Friday, March 31, 2006

The "end of the worsted war?"

It's beautiful outside today!  The spring season has finally sprung and I'm enjoying being outside breathing the fresh air.  Yes, rocking in my swing complete with laptop and current WIP: the Irish Clones Lace Arm Band that will be for my son's First Holy Communion.  See?  I'm taking it easy; encouraging myself to get over this cold faster so I can enjoy my classes at the Ewephoric Weekend tomorrow!  ((big grins))

There has been much discussion lately about the feuding between knitters and crocheters -- I've even discussed some of my thoughts and experiences on the topic here.  (The most recent being how I was treated in some yarn shops once it was discovered I was a crocheter.)  The overall response in these discussions has a simple message, "Let's end the worsted war and all get along."  I couldn't agree more!

Recently an inquiry was posted about a college group of men & women, comprised of knitters and crocheters, who were in need of a name.  I gave it some thought and came up with "The Purls and Boyes Club."  I don't know if it will be selected as their final name, but in thinking about it, there has been much controversy over the name of "Stitch'n Bitch"* that many groups use.  (*Normally I don't use that type of language here, but since it is the name of a real publication, I'll make an exception.)  The controversy focuses on who owns the right to use the name, and while I don't want to head down that road and get into a *he said, she said* type of posting here, Stitch N' Bitch Crochet: The Happy HookerI did find it interesting that I'd be contacted with a request to review a  humorous video that is a collaboration between "Expanded Books" and "Workman Publishing."  The video was designed to promote the release of the latest Stitch'n Bitch series:  Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller.  OK, Jennifer, you're on!

Here's my thoughts on the video:  with my DSL connection I could not watch the video in its entirety.  It took several "replays" to get the overall idea.  But once I did, I loved it!  The tie to "West Side Story" was great!   If there is a way, Jennifer, that your programmers can have the video load entirely and then let it play I'd love it even more.  Of course, there is the option to download it, and I assure you I will (but on my "real" computer).  I think the video has a great message about it all starting with "one loop" -- and ending "the worsted war" is awesome!  So, now I'm off to watch video #2 ... and I'm thinking that if the video reflects the same fresh approach as the book, then I need to check out the book too!

So, readers, now it's your turn!  You go, check out the video, and drop me a line here, or a link to your blog where you review it.  I'd love to know your thoughts on it!  J


Note: For those that are adding this book to their personal libraries, visit here for pattern corrections.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sharing is a Good Thing

One of the great things about children is their desire to share things.  I love when they tell me about their day, and when they draw me pictures, and when they opt to pick up their crochet hooks and "doodle" with yarn.  I also (cough cough) rather like when they share their colds with me.

Yes, even their colds.  Am I demented for thinking this way?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.  I like to look at it as an opportunity to catch up on my reading as I'm forced to slow down and snuggle with a box of tissues until I start to feel better.  My latest catching up is with the January/February 2006 issue of PieceWork -- one of my very favorite all-around fiber arts magazines I subscribe to.

As the Volunteer Email Correspondent for the Crochet Guild of America, I receive many inquiries about how to preserve/clean vintage pieces.  While I provide general suggestions, imagine my delight in reading the top line on the cover: "50+ TIPS to preserve the Past: Caring for Your Heirloom Textiles"  -- great balls of yarn!  What took me so long to pick this issue up??  I usually devour every issue from cover to cover the very moment it arrives in the mail!  (I know!  I was too busy celebrating my birthday and then in working on meeting various deadlines!)  But the good news is my children gave me this cold and now I have plenty of time to read it!  Whoo (cough) Hoo!

Listen, if you're interested, then get yourself a back issue from Interweave press -- well worth the money, in my humble opinion!   With just barely two days left for National Crochet Month, consider donating a subscription to your local Library -- share the joy of the fiber arts! :) 

Click here to see another impressive back issue; this one is on Romanian point-lace (yes! a crochet technique!)

I have my magazine in hand and I'm headed back to bed.  I've got to be well by Saturday (I'll be going to the Ewephoric Weekend in Avon, CT) and will need to be feeling better if I have any grand ideas of picking up my knitting needles and using them for knitting!  (cough cough)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Spoonful of Sugar

This afternoon as I did my weekly volunteer time at my children's school, crocheting of course!, a teacher from one of the higher grades approached me.  "I envy you," she said.

"Why," I inquired.

"Because you can do that!"  She pointed to my project still on my crochet hook.

"But you can do it too," I coaxed.

"No, I can't," she replied.  "I tried.  My mother tried to teach me but I'm a lefty.  I just couldn't get it."

"Left handed, right handed, it doesn't matter," I said.  "What does is that you practice.  Try it with one hand, try it with the other.  Crocheting is really a two-handed art form.  Sit with me sometime and we'll see if we can get you started."

She smiled.  "I might take you up on that someday," she replied.

"I hope you do," I answered.  :)

     I think it's a mind set.  If you think you will fail then you're setting yourself up for failure.  I think if you relax and accept that you're learning a new skill, with practice, it will come.  I hope this teacher does take me up on my offer; it would be good to change her mind and open a world of creativity to her.

     I was invited by Lion Brand today, as part of a "small select group," to become a part of their "Project Advisory Board for Knitting."  Hmmm.  Knitting.  (This is where I should swallow my own advice to change my mind about holding two sticks to create lushious fabrics.)  They're putting together a pilot test group before it goes live on their website.  Knitting.  I don't feel comfortable enough with my knitting skills to review the materials and provide them with suggestions and comments to make the best of the program.  Now, crocheting?  Well, that's my second language!  I wrote back to them thanking them for the opportunity andd requesting they place my name in the hat, so to speak, for helping with the crocheting aspect.

     So now the question is, do I humble myself to accept my own advice and use my knitting needles to practice my knitting, or do I continue to use them as hair sticks? What's that diddy Mary Poppins sings? Oh, yes ... "Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down, the medicine go down... in the most delightful way!"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Listen Up!

