Sunday, August 31, 2008

Doorway to Release the Soul

I finished Aunties' shawl yesterday, tucking in the last of the tails and letting the children parade around the house to model it for Mr. Dee.  Since it was raining yesterday I had to wait until today to block it.

Shawl for Auntie; pattern by Doris ChanSince I do not have a large house with a spare bed, or spare flooring for that matter, blocking for me is an outdoor activity.  After a search for my blocking tarp was fruitless, I went to Game Plan B and decided to hang it on the clothesline.  (It turns out my father borrowed my tarp to keep my china cabinet nice while he's storing it.  Note to self: buy another quality tarp.)

Oops!! Can you see the error too?I soaked the shawl in the SOAK detergent and gently squished out the excess water.  I hung the shawl on the line and stood back to admire my work.  Was I seeing things?  I stood there and starred at my stitches.  I must have been standing there for awhile because Mr. Dee came running up to me, "What's wrong?" he demanded to know.

I laughed, pointing to my work.  "It looks like I left a doorway to release my soul* from my work," I replied.  (* there is an Indian tribe that believes if hand work is perfect it traps the soul of that individual.  If I can recall the name of the tribe, I'll post it here.)

"Ha!  That's a true sign that it was made by hand," he remarked, "and I would have never have noticed if you never have pointed it out!"

He's right, it's not a big error, and it is a sign that the work was made by hand.  Of course this also teaches me to go back to using my OTT lite when crocheting into the late evening hours.  :)

Project info:
Pattern by Doris Chan ... "AllShawl;" available on Ravelry
Yarn: six skeins of Simply Soft Shadows and a wee bit over two skeins of Berroco's comfort
Hook:  2008 CGOA Commemorative crochet hook by

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Where does time go?

My children started their new school year this past week.  One day, while they were at school, I found myself flipping through some old family pictures when I came across this one ... it's Mini~Dee, at age five, practicing her crochet.  She was wearing her jammies, looking for a good excuse to stay up just a little bit longer.  And what better excuse is there other than to exclaim having "one more stitch syndrome" while looking for the praise of a parent who shares that same addiction?  (Yes, she got to stay up a bit later that night! LOL)  That was the year she started kindergarten and I got called in to see her teacher.

"Mrs. Stanziano," her teacher had said, "we have a problem.  Your daughter does not want to conform to holding her pencil the correct way.  I called you in to seek your help."

She was interrupted by an unexpected visitor to the classroom.  Seeing it would take a few moments until her return I went into my project bag and pulled out my crochet, starting to make some stitches in a mitten I was working on at the time.

The teacher returned and observed me crocheting.  "Perhaps that is the problem, Mrs. Stanziano.  Does your daughter crochet too?"

"Yes," I replied. 

"That explains it then!" she exclaimed clapping her hands once for emphasis.  "She's holding her pencil as if it were a crochet hook!"

That teacher never questioned my Mini~Dee's pencil hold again, and today as a middle schooler, her penmanship is just fine.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A ripple in time brings generations together

Today was the start of the new school year for my children, so it has been a flurry of preparation collecting all the needed school supplies and getting in those last minute play dates.  One of those play dates was with my beloved Auntie.  She lives about 75 minutes away and we planned to spend the entire day together, packing up some of her treasures as she will be moving soon.  Naturally I couldn't resist inquiring about where she collected this treasure and that treasure from, and she seemed happy to tell me the story behind each one. 

As the hours slipped away, we found ourselves laughing and laughing, and then finally we were done wrapping and packaging all her trinkets.  For an 81 year old woman, she seems to have more energy than I!  She got up from the table and said, "I have something to show you.  Wait here."  As I waited I grabbed my project bag and began crocheting.

Auntie's proof she was once a crocheter.When she returned to the room she said, "I want to show you proof I was once a crocheter like you."  In her hand was an aged plastic bag, yellowed with time.  Slowly she untwisted the fastener and opened the bag.  "This," she said, "I had to borrow from my friend.  I made this for her many, many years ago, back when I was working at the hospital.  I would work the 3-to-11 shift, standing, rather than sitting, in the Nurses Station so I could see when the patients' lights went on requesting assistance.   I crocheted these in many colors to represent many holidays, and would fill them with candy."  She slowly pulled it out of the bag and started fussing with the rippled stitches.  "I made this by punching holes into the bottom of a washed out bleach bottle and crocheting around it.  Then I made up the handle and attached it.  Many nurses and doctors asked me to make them for their kids, and so I did."

As she told me her story I admired her stitch work.  Her stitches were made with precision.  Each one just as wonderful as the one before, and the one after it.  "I have to give this back to my friend or she won't ever talk to me again," she went on.  "I just wanted to show youI crocheted too."  When I was done admiring it she took it back to wrap it back in the weathered plastic bag.  "Oh, what pretty colors!" she exclaimed, taking note of the project I was working on.

"Oh, you like it, Auntie?" I asked.

"Oh yes!  I like the way the yarn changes color like that," she replied.

