Thursday, December 17, 2009

Handmade Gifts are Special

Are you feeling the holiday crunch like I am? The dashing around, trying to find the right gift for that special someone on your list? I'm feeling it a bit too! Plus, I'm preparing for the Crochet Workshop I'll be teaching at the Local Needle on Sunday, and the Crochet Meet-up in Jacksonville, FL, on Monday. Yes, indeed, it is holiday crunch time! And what better way to find a few quiet moments than to crochet up a gift, take a crochet class, or meet up with other crocheters?

And you know what makes me feel it's all worth while? When others comment that Crochet rocks! There I was in Old Navy, looking to purchase leggings to match the sweater you see on the right that I had crocheted for my 3-year old niece. As I held the sweater out to check the coloring of the leggings I received a ton of compliments on the sweater -- even some inquiries as to where I purchased it! When I explained I had made the sweater by hand the gushing just went on and on! :)

If you're looking for a last minute crochet gift to whip up with nearly any worsted weight yarn in your stash, that works up quick, all while you learn a new stitch and/or crochet technique -- and you've been looking to treat yourself to my PDF Tumbling Clusters Scarf pattern -- then you'll be happy to know that for the next 24-hours the pattern will be on sale at my website ...! Hurry though, the sale ends at 11:30 AM Eastern Time on December 18th.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Santa Delivers!

For the third straight year, Santa has delivered exactly what I wanted! Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa, and yes, he does deliver people! Especially should that person be a crochet designer named Doris Chan!

Yesterday was my CGOA Chapter's Holiday Celebration; our last meeting of the year. There was food (oh my! was there food!), and gifts (oh my! were there gifts!), and DORIS CHAN!!

Doris brought with her the garments from her first two books, Amazing Crochet Lace: New Fashions Inspired by Old-Fashioned Lace, and Everyday Crochet: Wearable Designs Just for You, which were AMAZING to look at! (I teased her that my holiday shopping/packing is done as I eyed her collection; hey, I only said what everyone else there was thinking! LOL)

Doris also brought an uncorrected proof of her latest book, "Crochet Lace Innovations: 20 Dazzling Designs in Broomstick, Hairpin, Tunisian, and Exploded Lace". I immediately added it to my Wish List!

Of course Doris wasn't done spoiling us. She also had some door prizes ... one of them being the coveted Etimo crochet hooks everyone has been clamoring for ... the same hooks I was RAK'd with by my Fairy Crochet-Mother back in September! She showed us Tahki's new Cotton Classic LITE yarn line -- talk about yummy! and then she taught everyone how to do the Broomstick Lace technique featured in her upcoming book!

Thanks Santa, and thank you Doris! Everyone had a great time! :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

crocheted stitches wrapped with love

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Festivus (think Seinfeld) ... these holidays all boil down to one common thread: crocheting like mad to finish last minute gifts! Are you part of this tradition too?

For me, I just finished a crocheting marathon, working up child sweaters for two important little girls in my life, and am in the final stages of blocking and assembling. One of the sweaters will be parted with tomorrow, so it's important it is finished today.

Once I'm done with the sweaters comes two more last minute gifts ... something for my mother, which she requested; and something for my Mini~Dee which will be a surprise. For these two projects I will have less than five days to design/crochet them up.

The very last project I intend to crochet is a teddy bear -- for donation to my brother's Fire Station ... that project I'll have maybe a day or two to work on.

I haven't started to panic -- yet. Then again, I strongly advise you don't get caught alone in a room with me -- I just might press a crochet hook into your hand and demand you "crochet like your life depends upon it!" ... I'm just saying...

Is the rush worth it? I think so! I know the people who will receive my crocheted stitches wrapped with love will appreciate the time (even if it was done during a marathon) I put into their gifts. Just as my Auntie who loved receiving the crocheted hat she requested! :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Question From Reader: Yarn on the Cheap

Kenzie from punkymonkeymissions wrote:

"I just learned to crochet and decided to start doing it for missions and to make stuff for the homeless. Do you have any ideas how I can get yarn for cheap? My mom will only buy me 1 or 2 skeins a week and I ran out of my own money. Here is my blog if you want to see my scarves"
Dear Kenzie,
Thank you for visiting my blog; it's always nice to meet a reader! ... and especially one with a big heart for their local community like yourself! :)

Being on a tight budget myself, I know it can become costly to purchase yarn for our charitable projects. Fortunately, I do know of ways you can get yarn cheaply, and possibly even for free!
  1. Visit you local dollar/discount stores. Often times they'll have yarn for just a buck a skein. I was just at my local Christmas Tree store last week and even they had some for just a dollar!
  2. Join a local group, such as a CGOA Chapter. As a group that crochets for charity you can write to local yarn companies asking for "seconds" -- this is yarn is "not quite right" due to dye lot/quality control issues. Tell them of your charity and they might send you some yarn for free.
  3. Check your local paper for Estate sales. Many crocheters (and knitters) have WAY more yarn than they can use in a lifetime. This leaves family members finding it stored in many various locations in the home. When the family believe they found it all, often times they'll have a sale. (one of the founders of my Chapter recently passed away; her husband has been finding yarn everywhere--including in kitchen cabinets!)
  4. See if there is a "Freecycle" Yahoo group for your area. If there is, join the group and post that you are looking for yarn to create items for charity. Many of these freecycle groups will let you repost your request after X number of months. If a reader has yarn to give, they'll send you an email.
  5. Check the website CraigsList. I'm not a big user of the site, but do know many who have scored yarn there.
  6. Have you seen the auctions on eBay? There was a time I scored 250 pounds of chenille for a song... You might find also find bargains for yarn on Amazon. You never know, so it's worth checking repeatedly.
  7. Are you a member of the community? If so, check around, as there is bound to be someone who is looking to dee-stash for a good cause.
  8. Sometimes yarn companies have a Free Yarn Giveaway ... at the moment Caron International Yarns is giving away a skein of their dreamy Country yarn ... go here for details; the offer will be available as long as supplies last.