A few weeks ago I opted to have CrochetMe send me my password so I could restart being active on their boards.  Then I got busy and my emails piled up.  After spending quite some time in weeding my 2000 emails down to 300 this week, I came across the password request and happily strolled back over to the group and began participating again.

At the same time I received an email from a reader stating, "Dee, I would love to know what you sound like!  Would you consider doing a podcast? Susian"

I had thought about doing podcasts (podcasts are like electronic blog/journal entries that contain material about a particular topics of interest and may include music for your listening pleasure), and in fact, I have done some audio entries here in the past!  Here's one that shows some excitement in my voice; at the time I was on my way home (reporting via cell phone) returning from one of my fiber adventures with members from the Happily Hooked on Crocheting Club:

Field Trip to Fiber Art Center, Beaders Paradise & WEBs
(this was from
July of 2004).

Unfortunately AOL had technical difficulties they could not fix with this feature and thus I dropped the option for adding audio.  I did enjoy it while it lasted though because it was fun to call in entries while "on the road," like when I attended the 2004 National Crochet Guild of America's Conference in New Hampshire (visit my archives to find the entries).

Thanks to the CrochetMe newsletter I've learned someone else has started podcasting about crochet, so go on over and give a listen:

Monday, March 27, 2006

Details Make the Difference

Dee: Are those bear paw prints on the buttons? Way cool for a guy vest! Laura

Thank you for the compliment on my button selection for my son's vest, Laura!  The buttons are little bear paw prints -- a detail that did not go unmissed by my son!  He loved them!  The buttons were hand made in South Africa and are fully washable.  They're from the "Incomparable Buttons" company and can usually be found at your Local independent yarn/craft shop.  (I got the bear paw print buttons at Knit Together.)

I was reading a magazine recently -- was it Crochet!, PieceWork, Spin-Off? I don't recall at the moment -- but there was an article about the "details" of fiber art and how they effect our end results.  Do we splurge on the latest fibers to make our creations, or go with the most inexpensive?  What are the pros?  What are the cons?

The article was an advocate for "the middle of the road."  Well, wait a moment -- I want to quote some items from the article so wait a few moments while I go & locate it, OK?

In the meantime, a topic for you to ponder.  Buttons: past or present?  What do you look for in a button?  Discuss.  I'll be back in a moment.

Ah! I found it ... the article is called "Finishing Touches" and is featured in the April 2006 issue of "Hooked on Crochet" magazine.  To quote, "Often, the difference between a good project and a great project is determined by the care and planning that goes into the selection of materials and in the finishing techniques."  This is so true!

I have learned in the past month that I need to start "yanking" on my fibers I intend to purchase.  Not "yanking" in a mean and vicious spirited way, but more of a "does this fiber have any give/memory?"  I recently purchased a beautiful Patons fiber that I selected based on feel, color, and fiber content, but never thought in my wildest dreams that it was an "elastic" fiber!  Nothing on the label indicated it; what a surprise!  And, I learned after working up my son's vest that the fiber had no memory at all -- if my son tugged on the vest it stayed 'stretched out.'  Lessons learned I assure you!

The article also states, "If a pattern calls for purchased ... accessories, don't skimp ..." I'm a firm believer of this.  If you use a beautiful fiber and then add on a cheap button it takes away some of quality of the project.  But if you use a special button, perhaps one that is an antique, then it really enhances the project.  I could have used plain red or black buttons on my son's vest, but by going with the bear print buttons, not only did the focus shift from the fact that the fiber had no memory, but it also highlighted a little personality trait of my son making the work much more personal.

I realize that not everyone has the same budget for projects, but in planning ahead and utilizing our stashes effectively the "... attention [we put into] the details is what [will make all] the difference" in making a good project or making a great project.  :)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Comfort Sought -- and Found -- for Nun's Work

My son awoke with an eye infection on his "big day" -- the day of his Butterfly Mass, a step closer to his First Communion. This infection did not take away any of his excitement!

When I presented him with the vest he requested he said, "Mom you're the best!  This is my most favorite thing you ever crocheted for me!"  Then he gave me the biggest hug.  I was touched that he appreciated it so much!

Because I crocheted something special for my daughter's First Holy Communion last year, he has requested I do so for him.  So next on the design table for him is his First Holy Communion Arm Band, an optional garment accessory for boys to wear.  He wants me to design & crochet an Arm Band for him using what is known as "Nun's Work," or more commonly known as "Irish Lace" -- a crochet technique mostly reserved for tiny crochet hooks and thin thread fibers.  A technique where a one inch motif can take several hours to create! 

Fortunately, I've already started on the motifs -- and have (surprisingly to me) fallen *in love * with the foam Comfort Grips now being sold as a crochet hook accessory that is placed on the handles of crochet hooks.  Because I'm a hook "roller" not a "holder" using those tiny steel hooks usually forces me to change my technique. When I do, it causes a deep (and painful) indentation in my thumb.  I didn't think the foam would make much of a difference, but what did I have to lose? I tried it & found that with the foam comfort tube on my tiny hook I can keep true to my crocheting technique and do so in comfort!  Whew! I am so delighted that I opted to try it!!  :)

I have until May to complete his Arm Band.  I'm sure it will be enough time, right? 

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Celebrating Individualism

I have been battling with my phone company since Wednesday -- both my voice and data lines were dead.  They were able to fix them briefly, but until just moments ago it was silence.  No phone; no internet.  While I am thankful that the service has been restored, getting service with the "new" Cingular folks was like pulling teeth; and I think it all has to do with the At&t merger.  (I cross my fingers hoping this will be the last time my phone service is interrupted.)

Corporate buy outs, over expansion; good for investors, bad for customers.  I think it all means less competition and more of "the same" with a huge drop in customer service.  At least this is what I have been thinking for the past several hours while I worked on a special vest for my son to wear at his "Butterfly Mass" tomorrow. 

