Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Positive Thoughts Wrapped in Stitches

I am currently working with my local Crochet Club to make chemo hats to donate to our local hospital for Valentines Day.  We're calling it "Hats from the Heart" and thus far I have three done.

For the most part, I am a(self-proclaimed)  positive person.  While it's true we've all had bumps in our road of life, I like to try and see the positive side.  And, with this attitude, I try to think positive thoughts as I crochet my projects -- be that they're for donation, or for a close friend or family.  These thoughts are always for "a brighter future."

I believe that when I do this my "positive vibes" will somehow rub off on the intended person.  Of course I don't have any scientific proof that it helps, but then again, how can it not?  Is this not why "Prayer Shawls" are so popular?

About two months ago I wrote about a fellow blogger who has a heart of gold and is battling cancer.  She ordered some chemo hats from me to aid in the fund raising efforts for the American Cancer Society that I started in the memories of my sister-in-law and aunt.  This blogger wrote to me how she needed a chemo hat and how others in her life also needed them.  How can you deny the tug of heart strings when you hear of someone in need?

I couldn't.  So in her order I included a "surprise" hat just for her in hopes it would bring her some happiness.  It did.  And wouldn't you know it, this woman, while in for treatment one day, took that very hat off her head and handed it to another to brighten another woman's day!   
She wrote about that moment in her blog and it touched many hearts.  So much so, another gold-hearted blogger ordered more Chemo Hats from me and requested I send them directly to this gold-hearted woman who is battling for her life.  I did; and again I included another hat just for her so that our combined positive thoughts would bring her the warmth she needs during her recovery.

She hasn't blogged for nearly a month now.  Her absence from the blogging world is deeply felt, but now we have a sigh of relief.  It seems her mother, sister and brother-in-law have stepped in to care for her as she recuperates.  We all await for her return to blogging, but more importantly, we all await for her return to being healthy!  To quote Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, "that the shadows bear the promise of a brighter coming day."

While I know it's impossible for me to crochet for every person in need, I do know it's possible that together we can reach out and send our positive thoughts wrapped in stitches.  So with February being the month to show love, why not challenge yourself to join me in crocheting (or knitting!) a Chemo hat or a prayer shawl and donate it to your local Cancer Treatment center -- and with each stitch being worked up, why not say a prayer or think positive thoughts.  Your warm act of kindness will mean the world to someone!

         Pamela, hang in there!  We're rooting you return to "a brighter coming day" soon! 

Click here for a Prayer Shawl Pattern, and for chemo hat patterns, visit my website, CrochetWithDee, or search the internet using words like "chemo hat knit" or "chemo hat crochet."

UPDATE Feb 5, 2006:  For those looking for updates on Pamela, join this Yahoo! group: updateonpam

Monday, January 30, 2006

Pins & Needles

Pins & Needles, pins and needles.  Have you ever got that tingling feeling of pins and needles, that butterfly feeling in your stomach, as you await for an event -- await for results?  That's the very feeling I'm experiencing this morning.

This is partly because sometime tomorrow the end results for the Best of the Blogs will be posted.  Will my blog here be the winner of Knitting/Craft Category?  I don't know.  But I do know it was an honor to be nominated, to be listed with a great group of other fiber/craft bloggers.  And, I'm thankful for the opportunity to represent our craft, our art, Crochet, in this group!  And moreso, I'm thankful for your support!

The other reason for the pins & needles feeling is because I finished some publishing pattern proposals.  The swatches need to arrive by February 1st, so my sweet hubby is off to overnight them to the publisher.  Will the publisher like my proposals?  Again, this is one of those "I don't know" answers.  But I'm thankful for the opportunity to submit them! :)

Of course, to make this proposal process easier for me in the future I need to learn how to have yarn companies send me samples for consideration in my design swatches.  While I do have a rather vast yarn stash, a girl (or budding designer) can never have enough fiber to draw inspiration from!  (that's a big hint to the yarn companies! LOL)

Yep. Pins & needles.  Maybe this is a sign that I should blow the dust off my knitting needles and give knitting another try while I await for the results?  Maybe I should tap into this nervous energy and crochet up some more Chemo Hats.  Either way, I love this feeling and eagerly await the results.  :)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Judging Crochet

As January begins to come to a close soon February, March, April and May will breeze by too -- and with that time come thoughts of entering various crochet competitions be they local or national level.

I happen to like entering my work in both levels.  I do it not so much because of the chance of winning (although I have won many ribbons for my work), but more so for exposing the judges and those that will later come & view the entries  to the various types of crochet.  The work may not be the judges' cup of tea, but in time they may come to appreciate the freedom that the art of crochet offers!  And, it may spur onlookers to pick up the hook and try crocheting!  When that happens I feel my mission has been achieved!  :)

In a recent telephone conversation I had with a top-level CGOA board member, this very topic came up.  She told me how in her area her crochet work is nearly always rejected by judges at a local competition, year after year because they don't view her crochet work as "traditional."  I heard her plight and suggested she try a group effort to "sneak the technique" into the back door (so to speak).  I told her how my group did such an effort a few years ago and wouldn't you know it!  The piece challenged our group members, and it won a ribbon!  Today, that very technique is now appreciated at the venue we attend every year!  She was excited to hear this and will propose it to her group.  I hope to hear from her on how it turns out.

