to go over and give Heidi's new website a visit ... check out the crochet cartoons she has featured. You'll get some great giggles & grins there (and she has very pretty stitch markers for sale too!)

If we switch over to Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, there's something amiss there ... apparently The Wicked Stitch's blog is gone. Did the tornado that hit Dorothy's farm in Kansas also take the blog? (If anyone knows what happened, please let me know)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Irish Crochet and Freeform: Cousins!

Irish Crochet has been around for a very long, long time! And if one really thinks about it, technically it is Freeform crochet.

In Irish Crochet, the motifs are first crocheted. This can be anything from a flower, a leaf, a bunch of grapes ... once all the motifs are ready, they're laid out and pinned onto a cut pattern. Then comes the process of filling in the spaces between the motifs that ultimately will create a solid fabric.

Freeform is similar. Little motifs (flowers & such), or motifs without traditional thoughts (scrumbles) are laid together and assembled. The spaces that exist between pieces are then filled in creating a solid fabric. (The term "scrumble" is credited to James Walters and the late Sylvia Cosh.  They described the little crocheted bits as "scrumbles" because they are not considered a motif.)

Since much of freeform is borrowed from Irish Crochet, I think it's safe to call them first cousins.

Let's look at my freeform handbag pictured here. Through all the motifs of random colors and stitches, you'll see three flowers and leaves. I used the traditional Irish Clones Knot, normally used to fill in the spaces between motifs, to create my flowers. The leaves are also a traditional Irish motif; I just made them "fluffy" by adding mohair to my gold yarn I was using at the time.

My point in showing my freeform crochet bag here is to demonstrate that Irish Crochet and Freeform are so close in technique that I encourage all crocheters to try both techniques -- at least once!

You never know; you just might fall in love with one of the two techniques, if not both! J

Monday, April 18, 2005

Question from Reader: Taking the Best Shot

Dear Dee,
I stumbled upon your blog and then found your picturetrail website. I love all your crochet work. Can you tell me what camera you use and what you do for lighting? I want to take pictures of my crochet work and like the way you photograph yours.
Sincerely, Lisa

Hi Lisa,
Thank you for the compliment on my work. I have on "extended loan" from my father a Kodak EasyShare DX7630 digital camera. I've had it in my possession for a few weeks now and am really enjoying all the features. It's got 6.1 megapixel, and easy to select options (for choosing what type of photo you're taking). I like the way it feels in my hand, the weight of it, and it's ease of use.  I love it so much, I don't think I'll be returning it to my father any time soon! LOL (BTW: this camera is on sale this week at
Staples ... they're including a free 256mb secure digital memory card, and they're taking $50 off the camera.)

For backgrounds I usually use various colors of fabric. I like fabric rather than paper because the fabric can be folded and draped in ways that will flatter the piece you're looking to photograph. Plus, afterwards, it can be folded and stored whereas paper risks being creased and damaged. The fabric I use depends upon the project, but mostly I'm careful that it doesn't have a reflective quality to it.

For lighting, I try to use natural lighting whenever possible. This means, since my kitchen faces south (and I live in the north) I get a lot of fantastic sunlight on my kitchen table. If I need filler light, I have a clip-on lamp with a GE Reveal bulb ... and I'll toy around with the flash options on the camera.  The goal is to reduce shadows but not to wash out the texture of the crochet work.

As an example, let's look to this picture on the right. I took black fabric and draped it in front of my refrigerator. I had my son stand in two positions with the hat worn either red side out or the yellow side out. I used my clip on light to create lighting and snapped away. Then I used Microsoft's simple "Paint" program to mesh the two photos together and add the text. That was a fun photo to take!

As for the photos themselves, I try to follow what's known as the "rule of thirds." What this means is that when I'm looking through the lens, I make a mental note to divide the picture into 9 squares. Then I look at how my eye bounces around the subject. If my eye keeps coming back to the subject and not wander off to the edge (and fail to return), then it's a good shot. This website will help explain the rule of thirds:

Finally, I try taking pictures from different angles rather than straight on. This helps to give the subject more dimension or interest ... take the photo to the left as an example. Here I took Pam's afghan and "wrinkled" it up a bit, placed the hook and the yarn in the shot and thought to myself, "well, if I wanted to go and reach over to pick that hook up, what would be a good vantage point to see that?" So, keeping the natural lighting in the back (there were two large windows nearby), I moved around until I saw the shot and took it. 