I remember a time -- early 1990s perhaps -- when each shopping mall I visited promised "new to me" stores selling merchandise that reflected upon the uniqueness of the area.  Today finding such "individuality" is not as easy as it once was.  Every shopping mall, from coast to coast now has the same stores; the same merchandise.  One must now search for small "mom & pop" stores that carry hard-to-find items, or opt to create "uniqueness" for ourselves.

I think this is why I enjoy shopping at individual yarn shops that specialize in higher end yarns -- they'll have something unique there that no one else has!  They'll have that perfect fiber waiting to be worked up into that unique project for that special occasion.  If it's a wedding we're attending, we're going to want to wear a wrap (or carry a hand bag) that shows off our personality (and matches our attire); something that no one else will have.  If it's a baby shower, we want to give a gift to the little bundle of joy that cannot be found at the local Babies R Us. 

As I neared finishing the vest, and as my son tried it on for one last fitting, it occurred to me perhaps this is why there is such a huge surge in people wanting to learn how to crochet or knit -- that is besides the benefits of reducing stress, and enjoying the process -- it's an opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind item that declares "I AM AN INDIVIDUAL!" without saying a single word.

As I sew the last button on the vest and run my hands along the fabric I created, I smile.  I know my son will be proud to be wearing his special vest -- crocheted out of a fiber he personally chose from my stash (a short red & black "haired" fiber called Safari from Tahki yarns that was discontinued last year), complete with buttons that reflect who he is: an awesome little boy spreading his individualism wings!

Thursday, March 23, 2006


As promised, I'm including images of my "loot" from my recent trip to New York City.  I can't wait to start encorporating them into new works!

Two of the pieces, the Rhinestone Breast Cancer Charms, are already earmarked for a special project.  I will be designing/decorating (with crochet, what else!)  a bra for the Crochet Guild of America's "Bra-vo Silent Auction" taking place this summer at the National Convention; the "brassieres [are to be] embellished beyond your wildest dreams."  The BRA-vo! Silent Auction will raise money for breast cancer support. 

I invited another blogger to aid in the design for the bra I'd like to enter; unfortunately she was given the news that her cancer is now at stage IV and so with a massive front of treatments she is now facing I don't know if she's up to the challenge.  Her inner strength is inspiring and I hope the best for her in her fight.

While I await to hear from her, I put the challenge out also to my local Crochet Club and then expanded the challenge to ALL CGOA Chapters!  The torch was then picked up by Myra and brought over to the International Freeform Group.  But why stop there?  Let me personally invite you to the challenge!  After all, it's for a good cause, right?  Go here to commit to designing a "bra-vo" brassiere for a worthy cause!

3/28/06 UPDATE:
My recent field trip to NYC included a stop at it opened it's doors to the public for just a short time, offering the buttons at wholesale prices.  If you're interested in being added to the list for the next public shopping opportunity, contact them.  Please note that if you go it is not set up like a RETAIL shop -- it's a one room warehouse sort of setting -- but filled with lots of treasures!  And if you go, you should stop at the Greek Village Grill  (3 E 17th St) for a bite -- YUM!!!

Other stops in NYC included:;
     Trim World USA (49W 37th St);
     NY Beads Inc (1026 6th Ave; going out of business);
     and for the biggest feast for the eyes, a stop at IS A MUST!!!

And, if you're going to be in NYC, do look up the New York City Crochet Guild
( and see what they have going on!

I love field trips!  :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Fiber Expiration Dates?

Why is it that when you're working on a design with a deadline you learn the fiber you absolutely love for the project has been discontinued?  I wonder, how does one get on the "master list" to be notified the instant such a decision is made??  Does such a notification list exist?

There's this big discussion on various Most fibers pictured in this piece from late 2002 have been groups about how Mainstay is going to be more like Maingone.  Anyone remember TLC's CaraMia?  Or how about Dazzelaire?  I'm sure you can think of yarn lines that you enjoyed using that are now gone; only to be revisited by digging through our stashes or by outbidding each other on ebay

Had I known "City Lights" was a discontinued yarn I wouldn't have submitted a design proposal calling for it.  It took me many hours of combing yarn manufactures websites, calling them, and visiting stores in three states to find the perfect replacement, Moda.Dea's Cashe'.  (I'd like to thank Berroco, Classic Elite, and Coats for their help! ) Fortunately the publisher understood my dilemma and gave me an extended deadline.  Whew!

But still, it would be great to know exactly when a fibers' lifespan will end to prevent this from happening in the future, right?  I wonder, should fibers have expiration dates printed right on the labels?  Hmmmm.

In the meantime, I signed up for workshops at the upcoming Crochet Guild of America's National Conference taking place this summer in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.  I'm really excited; one of the workshops (fingers crossed super tight) I hope to take is one with Melissa Leapman where she will share secrets of her successful career as an author/designer.  I enjoyed when she taught two special classes here in Connecticut so I know I will learn a lot from her.  (Maybe she knows if a "masters list of yarn expiration dates" exists -- and if so, how I can get regular copies of it!  We'll see!)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Beads & Buttons in NYC

I'm still here; still quite busy. Life should return to *normal* within a few days; whew! 

I spent yesterday in New York City shopping for yummy buttons and beads. The first stop was at OneWorldButtons where I picked up some most delicious designer buttons at wholesale prices!Then the adventure continued to a variety of bead shops until I was deliriously giddy with my new-found treasures that will wind up in my crochet work -- including finding some rhinestone zippers we've been seeing in our latest Crochet magazines & designs!  I plan on taking a picture of the *loot*  & give names of the stores soon in case anyone else is up for an adventure.  And even if not on the market for beads or buttons, just window shopping for "crochet sightings" is a lot of fun!