Of course just because you may be entering a "different" technique than that of which the judges are accustomed to doesn't mean to skimp on the overall rules of crochet! 
     * We should always ensure our dye lots match;
we start our work with a slip knot and properly end off;
     * we securely weave in our ends (yes, judges will tug on your work so be sure they're secure!);
our work looks and smells clean;
     * our work has been blocked (if needed);
     * we use the appropriate hook for the intended fiber;
     * that the stitches and the fiber work well together (the plainer the fiber the fancier the stitch, the more the fiber has texture the simpler the stitch).
     * and finally, if we're looking for a "leg up" over the competition, we should make our work look "finished" instead of "home made."  One way to achieve this is by adding a border to your work.

So, in the months to come I will be thinking of what I'd like to enter -- what it will be that I'd like to expose other crocheters or newbies to.  If I win a ribbon, that's great.  If my work inspires someone, that's even better!

Now, go on over to the Herrschners' website and check out the 2006 Winners -- and if so inclined, why not enter into their 2007 Competition?  You could win up to $2000, or even better, inspire someone with YOUR crochet work!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Question From Reader: Crocheting With Beads

Dear Dee, I am an admirer of your work! I especially love the beaded bikini top you did and was wondering if crocheting with beads is difficult? Can you tell me also where do you buy your beads from? Sonya

Thank you for the compliment on my work, Sonya, and more importantly, thank you for contacting me to inquire if crocheting with beads is difficult. To answer your question, no, I do not think crocheting with beads is difficult at all!

The trick is to ensure that the beads work with the fiber you intend to do your project with. But before we go there, lets look at the techniques of adding beads to our crochet work:
     A. Thread beads onto fiber and crochet beads in as you go.
or   B. Thread bead onto individual stitches as you go (this requires removing hook from work & using a "threader" such as "The Bead-ler" to slide bead onto stitch loop before completing stitch).
or  C. Hand sew the beads on when the project is complete.

The quickest of the three techniques I mentioned is "A," and this is where I'll keep my answer to you focused on. To crochet with beads, you'll first thread the beads onto your fiber -- but as I mentioned earlier, it is very important that the beads and the fiber work well together! If the bead is too small it will rub on your fiber and damage/weaken it! We don't want that, now do we?  No we don't!  So the important thing then is to ensure your beads slide freely on your fiber! 

Then, once you've determined you have a good bead/fiber match start crocheting! The following website is great great for offering tips:
  • beadcrochet.com offers animated (video) images you can watch on your PC.
  • And check  these links out to be inspired:
       Carol Ventura's bowl called "Brimming with Possibilities"
       ... and here's her "Rasta Bag" (give time for the link to load, it's on Adobe Reader)

    To answer your other question, where do I buy my beads?   I buy my beads at local craft shops like
    Joanns, at various bead expos, and online like at places like ebay, The Bead Room, Fire Mountain Gems, or Aunties BeadsSo you see, I do tend to buy them everywhere --  and not always for specific projects I have in mind, but I always buy extra!  In the case for the biniki top, it took well over 700 beads per cup!  By having extra beads I ensure I have enough for the entire project!

    Speaking of Aunties Beads, here's some coupon codes that should be good until 12/31/06

  • FREESHIP06A - is for free shipping on a minimum order of $100.00 or more
  •          SAVE15 - 15% off list price, $200.00 minimum
  •          SAVE20 - 20% off list price, $400.00 minimum
  •          SAVE25 - 25% of list price, $1,000 minimum
  •          SAVE30 - 30% off list price, $1,500 minimum
  • AUNTIESTOOLS - 25% off $100 minimum order in Tools and Supplies category
  • WATCHFACE15 - 15% off $150 minimum order in Watch Face category 
  • FREESHIP100 - Free shipping on $100 orders
  •    CHARM06A - is for 10% off any product in the charm/charm bracelets section, no minimum 
  • CZECHGLASS06A is for 10% off Czech Glass, no minimum
  • PRESENT06A is for $10.00 off entire order of $100.00 or more
    Disclaimer: All coupons are one coupon per order and not valid with other offers. All discounts are for in stock items only. Coupon discounts are not applied to sale items or tiered quantity discounts. Unless otherwise specified, coupons may only be used once per customer. Coupons may not be applied to previously placed orders. Free shipping coupons are for orders being shipped within the continental US only.
  • I hope this helps inspire you to try crocheting with beads, Sonya!  And if you really get hooked on crocheting with beads, then you should subscribe to the magazine, "Bead & Buttons."  They usually have at least one crochet project per issue, and they have great tips on how to do other things (non-crochet) with your bead collection.  If you want to save a few bucks on the subscription, then order it here, but do be sure to check out Bead & Buttons' official website to find more treats featuring crocheting with beads!

    Happy Cro-beading!

    Wednesday, January 25, 2006

    Winter/Spring 2006 Crochet Classes: Stamford, CT

    You asked for crochet classes that offered
    more freedom, more opportunity to learn what
    other Crocheters are creating, and new techniques.
    Ah, you're crocheters after my own heart! 
    I think you'll be pleased with the
    Winter/Spring 2006 Crochet Class Offerings below!

    Sign up quick! -- Class size is limited! ~Dee

    Store:  KnitTogether
    Location:  111 High Ridge Rd, Stamford, CT
    Contact: (203) 324-YARN

    CROCHET 101
    One 2-hour session $25
    The start of a New Year is a perfect time to get hooked on the
    art of crochet! This class is designed with the beginner in
    mind: learn how to properly start your work, the foundation,
    chain the single crochet, how to count stitches, how to build
    on your work to create wonderful fabric, and how to properly
    end off.
    Tuesdays, 12:45-2:45 pm • Feb. 14; Mar. 14; Apr. 11
    Saturdays, 10:30 am-12:30 pm • Feb. 11; Mar. 11; Apr. 8

