Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hot off the hook ~ Class Sample

... and hot out of my washer -- and dryer -- a felted crocheted bag based upon a pattern featured in the new book by Eva Wiechmann, ""Crocheted Pursenalities ~ 20 Great Felted Bags." Since class participants will be using this new book, I had fun crocheting up the bag I'll be using as the class sample. Quoting Mr. Dee who inspected the bag last night, I added my "stamp of creative changes" in it -- but not so much that the design wouldn't be recognizable.  I want the purse to reflect to my students that while it's OK to follow the road map before you (aka the pattern), it is also OK to take your crochet for a little "off roading" -- to explore new possibilities.

One of the changes I'll share today is that I utilized two buttons -- two perfectly circular buttons -- to create a look I wanted.  Since the bag is asymmetrical, I thought the button should be too.  So I sewed one button on top of the other, off centering the smaller button.  I rather like the way it came out, don't you?

And a tip passed on to me by the ever-wonderful & talented Margaret Hubert:  Usually felting in my washer is a very long ordeal, at times taking as much as an hour running back & forth to the washing machine to keep it agitating.  Margaret mentioned to our CGOA Chapter last month that she boils up some water on her stove and then carefully adds it to the wash cycle while she's felting.  I tried this -- and within the first wash cycle I got the felting results I wanted!  Her tip worked; I just needed much hotter water! (For the safety of our children, I completely forgot that we have the temperature on our hot water tank on low! No wonder it took ages to do my felting!) Thank you, Margaret!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Busy dee ... babies ... and a wedding ...

Life is trying to step in the way of my stitching/blogging ... in getting the kids settled back into their new school year, doing some crochet-related research, working on a pattern for publication, and working on class demo pieces.  Hmmm, most of that is crochet related, so that's OK; it's a good type of "busy."  Still one could say I'm as busy as a "dee" at the moment.   (Oh how corny, right? lol)

Mini~Dee and Dee Jr. would like to announce to everyone that we have 19 new babies -- praying mantises babies that is! -- they seemed to have taken forever to hatch! The kids were really excited to release them into the wild yesterday (well, into their garden at least), on their last official day of summer.  We're hoping the little buggers will grow fast and will make it through the winter.  One thing we learned this summer is that the praying mantise is Connecticut's "State Insect."  I never knew that. 

While I'm headed back to getting some work done, do go and give Noreen Crone-Findlay a visit -- Noreen's daughter had a beautiful wedding ceremony surrounded with crochet, and other wonderful items all made with love.  You can visit her blog here:; very touching!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Question from Reader: Twisting for Lefties

I quietly read your blog every morning...thank you! I remember that you discussed the twist of yarn issue before and I've thought about this question since then, but have never found the answer. If one is a left handed crocheter would that change the effect of the twist on the yarn? If a righty is softening the a lefty tightening it? Maybe not, but I just spend so much of my direction reading reversing everything that I'm never quite certain when I come to something that I don't need to reverse.
Thanks for your help...and thank you for your faithfulness to blogging exclusively (well, almost exclusively!) about crochet.
All the best. Lucy

Dear Lucy,

Thank you ever-so-much for the compliments -- and for your faithful reading of my blog.  I'm also glad you like my near-exclusiveness of discussing crochet.  :)

 I think you bring up a great question from an entirely different perspective -- the lefties vs. the yarn twist: does it make a difference?  Not having the answer to your question readily at my finger tips, I decided to experiment.

I picked up a pink ball of Berrocco's "Suede Deluxe" and unraveled about 5 yards of fiber.  I placed a rubber band around the ball to prevent any more fiber from coming off.  Then I began crocheting with my left hand (Yes, I can crochet left handed too!)  I chained enough for a dozen double crochet stitches and continued until I had about 8" of fiber between the hook and the ball.

Now, before I continue on with my results, let me state why I picked Berrocco's "Suede Deluxe" and not a regular yarn that is twisted.  The quickest way to see the twisting factor in crochet is to use a flat yarn, such as the Suede, or any ribbon yarn you have on hand.  For this experiment, the Suede fitted the bill. 

Back to answering your question: If one is a left handed crocheter would that change the effect of the twist on the yarn? ... So there I was, with my crochet work in my left hand, 8" of fiber between it and the ball ready to be dangled in the air.  Which direction would the ball spin when I lifted my work up to allow the 8" of fiber to untwist from the act of my crocheting?  It spun clockwise.