In the meantime, I need to contact the publisher & get back to work.  (I love saying that!)  I'll be back in a few days.  :)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sheep & Wool Shows are Fun AND Educational

On one of the Internet crochet groups I enjoy, a post was made about encouraging people to attend their regional Sheep & Wool Fairs/Shows/Festivals.  I'd like to do the same, especially after this little exchange which happened this past Monday:

Setting:  Home of one of the mothers (our children attend the same school) hosting the event
Event:  Fulfilling auction benefit (it was a crochet luncheon) that raised money for the children's school.

After all the mothers finished their two hours of beginner crochet instruction, we gathered around the table to enjoy a most wonderful lunch provided by the host.  A conversation soon started about local real estate.

"Did you see the house over by ...?"

    "Oh, yes.  Very nice!"

     "I was driving by that very house the other day and saw the strangest looking horse in my entire life!

"Oh?"  (at this point all the mothers were interested about this strange looking horse)

     "Yes!  It had long hair all over it's body; with a very long neck.  The face wasn't quite right either."  There was silence in the room.

     I asked, "Were there, by chance, any sheep in the area where this strange horse  was?"

     "Yes!  How did you know that Dee?"

    I smiled.  "What you saw then was a llama.  It's job is to protect the sheep.  It will fight off any animal that threatens the flock."  (Boy did I impress them!)

Living in a city/country environment, we don't see much livestock.  And this is a perfect example on why the  Sheep & Wool festivals are so important to attend.  Besides the fact that they're a lot of fun, you can learn the proper names of "strange looking horses."  Which really aren't horses now, are they?  {wink wink}

To find out if there's one near you, visit this website for the scoop:

My thanks to jd in st. louis for bringing this topic up today.  And while you're at it, give her blog a visit:

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Feeding the Addiction with Inspiration, Part II

If you recall my entry about Feeding the Addiction with Inspiration then you're ready for an update, yes?  Take a peek to the right.  Instead of an actual photo, this is a scan of the necklace.  I think the scan shows the chain stitching much clearer than a photo would -- unless I opt to use the macro option on the camera.  Hmmm.  Maybe I'll do that when the piece is finished.  The wire and beads have a LOT of shine in the "real world," it's just not showing up as deliciously bright & colorful as it really is here in the scan.

The bulk of the crochet work is done.  I need to add the fiber, the findings, and then the icing -- the flower bead!  This has been a slow project for me; one that I relish the moments with.  While I'm excited to see what it will look like in the end, picking each aspect of the project has been a delight.  It's really a project that I do not want to "rush" through; it's one of those projects that's turning into a "labor of love" I guess.  :) 

I sent an email to Jane inquiring if she has some ideas on how I could attach my flower bead; so stay tuned!  If you haven't checked out her beads yet, you're missing out on a BIG treat!  oh, wait, there's an email from her!  Good news!  She'll be at the Bead Expo in Fishkill, NY, come this July!!  YUM!!

Alright, that's enough peeking for now.  I promise I'll update you all on this project as it develops some more.  In the meantime I've got to figure out what Jane means by sending photos by phone(?) and then get back to work. (yes, deadlines!)  I won't be updating for a few more days, so I'm hoping this holds you all over for a bit.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Organization? What's that?

With deadlines fast approaching, so do thoughts of getting organized.  (Maybe is the upcoming new season that's making me think of Spring Cleaning?)  Regardless, the other day I found the Organize-everything website -- clearly by accident, or fate, or divine intervention -- and began the thought process of "what if."

What if I was afforded the needed space for my yarn stash?  How would I organize it?  By color?  By texture?  By fiber content?  I'm not quite sure, but in browsing around their website, it's clear that I could really use some organization! 

My current thought process is to perhaps rent a small storage unit and put up some shelves ... then use some of the colored boxes that the website offers (see their banner below?  Those are the boxes I'm referencing to).  The first time I heard one of my crochet club members mentioning that she had done this I was in shock.  That, I thought, was one lady with a serious addiction!  And now, a year later, look who's entertaining that same thought!  YIKES!!

I'm curious how many crocheters suffer from YAS (Yarn Acquisition Syndrome) and have allowed it to take over their houses?  (Guilty!)  I don't know if I'll actually go through with it, but as Spring approaches and deadlines pass, I'm sure I'll be entertaining the thought more seriously.

As I return to my work, I'd love to hear how all you all deal with your YAS.  Have you gotten to the point where bringing one more skein of yarn home will make it impossible for you to ever get out?  Have you run out of room in your house to where you're now using your automobile for storage?  Are you at the point in having such the yarn stash that your local yarn shop calls you to see if you have a particular fiber in stock?  What's your story?  I'd love to know.  :)

Front Page Banner

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sharing the Excitement: What National Crochet Month is All About

Part of Celebrating National Crochet Month is in sharing what you love about crochet and passing that passion on.

I was fortunate to watch this exchange with my daughter and well known designer, Margaret Hubert.  My daughter had watched me play with the Tunisian/Entrelac technique a few weeks back and decided to create her own unique "flower" with it.  (She calls it an "earring," but it looks like a flower to me.)  In exchange of her showing Margaret how to create this "flower," Margaret in turn showed her how to create the Bullion Stitch (also known as the Rice Stitch)My daughter came home inspired and even wrote about this experience in her school journal saying, "On Sunday I attended the Crochet Meeting.  I learned how to do the fanciest stitch in crochet.  It was fun!"

In getting back to my initial thoughts,Crochet Tinkerings of a Child this is exactly what I was saying.  We should take the time -- even if it's a few moments -- to share some aspect about crochet that we love.  Just imagine the inspiration!

And here's something worth really celebrating.  Imagine the Mayor of your city declaring today as the official Crochet Day!  Now, I want you to think BIGGER!  Yeah, way bigger! Like Mayor Bloomberg proclaiming March 2006 in NYC to be New York City Crochet Guild Month!

Now that would rock, right?

Did you just feel  that?  It was the world rocking!  It happened!  The proof (the proclamation) can be seen/read here:

How fantastic!  How fantastic indeed !!

Congratulations New York City Crochet Guild!!!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

What's In a Name?