"Good," I said, smiling.  "It's a project I'm working on for you!  But you can't have it until I see you next month.  I brought it with me today to see how the fit is coming along -- and especially to see if you like the colors!"

a shawl for Auntie still on the hook."For me???!"  She was pleased.  "What will it be when it's done?"

"A shawl."

"How did you know I needed a shawl?"

"I'm your niece.  Now stand up and let me take some measurements." 

And she did.  I have about 10 more rows to go, including the trim.  She's such a sweetie!

Monday, August 25, 2008

When Blocked ... Question from Reader

A. Before blocking; 1/2 row remaining before project done.

B. While blocking outdoors.

C. After blocking.

Dear Dee,
I read your recent blog entries about the All Shawl and was wondering if you can tell me more about blocking.  How important is it?
Thanks, Anne

Hi Anne!
Blocking is a process of straightening your crochet work, to get all the stitches to cooperate in taking the shape you want it to.  And it's fairly easy to do:

1. wet or dampen your work (I used a product called "SOAK" for the All Shawl and found that the handpainted yarn bled heavily.  I would rather the dye come out during this process rather than later on bleed onto a nice light colored sweater!)
2. stretch the item into the shape you want it to dry as ... use non-rusting straight pins as needed.  (I like to do most of my blocking of large pieces during the spring/summer/fall months when the days outside are beautiful.  For smaller pieces I'll use styrofoam blocks available at most craft stores.)  If you have the funds and the space, consider investing in a blocking board.  You can see Drew using his here.  For smaller pieces, some like to use the Quilter's Cut'n Press pads.
3. in a pinch, you could try to steam the item using an iron -- but before doing so, I strongly recommend you practice on a swatch piece first! 

If you will be making a garment, be sure to swatch AND block first.  This will tell you how the yarn AND the dye will behave once it's complete.  AND, it will look, and drape, so much nicer!  J

Thanks for the great question, Anne!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Stepping Closer to the Future

I don't know what came over me, but one day last week I decided to stop in my local Goodwill Super Store and see what they had.  Would I find crochet hooks?  Crochet pattern books?  Yarn? Thread?  It felt like I was going on an adventure! 

Upon walking into the store I found a beautiful china cabinet.  I looked it over and found it in reasonable shape.  The glass shelves, the glass doors, all good.  In my mind, I had already filled it with yarn.   I didn't buy it.  I found nothing crochet related, but did leave with books the children had picked out.

Later in the evening I met up with my father and discussed the cabinet with himDee's future yarn stash home.  Would he be able to store it at his house until we are ready to move?  Would it fit in one of his trucks?  Would he be willing to fetch it for me?  Since it was late and I needed to return home, we left these questions open ended.

When I returned home, I told Mr. Dee about the cabinet.  And, as in any household with children, the conversation moved on to something else, and I had forgotten about it until my father called this morning and asked if I wanted to go with him to get it.  Oh boy!  Did I???!!!! 

I tried to locate the phone number to the store to inquire if they were open and IF they still had the cabinet.  Nope; the store is too new.  We took our chances.

When we walked into the store I was relieved and horrified at the same time!  Relieved because the cabinet was still there; horrified because there was another couple looking at it.  Was I too late?  I got in line at the register and when it came my turn, I pointed to the cabinet and said excitedly, "I want to buy that one; is it still available?"   It was, and I'm delighted to say it's now mine!  I still can't believe how giddy I was holding onto the receipt!  ((yes, I'm still smiling, hours later)) 

Unfortunately the cabinet is soooo large that it didn't quite fit into the back of my father's pickup; he had to go get his trailer to transport it for me.  But now, it is safely stored at his house, waiting for the day we move (looks like that will happen in about a year).   I am quite excited that I'm a step closer to realizing my dream of having an official area for all of my stash!   :)

Some stats:  The bottom piece has doors that open, great for storing finished items I use for various classes I teach.  We believe the cabinet was made in 1973, and might be walnut or maple; it's very heavy!  There are some dings, and one glass shelf broke when we moved to my father's house (but that can be easily replaced).  ... still not bad for $75!

PS: I also found this adorable doll there today.  I couldn't leave her there, she reminded me too much of my dear grandmother who was not only a crocheter and knitter, but also collected antique dolls.

Friday, August 22, 2008

In Stitches: Past & Present

I had the most enjoyable afternoon today helping Robin learn how to crochet circles and read crochet patterns so she can work on what is currently inspiring her: crocheted earrings!  Since Robin forgot to pack her supplies for the earrings she wanted to make, we improvised.  She took off one of the hoop earrings she was wearing when she arrived and used worsted yarn to practice the pattern on. (The pattern was in one of the Crochet Today! magazines.)  When she was done she said she loved not only how large the earring was, but also that it projected warm thoughts.  She is going to make the other hoop match and then (after blocking them) will wear the large crocheted earrings this winter with a nice sweater to complete that 'warm' look.

While we were discussing crocheting circles I took out my recently completed, fully blocked, Doris Chan "All Shawl" and had my Mini~Dee model it for her.  This made it easy to show her where key increases are made to get that curving/rounding effect.  Robin's next goal, after working on earrings, is to crochet chemo caps and hair wraps for her aunt.  I think that is wonderful!