I frogged my work (frogging is a fancy way of saying I ripped out my work), straightened the fiber out again, and this time crocheted with my right hand.  Same amount of fiber, same amount of stitches, same 8" of length left between the fabric I crocheted and the ball of Suede.  Which direction do you think the ball spun when I lifted it to allow the 8" of fiber to untwist?

It spun counter-clockwise!  This means, Lucy, that yes, indeed, it makes just as much of a difference of where you, the left-handed crocheters, pull yarn from as it makes to the righties!

Now, each time you crochet does it mean that you will pull from the same direction (inside vs. outside)?  No.  Because not all yarns are twisted the same (there is a difference between an "S" twist and a "Z" twist), nor are they all wound into skeins/balls the same.  This means that my advice from Friday still rings true -- regardless of which hand you hold your crochet hook in:  Yarn Ball WinderThe Proof is in the Swatching. 

If it's a "new to you" type of yarn, I strongly recommend you crochet two swatches: one drafting your yarn from the inside for one swatch, and another drafting the yarn from the outside.  Feel the difference.  Then go with the option that feels best to you.  You can even start a notebook, including the swatches, along with notes of what hook you used and which way you drafted your yarn (inside vs. outside)that you can reference at later dates.

If your swatching results state that your preference is to pull yarn from the outside of the skein/ball, but you don't like pulling your yarn from the outside  because it means chasing it all over the house, then you might be interested in getting yourself a new toy tool: a yarn ball winder!  I absolutely love mine and think everyone should have one! 

Thanks for writing in with the great question, Lucy, & happy swatching!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fall Crochet Class Schedule: Bethel, CT

Get help with your crochet, or learn a new technique! Class size is limited, so sign-up early to ensure your seat is reserved! 

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

Felted Crochet Purse: 
Working for a simple pattern, learn basic crochet techniques, a chain, a single crochet, and a slip stitch. Learn to read and understand the pattern, or just practice your crochet skills.
Dates: October 13th, 20th, & 27th Time Noon – 2:00PM Cost $70.00 + materials

Blue Ribbon Wrap:
Learn increasing and spectacular beading to create a blue-ribbon-winning shawl. An example is on display at the store. This is a great beginner and intermediate class.
Dates: Sept. 11th, 25th Time: 12:00 – 2:00 pm Cost: $40 + materials

Crochet 101:
Learn the basics of crochet: slip-knot, slip-stitch, single crochet, turning chains, counting stitches, proper joinings, and ending-off—Everything you need to know in one fun class!
Dates: Sept. 18th 12:00 – 2:00 OR Oct. 8th 10:00 – 12:00 OR Nov. 12th 10:00 – 12:00 Cost: $25 + materials

Winter Wonders:

Learn to make a hat and scarf in three simple sessions. In session one, we will learn how to crochet in straight rows to make a simple scarf. In session two, we will make finishing touches on the scarf. In the third session, we will learn to crochet in the round.
Dates: Oct. 1st, 15th, 29th Time: 12:00 – 2:00 pm Cost: $55 + materials

Baby’s First Sweater:
What can be better than wrapping your sweet bundle of joy in aseries of stitches made with love? This is a beginner to intermediate class and a great introduction to garment-making.
Dates: Nov. 5th, 19th Cost: $40 + materials

Private crochet lessons are available at the shop by appointment only. Call the store for more details.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Proof is in the Swatching

Today I visited the yarn shop in Bethel, A Stitch In Time, where I teach crochet.  The owner, Eva, and I had a great time going around the store selecting fibers for me to work class projects up in.  One of the fibers selected as Crystal Palace Yarns' "Merino 5" -- a superwash merino wool I'll be using to create a Baby Sweater for a class I'll be offering this fall.  (I hope to post the class schedule tomorrow afternoon.)

Upon returning home I decided that the class participants NEED to see, more like FEEL, the difference between pulling the fiber from the middle of the skein, vs. pulling from the outside.  So I decided to work up two swatches -- and to include in the swatches the difference between the traditional chain start, and the technique known as the "double base chain." (That's a lesson for another day; we're going to focus on the twist issue for now.)

After working up at least nine rows in each swatch, with the same half-double crochet stitch, and with the same crochet hook, I called over my personal softness consultant, Dee Jr.  If there is a softness factor to be determined, he's the one to call in for that second opinion.  Having no prior knowledge of which swatch was what, I asked him to feel with both hands both swatches.  Then switch the swatches (whew! say that three times fast!) and feel again.  He came to the same conclusion as I did...