Now lets look at the image to the right.  Again, I used natural lighting. The chair was placed under a window with natural light streaming in. I knelt on the floor and took the shot because here it's a baby blanket, on a child's chair, and I thought to myself, "If I were a child walking into the room, what would the blanket look like?"

I hope this helps with your photography, and hey, when you're ready to show off your crochet work, let me know! I'd love to check it out! ... and thanks again for writing in! :)

Sunday, April 17, 2005

.. @ @..

Don'tcha just love when someone walks up to, hands you a postal letter and says, "I think it's a check."  In most peoples eyes you'd see the dollar sign appear in their pupils.  Nope.  Not me.  In my eyes, little skeins of yarn appear! ... LOL

Yep, a check arrived yesterday for the Modular Poncho pattern that's in the process of being published.  It shouldn't be long now until the book is available.   Of course, I can't wait!  I'm sure they took a much better picture of the poncho than I did. (see image to the right).  The color in my picture looks flat; it doesn't "POP;" it doesn't reflect the colors correctly -- something that the publisher said looked "flirty" when she received it.  (of course, my model here, Sharlene, does an excellent job showing it off, eh?!!)

One of the things I did do, upon the overwhelming amount of requests I've received from across the country, is to submit a teaching proposal for this poncho (along with other classes) to the Stitches East event coming this September (It's held in Atlantic City, NJ).   We'll see if I'm selected, and if so, I'll announce it here in my Journal.  Selected or not, I'll be at Stitches East this year!

On the crochet front I have two projects going on while waiting to go shopping for the Chinchilla ... one is finishing up the interview questions for Chris, and the other is graphing out the logo for the Knit Together store (I have their blessing to use their logo for an upcoming class).  I must admit that I've really enjoyed using the program "Instant Stitch" (the "PM Stitch Creator" is one of the discs included in the packaging) for the graphing!  ... so if you're looking to doing custom graphs with your crochet work, check it out!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

...Ohhh!!! (an update)

For those of you that have been following the story about my Irish Clones Lace doily going on exhibit, I have an update for you.

For those of you that are new to my Journal, here's a crash update:  I received a phone call requesting I consider submitting my Irish Clones Lace Doily for exhibit at the Lacis Lace and Textile Museum.  I was just tickled for the invite, and submitted my piece.  My piece was well received and will be on exhibit from July 1 to July 31.


What an honor!  My piece is being shown with many of the big names of our time! ...Prudence Mapstone, Margaret Hubert, Bonnie Pierce, Jenny Dowde, and so many more!  Many, many thanks to Melanie Gill for making this a fantastic opportunity!!

So, now that everyone is up to speed, would you all like a little peek?  LOL

Sit back, click here, and enjoy the slide show; my piece is the very first image.  If you want more to "ohhh and ahhh" over, then click here.


Friday, April 15, 2005

Question from Reader: Crocheting With Chinchilla

Susan writes: Hi Dee, I've been reading your blog and I see that you mentioned chinchilla. Is it hard to crochet? Thanks

Hi Susan,
Great question! The key to working with textured fibers is to have great lighting, a large hook, and a little patience. To get some practice in is a must, and for that I'd recommend using a textured fiber to trim a project for at least one row. Or you can crochet up a hair scrunchie (Click here to see Berroco's free pattern).  This way you get to discover if you like it or not.  (Be careful Now! This is how love affairs with yarn can really deepen!  LOL)

I, admittedly, have not made an entire project out of Berroco's Chinchilla, but I have used it for trims and in freeform crochet. (Maybe if I have time this weekend I'll take some pictures of my freeform work that has chinchilla in it.) In my experience in using the Chinchilla, I loved the way it felt slipping through my fingers, and how it felt being worked up. Soft, silky, and geesh, hard to stop petting. (Yes, Sheila, if you see this in a yarn shop, pet it to your hearts' content!!)  I think, based on my experience with the fiber, that I'll no trouble with it crocheting up the bears.  (Have I decided which pattern yet?  No, but I am leaning towards Lion Brands') 

Thanks for writing in, Susan! :)

Now, for a little gossip: I heard this past weekend that if you're a member of the CGOA and shop through Annie's Attic, that you can ask for a membership discount. I heard it's something like 5%-10%, and that the order must be done via the telephone. I haven't tried it, but it's worth checking into if you intend to do some shopping through them.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

... Teddy Bear Hugs to All ...