I know, I know!  It's tough to remember my journal/blog address!  Who wants to sit there and type in when many other bloggers have simplified names?!?

"Why does Dee have to be different?" 
        "You want me to type what?"  
                 "Gee, that's an awfully long name for a blog!"

So I heard you!  I agree with you!  And I have come up with a solution for all of us!!! 

Yes, a BRAND NEW URL ADDRESS!  It will be the same journal/blog that you are used to, where all the positive aspects of crochet (from my works, to yours & everything in between) are discussed, and where you can still use the old URL if you want to  (really, this option is for those looking to burn the extra calories).  But for those looking to squeeze time to do more crocheting, then you'll appreciate this announcement:

You can now reach my journal/blog by typing in (insert drum roll here, perhaps something with a funky, let's get this party started, kind of beat) :

Ta Da !!!    (Of course, those looking to link to individual entries will need to resort to using the long address.  But hey, this is still good news, right?!?)

The difference between my new blog address and my website address is the "ing."  I figure the "" is more like a verb - ready for action - much like my journal.  And "" is more like a noun - a name that states what it is - a website hosting useful information & some free patterns.

So, give it a try & tell me if you like it.  :)

Dee Sends Her Readers on a Fiber Journey

I am a member of the ever-fascinating freeform group on Yahoo! where inspiration is everywhere!  The members of the group are just incredible!  (the work to the right is mine)

Earlier I posted to the freeform group about my semi-blogging hiatus and asked that those who'd like to share their freeform here to contact me. 

I'd like for you all to go visit with Ruth today ... look at the colors, the textures, the shapes, the lines (or the lack of) and be inspired! and

Amazing work, Ruth!  Thanks for sharing it with my Readers! ~Dee

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Selling Your Work: What's It's Value?

Sandy has been asking for quite a while now how does one price their work? 

To find the best answers I took out my (now out of print) book, "Crocheting For Fun & Profit" by Darla Sims and took a look at what she had to say on the subject.  First, the most important thing she has to say, and I'm in total agreement, is that you can use patterns to get creative ideas, but you should "never copy or use commercial patterns to create commercial products, because doing so could constitute copyright infringement." 

So, what this pretty much means is that when you use a pattern you've found on the Internet, or as a tear-sheet in your local craft/yarn shop, or a pattern/book you've paid for, the pattern is for your personal use only --NOT for selling the finished items!  If you have questions about what the copyright is protecting, then contact the copyright holder.  Be safe and cover your bases!

This now means if you're following the law then this means you're selling YOUR original works.  And that means value should be factored in for YOUR talent!

Darla lists a variety of ways to price your creations: by the cost of fiber used; using a percentage system over your actual cost; an hourly wage; a minimum per piece plus expenses; the cost of materials with a per-yard charge added in; or a price per item that your local market will bear.

If you go by the cost of the fiber alone, then you're giving your time and your skill away for free.  One lady wrote that her sister-in-law requested that she crochet her a thread table cloth that would cover a large rectangle table -- and that she'd pay her for it.  This woman spent countless (more like hundreds of) hours working tiny stitches until the project was completed.  She gave the table cloth to her sister-in-law who then paid the sister something like $20 plus supplies.  The woman who did the crocheting felt taken advantage of.  The problem was that there was no agreement on a set price.  And the question is, are you willing to do such work to be paid for just supplies, and maybe "a little bone" for all of your hard work?

Using a percentage system over your actual cost might not be such a great idea if you're working on a labor intensive project.  Lets say the aforementioned lady paid $50 for all the thread she used in the table cloth.  If she used a 50% mark up, then she'd make a total of $125 (cost plus percentage).  Is that worth hundreds of hours worth of work?  To some, it might be.  To others it may not be.  Only you can decide this.

An hourly wage is a good idea, or is it?  My afghan that is featured in the book,
Blue Ribbon Afghans from America's State Fairs: 40 Prize-Winning Crocheted Designs, took me 100 hours to create.  If minimum wage is $6.65 an hour, this would mean I'd be paid $665; not bad for a baby blanket!  But then you'd have to subtract the cost of supplies ... and do you know of many people willing to buy a baby blanket for $500 - $600?  In some locations a price like this wouldn't cause a blink of an eye, but in other areas it would cause "sticker shock."  This has to do with what the market will bear, which I'll discuss in just a bit.

Here's another example: I was offered $75 for the Irish Lace doily that was on display last year at the Lacis Textile Museum last summer (look to the right).  While flattered for the offer, this would mean an hourly wage of $1.00 since the piece took 75 hours to create.  I declined in selling it.  It all comes down to the value of your time and what you're willing to accept for it with this pricing technique. 

A minimum per piece plus expenses seems reasonable, but it's a system that both parties should agree to prior to starting any work.  Most stores that have finished displays pay their stitchers in this fashion -- most of the time offering the materials to the stitcher so that it reflects stock they have on hand. 

What about the cost of materials with a per-yard charge added in?  Maybe it's a quarter, maybe it's a dollar per yard or more; the idea is to price it so that your customer can afford what you're selling without giving your time & talents away.  If you're new to crochet or new to selling your work, you may opt to charge the quarter per yard; and if you're an experienced crocheter known for quality, then you may opt to factor that into your per-yard charge.  Interesting, huh?

Finally we come to the price per item that your local market will bear.  Remember the afghan I mentioned earlier?  Where might a baby blanket for $500 sell well?  It comes down to three words: location, location, location!  You'll need to study where your market is!  (I still have that afghan and hope to one day, in the faraway future, to give it to a grandchild!)

Rarely, in case you're already thinking about it, have I seen crochet work sell well on
ebay.  The afghan on the left?  It took me 29 hours to create; and on ebay I was barely able to fetch $29 for it.  This is where knowing your market, and how to market it is key to success.  If you plan on selling somewhere, look at what others are selling theirs for.  Otherwise the profits you hope to reap may not appear!  (Please, no requests for the pattern, I don't recall it as it was many years ago.) 