Quite some time ago, in 2005 in fact, I mentioned about how the twisting factor that occurs in crochet effects our work.  You, too, will see this difference if you create two identical swatches as I did -- one swatch WILL be softer than the other!  The reason?  Depending upon how the skein/ball was wound, and depending upon how the fiber itself was created, we are either twisting the fiber more, making it tighter -- thus creating a "harder" fabric, or we're going against the twist, making the fiber softer -- thus translating to creating a 'softer' fabric.  Yes, it is a preference thing, but as I tell my students, if I'm going to be spending the time to create something from my hands, then I'm going to want to invest a little extra time to ensure I get the best possible results! 

So for this project, since it will ultimately be a garment for a baby, I'm going to want the softest possible results.  This means that for this fiber, I'll be pulling from the inside of the skein/ball.  If it were a purse, or hat, I might reconsider and pull from the outside to make a tighter fabric.

So the next time you hear someone  state that it doesn't make a difference which end you pull your yarn from, feel free to correct them.  Yes, it certainly does make a difference -- in knitting too! (although knitting doesn't have as much of a twisting factor as crochet does.)  The proof is in your swatching!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Question from Reader: Yarn from Blue Ribbon Entry?

Dear Dee,
Congratulations on all your ribbons!  I like how the yarn looks in the sweater you made.  Can you tell me what yarn you used and where I can get it? Thanks, Dana

Dear Dana,
Thank you! :)

Yes, I'd be happy to tell you about the yarn I used.  For the bulk of the sweater I designed/crocheted for my son I used Caron's new yarn in their "Simply Soft" line called Shadows.  It's a yarn that self-stripes due to one of the 4 plies being especially dyed; it is made of acrylic (which means it can handle machine washing & drying -- an important factor for parents with active kids!), and it is very soft.  What the label won't tell you is that it's also a dream to work with!  The solid green is a different yarn brand.

I was introduced to Shadows when designer Doris Chan sent my daughter, Mini~Dee, a care package filled with stash she no longer needed but thought my daughter would enjoy.  Of that delightful box of goodies Mini~Dee gave me skein to crochet up a little chemo hat for our local hospital -- and I've been happily hooked on the fiber ever since!

Unfortunately I cannot get it locally.  So the hunt was on.  During my search for it, Herrshners sent me an email stating they were having an online sale, so while I was on their website for the sale I searched for Shadows. They had it, so I ordered about a dozen skeins.  Then I waited and waited.  I don't know why, but Herrshners was unable to fill my Shadows order -- so I had to start my hunt again.

Not long after, on a day while driving home from Massachusetts, I stopped at an AC Moore store.  This isnot a local store to me, so when I saw they had Shadows I filled my cart up to the top!  I think it's a great yarn to use for charity projects and for items (like kids clothing) that you want to be able to machine wash & dry!  And that stashh is now getting a little lean! 

Free shipping at!  Code:  AUGFSA735This past weekend Joanns emailed me about an online sale they were having.  I checked out their website and sure enough they have it available; I ordered a dozen skeins and took advantage of their free shipping offer (use Code:  AUGFSA735).   I have a charity drive coming up (be sure to check back on September 1st!), so I know it will be put to good use!

I do want to note that while we do have a local Joanns store, they do not carry a single skein of it there -- a great disappointment for when you want to see the colorways in person!  I don't know if this is true for all Joanns stores, so if you have one near you, you can always pop in to check. 

Geesh, I'm just going on & on here ... I do hope this helps, Dana.  And when you find the yarn, I do hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thanks for writing & happy stitching!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tag! I'm "it"

Back in May, my mentee, Jennifer, tagged me to list seven random facts/habits about myself.  Since I rarely go off-topic here, I thought I would this one time because this would give you, my readers, a little insight about who I am -- that I'm not totally ALL about crochet.

OK ... Let's see if I can do this un-crochet related ... lol

1. I don't fear tomatoes, I just greatly dislike the way their "innards" feel ... raw or cooked. I don't eat them either -- unless they're made into spaghetti sauce; no big tomato chunks allowed. Ketchup is out too. I searched online to see if my dislike of tomatoes could be considered a phobia, but apparently there isn't an official name for disliking how a particular type of food feels. Cibophobia, Sitophobia and Sitiophobia are various names for fear of food, but again, I don't fear the tomato. I just dislike the way it feels.

2. I'm a "Harley Davidson" girl ... I love going on long country rides with my hubby and stopping for an ice cream cone on hot summer days. Of course were I to have a fear of tomatoes, it would really take away from the "tough motorcycle momma" image I'm trying to paint for you all, now wouldn't it? The sad part about it is that in a few years, when we'll be returning to those free-riding days, Marcus Dairy, a local hot spot for riders to gather on lazy Sunday afternoons, will be gone.Dee as a Simpson  No, I've never crocheted while riding; I've always been too busy hanging on for dear life. Should hubby invest in a back & arm rest for the seat, I might consider it.