           *   *   *
This evening, after inquiring about how my mother is fairing in Florida with tropical storm Fay, I asked her if she has a childhood picture of me wearing a yellow poncho -- a crocheted poncho made for me by her best friend Alice -- back when I was in 3rd or 4th grade.  That poncho meant a lot to me; I wore it every chance I got!

On the playground it was THE perfect accessory to throw over a bar (used mostly for doing chin-ups) before throwing one of my legs over the bar, then reaching under the bar with both arms and holding onto my leg for dear life before kicking wildly with the other leg.  The wild kicking would cause me to spin in circles around and around and around ... for forever -- or until the recess bell would ring calling an end to my spinning bliss.   This, along with playing jacks, swinging on the monkey bars, and jumping rope was what all the girls at my school (in Colorado) enjoyed doing at the time.   And i
nteresting enough, I learned I am not the only crocheter who enjoyed this little activity during early childhood!  I learned at the recent CGOA Conference that Vashti did it too!  I don't recall if Vashti said she also had a yellow crocheted poncho, but just finding someone else who did this on the school playground was a riot!  LOL  If we find a picture of that yellow poncho, I'll be sure to post it.  :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Take a Number

I survived taking five -- FIVE! -- children to the Stamford Museum yesterday.  Unfortunately the museum took the LEGO exhibit down, but the children had fun anyway ... playing at the adjoined park, petting the animals at the farm next door, then later going out for hand-churned ice cream and so on.   We couldn't have asked for better weather!

As they played I dodged bees and worked on my Doris Chan "All Shawl" using up scraps of yarn left over from my son's Tunisian Knit Vest I recently won a Blue Ribbon for.

I had just a touch of Berroco's Softwist (a wool/rayon blend), and about 200 yards of the most fantastic hand painted "Mountain Colors" yarn from Montana (a merino wool and silk blend) left over.   Since the two were not quite enough to complete the shawl, I rummaged through my stash and found 3 balls of Lana Grossa Pallone (a cotton/microfiber mixture; the yarn having a slight "bumpy" texture similar to crocheting with small beads) and set to work. 

My goal was to use the Fibonacci Sequence (math!!) that Marty taught at last year's CGOA conference.  I'm not exactly sure I followed her methods exactly (consulting her handouts from the class would surely have helped me!), but since I didn't have access to my notes, and I had FIVE children to keep track of, I am very pleased with the results I came up with going by memory.   I finished the shawl earlier this morning while waiting for my kids to finish with their music lessons.  Now all I need to do is tuck my ends and block it.  :)

PS: I know it's not the greatest picture, but YOU try to get a child to stand still while there is fun to be had!  LOL   If you want to give Doris' ALL SHAWL pattern a try, you can find it on Ravelry (for free).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

411 on Fairs

Sheila inquired how one goes about entering fairs.  I think that's an excellent question.  The first step is to find them -- believe it or not, I'm still bumping into people in my area that have of yet to learn about the BIG E ... the ninth largest state fair that takes place in the US, practically in our backyard (Massachusetts).

So here is what I recommend:
1. Use the Internet.  Google/search for fairs in your state using key words like "Connecticut" and "fair."  Then see what is close to you.  Of those that may be, add to the search "sheep."  Usually if animals are part of the fair, this is a good sign that fiber arts will be too.  Next, add "crochet" to see what hits you get.  You may get none.  If that's the case use "knit."  If you get "knit," visit that webpage and send an email to the "CONTACT US" folks.  Ask for someone to contact you about entering into their needlecraft competition.

2.  Check with your local yarn shops.  Some sponsor prizes for the fair(s), so they'll usually know. 

3.  Check with your local crochet and knit groups both locally and online.

Once armed with all the information, if you're not ready to enter this year, still go and check out what is being submitted.  This will give you an idea of what type of entries they're looking for, the space they have available for displaying various works, how it is protected from the public, and it gives you an opportunity to ask questions in person.

Next, Karen inquired about the mannequins that my work was on.  Is it necessary for me to provide them?  The answer is NO.  I have been entering the Bridgewater Fair since 2001, and it wasn't until last year that I inquired with the coordinator if she'd like for me to use them.  She was thrilled as she said, "it adds more dimension and interest to the display."  I strongly recommend you inquire and get the OK first before submitting items displayed on your own mannequins.

As to where I got my mannequins -- that I have Mr. Dee to thank.  He found a store remodeling and asked what they were going to do with the old store displays.  They opted to give him the mannequins rather than toss them into the garbage bin, costing him nothing to obtain them.  Most stores remodel every 10 years or so (it's written in most rental agreements that the store stay "fresh" with the times), so ask!  The very worst you'll hear is "No," the very best is "Yes."  If you can't wait, then check out sites like ebay.