I realize I've been away for a few days; I've missed coming here too! 

I want to thank everyone for their kind, heartfelt condolences, and for helping me find teddy bear patterns.  I haven't settled on a pattern yet, but I think I have for the fiber ... Berroco's Chinchilla yarn.  It's got an incredible soft feel to it ... a feel of velvet and silk, but it's 100% rayon.  I think it would make for great cuddling teddy bears, don't you?

Sheila, you're just incredible in finding all those teddy bear links ... so much so, I thought in case anyone else is interested in making teddy bears I'd share the links:
  • Pattern Page
  • Free Crochet Pattern: CHENILLE Teddy Bear LITTLE BEAR
  • Grandmas Hookery -- Teddy Bear Pattern
  • Teddy The Gift Giver
  • Cuddle_Me_Bear
  • Free Crochet Design - Crochet Teddy Bear    ... Thank you Sheila!

    And Sandie of, was so sweet to offer Aunt B's teddy bear blanket pattern. It's adorable! Thank you so much, Sandie!

    Laura offered these bears: -- I've often admired them on eBay; just a delight!  Janet offered The Knitted Teddy Bear by Sandra Polley over on; and Le-Teisha offered a mother load of teddy bears with just one link:   Le-Teisha also offered the idea of placing my SIL's picture on fabric and make the kids a pillow.  I like the idea, but I'm thinking of taking it a step further ... say, placing her image on a tiny T-shirt for the bear to wear.  (Thank you for inspiring this idea, Le-Teisha!)

    So, while I'm looking at the teddy bear possibilities, I'm also thinking about color ... rather than going with the traditional browns, I was thinking of using color.  Possibly fushia for Erin, and Blue (royal maybe) for Chris.  I think that by adding color it could represent happier memories to the kids.

    Thanks everyone!  Thank you for everything!

    Monday, April 11, 2005

    on the hunt for little comfort teddy bears

    Four years ago my brother met his family and this means that my family tree grew as well.  We all get caught up in the "now" and rarely see that time flies by until something happens that makes you stop, think and reflect.  I had always thought that there would be time for us to get together ... a family reunion or something ...  

    Sadly, I learned today that my sister-in-law passed away.  They found the cancer eight years ago.  Colon cancer.  She beat it.  But it came back, and now she's gone.  She leaves two children, a son, 11, and a daughter, 8 (the same age as my own daughter!), and a loving husband.  My heart just aches for them.  

    They had no insurance, so we will donate what money we can; and at Christmas, a donation to the American Cancer Society in her name.  In the meantime, I'm on the hunt for little comfort teddy bears ... something to crochet up for the children to hug when they wish they could be hugging their Mom; something they can bury their faces into and shed those tears.  (If you'd like to help me search, leave the web address of a teddy bear pattern here in the comments, or send it to me an email. I'd greatly appreciate it!)  

    For the rest of the year, every item I crochet for cancer will be in her name:                                                   Patty Constantini.

    Question from Reader: Hook Size

    JoAnn asks: Does hook size really make a difference when you're crocheting?  I'm crocheting with Homespun and it's really tight.  Is it me, or the yarn?

    JoAnn, I understand that you're new to crocheting, and I think you have an excellent question!

    Yes, hook size matters. When we purchase our fiber to crochet with, we should look at the yarn label. Many are now giving the information of what the yarn manufacture suggests we use, but you can usually bump the suggested size up or down a size depending upon how tightly or loosely you crochet. The key is to match the gauge suggested by the pattern you intend to use.

    If the yarn label does not suggest a hook size, then look at the suggested knitting needle size.  Take that metric size and apply it to the crochet hook -- again, you can bump it up or down a size depending upon your tension.  Still, though, it's important to match the gauge suggested by the pattern.