Readers, do you have other ideas on where to obtain yarn on the cheap -- or possibly free? If so, please share! There may be other crocheters (and knitters) out there that want to help their local community by donating crocheted/knitted goodies too but are on a shoe-string budget. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Making the Path of Crochet Easier: Lily Chin

I've been crocheting since I was a youngster. Not always has my path of crocheting been easy. If you've taken a crochet class with me, or have been a long time reader of my blog, then you've heard my story of how it took YEARS for me to figure out (as a child) to go from the crocheted chain to stitches to projects. My problem was I rarely bumped into people who crocheted and could help unlock it's secrets to make it easier for me.

Flash forward to today where my own Mini~Dee crochets. As I watch her make her stitches, sometimes I tell her how lucky she is that she can come to me, or members of my CGOA Chapter, or a great number of crochet designers she personally knows, and can ask questions. When I was her age I was stuck. Yes, she's clearly very lucky to have access to so many experienced crocheters.

As if Lily Chin were here listening to this conversation, she has come up with the perfect solution for folks like myself (when I was first starting), and those experienced with crochet (as I am today), offering us her Crochet Tips & Tricks in a handy sized book! So yes, we can have Lily in each and every crocheter's home, having her provide answers to so many questions crocheters have, such as:

  • how do you find the center of a pull skein?
  • based upon my swatch, how much yarn will I need for this project?
  • how does Lily keep her nickel-plated hooks so slick that she's able to crochet so fast?
  • what do those numbers on cones of yarn mean?
  • how does Lily make seaming nearly painless?
  • the edge needs a million stitches spaced evenly across; how do I do that?
  • OMG, I missed a stitch; how do I fix that?
  • how does Lily stop ribbon yarn from twisting?
  • how does Lily avoid crocheting a million chains for a project and being short, or over, in her count?

If you've ever asked yourself these questions, and more!, then I highly recommend checking out Lily's new book based upon her often sold out class of the same title, "Crochet Tips & Tricks." It's written in Lily's voice so it's like having her sitting beside you as you get help from the master! Her book is filled with shortcuts and techniques that will make your path of crocheting easier! Makes a great holiday gift for yourself, or your favorite crocheter! :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

FUN in the SUN: Special Crochet Workshop & Meet-up in F-L-O-R-I-D-A!

Sunday, December 20th:
Pushmi~Pullyu Crochet Workshop @ The Local Needle, Macclenny, FL

This workshop is named after the Pushmi~Pullyu animal featured in the Doctor Dolittle novel written by Huge Lofting. A Pushmi~Pullyu is the beloved two-headed alpaca/antelope (depending upon which version of the story you know) that delights everyone.

Many crocheters look at their work in one direction, from left to right, or from right to left. Is it possible crochet can have more than one direction? And if so, what are the benefits?

In this popular 3-hour workshop taught at the National CGOA Conferences, Dee will have participants exploring the amazing possibilities of what happens when crochet is turned around! Not just by turning your work, but by watching what happens when stitches are created backwards! Crocheting in opposite directions has its rewards! Pattern to create Dee's award-winning scarf will be provided to participants.

Materials Needed: 2 skeins of smooth DK or worsted weight yarn, simple in texture and color. Crochet hook for yarn chosen. Optional: beaded trim.

Crochet Experience needed: participants should be comfortable with creating the foundation chain, single crochet stitches, keeping tension, counting stitches.

Class size is limited; contact Joan to register!

Monday, December 21st:
Crochet Meet-Up!
Wear your crochet finery, or bring your favorite crochet projects for some Show & Tell while enjoying great food and great crochet conversation! Bring a crocheted/knitted/purchased teddy bear to donate to Fire Station #25 located in Jacksonville, FL. Firefighters will then donate your teddy bear to children in distress when they are out on calls!

When: Monday, December 21 at 2:00 PM
Where: Harpoon Louie's (
4070 Hershel St, #8
Jacksonville, FL
RSVP: to me by leaving a message here, on Ravelry, or send me an email. Headcount is needed so the restaurant will know if additonal staff is needed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Crazy? Double Shells Save the Day

Normally it does not take me weeks and weeks and weeks to crochet a specialized baby shower gift. However, this set did!

The blanket is my design. I started with six chains, my jeweled "F" Graydog crochet hook, a skein of Plymouth Yarn's "Dream Baby dk" yarn in soft mint. Six chains Dee? Yes, six chains. I used what is known as "The Crazy Stitch," a series of "blocks" crocheted diagonally.

Once I reached the size I wanted the baby blanket to be I became stumped. What was I going to do for the border? I poured through books, gandered at seemingly thousands of other baby blankets looking for the perfect border solution to no avail. Was I being too picky? I don't think so. My problem was in not knowing if the baby would be a boy or a girl -- this made it a bit of a challenge in picking the perfect border for my project!

At my CGOA's Chapter meeting last month I brought the blanket with me. Time was starting to run out! As I doodled with my hook & yarn with possibilities, I decided to begin the border using shells. Shells? Yeah, I know what you're thinking: crochet shells are used so often! They're a staple of crochet! How could I possibly make the border "more original" when crocheting shells? I had a plan! The last row would be DOUBLED shells, something I don't recall seeing before!