    CROCHET 102
    One 2-hour session $25
    Reading labels, figuring out gauge, reading patterns, repeats,
    markers ... Oh! What is all this? It’s the next step in learning
    more crochet! This class is designed to help beginners take
    their new passion to the next level. **
    Tuesdays, 12:45-2:45 pm • Jan. 31; Feb. 28; Mar. 28, Apr. 18
    Saturdays, 10:30 am-12:30 pm • Feb. 18; Apr. 15


    Stay for 1 hour $15
    Stay for 2 hours $25
    Come for an hour, or come for two! In this social class
    participants experience the joy of crocheting and chatting with
    others while getting help with projects and/or learning a “new
    to me” stitch.
    Tuesdays, 10:30-11:30 am and/or 11:30 am-12:30 pm •
    Jan. 31; Feb. 7, 14, 28; Mar. 7, 14, 21, 28; Apr. 4, 11, 18, 25

    One 2-hour session $25
    Crochet includes over 100 different types and techniques!
    These classes are designed to explore some of them:
    [Saturdays (S) or Tuesdays (T); All classes meet 12:45-2:45 pm]

    Magic Ball Fun is for those with tons of
     yarn scraps but no project in mind! Bring all
    your scraps to class and learn to
    put them together creating a new “one of a
    kind” shawl, poncho or scarf!  Apr. 4 (T), Apr. 8 (S) 

    Felted Heart Brooch is for yourself or
     to give to your loved ones on Valentine’s Day!
    This class explores the technique of
    felting by hand. **  Feb. 7 (T), Feb. 11 (S)

    Mixing Mediums is fun and exciting! In this
    class, participants will learn how to mix
    fiber, wire and beads to make beautiful
    necklaces. **  Feb. 18 (S), Mar. 7 (T)

     Freeform - It’s time to learn how to break all
    the rules! In this class, participants will be
    introduced to the Freeform technique
    phenomenon that’s sweeping across the
    country and the world! This class will explore
    freeform crochet with just one fiber to create
    a pencil/hook holder.  Mar. 11 (S), Mar. 21 (T), Apr. 15 (S)

    One 1-hour session $15
    Made a mistake? Need help in figuring out a stitch or pattern?
    Get back on track by coming in for help! Turn your mistake
    into a learning experience; let your passion for crochet bloom!
    Saturdays, 2:45-3:45 pm • Feb. 11; Mar. 11; Apr. 15

    One 1-hour session $15
    Knitters, what do you do when your patterns require crochet
    for finishing? Instead of skipping it, fudging it, or pawning
    your project off on someone else for those finishing touches,
    take this class to learn how to crochet on a knitted edge,
    even buttonholes! **
    Saturdays, 2:45-3:45 pm • Feb. 18; Apr. 8

    Sunday, January 22, 2006

    Today Shopping, Tomorrow back to Crochet?

    What's the first thing you do when you start feeling better?  You go shopping while wearing your pajamas!

    While I'm still focused on taking it easy, I parked myself earlier today at "Camp Couch" and enjoyed a wonderful online shopping spree.

    My first visit was to www.yarnofthemonth.com -- I've heard of many good reviews about this "pay as you go" monthly subscription where I'll find "4 generous samples of the newest yarns available" in my mailbox, so I took the plunge.  I plan on sharing my goodies here, so stay tuned! 

    My next visit was to
    www.crochetfantasy.com to restart my subscription. Time got away from me and I forgot to renew, so I thought today was a good day to get the ball rolling again.  Hmmm.  This means another good thing to look for in the mail!

    So while I was at it, I hopped on over to
    bluedolphin to renew my subscription to Piecework and to order a subscription ofSpin Off again.  I really enjoy Piecework for all the various fiber arts they showcase -- including crochet!, and Spin Off will rekindle my interest in working with unspun fibers. 

    So as long as I was thinking about it, I then hopped on over to magazinevalues where I renewed my subscription to Bead & Button, Hooked on Crochet, and Quick & Easy Crochet.  Oh, I really felt my spirits lifting!  Maybe being sick isn't such a bad thing, hmmmm?

    Feeling a bit giddy, I then went to Overstock.com and found today is the last day for their $1 shipping (no minimum) deal they have going on.  I started perusing "new to me crochet" books and selected the "Crochet Answer Book" -- my plan is to donate it to my local Library come this March (National Crochet Month); picked out a book on Crocheted Leis, and a book on Felting.  I thought about the LED belt buckle they have featured, thinking I could spell out "Dee" with it and wear it to various events I attend, but that's borderline tacky if you ask me, so I passed on it and did a search for yarn.  I found some. Didn't order it, but was surprised that they offered it. 

    Now I'm thinking "I'm gonna need a larger mail box!"  At any rate, I'm envisioning a lot of fun:

    Saturday, January 21, 2006

    Thank Yous

    I'm on the road to recovery from this "very impressive upper repository infection" (so says my Doctor.  And while I'm mentioning him, let me ask this question.  Why is it that when you have great pains just swallowing liquids that they prescribe medication more fitting for a T-Rex?  Gag!!)  But I'm being good, taking the antibiotics, taking it easy.  All the "Get Well" emails have been wonderful!  Thank You!  I will be back on my feet in no time, and more importantly -- back to crocheting!  :)

    A Thank You to my crochet students, and my bosses! -- having to cancel my classes this week was sad.  But your understanding & Well Wishes were greatly appreciated!  I am aiming to resume classes on Tuesday, so please hang tight!  We'll be having fun classes again in no time!

    I'd also like to thank everyone who voted over there at the Best of the Blogs -- especially for those votes in the knitting/craft category.  Although the voting was shut down early (visit the website for details on why), I am thankful for being a contender, and for all the support from my readers.  Right now the various blogs are being evaluated for content and that will mix in with points awarded by your votes.  So it's a "Wait & See" until they announce who the winner is.  Again, I'd like to thank you for voting, be that it was for me or for another that you enjoyed.  (To see the final vote count for the knitting/craft category, click here or onto the BOB graphic.)