    Now if you don't want to get into gauge right now and would rather concentrate on just making stitches, then I suggest making a few squares all with the same fiber.  With each square, use a different sized hook.  What you'll learn is how the hook will either make a very dense fabric (hook too small), or a fabric that has a very open, possibly softer drape to it (using an oversized hook).  The fun here is to experiment and see what develops.  Have fun with it!  J

    Sunday, April 10, 2005


    I received a visit from Janet yesterday (thanks, Janet!) ... she's a new AOL Journaler over there at knit-a-polooza.  She requested I check out the site and find out what kind of knitting needles I am.  So I did.

    Hmmm.  It's 4 months into the new year, and I haven't changed.  I took the quiz on Dec 4th which pretty much said:

    You are interchangeable.
    Fun, free, and into everything,
    you've got every eventuality
    covered and every opportunity
    just has to be taken.

    Every fiber is wonderful, and
    every day is a new beginning. You
    are good at so many things, it's
    amazing, but you can easily lose
    your place and forget to show up.

    They have row counters for people like you!

    ... and this is the exact same results I received from the quiz today.  Maybe if I actually picked those knitting needles up once in a great while and  practiced ... bwahahahahahahaha!  I know, I shouldn't snicker evilly at myself; I should just jump in and do it. 

    One good thing I did for myself yesterday was to start another journal ... just for me (sorry, I'm not sharing it).  I'm mentioning it here today because I think for those that are new to the concept of blogging, or journaling as AOL likes to call it, can benefit. 

    I call my private journal "dee-sign" (thanks to the nickname Haley bestowed upon me), and it contains just what the name implies:  my notes on designing. I put three entries in there already that I can go into anytime I'm online and edit ... be it on my main computer, the laptop, or my hubby's sidekick.  It just struck me that in utilizing a single journal/blog, and by keeping it private, I can access it wherever I am, and I like that!  You might too!

    Have a fantastic Sunday!

    Saturday, April 9, 2005

    National Child Abuse Prevention Month

    Last month, in honor of National Crochet Month, the online group known as Crochet Partners hosted an essay contest for their members.  Over fifty people entered this contest (including myself) that wrote about why crocheting means so much to them. 

    They announced the winners today, and in reading the entries, I can see why it was so difficult to choose.  I'd like to invite you, my readers, to get a fresh cup of coffee or tea, sit back and read all the entries -- even inviting you to ponder why crochet means so much to you.  To read the entries, click here.

    While we're at it, I'd like to highlight that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  The other day Sheila of "Just Another Hooker" added a comment to an entry I wrote about crocheting something for charity in honor of the Pope.   She said we should also consider crocheting for a child ... so, I thought to help promote this great idea that I'd include a link to a webpage filled with crochet patterns to create items especially for children:  Crocheted Toy Links

    Every child is precious and deserves to be loved.  Show them you care by taking the art form you love and crochet something, then donate it to a cause near you that helps children.  Then, if you have a child in your life, take a moment and give them an extra special hug; tell that child he/she is special and tell them why.

    Then, keep this song by Foreigner in mind, from a child's perspective:

    I gotta take a little time
    A little time to think things over
    I better read between the lines
    In case I need it when I’m older

    Now this mountain I must climb
    Feels like a world upon my shoulders
    I through the clouds I see love shine
    It keeps me warm as life grows colder

    In my life there’s been heartache and pain
    I don’t know if I can face it again
    Can’t stop now, I’ve traveled so far
    To change this lonely life

    I wanna know what love is
    I want you to show me
    I wanna feel what love is
    I know you can show me

    I’m gonna take a little time
    A little time to look around me
    I’ve got nowhere left to hide
    It looks like love has finally found me

    In my life there’s been heartache and pain
    I don’t know if I can face it again
    I can’t stop now, I’ve traveled so far
    To change this lonely life

    I wanna know what love is
    I want you to show me
    I wanna feel what love is
    I know you can show me

    I wanna know what love is
    I want you to show me
    And I wanna feel, I want to feel what love is
    And I know, I know you can show me

    Let’s talk about love
    I wanna know what love is, the love that you feel inside
    I want you to show me, and I’m feeling so much love
    I wanna feel what love is, no, you just cannot hide
    I know you can show me, yeah

    I wanna know what love is, let’s talk about love
    I want you to show me, I wanna feel it too
    I wanna feel what love is, I want to feel it too
    And I know and I know, I know you can show me
    Show me love is real, yeah
    I wanna know what love is...