No matter what you opt to enter, do ensure all your ends are properly woven in, that your work is clean and blocked.  Your work is being judged so you'll want it to look it's very best!  If you win a ribbon, that's great!  If it doesn't, that's OK too -- someone may have been inspired to try crochet when they looked at your entry and that alone is priceless!!!  :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fair Results: a little controversy

Mini~Dee was right, we had a lot of fun yesterday at thePart of the display at the 2008 Bridgewater Fair Bridgewater Fair.   The weather was beautiful as we checked out the animals, did some shopping, ate, enjoyed some of the rides, and (for me) was inspired while checking out all the needlecrafts entered into this year's competition.

How did I do?  Out of six items submitted, I won six Blue Ribbons!

* The "Model 13" cardigan
* The "Pushmi Pullyu" scarf
* The "Hot Cinnamon" mobius
* The Pineapple Swinging Skirt
* The felted purse (from the book "Pursenalities")
* The "Crochet Your Knit" vest

(all of the above items, except the vest, can be viewed in my "Projects" on Ravelry, under the name CrochetWithDee.)

Dee's vest caused some controversyYes, all of my entries earned Blue Ribbons -- setting a new record for mother & daughter (seven Blue Ribbons total), but best of all, as it was reported to me by the coordinator, people were talking about my entries, especially my vest, crocheted to look like knit, which caused a bit of controversy! 

The coordinator said the vest seemed to upset some spectators who thought the vest was entered in the wrong category, stating it should have been entered as a knitted item rather than a crocheted item.  And they should know because as they reportedly stated to the coordinator, "... they are knitters."

The coordinator said she explained to them that the vest was indeed crocheted, and asked if it weren't, why would there be a crochet pin on it?  The knitters were not satisfied with any answers the coordinator could offer them until she finally brought the piece over and showed them the "telltale" signs that the vest was indeed crocheted.

When the coordinator told me this story I couldn't help but giggle.  She said she did not need to explain the piece to the judges -- "they knewit was crocheted!" she exclaimed while sharing a giggle with me.  :)

                                                                        * * *

I also want to mention that two of our Chapter Founders also submitted items in the crochet category: Congratulations Hilda and Kay for your Ribbons!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Guest Blogger: Mini~Dee

Hi, it's Mini~Dee, blogging for mom.  We just returned from spending the afternoon at the Bridgewater Fair.  We had a fun time!

Mini~Dee takes home the Blue Ribbon from the Bridgewater Fair, Juniors Division, 2008Mom said I should tell you all about the project I submitted to the fair this year.  I crocheted a jumper for a doll my Grammie gave to me.  (She wrote about her love for me all over the doll's back and tummy!)

Mom asked me when we got home from the Conference a few weeks ago if I was going to enter anything into the Bridgewater Fair this year.  I wasn't sure.  I was still working on a poncho that has a lot of little squares that need to be sewn together.  Since that project wasn't complete, I really didn't have anything ready where I could say, "Yeah, sure mom, I'll enter whatevertheprojectnameis," I had to think if I could create something in time.

Mom asked me again as she was preparing her entry forms for the Bridgewater Fair.  I said no.  I still had nothing. 

When Mom went to the FEZA Trunk Show our crochet club had, I decided to stay home and work on surprising my Mom.  I rummaged through the goodie bags I received from the Conference and found two pretty colors of Creme de la Creme yarn by Coats. I grabbed my crochet hook and made the shirt first, then the jumper (complete with pocket), and then the hat.  Designing as I went, it took me about five hours to make the whole outfit.

When mom came home that day, she was happy!  And she liked what I had created.  She talked to the coordinator and asked if there was still time for me to enter into the Fair's competition, and she said yes.  So I did.  And I won a Blue Ribbon in the juniors division!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Inspired by "Points Off"

Jane and Haley inquired if the vest I posted yesterday is the same vest I had started while at the Conference in New Hampshire.  The answer is yes.  My hopes were to have finished it in time for the Fashion Show, but that didn't happen.  (Thankfully we had Game Plan B for my Dee Jr.  He wore the vest he designed and I crocheted up for a special event he took part in two years ago.)

yes, this ribbing is crocheted!Getting back to this vest, it is true.  It was inspired by points being taken off of a crocheted garment I submitted to a fair for not having the ribbing knitted.  I will admit that seeing those remarks on the feedback sheet from the judge was very upsetting at first.  Why should something entered into a crochet competition be fined for not having parts of it knitted?  Long story short, and a year later, the answer was revealed: the judge admitted to being biased towards knit and thought knitted ribbing would have made the garment look better.  Ahhhh Ha!

OK, I totally get that, combining crochet and knit does create beautiful results.  But I am still not a knitter (after many attempts), and it wasn't a knit competition.  The question, to me, was, do I let this go, or do I do something about it, to show another side of crochet?

I decided that if the judge wanted my crochet to be knitted, that is what I would do -- I would crochet something that looked knitted, including the ribbing -- and that is where my inspiration for this vest blossomed.  And yes, it will be entered later on this year to the fair with the biased judge (who is now soley judging just knitted entries, and the fair bringing on a pure crochet judge!).yes, this is 100% crocheted!