How to create Doubled Shells as a Border (in a nut shell):
1. crochet shells in front loop of designated stitch, leaving back loop unworked.
2. anchor shell with traditional single crochet going through both loops.
3. continue this process around, join with slip stitch after going completely around.
4. crochet shells in back loop of designated stitch using extended dc stitches AND adding 2 more dc stitches to the count.
5. anchor shell to sc with a sl st.
6. continue this process around, join with a slip stitch. End off. Tuck ends in.
7. happy dance; it looks awesome!

Unfortunately I never made it to the baby shower because I had come down with the flu. This also meant I decided not to design my own little sweater for the baby. Instead, I turned to the Leisure Arts booklet called "Lullaby Layettes" (leaflet #2614), and used pattern # 4 called "blocks." This is another variation of the crochet crazy stitch, and when worked in the same yarn in white, it matched my blanket beautifully.

I gave the set to the expectant parents on Thanksgiving Day; they were tickled. The parents-to-be loved the colors, how soft the blanket & sweater came out, the stitch pattern AND the double shelled border! ... any day now I'll find out if I have a grand-niece or grand-nephew. ... maybe this means I have time to whip up a little bonnet....or cap..... :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Halloween 2009

For Halloween the McDee's dressed up and went trick or treating. Mini~Dee was Cleopatra and Dee Jr. was a gladiator. They used the same crocheted pails I had won at an HHCC auction back in 2002. Many people commented how well the pails have held up through the years, and the many pounds of candy loads. This just goes to show that crochet is not only beautiful and creative, it's also very durable! ;)

Part of our Halloween tradition is to visit with my sister-in-law. When we arrived we found my niece, Crista, busy making beautiful beaded designs. She invited me to sit with her and make some items too. Naturally I jumped at the chance as in my former life I was a jeweler. Crista asked, "Aunt Dee, you're great at crochet, and at making jewelry. Is there anything you don't know how to do?" We all got a chuckle out of that.

Visit Crista's Etsy shop at: and pick something out to match your latest crochet wear! I told her she should consider designing us crocheters (and knitters) stitch holders. What do you think? If you agree, drop her a line and let her know! :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Checking In...

I'm sorry I haven't been around much. We had another death in the family; my 27 year old cousin who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He was diagnosed in early September, started treatment ... they said he had 3-5 years. It's been a difficult time for my family. He did give one last gift to the world, the gift of sight. His beautiful blue eyes, which were not effected by chemo were donated. All my future blue chemo caps will be donated in his name.

I had planned on resuming blogging last week, but the kids came down with the flu. Guess who has it now?

For those inquiring, yes, I am planning to teach a special crochet workshop in FL and having a crochet hook-up. Details soon, I promise!

For now, I'm headed back to bed. I'll be bringing Lily Chin's new book: Crochet Tips & Tricks: Shortcuts and Techniques Every Crocheter Should Know with me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Local Crochet Knit & Purl Class Offering

At yesterday's Coffee, Crochet & Chat session, held at our local Borders bookstore, we got to talking about my adventure into knitting last week. I told them my knit history: how I had tried learning how to knit from my Grandmother, from friends, and from some of the best knitting teachers in the business -- and how, unfortunately those lessons did not take. It didn't click* until I figured it out from a crocheter's perspective! After all, my brain is wired for crochet! (*ETA: hahaha, I did a knit pun: click)

Once I purchased a speciality crochet hook called The Amazing Needle it all started to sink in! This hook gave me the opportunity to crochet TRUE knit stitches -- not the imitation ones like the Tunisian crochet technique offers -- we're talking T-R-U-E knit (and purl) stitches! Gotta love that, right?!

In discussing this yesterday several of the attendees said they wanted me to teach them the Amazing Needle technique. Lucky for them, I have needles in stock. If you're in the Danbury, Connecticut area and want to partake, go here to reserve you seat; the class will be on Wednesday, October 28th from 10AM - Noon. If you're interested in learning how on your own, go here to order your speciality hook; tell her Dee sent you. :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rhinebeck: Freezing Fun, Burning Retina's and All!

Rhinebeck was a two-day event. Saturday, as I understand it, was ca-rowded. As in Seriously Crowded. Sunday was not. Why the difference in attendance? Weather! Saturday turned out to be a beautiful New England autumn day (abet a bit cold), and Sunday was raw: wet, cold, and a bit breezy. I was there on Sunday, complete with thermal underwear and a bag for toting my goodies. Mini~Dee was with me too, wearing one of my crocheted hats (Mini~Dee is at the "hair" age, meaning to to have her wear a hat that messes up her hair -- and!! -- to wear said hat all day, *is*a big deal. LOL She looked great wearing it, and got lots of compliments. Should I mention she wore the hat to school today? Completely her decision? LOL; it must be a tween/teen thing!) Joining us in the fun was Nancy. She was geared up for the raw weather and shopping too!

2009 NY Sheep & Wool Festival, Rhinebeck, New York

We arrived around 11:30 and went directly to the Authors booth. We met up with Mary Beth Temple and her daughter Little Loopy. Little Loopy and Mini~Dee are friends, having met a few years ago at one of the CGOA Conferences. With Little Loopy joining us for shopping bliss, we left Mary Beth behind so she could autograph her books.