    Lastly, I'd like to thank Sheila for sending me this video link of some men having fun -- getting caught up in the joy of stitching (01/29/06 Update: Reuters has since removed the aforementioned video link).  I will admit that the piece is focused on knitting, but I think it's also more important to mention that it is good to see men enjoying the fiber arts.  More should do so!  And while you're watching the clip, don't forget to check out what the store has in it's front window; I'm sure you'll smile too.

    With that, I salute you all with my crochet hook in hand.  I am thankful to have you all in my fantastic fiber world!  :)

    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    An Opportunity to Play With Our Dinner

    Since "the worst damage causing storm since Hurricane Gloria in 1985" that caused my power to go out for three days in 5F degree weather (not including wind chill) where my family and I were held "hostage" by a 15,000 volt cable at our front door, I've become pretty sick.

    With a sore throat, chills & fever, it is true that I have been sleeping quite a bit.  And naturally this means dreams, crochet dreams, happen.

    So when I dreamt of crocheting with spaghetti -- in finding the right "texture" to make the stitches work up yummily (is there such a word?) I thought I had finally gone off the crocheted edge of reality.

    That is, until I stuck my head out of the covers long enough this morning to grab my latest issue of Crochet! magazine!  (March 2006)

    Lo and behold I wasn't delirious after all!  It seems designer Belinda "Bendy" Carter has done just that and offers us an opportunity to play with our dinner to create colorful (and certainly unusual) projects! 

    And you know I will -- just as soon as I'm feeling better!

    Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    Exciting News!

    We interrupt our normal crochet routine to bring you this important announcement:

    More importantly, while my husband and I work on placing our house back into working order, I'd like to direct today's Crochet Readers over to Sheila where she has a fantastic entry on what happens when one crocheter helps another to achieve her/his crochet goals.  This is really what the crochet community is all about!

    Here's the link:  "Showing Off"

    Sheila, awesome job!  Jill, Congratulations!!

    Monday, January 16, 2006


    It is hard to crochet when your fingers are frozen, and this is the case here at CrochetWithDee land.  We lost power yesterday afternoon when a neighbors tree, loaded with frozen rain, came crashing down during the high winds.  A fireman banged on my window yesterday and stated we're not to leave the house as "There's 15 thousand volts of live electricity by your front door!"  Yikes!!

    Unfortunately many thousands of other Connecticut residents suffered the same fate.  And even though the power company worked through the night restoring power for many, people like us here are still without power this morning. 

    The temperature last night was 5 degrees not including wind chill. To conserve heat we closed off the rooms in the house and camped out in the living room; a generator provided power to a little portable heater.  We had fun spending time together; the children and I even spent some time last night detangling yarn by candle light! 

    This morning it's still quite cold here and there is no word on when power will be back.  Do I sound like I'm whining?  I am and I think I'm entitled.  After all, I'm no
    Laura Ingalls Wilder -- and although I'm a huge fan of all her books, I wasn't "built" to live like a real frontier woman.  I'm sure if I set my mind to it I could do it, but then where would I plug my laptop into for recharging?  How would I be able to surf for patterns, get the latest crochet news, chat with all my cyber friends, and be able to update my blog?  Now, that I see as a problem!  \

    To generate more heat, I'll be leaving the candles on the CrochetWithDee Blog Birthday Cake burning until tomorrow.  This means for those that are still interested in entering the jingle contest -- you still have time!

    In the meantime I'm off to find a crochet pattern for fingerless gloves while I still have battery power for the laptop ...

    Saturday, January 14, 2006

    CrochetWithDee Turns Two!!

    Tomorrow is the mark of two years of blogging -- of sharing my passion (as quirky or opinionated as it may be) about the art of crochet.  And I have had a good time doing it!  In that spirit I've decided to have a contest to celebrate and you're invited!!  Whoohoo!

    The contest centers around rewriting a fun jingle into something that reflects YOUR passion about crochet:

      The Original Jingle:
            My Bologna has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R
            My Bologna has a second name it's M-A-Y-E-R
            Oh!  I love to eat it every day
            And if you ask me why, I'll say
            Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A.

    Here's my version:
    I have this serious addiction; it's C-R-O-C-H-E-T
    I love it so much that I avoid housework like the P-L-A-G-U-E
    Oh! I love to crochet every day
    and if you ask me why, I'll say
    Cause my yarn stash is bigger than the entire U-S-of-A!

    The Official Rules:
    1. Rewrite the Oscar Mayer jingle to reflect your love of crochet.
    2. Email it to me or leave it as a comment before midnight (12:00 Eastern Time) by 01-15-06.
    3. The Judges (my children) will select a winner. In the event of a tie, the two lyrics will be displayed as a future journal entry where readers can vote for their favorite. In the event that that ties, then it all comes down to the toss of a skein of yarn -- label facing up to the writers name will win.
    4. The winner receives the honor of having a donation made to the Friends of Karen, Inc. non-profit organization in their name.
    5. I am not to be held responsible for the tune getting stuck in your head.
    6. Have fun with it. After all this is what birthdays areall about! :)

                                                             "How's that?"   :)

    Crochet in Court

    Here at CrochetWithDee it's been discussed that crocheting is not just for grannies.  It's an art form for everyone of all ages, and genders to enjoy!  And apparently it's big business too.

    Right now Chanel is in court defending itself against World Tricot.  At stake is over $2.3 million (US) for possible breach of contract.