Haley asked if I have a sign on the vest to ensure all know that it is crocheted.  Well, kindasorta I do.  I placed my "Crochet" pin on it, and I did witness the results I was looking for when I turned the piece in: there was a bystander who looked at the pin and then the fabric, turned to another lady and asked, "Why is there a crochet pin on this knitted vest?"  They were astounded to learn it was 100% crocheted!  {VBG}

There are many different types and techniques in crochet, and hopefully this piece will inspire people to give it a try.  :)

My apologies for the cloudy pictures ... they're blow ups from the only picture I have (yesterday's post).  When I get the vest back I'll take some better shots and post them.

Haley also asked if Mini~Dee entered anything this year.  The answer is yes she did!  While I was at the HHCC's monthly meeting for the FEZA trunk show, Mini~Dee decided to stay home and whip up ... well, why don't I let her share the details tomorrow? 

Friday, August 15, 2008

Rah! ... Promoting Crochet @ the Fair

I'm taking a breather.  After a marathon of late nights and early mornings since Monday, and an emergency field trip to my local yarn shop at the top of the 11th hour, I finished my project.

And, if I do say so myself, I am quite pleased with it.  It's a new vest for Dee Jr. using the Tunisian Knit Stitch (Tks).  Aside with how it looks, I really impressed myself with how I joined the pieces together.  The following may not make sense, but I wanted to write it down somewhere for future reference -- if you try it and like it, or better yet, it works for you too, please let me know!

1.  Bottom ribbing was done first, with Tks built up from there.  The back piece was finished first.  When the front piece was ready to be finished off, I kept the stitches "live" by going into each bar and pulling up 1" high loops.  Using a double headed hook (it helped!), I inserted the hook between the (f & b) bars of the back pannel piece, removing a loop from the other hook and pulling it through the work keeping these loops live, then repeated the process.  This brought all the loops from the front pannel over to the back pannel, residing on the back of the work.  Then borrowing a page from the knitters, I worked the loops off, interlocking them.  The last loop was worked off using the yarn feed and then secured.  The result?  A clean looking join that involved no sewing.

2. The side panels were easier to join.  First, I sewed the ribbing seams closed using the long tails from the beginning/start of the project.  (I like leaving long tails for such purposes so that there are less ends to bury later on.)  This left me with just the raw edges of the Tks work.  With garment inside out, I inserted my (regular) crochet hook into a loop on one piece, and "yarned over" by inserting the hook into a loop on the other piece, pulling it through.  I then went back to the other side, repeating the process back and forth, interlocking the loops one by one until I had just one loop left, which was then secured with a nearby tail from a past yarn join.  This technique is called "The Poor Man's Join" since it requires no additional yarn, and was popular to use during the Great Depression.

I hear what you're thinking, Dee, it would have been way easier to entirely sew the pieces together.  Yes, that is true.  But I would have had, in my humble opinion, an unsightly seam at the shoulders, and there would be no "interest" at the side seams.  ... and, I'm not a huge fan of sewing my work together; I'd much rather figure out a way to do it with a crochet hook!  LOL

I have no pictures, other than the one you see here today  that I took as I turned the project in to a local fair.  Will it win a ribbon?  That doesn't matter to me.  In my book, I've already won ~~  if the ladies accepting the work who were amazed that crochet can take on knitted properties are an indicator, then I know spectators viewing this piece might be as well!  I have always entered these types of competitions stating, "if my work can get people excited enough to talk about crochet, or excited enough to pick up a hook, then I've done my job!"  ((And if this piece doesn't do it, why then I've entered five other pieces! LOL))     :) 

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Start of "Busy Season"

"When will I see you again," he asked softly while looking at the growing pile of yarn, almost afraid to ask.

"January," she replied, never looking up from her work, "that's when my slow season starts."


LOL: Yes, I've been busy, busy, busy, and it seems there is nothing on the calendar but MORE busy!  At the moment I am crocheting like crazy, trying to meet tomorrow's deadline in order to get an entry ready for a competition -- and to answer Margaret's question that must be looming in her head -- yes, you were right, I ripped the whole thing out and started again!  Much love to Margaret for pointing out I was way off track!  :)

So, while I go back to my crochet marathon, I invite you all to check out Diedre's blog here:  Diedre is from Canada and is a Crochet Guild of America member.  In her blog entry she discusses the project she created that won the hearts of the Conference attendees, thus winning The People's Choice Award.  Congratulations Diedre, it's beautiful!

Monday, August 11, 2008

HHCC Monthly Meeting

"Well, you can swing it you can groove it
You can really start to move it at Chava's
Let's all go to Chava's, (oh baby)"

The Happily Hooked on Crocheting Club, Connecticut Chapter of the Crochet Guild of America, had it's monthly meeting yesterday.  Normally we meet at the same location, at our local hospital in Danbury, Connecticut, but yesterday we had an "off site" meeting.  It was hosted by one of our members, Chava, at her home in the quaint town of Monroe.