Our first stop was a visit to The Rams Horn. I purchased the yarn basket earrings I mentioned in my last blog post. As earrings, they feel a bit heavy for what I normally wear. That's OK; I have another plan for them. (More on that in a future blog post.) Then we checked out all the other vendor goodies. One thing I noticed, thanks to Little Loopy tuning me into it, is that the 1980's are coming back. For those of us old enough to remember the 1980's that spells out a 4-letter word worthy of blinding our retinas. Yes, the word is NEON. (do your eyes hurt reading that? Yeah, mine too.)

There was NEON colored roving, hand spun hanks, and funky skeins of yarn EVERYWHERE! And on this dark, raw, rainy day, the NEON really showed up! ((and you all thought my yellow nail polish I wore a few weeks back was bright! Ha!)) I did not buy any of the NEON yarn goodies, but Little Loopy did. It will be interesting to see what she does with it. :)

One new vendor I found nearly freezing to death (they're from North Carolina and not used to our chippy weather here in the Northeast) was The Art of Conni Togel. This vendor had paintings & prints of wooly humor ... and I bought one small print. In fact, it was this one I had purchased, to hang in my future Yarn Studio; it made me laugh so hard! (No, they won't be at Stitches East next weekend, nor will many of the vendors there. It seems there is some sort of huge event going on in North Carolina next weekend, reportedly bigger than Stitches East. Unfortunately I don't recall the name of the event, but perhaps one of my readers from NC knows & will post the name of it here?)

We took a carriage/horse ride, ate yummy food & fudge, and hooked up with other crocheters: Leslie, Andrea, Diane, Barbara, Jennifer, and Lily Chin too! We were given some free mini~hanks of yarn from St. Denis; and they gave us a bunch of pins to hand out to our CGOA Chapter members. We also attended the Ravelry Lunchtime Meet-up. This was my first time meeting Mary-Heather, Casey & Jessica, but not the first time seeing them in person. The other times there were just too many people around, so saying a proper hello was just out of the question. Which reminds me, I need to get info to Casey & Jessica about the Big E ((wouldn't it be cool if they had a booth there next year on Massachusetts Day???)).

Soon, too soon if you ask me, the announcements came on officially ending this year's festival. Just before we left I managed to buy a hank -- the only yarn I purchased -- from Brooks Farm Yarn. It's a sweet mixture of wool, silk, and viscose; "blue jean," golden, and green in color. I'm not sure what it will be when it wants to grow up, but judging on how much Mr. Dee is admiring it, I'm guessing it might end up to be something for him. And yes, this is another vendor who will be attending the North Carolina thing-y next weekend.

We had a lot of fun, and even though it's a year away, we're looking forward to the next one already! :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Weekend Plans

A busy weekend is ahead, for sure! One of the events I'll be attending is the annual New York Sheep & Wool Festival held in Rhinebeck, NY. It is one of the largest Sheep & Wool Festivals/Fairs in the 13 Colonies (Maryland's is the largest).

Mary Beth Temple, of the Getting Loopy Show, author of Hooked for Life: Adventures of a Crochet Zealot and Design It Yourself Afghans will be doing a book signing. Doris, Nancy and Leslie will be there too, roaming, shopping, having a great time ...

One of the vendors I always look forward to seeing is The Rams Horn. Why? Because they make beautiful pewter jewelry -- crochet jewelry!! They're the one's I buy my crochet hook pendants from (as can be seen on my key chain in the photo on the right). I love their crochet pin too. This year, I'm looking to add their yarn basket earrings to my collection. :)

I plan on going on Sunday, with Nancy. I'm not sure what the weather will be like (hey, yesterday it SNOWED!), but I do know a good time will be had by all! I can't wait! :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Warming Thoughts

Caught, once again, with yarn snuggly tucked in the crook of my steering wheel, while awaiting for my children to end their school day. Only this time, my crochet hook was in motion. And it felt good. Real good. I was caught crocheting a baby afghan that will be donated...

During those moments of waiting & crocheting I let my thoughts drift back to October of 1989 (or was that in '88? *Edited to confirm it was on October 4, 1988 when Connecticut experienced a fluke blizzard, weighing down trees with canopies of autumn colored leaves) when I had traveled to Florida to spend time with my southern family members. Actually, in the time of B.C. (Before Children) I used to travel a lot. But on this particular trip, upon my return home I had discovered I had missed one of Connecticut's worst early snow storms in it's history.

Earlier this evening, as Mr. Dee and I were going over future plans to take our children to Florida to visit with the southern relatives for the first time, I looked out the window and discovered it is snowing. Some say this is an omen, that our luck is turning; let's hope so. Others are asking if I plan on meeting up with other crocheters, and/or teaching a workshop or two... For now, it is too early to tell. But wouldn't that be cool if I did?

I'm headed back to my crocheting, to my hot chocolate, and discussions of Florida. Warm thoughts for sure as it is too early for snow...

Thursday, October 8, 2009


What is wrong with this picture? Could it be that my knit stitches are nice and even? Could it be that I am knitting -- again? or could it be that there is a crochet hook, just hanging there, sitting idle?

Maybe zombies made me do it. Maybe it's a witch's curse? Or maybe it is revenge of the black sheep ...

nah. It's stress. I have many projects on the hook right now that I don't want to touch until I've worked out some stress. So I turned to practicing my knitting where gauge is still important, but it's not like I'm going to run off and design something with it -- or will I?

Spooky thoughts for sure! ;)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fair Rules

Soon it will be time to take out the crocheted Trick or Treat candy pails, attend Stitches East, and the New York Sheep & Wool Festival - but before all that can happen, my family and I had to attend the Eastern States Exposition. Our goal yesterday, aside from having fun, was to pick up the entries my CGOA Chapter had submitted. Only that didn't happen.