    The evidence?  "The commercial court's presiding judge, Jean-Pierre Lucquin, struggled to compare unusual evidence comprising a sample of white crochet and a crochet Chanel vest." It seems the supplier has accused "the French fashion house of producing a sample of a vest it had proposed last year and had rejected."

    You know it's good crochet when two major companies go head-to-head!  You can read the full story here.

    One thing I think is interesting to look is in what is being said about the company World Tricot.  In the Washington Times article (click here to read) it states that the company "churns" out "elegant fashions."  In crochet, there is no "churning."  The word churning implies, at least to me, that a machine is doing all the work.  Perhaps with the knitted fashions this is true, but not with crochet.

    This is because there are no true crochet machines.  Jean Leinhauser stated in a recent online disussion, "What people sometimes claim is a crochet machine is actually a giant machine that makes trims for draperies.  It is called a crochet machine because it uses many hooks.  The resulting yardage doesn't look much like crochet to me, but that's what the drapery trimming industry calls it."

    image used with permissionYou can see such "crochet machines" here -- which happen to sell around $10,000 US.  Of course some less expensive serger machines can produce the same results as the so-called "crochet machines," but no machine can produce the actual crochet fabric itself -- the same fabric that our great grandmothers, our grandmothers, mothers, children, and all the men (including Peter you see here to the right, inventor George Washington Carver, President James Buchanan, photographer Marvin Smith, football great Rosie Grier, and my charming Uncle Teddy) all created by hand!

    LEGO toys (click for video) (as reported on Amy's blog) might be able to knit, but you won't find anything other than a human crocheting.  So the next time you see someone with a hook in their hand, stop and watch.  They're producing one of the last remaining fabrics that must be made by hand, a single stitch at a time.

    Friday, January 13, 2006

    Cast Your (Crochet) Vote!

    I am honored to have been nominated and selected as a finalist as a "Best of the Blogs for 2005" in the Knitting/Craft category. 

    As the only crochet blogger listed (
    CrochetWithDee) I'm asking for your vote -- not just because it's a blog/journal dedicated to crochet, but because, overall, you like it.  (But if you like another finalist listed, then cast your vote for that person.  After all it's the fiber arts that we all love and enjoy, right?)   J

    To vote, and check out the other finalists, visit http://www.thebestofblogs.com/vote-here/


    Thursday, January 12, 2006


    What ever could it be that I'm so excited about?  It's my pattern for the Modular Crochet Poncho that is featured in the book, "Fabulous Crocheted Ponchos"! ... the book is in my hot little hands and this means I'm published again!!  Whoohoo!!

     for a larger view, click onto the image here

    This is my second piece that has been published, and although my name was misspelled, I can't be happier!  I think they did a great job capturing the colors in the poncho -- and I'm looking forward to hearing from those that use my pattern to create their own "one of a kind" poncho!  Oh, I'm doing the "happy dance" big time!  J

    For a larger view, click onto the image.

    Le-Teisha asks "Where can I go to buy the book"
    Le-Teisha, you're in luck ... here's some places along with what they're selling it for (note the retail price is $14.95):

                Amazon.com $10.17
                Barnes & Noble (bn.com)  $13.45
                Overstock.com $10.10

    To find the books do a search for "Fabulous Crocheted Ponchos" -- it should come up.  If you'd like your pattern(s) autographed, bring your copy to any event I attend (watch for journal posts) or classes I teach.  I'd be honored!  :)

    Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    Birthday Thoughts

    Birthdays are always a fun way to measure where you've been in your life, and a time to look to the future to see where you'll want to be.  It's the path, the journey you take that makes it so interesting.

    I'm not saying by any means that the path will always be smooth, after all how many of us bought beautiful yarn and found knots along the way -- "gifts" from the manufacturer.

    And how many of us have frogged (ripped) out projects because we either didn't like the fiber, the pattern, or lost interest in the project?

    These are what I call bumps in the road of life, in crochet.  And from each bump we learn something from it.  We either learned how to avoid future bumps (if possible) or we learned how to go around them -- or if you've been hanging with me here at CrochetWithDee long enough -- you've learned we can plow right through them -- we can break the barriers and look at things in a different and more positive way.

    It's life, and it's crochet.  And in just a few short days my baby girl and my blog here will be celebrating their birthdays.  We'll be taking time to look to the past to see how much they've grown, and we'll be looking to the future to see where they want to go.  All while we cherish what we have -- today.

    Go ahead, do some stitching.  Create some memories to look back upon while making plans for new ones. ;)

    Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    Following the Picture Trail

    One of the cool things that the image hosting site known as PictureTrail is doing is contacting the image owners and letting them know which of their pictures have received the most views in the past 7 days.  It's something like an overview of the "Top 5."  I like this new feature because it shows me where the interest is, for that week anyway, in my crochet work.

    And for several weeks now my beaded bikini top has been a top performer.  I only wish there was a picture trail that would lead me to the reason on why -- is there an interest in crocheting bikinis and/or with crocheting with beads?  And yes, the bikini has over 700 beads per "cup" and looks even better "in person."  (No, I will not model it.)   :o}

    Another top performer of the week is the doily I crocheted last summer when I was playing with some thread I picked up "on the cone."  The picture features a baby picture of my mother and a ballet picture of me when I was a youngster.  I wonder what lead to the high interest in this shot.  Was it the thread I used, the pattern, or maybe you all just wanted to see if I was ever a platinum blond -- or wanted to see if the garment my mother was wearing in the photo was knit or crocheted?