The best advice I can offer is to visit the blog/journal entry I wrote about "going pro" and checking out the books I have listed there, as well as Darla's that I mentioned earlier.  Cover your bases: ensure you have a pricing method that works for both you AND your customer, and always keep records!

As a final note, if you have a price system that you're comforable with and find that a customer thinks you're charging too much (and you've done your homework & are firm on the asking price), then consider handing them a skein of yarn & a hook.  Let them try crocheting for themselves.  {{wink wink}}

I hope this helps you Sandy; great question!  :)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Babies Don't Do Deadlines

Click for a larger view.  No pattern is available.

It's all a guessing game, isn't it?  We try to figure out the due dates for babies and rarely are they born on their actual due dates.  I think it's something like 5% that actually do.

Most mothers-to-be would call due dates as deadlines as they'd like to have their bodies back.  Heck, I know I sure did!  Nine months of wearing the same expandable clothing and being scolded for eating cans & cans of black olives (Oh! the cravings!) tends to get on the nerves a bit.  But once the baby arrives and gurgles that first coo, we often forget those little inconvenient kicks to the bladder, and heartburn strong enough for a mammoth!

And here it is, Friday.  The due date of my niece-to-be.  No word yet if the baby knows it's time, but fortunately I've met this deadline!  The baby set is finished; ready to ship out the moment the phone call comes in!  The three pieces were created with one of my all-time favorite stitches known as the "Bushy Stitch." 

The "Bushy Stitch" is based upon two double crochet stitches, 2 chains, and a single crochet stitch grouped together.  I used Sirdars' Snuggly and Sirdars' Snuggly Bubbly yarns -- both of which are machine washable -- a must for children!  The fibers and stitch combined beautifully, if I do say so myself, to create a lusciously light and soft fabric perfect, I think, for the Florida climate.  I chose the color to represent the birthstone for March as those ultrasounds are not always 100% accurate!   Of course if the baby opts to wait until April to be born then I'm in trouble!  I'll have to then create a whole new set to represent "diamonds."  Hooboy!  Let's hope this isn't the case!

For those looking for a mention of a pattern availability, there isn't one.  I whipped these up off the top of my head.  If I meet all my other (crochet) deadlines I'll consider recreating the set and this time writing the pattern(s) down!  In the meantime, if you'd like to give the Bushy Stitch a try, I do have a preemie pattern available on my website:
Baby Sweetness Set.

3/15/06 UPDATE:  Baby Lily was born last night!  Congratulations Megan & Gary!

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Castle Dreams $1.00

What if you could buy a castle and turn it into a beautiful fiber center complete with classes, museum, yarn shop, cafe ... and, what if, for a single buck, you could purchase a piece of history just for that purpose?  ... my Mother recently shared a story with me of when she used to to hike up to a castle in the Danbury area when she was a youngster.  She said she was fascinated by the castle.  Ever since she sent me the link to the images of the castle from her childhood I have been having such wonderful dreams of visiting such a place. Maybe you all would like to share in my dream, yes?  What would you envision with this castle that is reportedly for sale for a single dollar? 

February 12th I wrote an entry about a school (coincidentally?) located near Castlebar in Ireland that is in need of our help in preserving history.  I sent an email to the school and pledged $100US towards the cause.  I received the following letter from Helen Moreau, Chairperson:

"Dear Dee,
thank you so much for your kind email.  We had our cake sale on Sunday and
it was a great success.
We shall gratefully accept donations and your offer is most generous. We do
intend setting up an online arrangement such as paypal, in the meantime
donations can be forwarded to me, made out to;      Fis na Muingi-Iorras    
   (which is our registered name)

          helen Moreau,
          Fis na Muingi-Iorras,
          Barnatra Post Office,
          Ballina, Co Mayo,

As you can see we do not have post/zip codes in Ireland.

I shall log into your blog with great interest. On the 14th and 16th of February our application for a feasibility study grant will be presented to the Leader board, Belmullet. We have passed the first and most important hurdle so fingers cross the rest will go well.

It is vitally important that projects such as ours in areas such as ours should succeed.  The so called celtic tiger has not done much good, with fast prosperity comes the death knell to an already dwindling repertoire of skills, there is often an attitude of leave the past alone.

In the short time we have been set up as a committee, we have had to deal with hostility and ignorance but I would say that we have now turned a corner whereby people are realizing that there can be no future without acknowledgement of the past, no matter how painful. When people have been poor for a long time fast money becomes the addictive aim, the baby goes out with the bathwater, so to speak.

The old laceschools of Erris were vital to the local economy for the best part of 100 years, the conditions of work were often harsh and demanding, some people did not take kindly to that, however apart from emigration there was no alternative; these unhappy people still put in the work to standard and kept the home fires burning.They, even in their unhappiness created beautiful things admired all over the world.

We, in our endeavours have to embrace all aspects of the Erris laceschools,( including the harsher aspects) and present them in the full context of their environment and time. You will appreciate that the beautiful work made for the laceschools was mostly for export, so that very little was made for local usage, earnings had to come first. At our launch we had a small and most amazing display of  heritage lace made here in Erris, all of it in private hands, many people were very surprised that even that much remained in the area. One of our big undertakings will be the collection of locally made lace donations. Other textiles are important also and were usually made to cover needs rather than luxury, nothing was ever wasted.

The present older generation here, often say "weren't the old people great"
and they were, that generation had to turn their hands to anything and

So once again many thanks"

And in checking back at their website,, they've done just that;  online donations are now being accepted using Paypal.  Shortly I'll be headed back to my blogging hiatus, but first I want to send my pledge in.  So I ask, can you spare a dollar to help preserve the dreams of those people from the past who's crochet stitches we follow today?  If you can, then please do.  If you can't, that's OK.  Why not send them an email of encouragement?  Think of it as a way of spreading National Crochet Month Cheer ...    J

Sunday, March 5, 2006

"I'm getting a little verklempt"

It seems the closer the Spring season comes, the faster my crochet hook needs to fly!  March is quickly becoming the month of deadlines, from gifts for new babies arriving (she's due when?!!?), to an innocent request from my son for a special vest to wear to his upcoming Butterfly Mass, to creating new designs (like the one pictured to the right -- thank you Lori for modeling!) that my students and bosses are requesting.