Sometimes, for some crocheters, rules are, well, to say it plainly, directly, rules are dull. Eyes will glaze over while we itch to get started on our projects, thinking we know what the author/rules will say. Until, that is, we hit a snag that our independent spirit cannot fix and need to go back and read the rules over -- completely -- to see what we missed the first time... Yep, rules are rules, and they're meant for a reason. Drat. This means we should read patterns completely before diving in, AND we should also completely read entry rules for fair competitions before heading out (even if we've been entering the same fair competition for years!) -- so we won't discover after the fact that you will need to return the day after the fair. Guilty as charged.

As I prepare to return to the fair grounds later today, I did want to say that yesterday
A. I did have a great time at the Fair,
B. I purchased a hank of dee-LISHious hand-spun, hand-dyed Alpaca yarn and
C. I found winding yarn from a hank into a center-pull ball is a great way to pass time while waiting for the Fair's parade to start (just look at that blissful smile on my face! LOL). Now, if only I had remembered to bring along my crochet hook ... I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

NEW Class Offerings: Crochet 101 & 102

I am pleased to announce I will be teaching two great beginner Crochet Classes this month at The Village Sheep located in New Milford, Connecticut!

    One 2-hour session $20
    This crochet class is designed with the absolute beginner in mind: learn how to properly start your work, the importance of the foundation chain, how to create the single crochet, how to count stitches, how to build on your work to create wonderful fabric, and how to properly end off. All you need to know to properly start your journey into the world of crochet.
    Wednesday, October 21st; 5:30 - 7:30 PM
    Supplies needed: worsted (size 4) weight yarn; light colored. Size I or J crochet hook. Beginner book recommended. Class Size: 8

  • CROCHET 102:
    One 2-hour session $20
    If you took 101 last week and are ready for the next step, or perhaps you crocheted long ago and need a refresher, or perhaps you need a little help getting "unstuck..." If so, then this is the Beginner Crochet class for you! In this class participants will learn to build taller stitches, the importance of turning chains, how to read yarn labels for crochet, figure out gauge, and more! This class is designed to help beginners take their new passion to the next level.
    Wednesday, October 28st; 5:30 - 7:30 PM
    Supplies needed: worsted (size 4) weight yarn; light colored. Size I or J crochet hook. Crochet pattern(s).
    Class Size: 8

If you are interested in taking one of these classes (or both!), please contact The Village Sheep. Class size is limited!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Life Goes On

I'm back, kindasorta. We're still piecing together the events prior to the unexpected passing of my aunt. Just prior to losing her we learned of my 27 year old cousin being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. I have decided that as he fights his cancer I will donate all the chemo caps I crochet in their names, maybe even sell a few with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society as I have in the past.

In the meantime, I am trying to get organized. Yarn has seriously taken over the house, and this is not a good thing. If the house were bigger, or contained less people, it wouldn't be a problem. Moving, as it was slated for this fall, has been canceled. So I turned to my father who lives nearby. He has graciously agreed to let me use his basement to build a yarn studio.

Building a yarn studio won't happen over night. First, I need to wait until he finishes clearing space for me and correcting a slight water issue. As the studio will be in the basement, correcting the water issue is a huge concern!

Once that is taken care of, I will need to address how to heat the area. Not a problem, I have a space heater already.

Lighting. This could be a problem. We're talking basement here -- windowless. This means I need to look to lighting that will not fatigue my eyes.

Paint. My children have already been helping me select paint samples. We haven't decided on a brand or colors yet, but we do like the little plastic ring Behr offers -- anyone else thinking "stitch markers?" Since I am a huge giraffe fan, I might consider one wall painted like the giraffe patterning we're all very familiar with ...

EZ View Craft Desk WhiteDesk. I want two. I want a desk/treadmill combo. I think I have mentioned this before. This way as I surf the internet I can be walking off up to 40 pounds (or so the claim says) a year. I like the sound of that!

The second desk would be the one you see on the right. Ever since I saw a glass-top coffee table filled with crochet hooks on a website long gone, I have dreamed of having such a way to display/house my crochet hooks for myself. And then I saw this desk a few weeks ago on the internet and think it clearly has my name all over it. (If it doesn't, then I'll write it on there! LOL) What could be more inspiring than sketching new designs while viewing beautiful crochet hooks?

Flooring. I haven't decided on if I want a wood floor, or carpeted. Either way, I want one of those Roomba things that will mop/vac at will!

Shelving. Housing my yarn stash will be important. I haven't decided on official shelving yet, but do foreee a trip to Ikea for some great ideas. One thing for certain, ever since I started eating more salad, I've been having fun recycling the containers to house my yarn. I love that I can see inside the containers AND stack them neatly! (talk about going green, right?)

So, readers, what am I missing on my list for creating a new yarn studio? What would be on your wish list of things to add?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chasing the Right Shot

If you were following me on Twitter or Facebook this morning, then you already know I had a difficult time photographing one of my finished crochet projects. Mr. Dee said perhaps I'm a bit too picky in deciding how, when, and where I take my photos. I think it's more than that.

As I played with two cameras, adjusting lighting conditions, backgrounds, and clothing props, I started to blame it all on my poor mannequin. I said things like:

"mannequins with diva attitudes, can you stand them? photoshoot not going well. "
"if I could, I'd take the mannequin's head off; but wait, she hasn't got a head ..."
"this photoshoot & mannequin seem to be taking on a life of their own ... "
and finally, "... will mannequin be upstaged by a simple hanger? ... "

Perhaps I was the one with all the drama. Who knows for sure. The good news is, after almost 100 (digital) photos, and after calling in Mr. Dee to assist me, I got one that I like. So why all the fuss?