3. I turn magazines around while waiting in checkout lines. I do this because I have a low tolerance for constant "sex" topics/images being pushed into my face, as well as my children's. When I do purchase magazines, I like to flip the pages from back to front. I'm not sure why I do this, I just know it's my preference. Maybe it has something to do with my dislike of tomatoes? (I'm kidding!)

4. My first real lesson of learning what jealously is was during a ballet recital when I was a youngster. Because I was petite I had to be a rabbit in Snow White's forest -- my best friend got to be the bear because she was tall; I sooooo wanted to be the bear!  Hmmm, I think I might still be harboring some jealously there. (Again, I'm kidding!  I SO got over that -- like last year!?)    And yes, we're still friends. :)

5. I kept two of my wisdom teeth -- after they were pulled out. I think they're pretty cool looking. I had to watch the dentist pull out my daughter's front teeth; although I felt horrible for my daughter to have to go through this, I didn't get squeamish at all. If I lived a prior life, I wonder if perhaps I was a dentist?

6. I've lived in many parts of the United States. Last year I took one of those online quizzes that tries to tell you where you're from, but even it couldn't decipher definitely which part of the country I should be labeled from ... I'm one of those charming southern-yankee-midwestern-valley girls. Totally.

7. I love snow. I love watching it fall peacefully from the sky. I love playing in it. I love the way it clings to trees and blankets the earth. I love the way the sun glistens on it's crystals. I hope to return to the ski slopes -- I won't be able to ski as aggressively as I once did, but that's OK. The scenery while sliding down the mountain on two slippery sticks is a fantastic way to take in the beauty at any pace.  My favorite area to go skiing is Lake Tahoe in Nevada.

There, I did it!  Is it everything you ever wanted to know about me?  {VBG}

OK, enough for now.  I'm organizing my yarn stash today; the kids are keeping a close eye on me to ensure I don't get lost in it.  So back to work I go.  In the meantime, if you're a blogger, consider yourself tagged!   ;)

Thanks for the tagging Jennifer!  This was fun!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Results from the Bridgewater Fair

In the late afternoon the sky started to seriously cloud up; we were worried we'd get caught in a down-pour.  Delightfully the weather held, and towards evening the sun poked through the clouds.

The children are always delighted to go to the Bridgewater Fair.  Besides all the yummy foods, there are things to shop for, animals to look at, Oxen Pulls to watch, rides to ride, and of course, to go to the Needlecraft tent and see how everyone did.

Mini~Dee was delighted to see a Blue Ribbon on her entry.  She wasn't alone ... another youngster submitted a small knitted rabbit and won a Blue Ribbon too.  (With more kids in attendance at the National CGOA Conference, and now another child submitting their work for judging, can it be that more children are becoming interested in the fiber arts?  We sure hope so!)  Mini~Dee was delighted to see her entry was not alone in the Junior Division.  :)

My items placed well too -- all Blue Ribbons, and a Trophy for Best in Division (Crochet).  I know my work caught the eye of others as there was a note attached to one; I'll need to follow up on that.  I loved that there were so many wonderful entries this year!  One crochet entry really caught my eye -- an afghan created with Tunisian stitches, complete with color changes that created a John Deere tractor theme in green and yellow.  For the finer details, the crocheter then added cross stitching.  It was a wonderful entry, and if memory serves me correctly, it ribboned too. 

Dee Jr. did not ribbon for his veggies (see image #1) -- for an 8-year old, he did a fantastic job growing these!  Somehow his entries were placed in the wrong category, and then on Friday night there was a huge storm that toppled the tables over -- so his veggies got mixed up with other entrants.  He took the news well and said, "Well next year I'm not entering veggies.  I'm entering Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars."  He's already formulating a display concept in his head and vowed to start drawing it on paper starting tomorrow.  I love that he has such a "can do" attitude.

While shopping I found a vendor who would be interested in working with me of blending his artistic jewelry with my crochet -- I purchased two of his pieces and can't wait to get started!  Later I spoke with the NeedlecraftCoordinator as I was picking up my pieces and told her about this vendor.  She's really excited that I'm considering entering crocheted jewelry and thinks that they might expand the categories next year so more types of crochet and knit can be submitted.  All I can say at this point is "Awesome!"  I think that would be great if they did that. 