Yesterday I met up with many members and had them hop into my van for the commute through the rolling hills of Connecticut.  And it really wasn't a long commute at all!  (The HHCC has members from all across the state, from New York, Pennsylvania, and as far away as Washington state!)  Upon arrival to Chava's home we were introduced to a smorgasbord of goodies -- for Chava was hosting a FEZA Yarns Trunk Show, and had the meeting catered by Entrees Made Easy!!  Chava said it best, "Good food, good friends, and yarn...what more can a girl want?" 

And how true, how true!  We petted the yarns and bought much of it too!  We ate great food, and enjoyed each other's company.  And we received some great news too:  Chava accepted a position with the Feza company -- and, remember all my whining about many yarn shops closing in Connecticut for the past two years? -- FEZA has decided to open a warehouse and office in Monroe!  How wonderful!  :)

What did I buy?  I bought a bag of ALP Dazzle, 3 balls of Mesmerize, and a ball of Cyprus Mohair.  The Dazzle is creme in color, and self-stripes by changing fibers (much as a Magic Ball would).  The Mesmerize is a soft gold color with a slight sheen, mixed in with black "peach fuzz" (no not the color of peach, more like the fuzz one feels on a newborn's head).  The Cyprus Mohair name is misleading; if it read Cyprus Acrylic & Mohair it would be more accurate.  It is slightly thicker than what many consider worsted weight, and also self-stripes.  It is a mixture of blues and browns; I'm thinking it will make a great scarf for my Dee Jr. this winter.  :)

Chava, you're right, good food, good friends, and yarn...what more can a girl want? ... aside from more storage space??  LOL 

Saturday, August 9, 2008

"With a rebel yell, she cried more, more, more"

For those looking for more details and more pictures from the CGOA National Conference that was held in Manchester, New Hampshire, check out the following blogs, podcasts and shows -- but, before you do, may I suggest you right-click on the link(s) you are interested in checking out and then selecting the option to open a new window?  It's way easier than flipping/reloading to get to the next link you're interested in.  Enjoy!

BlogTalk Radio:



Crochetville, the PodCast:




Fishnet Crocheters, CGOA Chapter:


Jane S.:




Knit and Crochet Show Photos:




Mary Beth:







PS:  If you know of a blog entry/ podcast/ show I'm missing here, please let me know about it.  I'd be happy to add it to the collection!

PSS: If you're thinking these Conferences sound like a lot of fun, then consider going to one and experiencing it for yourself!  The next Conference, CGOA's Regional, is taking place soon -- details can be found here: (no, sadly, I will not be attending the Regional.)

Friday, August 8, 2008

CGOA Conference: The Graduation

During one of those special "after hours" gatherings in my hotel room, we had a conversation about how some of us can never go back to being just conference "attendees" as we were five years ago.

Five years ago; wow.  Five years ago we were looking up at the big name crocheters & teachers, aspiring to be just like them.  And now, this year, as Vashti stated in her blog entry, this Conference broke the mold -- and in so many ways!

For me, it was a sort of Graduation. A graduation from being a local crochet teacher in the tri-state area to becoming a national crochet teacher.  For others it was a graduation of being a crocheter who designs for fun, to being a
newly discovered designer, such as Nancy who sold five of her designs.

There was no formal ceremony for this graduation.  No caps, no gowns.  No marching on stage to shake a hand.  No receiving certificates.  No parents in the audience to snap a few pictures for the family album.  So how would this special moment be captured and remembered?

At the Conference I was approached by Anne and Brian, both wearing the biggest smiles I've ever seen.  "Go ahead," Anne urged to Brian with an elbow nudge, "give it to her." 

Brian reached into his purse he had won at a former Conference auction and pulled out a huge black tube and held it out to me.  "This," he said, "is our gift to you to commemorate your graduation of becoming a teacher at the CGOA."

"Go ahead, open it!" Anne directed. 

I opened the tube and was instantly teleported to Cloud Nine.  Inside I found the world's most beautiful Pink Ivory Tunisian Hook, size P/11.5 mm, with Morado Finial, Bone and Bali Sterling Silver Accents, with a 7mm Gaboon Ebony Sphere and Captive Ring.   It is 19 3/8 inches long, with 16 1/4 inches of working length.

How can I thank Anne and Brian enough for this truly wonderful gift?  Their reply?  "Make Something Special!"  I will always, always treasure this hook, their generosity and thoughtfulness to this moment!!   I have graduated!
In the picture above are the Giraffe Hooks I showed in my "Crochet Your Knit" class.   Under the Giraffes is the special Pink Ivory Tunisian Hook Anne and Brian presented to me.  The smallest hook is the Limited Edition 2008 CGOA Commemorative Crochet Hook.  All of these wonderful crochet hooks were made by Brian of

Monday, August 4, 2008

CGOA: The Final Day

Ah, Sunday.  This was the day I was to have met up with crochters from Connecticut for breakfast.  I woke up early and went down to the hotel's Cafe, our arranged meeting place.  I looked and looked but could not find anyone who said they were going to attend this breakfast; I thought they were all sleeping in!  So I waited and waited in the lobby ... until I was rescued by a NYCCG member who showed me the way to Dunkin' Donuts just a few blocks away.  Here is one of the pictures I took that I thought was pretty cool (on right):

Well, yes, that picture on the right was cool, but it's not the one I really enjoyed taking ... this is it, on the left.  It's a shoe with crochet on it that I saw in one of the store windows we passed.  I didn't buy it because I can't wear heals due to tearing & ripping muscles & ligaments in my feet a few years ago (long story, and no one likes to discuss their feet, right?).  Still, it was pretty cool to be at a Crochet Conference and then spot crochet pumps in a shop window!