Just as I spend the time in deciding what yarn (Rowan's Damask) and hook (Graydog), and stitch pattern (Tumbling Clusters Autumn Scarf) or crochet technique I'll use for a given project, the photo I want representing my work should show (imho) the project's personality. Can projects have personality? I certainly think so.

... and maybe my mannequin has one too. After all, it was only after threatening to put the scarf I crocheted for ME on a hanger did she begin to seriously start posing... what did Tyra Banks say on her show, "America's Next Top Model" ... a good model makes a photographer chase her. And that's just what my mannequin seemed to do... I'm just saying...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

When Life Gives You Lemons...

make lemonade. Errr. No, wait. Summer is nearly over. Forgetaboutit. Buy matching colored yarn instead!

Two states, one Fair, four yarn stores; one day. Whew!!
It was a very busy day with dropping off entries for the upcoming Eastern States Exposition Fair (well known as The Big E), and visiting various yarn shops along the way. The biggest grins seemed to have stemmed from wearing my daughter's day-glo yellow nail polish ... want to know how much fun it was? Try it yourself; especially on a rainy, grey day with a group of other yarn lovers. :)

Readers: Which yarn, of the 3 pictured (if any), do you think I came home with?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New PDF Pattern Release

One of the classes I taught at the recent CGOA Chainlink Conference was called Tunisian-on-the-Short." The focus of the class was on linked crochet stitches, and it was a pleasure to teach! In fact, the wrap I wore at the Fashion Show was created with linked stitches I dreamed up in my sleep. (Oh, come on, you all know I dream in crochet, so this should not be a surprise to anyone! Giggles)

Upon returning home from the Conference the idea of linking cluster stitches kept nagging at me ... calling me ... beckoning me to figure out a way to do it. And I did! Now I am in no way saying I invented the stitch, as who knows, it could be in a book somewhere. I'm just saying that I figured it out on my own. And while tinkering, perfecting the way I did it, managed to whip up a few scarves for the 60 Scarves in 60 Days Challenge, such as the blue one pictured on the right.

Now my new PDF pattern for my Tumbling Clusters Autumn Scarf is officially released! My testers report the stitch is "definitely addictive & makes for very soft, springy stitches" and "works great," -- and seemingly struck a cord with many already as the pattern has been selling like hot cakes prior to me announcing it here. ((Thank you everyone!)) If you'd like to purchase the PDF pattern, you may do so on Etsy, on Ravelry, or on my website. ... just a warning though -- it can become a new stitch addiction. :)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fairy Crochet-Mothers Do Exist!

Have you ever been RAK'd? RAK'd stands for *Random Act of Kindness.* I love RAK'ing, and being RAK'd -- and I believe if more people practiced it our world would be so much better!

I know I still have the recent CGOA ChainLink Conference to finish blogging about (I'll be backfilling when time permits). One of the entries missing is the one about what I purchased at the Conference. Honestly, I didn't purchase much. With Mr. Dee's layoff seven months ago, splurging is something I really can't do at the moment. -- but I had purchased an Etimo crochet hook to surprise a friend with here in Connecticut.

That's right, I RAK'd a friend. She couldn't make the Conference, crochets like a mad-woman for various charities (she's such an inspiration!), and unfortunately suffers badly from arthritis in her hands. With the hook having a soft cushion I thought the Etimo crochet hook would be perfect for my friend; I wanted her to try the hook,hoping it would offer her some comfort to keep crocheting. She was delighted with my RAK'ing her, and better yet, she loves her new Etimo crochet hook!

So imagine my surprise when my postal carrier delivered a mysterious box and inside was a complete set of Etimo crochet hooks! -- For me! From my "Fairy Crochet-Mother/Goddess!" OMG -- how cool is that?!!! Thank you Fairy Crochet-Mother/Goddess!!"

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Optical Illusions

Technically it is still summer. Fall does not officially arrive here in Connecticut until September 22nd. However, with our weather dipping down into the 50's for the past several days it already feels like Fall has arrived.

While taking some pictures of a scarf I have placed for sale in my Etsy shop, Mr. Dee, who was standing some distance away, exclaimed, "Hey, cool autumn shot!" ... thinking I was uploading a picture of fall foliage with a river running below. Do you see it? No?

OK. Try this. Get up from where you are sitting and step back about 5 feet. Now, move to the right about 8 to 10 feet. Keep looking at the image on your monitor. Do you see it now? You need to view the image from an angle to see the optical illusion. Cool, huh? :)

Pattern coming soon.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

6th Annual 60 Scarves in 60 Days Challenge!

It is that time of year again ... a time to crochet, knit or weave scarves that will benefit YOUR local community! It is time for the 6th Annual 60 Scarves in 60 Days Challenge!

This Challenge originated on my blog six years ago. Last year I moved the Challenge to and the pooled efforts were amazing!

How the Challenge works:
  1. Crochet or knit a scarf (or more) for charity. You can use a pattern (give credit to the designer if that’s what the pattern calls for!), learn a new stitch, or create your own pattern.

  2. Pledge it for a local charity near YOU; no need to ship! Check with your local homeless shelters, Salvation Armys, religious institutions, and schools to find a home for your scarf/scarves.