It's also a delightful time as I learned that I have two pattern proposals accepted for publication!  Whoohoo!  I owe a huge (that's spelled H-U-G-E) thanks to
Margaret for giving me a "heads-up" on the project!  (Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!)

To try and make all these deadlines I'm going to take a brief hiatus from blogging ... a few days perhaps ... but promise to return just as soon as I can. 

If you miss reading my near-daily entries, consider checking out my archives.  There's over two years worth of entries ... if there's a specific topic you're looking for, click onto the link for my
Technorati Profile, wait for the new page to load and then type in key words for what you're looking for.   If you'd rather look at images of my work, and that of my crochet students, then visit my picturetrail albums

Improving from one of my favorite skits from the television program, "Saturday Night Live," Mike Myers, in the roll of Linda Richman on Coffee Talk:  "It makes me very emotional to leave you all for a few days.  I'm getting a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic: crochet.  It's not a game where you whack a ball with a mallet but it keeps getting listed that way on ebay.  There I feel better.  I feel better."  :o) 

PS:  While I'm away, don't forget to hop on over there to and get your name in for a chance to win the Grand Prize of $10,000 to create your Ultimate Craft Room!  ... that includes a whole-lotta supplies (think yarn!).  I got my name in; did you?  Visit their website for the official rules.

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Oh! (Oxygen, please!)

The plan to create a crochet display this past Wednesday in honor of National Crochet Month was postponed until today.  It was fun to put together, and I think it came out awesome if I do say so myself!  Hopefully it will inspire someone to pick up the hook for the first time, or inspire someone to pick the hook up again.  Either way, the library is prepared -- they have quite the selection of books to check out on crochet!

As I worked on the display with my girls, Grace and Priscilla, my thoughts turned to last night when I was doing bingo duty for my kids school.  Well, it was supposed to have been bingo, but if you really looked at what was going on then you would have saw that I'm slowly converting it over to "craft night."  {{wink wink}}  One lady doing bingo duty with me brought her quilting squares to show how she's doing in her class and we discussed how I designed the Communion Cape for my daughter last year.  It looks like she's interested in crocheting one for her daughter!  

Another brought me a scarf she recently finished crocheting and discussed with me possible design ideas for a yarn she recently purchased that has *bearding.  We talked about hook sizes and stitch possibilities ... then, top it off with the several ladies playing bingo that kept motioning me over to look at their knitting projects and you can see where I think "craft night" is starting to blossom.  ((heh heh heh))

While I loved every bit of this, my favorite moment was with Katie, a fourth grader who was there with her Mom.  Katie could already knit, and she's been watching me crochet.  Two weeks ago I had made a "date" with Katie.  I told her if she wanted to learn how to crochet then she'd need to bring some yarn & a hook -- and she did.  She took to crocheting as if she were born with a crochet hook in her hand!  We, her Mother and I, were very proud of how quickly she picked it up.  Katie's Mom said to me, "She's been so excited and couldn't wait for you to teach her!  We actually had to mark the days off the calendar!"  I was touched; Katie has so much enthusiasm for the fiber arts!

At the end of the night I told Katie that I now want her to bring her crochet work to school with her so she can show me her progress.  This shouldn't be a problem as she can find me there at least two days a week.  I figure if she knows I want to see her work, she'll keep at it.  And I have no doubt she will!

This is what the fiber arts is all about, right? ... sharing the passion; making it a natural part of our lives like breathing oxygen!  :)

And speaking of Oxygen ... I received a note from Lily Chin ... she has my blog listed on the Oxygen network website as one of her favorite sites she loves to visit!  Thanks Lily! 

*Note: fiber with projectiles is known as bearding.  The more/thicker the projectiles, the larger the hook & more open stitch needed to give the fiber the "breathing room" it needs.

Friday, March 3, 2006

Feeding the Addiction with Inspiration

When I attended the Bead Expo last weekend I went in without a single project in mind.   I knew I wanted to crochet a new necklace, but rather walk in with a concept in mind, I went in with a blank slate.  My plan was simple, yet effective.  I'd circle around the vendors and check out their wares.  After I visit the last vendor I'd then go back to those who's beads called out to me.

Did my plan work?  Well, sort of.  I circled around and marveled at all the beautiful baubles, listening for my name to be called out: "Dee, buy me!"   When I got to the last vendor it was pure mayhem of inspirational thoughts!  I had no control; I had to have some of her bead work!  Meet Jane (pictured above on the right here).  It's all her talented fault!  LOL

We started talking about her beads, her necklace, the possibilities.  I asked if I could take her picture for my blog & she was happy to pose for me, but what you don't see in her picture above is the necklace that stopped me in my tracks.  (Later, after I returned home, I sent her an email and requested permission to use an image from her website so I could show my readers.  She said, "yes."  So readers, look to the left, and feast your eyes on the fiber & beaded necklace with a "flower bead" focal point that made my eyes widen, my heart beat faster, and filled my mind with incredible inspiration!  Oh, I salivate in the memories of seeing it in person!) 

It was one of the most beautiful necklaces I've ever seen, and so I had to treat myself to one of her beautiful "flower buttons."  After all, it was my "birthday week extravaganza and that's all the justification I needed, right?  {{grins}}

You can see the one I selected to the right.  It is filled in a colorful arrangement of blues, slight purple, pink and a hint of green/yellow.  My plan is to crochet a wire & fiber beaded necklace to show off the colors in my flower bead; a project that I know I will enjoy doing greatly!