We strolled around, did some more shopping, had dinner, did some sight seeing, and then at the end of the day got some excitement in by watching some pigs race.   Our little piggy won.   :)

Hot Off the Gossip Vine ...

Mini-Dee was awarded the Blue Ribbon for the dress she designed & crocheted (she blogged about it here).  The ribbon was awarded at the Bridgewater Fair.  She doesn't know yet as she's asleep.  My good friend, Grace, went to the Fair today, snapped this picture and just shared it with me ...  

So how did I do?  Hey, what's wrong with a little suspense??  :)  LOL

We will also have to wait to see how Dee Jr. did with all his veggies he submitted. (If you recall, he and Mini~Dee planted their own garden for the very first time this year.)  This is his first time submitting items to a Fair for judging.  We'll find out tomorrow how he did ... hmmm, more like later today seeing we're already past the midnight hour.  ;)

I can't wait to see all the items, and to see if the pieces generated any crochet talk!  :)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Marathoning for Crochet

It's been a marathon two days, and I still feel like I've been doing nothing but running around in circles.  Well, not physically running, but mostly running around to get a lot of administrative tasks done such as submitting the paper work for items I'd like to enter into various fairs that showcase needlework, and shipping some of my prized crochet hooks that will be featured in an article by Gwen Blakley-Kinsler that will appear in an upcoming issue of PieceWork magazine -- one of my most favorite needlecraft magazines! 

Having finished all these tasks, it was then time to prepare all the entries for the Fairs.  Is all the running around worth it? 

I'd like to think so.  I like to enter items into various Fairs not so much for the possiblity of winning a ribbon, but more so to show off different types of crochet!  Who knows, perhaps one of my items (or someone else's) will inspire someone to pick a crochet hook up for the first time, or to pick up a hook after a long hiatus.  And that, to  me, is a fantastic reason for submitting items for judging!  

Am I alone in this thinking?  No!  Mini~Dee is entering the dolly dress she designed -- she's hoping she inspires another child to want to learn how to crochet too!

So, being in a pickle tonight, there is no way I could drive to Bridgewater to drop off my entries and then dash down to Westport to teach my crochet class at the same time.  This means Mr. Dee had to be pressed into Emergency Fiber Service.  He just dashed out of the house with the kids. and all the entries, to get them there in time.  Thank goodness I have such a wonderful hubby who is, literally, willing to go the extra mile for me. 

And me?  I'm marathoning my way to Westport! ...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Congratulate me, I'm down 22 pounds --- in a single day!

I have found the ultimate weight loss program!  I will attest, from my own personal experience, that the following program ACTUALLY WORKS!  No pills, no surgery, no exercise, and certainly no giving up your favorite foods!  All you need is a wee-bit of will power, and you'll agree that it is a dream of a diet with extremely quick results!

Here's how I did it (you can do it too!):
This past Sunday my local CGOA Chapter, The Happily Hooked on Crocheting Club, had it's monthly meeting.  Many were in attendance, as well as two brandie-new members!  I was sitting next to Priscilla, and we got to talking about her recent vacation (AND yarn finds!), and about my recent post about "
The Tribble with Yarn is." She too believes that our various hanks and skeins are breeding! 

Naturally the conversation drifted over to discussing the lady who gave us all license to enhance our personal collections by a million times over -- just to show that we too, love what we do.

But it gets to a point, at least for me, and especially for my family, that sometimes enough is enough!  That is why I decided to drop 22 pounds.  And it was sooo easy!  All I had to do was pack up 22 pounds of yarn and bring it to the meeting during our Yarn Swap.  The key was to come home with less than what I brought.  And I did; my will-power held!  I came home with a beautiful piece of fabric that will make a great lining in a bag!

So, the next time you feel the need to go on a fiber diet, consider packing up what you know you won't be using and go to a Yarn Swap.  You'll be sure to drop the weight just as quick as I did!  :)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Secret #2: A New Job!?

Before reading on, can you guess what it is?  No, really!  Guess!  :)

I've agreed to be a columnist for the CGOA's E-News for a year.  Here's the official news release that was sent out earlier this week:

 Look for The Crochet Connection by Dee Stanziano in October's issue of eNews. Dee will be sharing links to crochet sitings in the world of fashion, including movies, celebrity, Hollywood in general, or anywhere surprising or out of the ordinary. If there's a new, kick-butt crochet gadget, accessory, or yarn, expect to hear about it from her. She'll share news about crochet, new trends, etc., as well as crochet events that shouldn't be missed. 

Is this a licence to go shopping, and to the movies, or what? 