  3. To have your scarf count towards the goal, you can go on Ravelry, upload an image and label it ”2009 Scarf for 60 Day Challenge.” Or post about it on your blog and leave the link here in my blog comments.

  4. The scarf/scarves must be created by hand between September 1st and November 30th, 2009, midnight, eastern time, to count. (Yes, we know this is really 90 days, but we’re keeping the name of 60 days)

  5. Any skill level, age and gender can participate! Spread the word!

  6. If you have a website or blog, feel free to save the image below to your own computer and display it proudly!
This Challenge is a great stash buster AND does YOUR local community good!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

ChainLink: Day Three ... The Hat, the Rabbit and The Wand

Past CGOA President Pam Oddi was called up to the podium to talk a little about the history of the CGOA. Pam asked members who had attended the first conference to stand; everyone cheered. She asked they remain standing and asked others to stand, conference by conference until everyone in the room was standing and cheering.

Soon thereafter I was called up to begin the "Crochet Bling" contest that the Crystal Jubilee Committee put together. This would be my first time emceeing; I was nervous but excited.

The first order of business was to instruct all the attendees to nominate someone from their table as having the most "crochet bling" on and send them up to the runway. As they came up they took turns showing the crowd all their wonderful crocheted creations. There were many cheers -- and this meant my job of listening as an "applause-o-meter" to determine the winner would be quite difficult. Unfortunately, for what I had preplanned, my assistant (Dee Jr. who helped mastermind this idea) was called away. So I called on Mr. Dee who knew what I was up to. Of course he was shocked, totally unprepared to have the limelight on him, but he was a good sport and came up to assist me.

That is when I took off my Top Hat and revealed my secret! I announced to the attendees that indeed crocheters are well known to work magic with their crochet hooks, and can, (reaching into the hat's secret compartment) indeed pull a crocheted rabbit from their hat! Everyone laughed. I then announced the members of the Crystal Jubilee Committee who were responsible for planning this part of the CGOA's 15th Anniversary Celebration:

Our CGOA Board Liaison, Vashti Braha; CGOA Historian & Crystal Jubilee Leader, Gwen Blakley-Kinsler; BJ Licko-Keel; Jane Rimmer; Sharon Devol; and myself.

I also announced a big thanks to our winning logo designer, Mary Servillo, and those that voted, along with the web address, where members can order their Commemorative Attire. There was much applause.

One last time I reached into the secret compartment of my crocheted Top Hat and this time pulled out a very long wand, declaring it time to start the actual voting. The wand totally shocked Lily Chin who was standing next to me as well as many others. She went to the microphone and declared me the "Crocheter in the Hat." (Later I would receive inquiries as to how everything fit in my Top Hat. Unfortunately I can't totally reveal all the tricks as there is a magician's code, you know!)

I announced the prizes and sponsors:
  • GRAND PRIZE: 2 skeins of Artyarns Beaded Pearl and 3 skeins of Artyarns Silk/Mohair Glitter ($178 value) plus a $50 gift certificate to the yarn store!

  • SECOND PRIZE: from the Tulip Company, a complete set of Etimo crochet hooks; one of our vendors! An $80 value!

  • THIRD PRIZE: a card of New Metallic's thread and several small tubes of TwistedSistahBeads' speciality bead mixes - the thread makes a good run-along and the beads are great for making fringe! TwistedSistah is also vendor in the market, so be sure to visit!
With Mr. Dee at my side, listening to the applause, I instructed all the participants to walk down the runway. The cheers were loud! We soon whittled down the participants to a small group and had them once again walk down the runway. They strutted, they spun, and they twirled their way into the hearts of the crowd -- and nearly blinded all with their crocheted glitter. I thanked all for participating then announced the winners, "knighting" them with the magic wand:

In Third Place: Margaret wearing her copper, gold, and silver top adorned with flowers!
In Second Place: Jill wearing a beautiful crocheted black dress.
In First Place: Joan wearing an incredibly sparkle-lishious pineapple shawl.

The crowd went wild with applause for our participants and our winners.

To see more photos of the Crystal Bling Contest, please visit Nancy's Flickr Album:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

ChainLink: Day Three (Let The Fun Begin)

While running back to the hotel to prepare for tonight I found Mr. Dee and the children in the hotel lobby. The kids were bubbling with excitement; Mr. Dee said they had news for me. It seems they greatly enjoyed the free "Yarny Fun For Kids" event that was held earlier in the day featuring Jelly Yarn -- AND -- that they were interviewed by Zontee of Lion Brand's "YarnCraft" podcast! (Mini~Dee has a blog post here, and you can listen to the podcast here.) How exciting indeed! :)

We quickly changed, grabbed the prizes and were soon on our way back to the Conference center. I wore my Mystery Riot project the entire way there, gathering compliments. Did you guess what it was? It was a Top Hat, crocheted with Lion Brands (discontinued) Glitter Magic. Beside me was Mr. Dee, proudly wearing the mystery project he had requested Mini~Dee to crochet for him, made with the same Glitter Magic yarn; complete with a custom, glittery, glow-in-the-dark crochet hook tie-tac Mini~Dee and I made together. There would be more to this later in the evening...

My job was to prepare the children for their modeling on the runway. They were shown where to enter on the runway, directions to pose in, ways to pose to show off the items they were modeling, and which way to exit. Soon after their practice runs the doors opened and attendees began to file in, taking their seats...
It was time for the Fashion Show to begin...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

ChainLink: Day Three (On the Run)

Mr. Dee and Margaret HubertI am very groggy this morning, in dire need of caffeine. I heard rumors that there was a Dunkin Donuts somewhere -- mere blocks away, but I didn't have time to look into it. I am in dire for caffeine and at this point would settle for a Mt. Dew if only I could find a soda vending machine... (it has been 6 months since my last soda). I was taking two classes today. My first was with Kim Kotary on Passimenterie - Cords, Braids and Fringes. I love macrame and thought this would be a fun class; I was right.