After returning to the hotel, I decided to take a nap and recharge my batteries.  While I was sleeping someone called the room and asked Mr. Dee where I was earlier in the morning -- they were waiting for me to join them for the Connecticut breakfast!  It turns out they were placed at a table way in the back, out of sight.  Drat!

After the battery recharge, I packed up my materials for the last class I was to teach.  Hand Jive.  This class was held on the Vendor's Market show floor, curtained off from those shopping.  The kids helped me decorate a page to announce the class -- I think they did a rather colorful job!  If you've heard that this class involved doing some dancing, it is true!  But it also involved learning how to finger weave, and all my students quickly caught on!  :)

After the class was over, I had 40 minutes remaining to do some shopping before the official closing of the Vendor's Market.  I found a woman selling pretty glass buttons, so I bought some with no project in mind.  And I found another vendor selling bamboo yarn -- I bought two "10 packs."  Then, with my family in tow, I stopped by Jean and Rita's booth where they presented my children some autographed copies of their books.  That was very sweet of them, and the children are looking forward to showing the books to their friends in the Hooks'n Needles club once school starts up again!

We decided to stay another night before heading to Maine for a day, so we ordered a movie (Spiderwick), popped some popcorn and later had more people pop in for one more glass of wine.  It was a great way to cap off a very wonderful Conference.

Any Conference regrets?  Yes.  Two.  The first is that there just was not enough time to photograph everything, and this means I have no pictures of the CGOA's first Crochet Design Contest.  The second regret is that 40 minutes is not enough time to shop the market! 

The best highlight?  A most special gift.  Details tomorrow.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

After Hours ~ OR ~ Lizards on the Ceiling

Let's discuss the "Night Life," or what is becoming known as the "After Hours" at the Conference: it is true that every night while at the Conference, we had guests in our room to enjoy a glass of Jones Family Farms' wine called "First Blush."  (The wine had a nice light fruity taste having been made from a blend of Connecticut apples, pears, and black currants.  Long-time blog readers will recognize the name of Jones as I have blogged about them several times in the past.)  We held these little "after hour gatherings" last year and they were a fun way to unwind with friends while discussing the experiences of the day.  So we decided to do it again this year, and with a slightly larger room, we were able to have more friends pop in. 

Let me state that everyone (that I know of) drank responsibly.  Mr. Dee was the designated "walker/parent" sticking to just drinking water.  Let me also state that with our children in the room, everyone that joined us was well behaved.

There were many funny moments, such as Margaret doing a little dance for us after the Fashion Show (and step and turn, and step and turn); Vashti showing off her jelly yarn, glow in the dark, panties; and Joyce Wyatt (who was only drinking water!) finally admitting she was seeing lizards on the ceiling. (Seriously, she did. I included a photo as proof!) She wasn't sure what to make of those lizards, and she, telling us about being brought up proper, wasn't sure how to approach the subject. Does she say something, or does she keep quiet? It wasn't until I asked the kids to stop throwing their toy jelly lizards (which stick to almost everything!) on the ceiling did Joyce express a huge sigh of relief! Very funny moment indeed!)

We were able to do this because for us the Conference was within driving distance.  This made bringing the case of wine and the wine glasses fairly easy.  We were also able to bring extra chairs! 

I know I said yesterday that today would be the "wrap up" blog entry, but that's not true.  I still have thefinal day, Sunday, to discuss.  :)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

CGOA Fashion Show: The Kids Edition

CGOA Conference/Fashion Show: Cannon : In my Friday blog entry I stated I did not have video footage of the children modeling ... well, I was wrong!  I found some footage this morning; it was on the disks I've been looking at for the past several days!  So, after hours of tinkering with the video software, I'm happy to be able to retract those words and present to you the four children who did a great job modeling the five designs on the CGOA's runway...

CGOA Conference: Helping Hands

From the time the Vendor's Market opened to about halfway through the Fashion Show attendees were encouraged to bid to help raise funds for the Helping Hands Foundation.  Some of you may recall the Jay Leno head I created a few months back, as well as other heads I have given sneak peeks of here in past blog entries from time to time -- he was part of our CGOA Chapter's contribution.  Unfortunately I did not have all the heads sewn in by the time we arrived at the Conference, so I want to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to Margaret for helping with the assembly -- actually, Margaret had sewn on a lot of heads getting the project completed!!  She did a lot of the sewing in the lobby which generated a lot of interest.  :)

Image 4 is the "Leno" side of the bag.  Our Chapter members had a lot of fun crocheting the little heads, often times getting caught up giving them personalities by adding hair ribbons and jewelry to make the look complete.  Both sides of the bag were "headed," and there was a crocheted "thumb" on the side to hold a cell phone.