So, how do you get a copy of the CGOA's eNews to read my new column??  Good question!  If you're already a CGOA member then all you need to do is ensure they have your email address on file.  If you're not a member, then you should consider joining!  I've been a member since 2001 and have enjoyed watching the organization grow, meeting new people, learning new things, and more!
  To learn more about this great Crochet organization just click onto their logo above.

And, the icing on the yarn cake is, this week I'm their volunteer for "The Stitch of the Week."  Members over at the CGOA-Membership board are learning this fantastic 2-dimensional stitch called "The Tulip Stitch".  Come join us!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Taking Stock: Book Collectors Take Note!

I have decided to change the name of my crochet book collection from "Dee's Private Reference Library" to "The Vault."  And any family and friends wishing to check out any material from it will be required to leave a hefty cash deposit and wear a tracking device.

Why the extreme measures to protect my collection?  Well, besides the fact that I enjoy them, I'm discovering that for several, their value is going through the roof!  "Why should I invest in the stock market," I asked Mr. Dee the other night when we were looking at the growing volumes, "when my crochet books are proving to be a viable investment -- that I can have fun looking at as the value increases!?!"

Everyone seems to know that "Modular Crochet" by Judith Copeland is a gold mine.  I got mine BRAND NEW, direct from the publisher, a few years ago (they've since sold out).  I purchased it for $25.  The value now ranges from $100 - $160.

Then there's the "Crochet For Fun & Profit" by Darla Sims.  This book that sold for $20 when it came out in 2000 has been selling for as much as $60 -- in used condition.  Mine is like MINT. 

So yesterday, thanks to the International Freeform Group, I find out that another one of my gems has appreciated in value.  That would be Maire Treanor's "Clones Lace: The Story and Patterns of an Irish Crochet."  I think I paid around $20 for it back when she visited the United States in 2002.  The book is now valued at $100.  Did I mention that mine is autographed?

Of course how to tell when a given book will become a hot collector's item is anyone's guess.  It all depends upon supply and demand, the basic rules of the stock market. 

For me, I'll continue purchasing the crochet books that teach me new techniques, and that inspire me.  After all, when is the last time you were able to read a stock certificate and then crochet something beautiful from it?  ;)


Friday, August 10, 2007

Late Night Joy Riding Is Not Recommended

It has been a wonderful week as everyday I have enjoyed awaiting for new treasures to arrive in the mailbox!  The only problem is deciding which one to play with first!

This beauty is from ... it's a sweet 8" long crochet hook that weighs just a mere 4 grams that is a size 4mm (size G in the American sizing).  The moment I saw it on their website, I knew I had to have it! 

Feeling restless, and in the wee hours of the morning, I could resist no longer.  I took it out for it's maiden test drive last night, and what a sweet ride it was!  My co-pilot was Moda Dea's "Washable Wool" -- a fiber I had received from the CGOA National Conference Goodie Bag.  Moda Dea and I went full speed ahead, throwing caution into the wind.  We were joyriding; enjoying our time very-much-so together! 

Before I knew it, we skidded slightly out of control; my stitch count was off!  It was six in the morning and I had yet to get any shuteye!  Sleep deprivation and crochet certainly don't mix; haven't I admitted to this before?  Fortunately this is crochet -- ripping out work is something we can fearlessly do without the need of a maintenance crew or having to file a police report.  I'll be back cruising with my new hook in no time flat!  :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

"OK! That's a wrap!" (AKA: Surviving the Green Room)

It was roughly about an hour drive, and even with rush hour traffic, we arrived a little early. Before going in I laid down some basic rules to the children -- watch out for wires on the floor; must be very quiet because the microphones will pick up the slightest sounds; if you misbehave you'll be sent to the "Green Room." The last one perked up my son's ears. "The 'Green Room'? I've never heard of such a thing! What's a 'Green Room'?," he inquired.

I answered in my most serious voice, "It's a room that will change you for life. You'll never look at the color green the same way ever again!" Then I had to turn away to hide the smile I had been suppressing.

We grabbed our gear and went in. Upon signing in at the Cablevision security desk we were immediately shown to the Green Room!  Oh no!  LOL  It was great to see the kids reactions -- "Wow! The room really is GREEN!!"  We set our gear down and decided to poke our heads into the studio where the taping would be taking place.

We then met a really nice young man, Travis, who took a special interest in the kids curiosity about the "inner workings" of television stations. He took us to the studio next door and showed us where the Channel 12 news is filmed. He even let the kids experiment standing in front of a green screen to give faux weather reports. They were loving it!