    The shocker image, no, that's not right -- the image is not shocking; but the fact that it made it to the list after a few years of being dormant is my "ugly square."   Where did the sudden interest in it come from?  The square was one of my first tinkerings with "free form" crochet.  The idea was suggested to us that we should challenge our entire crochet club members to intentionally crochet the most ugliest square they could imagine. We did, and the image you see here was my piece.  We then assembled the squares into an afghan and submitted it for judging.  We called it "The Ugliest Afghan" and ended up walking away with a Ribbon!  Thing is, the afghan wasn't ugly; it turned out beautiful!

    ** Note: to see the images clearer, click onto them for full view.  To see more of my work visit my albums at http://www.PictureTrail.com/CrochetWithDee.  J

    Monday, January 9, 2006

    In a Sea of Purls

    Remember the other day when I mentioned I was a nominee for "Best of the Blogs" in the Knit/Craft category?  Well, I was advised today that CrochetWithDee is now a finalist!  In a sea of purls and a crafter, CrochetWithDee is the only crochet blog to be listed as one of the Best of the Blogs.  Wow!  You know, I was flattered to be nominated; I'm totally tickled to be a finalist! 

    Is it possible for the "step-sister" of the fiber arts to pull it off?  Who knows.  But as long as they don't have a singing competition, I think we have a shot.  (Oh why couldn't I have had laryngitis this week instead of last week!  You don't think they're gonna make us sing, do you?  Maybe I could sing this song...)  Voting starts on the 10th.

    I'd like to extend a big "crochet-ulations" to the other finalists I am listed with:

    Amelia Raitte: My Fashionable Life


    Grumperina goes to local yarn shops and Home Depot

    savannahchik knits

    See Eunny Knit!


    The Knitting Fiend

    knit and tonic

    Vintage Knitting

    Sunday, January 8, 2006

    There is no end. There is no beginning.

    "There is no end. There is no beginning.
    There is only the infinite passion of life.
    And the last remaining skein of yarn,
    in the desired dye lot, in an infinite tangle."

                                              ~Modified Chinese Cookie Fortune

    Cool CrochetCrochet-ulations goes out today to
    Melissa Leapman,
    who was my Mentor through
    Crochet Guild of America
    Her book, Cool Crochet, was named as 
    one of the finalists for the
    Craftrends 2006 Award of Excellence in the NeedleArt Book category!

    Saturday, January 7, 2006

    Excitement Spills Out onto the Playground

    There has been some discussion lately about the "types" of patterns various yarn companies are offering (other than knit & crochet) and their effectiveness.  Understandably the goal of the yarn companies is to sell more yarn.  But, either knowingly or unknowingly, they are helping to spur on interest in the other fiber arts: weaving, macramé, and braiding.

    I happen to like that the yarn companies are branching out.  I think the more people are exposed to the "other" fiber arts, the more apt they are to consider mixing their art forms together to create interesting works such as this child's purse I designed (including dying the fiber with kool aid) on the right in
    June of 2005.  It combines crochet for the body and finger weaving for the strap.  (I did the crochet, my daughter did the finger weaving so this also helps with the argument of getting children involved with the arts.  The bags below also have the crochet/finger weave mix.)

    So where's the proof in the pudding you ask?  Well, I think I found it yesterday among a group of people that stand no taller than 4 feet tall; a classroom of third graders.

    I was advised by my son that the school children have been spending recesses inside due to the extreme cold, snow and ice, and that they were given the OK to bring toys in from home because they are "bored" with the school board games.  Upon hearing this I thought I'd do something a little different with my volunteer time later that day. 

    I packed up a bunch of yarn and offered to teach the children how to finger weave!  Boy!  Were they ever so excited! 

    I sat a group of a dozen children down at a round table and got them prepared to start when just at that moment a teacher came into the classroom and announced that the "higher powers" opted to OK them to go outside for recess.

    You would have thought the children would have been excited with this news -- a chance to go outside to run wild, with yelps of joy and tons of giggles.

          But that wasn't the case. 

    Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww!  Do we have to??!?" they inquired in near unison.  "We're learning how to finger weave ..."  Their faces were so sad looking.  I didn't want to cause any trouble so I promised the children that the next time I come to do lunch duty in their classroom -- when they're "stuck inside" -- I would bring all my yarn and teach them how to finger weave.  The children smiled and cheered, "You're alright Mrs. Stanziano!!" and with that they put on their coats, hats, scarves & mittens and went outside.

    Apparently the excitement of learning finger weaving spilled out onto the playground and other grades got wind of this endeavor.  "You're going to teach my child's grade, right Mrs. Stanziano?" inquired another parent.

                                                          Sure!  :o)

    Thursday, January 5, 2006

    Getting & Sending Messages

    Messages.  We give them, we receive them.  They're spoken, written, gestured.  The key is to read between the rows and find the golden nugget that makes that message so important.

    Take television for instance.  Many crocheters enjoy "listening" to various programs as each stitch is created.  From time to time we lift our heads up from our work to see the images before us.  In my case it seems I do this most when the commercials start to come on.  I don't know why this is, but I've gotten the message loud and clear.  Have you?

    Yes, that's right -- crochet is being touted, promoted, and placed into the public's mind seemingly inconspicuously.  Have you noticed?

    First, lets look at the now well known commercial for Glade.  Yeah, you know the one I'm talking about ... the one that features the lady with all her little crochet covers for the air fresheners.  If you listen to what she says when the commercial first comes on, then you got the message.  If you never noticed then pay better attention next time!  LOL ... she says, "...remember to keep those stitches loose!"  Ah!  Crochet advice on national television!  I love it!

    She is sooooooooooo right!  If you keep your stitches loose it makes it easier to work in the next time you come around.  (And we're not even touching on the subject of gauge!)