    Friday, April 8, 2005

    "How do you store your crochet hooks?"

    I'm really enjoying having the use of my father's digital camera, and I'm delighted to finally be able to answer the question that I've seen on other journals/blogs: "How do you store your crochet hooks?"

    I use mostly wooden hooks for all of my crochet projects.  I like the way they feel, and the round body on the hooks work well with the twisting & jutting technique that I use rather than the traditional knife or pencil hold.

    But I also love to collect crochet hooks, so in the picture to the left, that is what you see -- some oldies, some collector hooks (can you see my "other" glass hook? It looks like a ghost because it absorbs the colors around it), and you see my beloved wooden hooks (some jeweled) made by Graydog.

    The container that houses them is, I think, an old plastic hot chocolate container.  I covered it with the technique known as freeform.  There's even little "pockets" on the front & back side to allow me to insert hooks into the crocheted fabric rather than inside the container (such as my glass hook, and my ivory hooks).  This helps to protect them from rubbing against others that may be in the container.

    Are those knitting needles you see?  Yes.  But they're not used too often.  They're just there to demonstrate that in my house, crochet rules!  LOL

    The colorful bag you see in the picture is really a "Treasure Bag" that I extended to be able to hold my larger wooden hooks.  I use the bag to tote my hooks to class.  You can get the free pattern from my website ...  if you'd like to crochet one for yourself.  Just be sure to extend the pattern to accommodate the length of your crochet hook collection.

    So, nowit's my turn to ask the question: 

                           How do YOU store your crochet hooks?

    Leave me a link (via comments here or send me an email); I'd love to see!  :)

    racing with designing ideas

    I was exhausted yesterday; ended up taking a three-hour nap.  But it ended up backfiring because by time I was ready to fall asleep last night, my brain was just racing with designing ideas.  Maybe it had to do with finally taking the pictures of the supplies that were sent to me last week.  All I know is that my brain was going 900 miles an hour with no hint of slowing down, and who can sleep with that going on?  I know I can't.

    So I tried my breathing technique: 

         Breathe in, feel the air filling my lungs.  Breathe out.
         {{now what if I took this fiber and mixed it with ... no, I can't think about this right now, I must sleep!}}

         Breathe in, feel the crispness of the air.  Breathe out.
         {{why don't they make the canned air they give you at the hospital nice and crisp like this? I don't like the warm air they give you at the hospital.  I wonder, does this have something to do with me being born in the winter ... no, I can't think about this right now, I must sleep!  Try counting each breath}}

         Breathe in.  Breathe out.  "One."  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  "Two."  Breathe ... 
         {{tomorrow you need to book a photographer, book a restaurant, book ... I can't think about this right now, I MUST sleep!!}}

         Breathe in, hold it, slow it down.  Breathe out. 
         {{ah, that's working!  Hush!  I'm trying to sleep!}} 

         Breathe in, slowly.  Breathe out. 
    {{oh, that's nice, do it slower.  And here, try crocheting this upto the rhythm of your breathing...}}

    So I finally caved to the last thought my brain offered and finally drifted off to sleep.  Hey, you can count sheep if you'd like, but concentrating on my breathing and on crochet stitches seem to work for me. 

    Today, I feel rested.  I'm looking forward to taking those ideas and at least writing them down.  Who knows what they might develop into, right?

    Thursday, April 7, 2005

    "Flatman & Ribbon"

    Yes, the title of today's entry is the answer to yesterday's riddle offered by my son.  Cute, huh? 