CrochetWithDee being taped for an appearance on 'The Christina Show'Soon it was time to tape Mini~Dee and I crocheting together. They called this "B-rolling" and the footage is used to insert various parts of the "B-roll" into the body of the show to add more interest.  They had me teaching Mini~Dee how to do linked double crochet stitches, and she was a wiz picking right up on my instructions!  Once Mini~Dee was done with her bit she joined Dee Jr. into the Channel 12 control room where Travis had Dee Jr. at the controls manipulating a contraption that makes fancy images; Travis said Dee Jr. was a natural and should come see them after graduating high school.

In the meantime I had already gone through the mic test and soon we began talking about crochet, the patterns, ballet (I'm pretty sure I confessed here long ago that I was a mini~ballerina at one point in my life!), and about the new book.   They also had me demonstrate how to crochet with beads.   Dee has two new crochet patterns featured in 'The Dancer's Book of Ballet Crafts: Dancewear, Accessories, and Keepsakes'

Yes, I was nervous. When I get nervous or really-super excited my "southern twang" from once-upon-a-time-having-lived-in-Forida-for-a-spell sneaks out.  I was/am hoping that I controlled that well! LOL

Before I knew it, time was up. Wow! That went fast!

We went back to the Green Room to pack up and had a great conversation with Oliver, one of the camera men.  Oliver has been a camera man for over 30 years; a great-great grandfather who really loves his job.  He said Mini~Dee really videos well.  Wow; what a compliment! ... and she didn't even have a smidgeon of make-up on!  He said he has videoed big stars, and sometimes you get caught up in what you're taping that you forget what you're there for.  "That's when you hear yelling in your ear!," he said with a huge grin, "that's the control room screaming for you to wake up and go zoom in or pan out on something!"  He had a great laugh.

This was a great experience -- and a lot of fun; not just for me, but for the entire family!  N
ow it's just a matter of waiting a few weeks before the show airs.  :)Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, August 6, 2007

Secret #1: the BIG reveal ...

My goodness, it's amazing how I mention "secret project" and you all get excited!  I love it!  LOL

First, let me state that revealing Secret #1 today will only excite the locals.  I know what you're thinking -- what? She has more than one secret to reveal?  ... well, actually I do but not today.  I think I meant to say that what you're really thinking is -- what? only the locals get a piece of the action? That's so not fair Dee!!   ... I'm truly sorry about this. 

One, I promised to only reveal one of the secrets at this time.  We must wait to unveil the second secret after someone else has announced it first (and that can be at ANY moment now!) -- you CGOA members will hear about it first before I can announce it here.

Second, the local bit -- well, you know I do hope plan to eventually go global one day, so this is a step in the right direction, yes?

So just how "local" are we talking here?  For the locals in the Greenwich to Fairfield, Connecticut, areas, you'll be pleased to know that tomorrow night I'll be headed to Norwalk to be taped for a local Cable program.  The program is called "The Christina Show" and appears on Cablevision's Channel 77 on Friday nights at 8:30 -- don't quote me -- I may have gotten the link wrong; I'm hoping my local fans will come to my aid here and let me know if I did.   Please note that I do not know when the actual program will air, but it should be within a few weeks. 

I'll be on the show to chat about how I became hooked on Crochet and to demonstrate how to crochet with beads.  To add to the excitement, Mini~Dee will be demonstrating that kids can crochet too while modeling the Ballet Slippers that I designed for the new book: "The Dancer's Book of Ballet Crafts: Dancewear, Accessories, and Keepsakes"

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Doodling With Yarn

It's been an interesting few days since I last entry.  First there's this top secret thing -- I can't reveal any hints until the details are settled, but it should prove to be a fun experience.

Second, I love when my students can teach me something!  I had a great class Thursday night; they're all progressing beautifully.  This class was a little extra special because, as most of you know, I love crochet hooks.  Especially those hand-carved with attention to the slightest detail!  click on image for closer view When I teach my crochet classes I usually use one of my beloved wooden hooks, and this was true weeks prior during the first session.  On that first day my students were in love; they wanted a hook just like mine!  The store owner took down the hook creator's information and said she'd do what she could to ensure she had some by time the next class took place. They were thrilled.

Just hours upon my arrival to the store, Linda of Grafton Fibers arrived; hand-delivering a beautiful assortment of crochet hooks for my students -- and {insert greedy Homer-like lip smacking sound effects here} for me too -- directly from Vermont!  Now that's what I call customer service!   Check out my new beauty featured in today's photo!