    The next commercial is a new one on the air waves. 
    Sherri mentioned it yesterday in her blog ... it's the trailer for Queen Latifia's new movie, Last Holiday.  In the trailer they show the clip of her at a gaming table and there's a little dialog going on; she's rolling some dice while saying, "that's why they call it gambling not crochet."  Do you see the message here?

    The message I walked away from hearing this is that crochet is not as simple as plopping your money down and throwing some dice.  No, instead crochet is an art form that requires patience and practice.  Once you got the technique under your belt then you go can go wild, throwing caution to the wind and do some wild freeforming!  (*freeform is a crochet technique) Thanks Queen Latifia!

    The next commercial to recently air is one for Verizon -- the cell phone/network providers.  Now they don't mention a single word about crochet in their commercial, but if you lift your head up from your work to watch it, you'll SEE  the crochet.  Staring crocheted snowmen in fact.  And the essence of the message is to "stay connected."  See, another truth!  Crocheters should stay connected!  And we can do this by joining local groups and/or joining various online groups -- of which I just happen to have a bunch I belong to listed to the right  -- for your convenience to check out!   (heh heh heh, gotta love those hidden messages!)

    The message I received today was a reminder that I need to go and refresh some material at my website
    www.CrochetWithDee.com as Carol Alexander, editor of Crochet! magazine, has mentioned me in her Crochet! eNewsletter -- she's encouraging crocheters to learn a new crochet technique for 2006 as part of their New Years Resolutions.  (I'm honored for the write-up, Carol!  Thank you!!)  I also happen to agree with her -- what are you waiting for?!?  Go! Visit my site and check out all those techniques I have listed and put one on your New Years Resolution List!!  {{wink wink}}

    So now there's a way for you to send a message ... by voting for crochet blogs!  Click here to plugin as many of your favorite crochet blogs/journals under various headings (including your favorite: hint hint) and lets see if wecan get crochet in the lime light!  Or (and?), if you're more interested in getting crochet "heard" on a knit list, then this is the place to go  :)

    Tuesday, January 3, 2006

    Winter/Spring 2006 Crochet Classes: Bethel, CT

    You asked for crochet classes that offered
    more freedom, more opportunity to learn what
    other Crocheters are creating, and new techniques.
    Ah, you're crocheters after my own heart! 
    I think you'll be pleased with the
    Winter/Spring 2006 Crochet Class Offerings below! ~Dee

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

    Class Reminders: Store Policy
     ·         All classes have a maximum and minimum size, so sign up early to insure your spot.
    ·         Full payment is required upon registration. There are no refunds on classes unless we cancel. If you cancel and we can fill your spot, you will get a store credit.
    ·         We will give you the supply list when you sign up. There is 10% off materials that are bought for one of our classes.
    ·         Most of our classes require home work be done at home. Yes, homework!
    ·        Please leave your friends and family home for class!

    Stitch Social: Come for an hour, or come for two!  In this social class participants experience the joy of crocheting and chatting with others while getting help with projects, finishing techniques, and/or learning a "new to me" stitch. Class size is limited so reserve your seat today!
    Thursdays                                 10:00 - 12:00
    Choice 1:
    Pay $15 for 1-hr or $25 for 2-hr sessions on the
    following dates: 1/19, 1/26, 2/02, 2/9, 2/16, 3/02, 3/09, 3/23, 3/30

    Choice 2:
    Pay $75 for 4 2-hr sessions
    Session 1: 1/191/26, 2/02, 2/09     or
    Session 2: 3/02, 3/09, 3/23, 3/30
    Supplies needed:  hook & fiber to play with; pattern & materials if requesting pattern assistance.

    Felted Heart Broach: For yourself or to give to your loved ones to wear on Valentine's Day!  This class explores the technique of felting crochet by hand.
    Thursday Feb. 9th                     12:15 - 2:15
    Cost: $25 plus supplies; pattern is included
    Supplies needed:  red or pink 100% wool and hook to match fiber for this class.

    Mixing Mediums: Fun and exciting!   In this class participants will learn how to mix fiber, wire and beads to create beautiful one-of-a-kind necklaces.
    Thursday, 3/02             12:15 - 2:15
    Cost: $25 plus supplies
    Supplies Needed: a steel #7 crochet hook, 4-10 yards of eyelash yarn, 28 gauge wire, seed beads.

    Crochet 101: The start of a New Year is a perfect time to get hooked on the art of crochet!  This class is designed with the beginner in mind: learn how to properly start your work, the foundation, the single crochet, how to count stitches, how to build on your work to create wonderful fabric, and how to properly end off.
    Thursdays, 1/19, 2/02, 3/09      12:15 - 2:15
    Cost:  $25 plus supplies
    Supplies needed: Any crochet book that has illustrations of basic stitches, Crochet Hook (G, H, or I), light colored 4-ply yarn.

    Crochet 102: Reading labels, figuring out gauge, reading patterns, repeats, markers... Oh!  What is all this?  It's the next step in learning more crochet!  This class is designed to help beginners take their new passion to the next level.  ** Participants will need to come to class with pattern, fiber & hook. 
    Thursdays, 1/26, 2/16, 3/23      12:15 - 2:15
    Cost: $25 plus supplies
    Supplies needed: Pattern to start, Crochet Hook (G, H, or I), and light colored 4-ply yarn.