    Now speaking of "flatman and ribbon," have you tried crocheting with flat fibers yet? It's quite a lot of fun! The widths vary, and so does the look depending upon the size hook you use. I have a sample of hairpin lace on display at the shop (I'll try & remember to get a photo of it the next time I'm there). The hairpin lace technique was used with a very wide ribbon ... for the hairpin technique itself I used a small hook ... a "G" if I recall correctly. Then I used an "N" to frame the work in all single crochets. The sample came out quite interesting if I do say so myself.

    Another aspect of using flat fibers, ribbon, material, whatever you have in mind really, is to mix the mediums up. Pictured here is a class sample I worked up ... a "small" scarf in rows of double crochet. This was worked up with an "F" hook and Berroco's pink suede. (The suede is a thin, flat fiber with a hint of nappy texture.) After the initial crocheting was done, I cut wider, silkier ribbon into long strips and wove it through the stitches with a tapestry needle.  I understand that Berroco has a pattern out for this style scarf, so you might want to check with them if you're interested. Otherwise, just wing it like I did and try creating it on your own. It's quite a lot of fun.


    4/08 UPDATE:  Many have asked where they might be able to locate the pattern for this scarf ... don't quote me yet, I'm still looking into it ... but I believe it can be found in Berroco's pattern book #218 called "Scarves & Shawls"; I'm currently awaiting to confirm this.

    Wednesday, April 6, 2005

    going around the bars and picking up loops

    I turned in the beaded bikini top to the shop yesterday. It was a huge hit!

    To the right you can see my "promoter" and "model" showing off the bikini top ... I just love when she strikes the pose for me! Don't you think she does an awesome job modeling? (Thanks Sharlene!)

    We had two fantastic classes yesterday. We were doing a little word playing in the Tunisian class ... saying something about going around the bars and picking up loops (come on, you have to read INTO the wording here). It was quite funny.

    For the "Honoring With Stitches" post I did on Monday, thank you. I have received emails, and was approached in person, with many of you saying that the post moved you. Thus far I have a scarf and a preemie afghan done, and they'll be donated to area charities.  I plan on placing a hang tag on these items to let the person/family who receives the item(s) know of their significance. Again, I can only hope that the items help make someone else's life a little bit brighter, a little bit better.

    My son, knowing what a fiber junkie I am, asked if I could share his favorite joke with you, my readers. He loves to remind me of this joke when I am looking at, or when I am using a particular type of fiber. See if you can figure out the answer:

         Q. What do you call Batman & Robin after they get run over by a steam roller?

         A. (I'll post the answer tomorrow)

    Monday, April 4, 2005

    Honoring with Stitches

    I think my head is going to swell; I am totally honored that so many would like to be able to spend a week with me on a deserted island, and that my web site is aiding someone with a major project.  Wow!

    Instead of allowing that to happen, I'm going to take that honor that so many have bestowed upon me and do something positive with it.  I know many crocheters are feeling the loss of the Pope this week.  Since he was humanitarian, then I think one way we can all honor him is to crochet something and donate it to a local charity in need. 

    Some ideas that come to mind: a little blanket for an animal shelter, a larger blanket for a homeless shelter.  New to crochet? Then how about a 6" X 9" square to donate to Warm Up America so that it can be added with others to create an afghan?  Crochet a layette set and donate it to a teenage mother center; or crochet cotton hotpads and towel toppers and donate it to a battered women's shelter.  There's so much that can be done, and so many in need.  And, as the item slowly takes its shape as it's being crocheted up, a prayer can be said over the item (in whatever religion practiced) to ask God to watch over the individual that receives the item.  Just think of how it can touch someone else's life for the better.

    Me? I'll be doing just that.  For the rest of the week my crochet projects will all be for charity, all in honor of the Pope,  with the hope that it makes someone else's life better.

    Sunday, April 3, 2005

    "I encourage anybody to give it a try," she said.

    Look at what I had fun crocheting yesterday during our heavy rain storm ... a bikini top!! The pattern is from the book, "Ready, Set, Crochet."   I added some of my "personal touches" to it by adding the many hundreds of beads.  (It took F-O-R-E-V-E-R to find just the right beads for this project!)

    Does it fit?  Hahahahahaha 

    No.   But I didn't crochet it to fit me.  I crocheted it for display; it will be at the Knit Together store in Stamford, CT.