Since Thursday, I've been enjoying playing with my new hook, and having fun doodling with yarn, if you will -- a self-striping yarn -- in a colorway that is out of my "comfort range."  Doodling with yarn as I call it, is a great way to learn what a given fiber can do without the cost & time invested in having to complete an entire project.  In today's photo are two such doodles.  One is a little hat -- an experiment to see how the yarn would look worked up with simple stitches when worked in the round.  The second item is a slightly textured stitch worked in flat rows which I think helps the colors richly blend into each other. (you can click onto the picture for a closer look-see.)  What do you think?  Have you ever doodled with yarn and was thankful you did?  

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Local History Lessons

Summer is a great time to be a kid again; to learn new things, especially when it comes to local history. The Spinning Jenny and the introduction to child labor? I love spending time with my children, and as part of the joys of parenting, we visit various museums, nature preserves, and historic locations throughout the summer.

This week we visited Putnam Park located in Redding, Connecticut.  I have known for some time that our little area in the country is rich with historical events that helped shape the birth of our country, but how much still amazes me!  This week we learned about the soldiers stay in Redding, Connecticut, during the harsh winter of 1778-1779. 

In the museum, along side items like utensils, musket balls and glass that were excavated from the campsite, there were many "fiber" related items on display.  (The kids were as excited as I was with this discovery!)

On the upper left is the Spinning Jenny, named after the inventor's daughter who knocked it down by accident. James Hargreaves' invention helped speed up the process of spinning thread that was used to create garments such as the soldiers shirts and uniforms.  In the picture, Dee Jr. is holding the wheel that must be turned to work all the spindles -- the wheel was designed to be at the correct height for a child his size or slightly larger -- to work.

To the upper right is the display of various tools used to make the fiber.  It took a year from  the time of the first planting of the flax seed, to harvesting, to drying, then moistening the fiber to pound the dickens out of it, then combing it repeatedly to soften & straighten, to finally spinning a fiber that would eventually be woven into a linen fabric that would be used to create a single shirt.  It was an amazing amount of work -- there was no running to your local yarn shop for a skein of yarn or ball of thread!  (It would be almost 20 years later that cotton, due to the invention of the Cotton Gin, would become the fiber/fabric of choice.) 

The cloth dyeing techniques also interested the children greatly.  They were fascinated that they used items such as tree bark and onions to create various colorways. (Perhaps the kids never considered those green knees from diving in the grass?)  I'm hoping we have time this summer to experiment with some merino wool I've been hoarding for some time!

At the end of the Museum tour the children were able to share their knowledge of "The Mad Hatter" -- not of the Alice In Wonderland Fame, but more in line with the history of Danbury, possible birthplace of the felting technique (less the use of Mercury). To the left is an image of one of the tools used to stretch the beaver's pelt prior to the felting technique.  see my blog entry here for some history.

We learned much more than how much fiber played a role while the soldiers awaited the end of what was known as one of the worst winters in our state history, but this is the part I thought you, my readers, would enjoy most.  I highly recommend visiting Putnam Park should you find yourself visiting the state of Connecticut!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Two New Patterns by Dee!

With great delight, I'm proud to announce that it's official: I have two new patterns published!  The book became available for purchase TODAY!Dee has two new crochet patterns featured in 'The Dancer's Book of Ballet Crafts: Dancewear, Accessories, and Keepsakes'

Check them out in the NEW book, The Dancer's Book of Ballet Crafts: Dancewear, Accessories, and Keepsakes!

It was a treat to work with Christina Haskin, a dancer herself who now has her daughter following in her ballet slippers.  For me, in designing the patterns for this book, I thought of it as an opportunity to re-embrace my early childhood; who knew that all those ballet lessons, so many yesterdays ago, would pay off?  (Won't Mom be proud when I tell her?!!!)

I haven't seen a copy yet, so if you get to flip through the pages before I do, please share your thoughts.  Look for my crochet Beaded Ballet Bun Cover pattern and Ballet Slippers pattern included in this book that specializes in dancewear, accessories and keepsakes for your inner -- and real life -- ballet dancer.  I understand they used REAL dancers for the photography, so the pictures should beautiful!  :)

: The direct links offered in today's post go to Amazon -- proceeds from any orders placed through these links help The Happily Hooked on Crocheting Club, Connecticut Chapter of the Crochet Guild of America, raise funds.  Want more information about the Chapter? Send an email to KrochetKlubinKT@hotmail.comedy -- change the "K's" to C's and replace "comedy" with "com" for the email addy to work. Thanks! Tags: , , ,