There were a good number of gloves & mittens to bid on.  Mr. Dee did not take photos of them all as he ran out of time (he was helping them set up for the Fashion Show).  The biggest chuckle was the "Do not peek if you are easily offended" mittens.  They were contributed by Lily Chin.  You all know she's from New York City, right?  And that I consider this to be a "Rated G" blog ... so that means you won't be seeing them here.  LOL

During the Fashion Show they announced the winning bidders; I don't recall who won our "mitten purse," but it is a good feeling to know it helped raise needed funds.

Some of you have emailed me about pictures from the CGOA Design Contest.  Unfortunately I don't have a single picture other than what I posted for the Fashion Show a few days ago!  I'll explain why in tomorrow's wrap-up.

Friday, August 1, 2008

CGOA Conference/Fashion Show: Cannon

This is not a commercial for one camera over another.  I have separated the images to help keep ME organized.  Just how many pictures between the two cameras are there?  Lets just say I'm flipping through about 6 GB (gigabits!) of photos.  So many, so many!  (Well, maybe not that many pictures as I had my class hand-out files on one of these lil' pups of a disk, just in case! and some of the pictures are of the kids playing in the pool, attending the Fishercats game, and so on.) 

So, these photos I am uploading today (except one, where noted) were taken by my Mr. Dee:

1. Myra Wood's crochet class just for kids.  This is the first time the CGOA had offered an exclusive crochet class just for kids -- and this was the first time my Mini~Dee attended her first official CGOA class; she reported back to me that loved it!  My Dee Jr. thought about taking the class but decided not to in fear of being called a "cutie" by the girls (give it a few years, that will change for sure!); I think he's secretly wishing he had taken Myra's class!  Many thanks to Myra for ensuring the kids had a great time, for inspiring the kids, and for helping decorate my home with jelly yarn; yes, she had goodie bags for all the kids, including Dee Jr!  LOL  I do hope that the CGOA will continue it's efforts to bring more classes to our next generation of tomorrow's crocheters!

2. The lounge.  No, we're not talking about my hotel room in the "after hours."  That's another post for another day.  What I am referencing is the lounge that was sponsored by ... um, drat.  I can't recall at the moment.  But I'm sure many of the folks who attended and utilized it will remember!  If so, please email me, or leave a comment here so we can properly credit the folks who provided this lovely space to us.  Thanks!  Edited to Add: Thank you, Doris!  It was Tahki Stacy Charles who sponsored the Knit & Crochet Cafe!

3. The  kids practicing their runway moves, with my guidance, before the start of the Fashion Show.  This is when they tried their 'attitude' walks, swirls, and twirls to show off the garments.   There were actually four children modeling this year, a total of five garments -- the MOST in children models and garments ever -- at a CGOA Conference Fashion Show!  If these numbers continue to grow, I'm wondering if there would be a need for a Fashion Show for Children's Wear?
I want to thank Kim Kotary, who has a
new crochet sock book coming out (CGOA members, don't forget to use your CGOA member discount when ordering it from AnniesAttic!), for helping to sparkle up the girls; I know my Mini~Dee loved it!  (Jean Leinhauser, if you're reading this, Mini~Dee's "disco" shoes -- the shoes she wore that had a variety of different colored lights lighting up with every step -- we got them at Kohls department store For those who inquired at the show, Mini~Dee's "Love to Crochet" T-shirt is custom.  I purchased the Tee, and found the rhinestone iron-on on eBay about a year ago or so.  As promised, I searched for their website and found it here, just scroll to the bottom of the page to see it/order your own iron-on.)

Unfortunately, I do not have good pictures of the kids actually strutting their stuff during the Fashion Show (see yesterday's post on why), nor do I have any video footage of it, but I did manage to snag the camera from Mr. Dee and take this picture while there was a break later during the show (prizeswere being drawn).  Missing from the photos below is Christian, but you can see him in all his cute-ness 


Little Loopy, on the left, is wearing an adorable pair of knitted shorts designed by Mary Beth Temple.  My Dee Jr. is wearing a vest he designed two years ago for a special occasion, crocheted by me.   When Drew, the Crochet Dude, announced Dee Jr. was the designer, Jr. did a "right back attcha" move to Drew; attendees can attest my son is not shy on the catwalk!  LOL  Mini~Dee wore a pineapple peek-a-boo skirt perfect for wearing over leggings.  I used a bamboo yarn, and designed the skirt by exploding a section from a doily pattern before adding my own personal touches, including using the Pushmi Pullyu join technique my students learned, and built in belt loops!  (This was the secret project I mentioned prior to the Conference, and I finished crocheting it while in Lily Chin's class two days prior to the show!). 

In the picture next to the group shot is Mini~Dee wearing a Doris Chan design that
Nancy Smith reconfigured to fit her young daughter.  (Thank you, Nancy, for sending me this picture!)

Does this mean this is the end of photos/details from the conference?  I think not!  Tune in tomorrow for more!  :)