Jane even had these little frog charms (pictured on the left) ... and nearly every crocheter knows what a frog represents! (Rip it! Rip it! Rip it!)  He holds a bead, so I selected a slightly purple one because I was, after all, still celebrating my birthday!  (The birthstone for February is Amethyst.)  Isn't he cute?  Not sure what I'll use him for ... a necklace, a bracelet perhaps ... he definitely has character!

After I left Jane's booth I went around to the other vendors picking out beads to go with the flower bead, along with a few other gems.  Every vendor inquired where I got the flower bead from.  So you know, if the vendors are inquiring, then it's a stunning piece of art work!  When I create my necklace I will post a picture of the finished piece here, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, check out my other loot from the bead expo that will eventually find it's way into my crochet work:

 If you're interested in Jane's bead work, visit her website at  Tell her Dee, the Crocheter, sent you.  :)

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Needing to Blur the Line

Look away, readers, there's nothing here to interest you if you're a crocheter.  {{insert huge bah-hum-bug here}}

How is it possible that the divide between crocheters and knitters continues?  Why is it there?  How can we blur that line and make us all one happy family?  These are questions I often ponder, and more so when I feel prejudiced against when I am shopping for supplies.

Part of my Birthday Week Extravaganza included visiting some "new to me" yarn shops.  The first yarn shop was quaint; I loved how they had the fibers displayed into two categories:  regular fibers and fancy fibers.  Then the fibers were sorted by color.  I got to talking to the employee -- and all was fine until she discovered that I'm a crocheter.  "Oh, I have nothing here that will interest you then," she stated. 

My mouth dropped; I was stunned.  I quickly gathered my composure and did a little tap dance step thrown in with a little "Vanna White" move where I stretched my arms out wide and moved my hands around to showcase the merchandise in front of me.  I asked, "What do you mean you have nothing here that would interest me?!?"

"Crocheters make afghans," she replied. 

"Yes, they do," I calmly answered back.  And then I went into "Crochet Promotion" mode and continued, "... and they make a lot more than just afghans!" 

"Oh," she replied.  "I've only seen afghans.  I only crochet afghans."

"Crocheters," I boasted, "can do anything knitters can do -- we all use the same fibers and many of the same tools."

She didn't seem to want to hear what crocheters can create.  "I don't have any hooks for you," she replied.

I thought, does this woman want my business?  If so, why is she trying so hard to discourage me from making a purchase at her shop?  Why would she care HOW I'll be using the fibers?  It was my birthday and I was in a spending mood:  why would a shop NOT want to make a sale?  I decided to pay for what I had already selected and leave rather than inquire about an expensive fiber I had already whipped up into a project in my mind.

She admitted she was a new employee.  Maybe the attitude towards crochet was her own, and not the shop owners.  Maybe I should send a little note to the owner asking why crocheters are not embraced the same as knitters are.

I recall a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks back on the topic of crocheters vs. knitters and she presented me with a fresh perspective.  Crocheters tend to create more items to give away, and thus will look for the best sale for the most yardage.  Knitters tend to keep the items they create and thus will spend big bucks for the best fibers to use for themselves.  Is there truth to this?  Is it possible that this is one of the reasons that the Art of Crochet is looked at, or rather looked down upon, as a lesser art form?  If this is so, we need to change this attitude. 

After all, both crocheters and knitters stitch from the heart.  What difference should it make if the stitcher keeps the item or gives it away?  What difference should it make if the fiber was bought on sale or not?  I would think that as long as the stitcher was enjoying the process then the art form should be encouraged.  Don't you?

The second shop I visited, just minutes away from the shop I now dub as "The Snobbery," was, well, uninspiring. 
 It looked like the store had been in a severe wind storm and all that remained was chaos.  Granted I was asked if I needed help when I first walked in, but again, once it was determined I was a crocheter the help disappeared.  I found that odd because this shop that I dubbed "The Pig Pen" did carry some crochet books. 

Finally, after finding some fiber that did interest me, I went up to the register to pay.  But I was placed on a lengthy "hold" as the employee decided that was the perfect time to start talking to a woman about placing an advertisement.  That didn't make sense to me either.  You have a paying customer and NOW was the time to discuss placing an ad??  Was I placed on "hold" because I was a crocheter?  Would a knitter have been given the same kind of treatment?  I don't know.  But I do know that I did not make the additional purchase I needed assistance with. 

On any other day/week I would have walked out of both shops without spending a single penny based on the way I was treated.  But since it was my Birthday Week Extravaganza I wanted some special fibers to play with.  Between the two stores I spent about a hundred dollars.  Far short of the several hundred I could have spent at each!  And if I'm just one customer that feels this way, then think about how many other crocheters feel just as I do.  Jaded.  Unwanted.  Under appreciated.  And if you're a shop owner, think about the amount of sales you're letting walk out of your store and never return.  Is turning away crochet customers worth it???

Let's face it, if I don't feel welcomed in your shop, I'm not going to become your lifeblood customer; I will not be returning to the "Snobbery" or to "the Pig Pen" unless there is a change.  Yes, I know it's wrong to do name calling, but I'm upset with this stigma that my art form is not considered as worthy as another.  Change my mind about the way you treat your customers and I may change my mind about your shop, and perhaps the name I've given it.

Until then, since I'm a crocheter who flies through a huge amount of fiber annually, AND since I'm a customer who happens to like buying the "finer fibers," I'll take my business to the shops who will appreciate this in me.  I'll frequent the shops who greet me warmly and who will happily answer my questions about particular fibers.  I will utilize those little shopping bags you put my yarn goodies in that have your name on it and proudly tell other crocheters to visit you too.  I will do this because you appreciate me; because you appreciate my art form.

It's time crocheters are looked upon the same as their sister fiber art, Knitting. And with March being National Crochet Month, I can only hope as we do various things to celebrate it that we are able to change some opinions about it.   May we all (crocheters & knitters) continue to stitch from the heart andappreciate each other's artistry as we work to blur that line and become one big happy family!  :)