    Crochet for Knitters: Knitters, what do you do when your patterns require crochet for finishing?  Instead of skipping it, fudging it, or pawning your project onto someone else for those finishing touches sign up for this class to learn how to crochet on a knit edge, including button holes!
    Thursday, 3/30             12:15 - 2:15
    Cost: $25 plus supplies
    Supplies:  Crochet hook that matches knitting needles size, fiber to play with
    Homework:  Participants must bring in a knitted swatch at least 4" x 4"

    Hairpin Lace 102: Already know how to crochet Hairpin Lace?  Ready for the next step with this fantastic technique?  In this class participants will learn how to use the Clover Hairpin Lace tools to create elongated loops and flowers.
    Thursday 3/16                          12:15 - 2:15
    Cost: $25 plus supplies
    Supplies:  Clover brand hairpin lace fork/loom, crochet hook & fiber of choice.

     Crochet Demonstration of Irish Clones Lace: Planned in honor of National Crochet Month and St. Patrick's Day!  Come any time during the demonstration and watch our Certified Crochet Teacher demonstrate the various techniques while discussing how the crochet lace industry saved millions of lives in Ireland.  Also on display will be the "Irish Flower Basket" that was on display at the Lacis Museum in Berkley, CA. 
    Thursday, 3/16             12:30 - 2:30
    Cost: Free

    Crochet 101 Special: March is National Crochet Month! Sign up for Crochet 101
    with a friend and get a discount! Class size is limited so don’t wait
    Thurs, 3/16 or Sat, 3/18           10:00 -12:00
    Cost: $40 per pair of people plus supplies


    All Felt Up

    I was alerted by Sheila's post this morning over there at
    The Hooker's Haven about one of the most recommended websites I send people to with stitch problems.  It is gone! Gone! Gone!  Yes. Sadly we've had our first bit of sad crochet news for the new year.  StitchGuild.com is no longer with us.  Instead of finding stitch help with relative ease you'll now need to visit the Annie's Attic website and do a little searching until you find the video clips we've come to love from the StitchGuide.com website.  As Sheila states, "there was no warning."  The website worked fine last week, so this does seem rather sudden.  (Like when Patternworks suddenly closed their doors in 2002 in Poughkeepsie, NY, and later showed up in NH with new owners.)  If I hear of any "official word" I'll post it.

    Since I'm still over here on "Camp Couch" (I know! Enough of this already!!), I've been spending my time experimenting in preparation for my new winter classes I'll be teaching.  I wanted to come up with the right pattern, and this is not always so easy.  Sometimes this requires many stitch "rippings" (also known as "frogging"), and completed samples.  I then hand felt up the samples to see if the patterns gave the desired results.   One design out performed the others and I've got to say that I'm really loving the end product, and more importantly I'm sure my students who will be taking the class in February will love it too!  Yes, I've been crocheting & felting hearts! 

    Add that today is a snow day (5-12 inches are expected in my area due to the high elevation), I plan on spending another day at Camp Couch decorating the hearts.  I plan on taking pictures once all the class displays are done.  :)

    For those interested in  getting hooked on the felting technique there are two ways to do it ... by hand or by machine -- bottom loading washing machine, that is.  If you opted to add exercise to your 2006 New Years Resolution, then you'll want to give the hand felting technique a try.  Both create interesting results!  Felted CrochetIf this topic interests you then check out these other blogs, books & websites:

    felt so good: Cher is the present VP of the CGOA and does her felting in Texas!!
    Felted Crochet by Jane Davis:  is now a treasured book in my personal  library!
                  * A Loom With A View: be sure to also check out Linda's studio; it's to drool over!
                  * Simply Felt, by Margaret Docherty and Jayne Emerson is the book I drooled over so much last January!


    :  I received word that StitchGuide.com has always been a part of the Anne's Attic world -- apparently I was too busy watching those little video clips to notice!   The StitchGuide site was operated separately until sadly the webmaster for it died in an auto accident last year.  Anne's Attic opted to move the StitchGuide website onto theirs to make maintenance easier. 

    Thank you, Donna, for this information!  And condolences to the webmaster's family ... the StitchGuide website was appreciated by many fiber artists through the years!  Thankfully all that hard work is preserved at Annies Attic!   ~Dee.

    Sunday, January 1, 2006

    Goals. They seem easier to achieve.

    Have you made your Resolutions for 2006 yet?  I haven't.

    Instead I decided to create Goals for myself.  What's the difference?  Hmmm, I think attitude.  The word "Resolution" or "Resolve" sounds so harsh/hard/difficult.  Goal sounds simple/easy/obtainable.

    Instead of Resolving to lose weight, my Goal is to eat healthier.  This means cutting down to one cup of coffee a day and (gasp) eating fruit.  Instead of Resolving to exercise more, my goal is to spend more time outdoors.  (Bee allergies/fear really puts a damper on my willingness to be outdoors so this is a major Goal to try to accomplish!)

    Instead of Resolving to use up an ample amount of my yarn stash, my Goal is to crochet more items for Charity donation than I did for 2005.  (I'm really pumped for this Goal!)

    And, my readers, you'll be happy to know that one of my biggest Goals for 2006 is to offer a book filled entirely with my crochet designs and other little tidbits! Of course this will take a great deal of time for me to dedicate to such a project, so I may abandon my journal/blog here from time to time to accomplish this, but I'm sure you'll be understanding and supportive, yes?  Oh, and I'll need pattern testers too!  (Any volunteers?) 

    Finally, instead of Resolving to teach more classes, my Goal is to stick my neck out more and submit some National Level Class Proposals.  If they're accepted it would fulfill my ultimate goal of finally traveling out of the NY, CT, MA area to pass on my crochet knowledge in person while getting to meet so many of you that I know through various online groups, visitors here at CrochetWithDee, and with the owners of blogs I love to frequent myself.  Yes, that would be a great goal to achieve, don't you think?

                          I like that.  Goals.  They seem easier to achieve.  J