    So with thoughts of youth, fashion, and summer, I thought I'd share this more positive crochet/knit news article with you, my readers: "I encourage anybody to give it a try," she said.

         *** For a better view of the bikini top, visit my 2005 album at ***

    Saturday, April 2, 2005

    "Festival of the Needle"

    When crochet makes it into the news, more times than not, there's misinformation.  Lets look at the article entitled "Grandma's doilies updated as fashion designers get hooked on crochet"  and dissect it a bit.

    The article is about a three-day festival that celebrates the needle arts including knitting and crochet; they're hoping to attract 20,000 visitors.  It discusses how crocheting is "shedding it's fuddy-duddy image after showing up on the catwalks" [but] the "return of crochet is still confined to the designers and hasn't really reached the wider public no doubt because ... it seems technically difficult."

    Huh?  What can possibly be difficult about having to use half the tools (while gaining twice the speed) over that of knitting??  The wider public knows crocheting is easier because the ratio of crocheters to knitters is 3:1.  Are they saying that the majority of those that know how to crochet are all designers?  (Now that's a wonderful thought right there!!!)  ... no, they corrected themselves further in the article stating, crochet " ... is easier than knitting.  You just have to count the loops."  (so why did they bother to say crocheting is technically difficult?  That made no sense at all!) 

    I don't agree with the article stating "despite being flavour of the month, crochet remains a marginal activity compared to knitting or embroidery."   To disprove this statement all one needs to do is look at how crocheters are coming out of the closet and demanding ... no, that's the wrong word... we're commanding  (we're taking the authority to dominate) that yarn/thread manufacturers, publishers, and yarn shops take notice and address our needs.

    I think that if this "Festival of the Needle" event,  taking place in Paris, is really going to celebrate the fiber arts, that it needs to, as well as those writing articles for it, overcome the bias of what crochet is, what it can do for fashion, and who's doing it.  Let crochet shed it's stepsister and "grandma fuddy-duddy" image once & for all, and let it be seen in the spot light that's long overdue.

    And what can be better than that?  :)

    Friday, April 1, 2005

    Glass Hook (& Dee's WIP)

    One of the things I'm working on is updating my picturetrail albums ... I've created an album called "2005."  The image below is from the album.  It's the glass hook I mentioned on March 15th; a surprise gift from my bosses:

    Update: Sheila asked what stitch I'm using for my sweater pictured here with the glass hook ... Sheila, it's called the "Parallel Post" ... it's one of the stitches featured in the ever-great book "encyclopedia of crochet" by Donna Kooler.  This site has a pattern for a square using the stitch, but no picture.  J

    Update #2: I received another email asking what the other stitch is in this photograph.  Great question!  The beauty here is that it's not another stitch.  It's the backside of my work, the back side of the Parallel Post stitch, which is making a unique design in itself.  I'm actually toying with the idea to, when it comes time for assembling the pieces, make the sweater reversible because of how pretty the backside is working up. 

    A Storm + Dee = Shopping, right?

    I just got back from a local craft store ... yes, there's a big storm headed our way!  The town crews were out there on the roads like army troops -- never have I seen so many working at once!  They're busy clearing all the storm drains.  Based on that, and on the pain in my knee, I'm thinking the storm will be bigger than they're saying it will be (we've already had some mud slides reported earlier this week, and I'm guessing we'll be seeing more with this storm).

    So with this huge rain storm scheduled for tomorrow, I went out today and picked out some beads I need for a store sample I'm working on.  And, because of Sheila over there at "Just Another Hooker," I picked up some earring hooks too.  (Thanks Sheila!  LOL)  I'm going to play around with crocheting earrings and then saving them for when my Crochet Chapter decides to do another fund raiser. 

    Which brings an important topic to light! ... The earring pattern states that it's OK to use for fund raising!  Otherwise, I'd contact the pattern owner and seek permission first.  When patterns are published, it's usually for personal use; not for mass production. 

    Anyway, I'm thinking that I'll need to add some beads to the earrings ... we'll have to wait & see what develops.  :)

    PS:  I don't know how I escaped adopting new "fur babies", but I did!  I swear I did not come home with any yarn!!  Now, how on Earth did that  happen?!!!