I sat next to Wendy from the NYCCG. Midway through class she asked if I could assist her in pinning on her Commemorative CGOA Pin. While I helped her I got an idea ... when I return back home, I'll have a little surprise drawing with my HHCC Chapter members who are also CGOA members; one name would be selected for me to award one of these special edition pins -- the catch? It would also have to be someone who couldn't attend the Conference. Every year I try to bring home a little "taste" of the CGOA Conferences to share with my Chapter and I'm thinking this would be a great idea! I smiled at Wendy, told her she was all set, and then gave her a little bracelet I made while in class; she said she liked the bracelet. :)

At lunchtime I dashed back to the hotel; I needed to do some quick researching and prepare a few things for the evenings' festivities. I had hoped to have a few minutes to do a quick blog update as at past CGOA Conferences I normally blogged about each day; unfortunately there wasn't enough time. Thank goodness for Twitter.

My second class I was taking was with Lily Chin, Computer Aided Design. Never, in all the years I've been stalking taking Lily's classes would I do this, but midway through the class I had to leave to go to the Vendors Market to pick up the prizes for the "Crochet Bling" contest the Crystal Jubilee Committee would be holding at tonight's Fashion Show. There would be no time for me to do so after class as I had to dash back to the hotel, get changed, collect my family and return to assist the children who would be modeling. Collecting the prizes would prove to be a bigger challenge than I would have expected ...
LtoR: Dee, Andee & Vashti
The first vendor, Leslie, of was expecting me. She had a lovely assortment of thread & beads ready to go. The next vendor had to pull out. Pull out? Yep! All of her merchandise was being held at the US Customs so she had nothing to offer us. I felt awful for her, but also a little panicked: what do I do now? I had no way of contacting the other Crystal Jubilee Committee members, and after we had broadcasted we would offer 3 prizes tonight ... I only had two. Time was passing fast; I decided I would walk around the market floor hoping to bump into a Committee member, or our Committee Liaison to the Board, Vashti, thinking they could advise what we should do.

Lady Luck must have been walking beside me because just moments later I bumped into Pam and Andee who were enjoying shopping. I told them of my plight and they immediately decided to join in the search for Vashti and the other Committee members. While we were searching they suggested I talk to the Tulip Company, stating that the girls at the booth are very friendly and might offer a prize. I decided I would -- and to my delight they were game! With the prize offered by WEBs back in my hotel room, the pretty beads from TwistedSistah, and now a beautiful crochet hook collection from the Tulip Company, the Crystal Jubilee Committee was back on track for the "Crochet Bling Contest"...

I thanked everyone and ran back to finish taking Lily's class. Shortly thereafter I was dashing out again, back to the hotel to get changed, collect my family and then return to help direct the children who would be modeling...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

ChainLink: Day Two (Part Two)

Have I ever mentioned how lucky I am to have Mr. Dee in my life? I'm sure I have, but just in case let me go on record that he is just terrific! Tonight will be a busy night and I'm trying to figure out how I'll manage dinner. That is when he calls me to see what I'd like to have for dinner! (talk about timing in the Universe!) I tell him I'm in the mood for a cheese-less meatball sub, and by the time I return from teaching my last class to the hotel, there he was with my meatball sub! What a great guy!

I finish my dinner and then dash out again, back to the conference center to attend the CGOA's Annual Member Meeting. I arrived a few minutes late -- and nothing screams "late" more than having to find an empty seat in the front row ((how embarrasing; lol)). Rita was going over the business with the membership doing the motions to approve the budget and such. One of the things I think was really great was that they put into the official minutes to recognize -- to show our appreciation for -- Gwen Blakley-Kinsler for founding the CGOA. Unfortunately Gwen was unable to make the Conference as she was caring for her mother who had just had open-heart surgery. If there was a sound to be heard around the world, it would have been the applause and cheers for Gwen!

After the Annual Member Meeting was the New Member Welcome Soiree. It was wonderful to see & meet so many new CGOA members!! The event was sponsored by Drew the Crochet Dude. How cool is that?!! (that's Drew in the back ground giving a thumbs up; I agree! This new event at the conference was a success!)

The evening wasn't over -- there was still the CGOA Chapter Coffee/Dessert to attend! The CGOA Chapter gathering was started a few years ago and has been growing ever since! It was wonderful to hear that there are so many more Chapters! Can you belong to more than one Chapter? Absolutely! I belong to several: my own HHCC, the Crochet Friends of Stamford, the NYCCG, and the only online Chapter (hosted on Cyber Crochet of CGOA. Representatives for each Chapter stood up and briefly spoke about how their Chapters work, what they offer their members, and how they benefit local communities. There was a lot of inspiration in that room -- and cookies. Yes, lots of cookies!

After the meeting several crocheters joined me at my hotel room to discuss the events of the day while we enjoyed a nice bottle of wine from Jones Family Farm. If today was a busy day, tomorrow will be even busier!

Friday, August 14, 2009

ChainLink: Day Two (Part One)

Seriously. How many Stanziano's are there? I haven't a clue, but I do know, based upon past travel experiences, that the likelihood of there being more than one Stanziano staying at the same hotel is rare. I had been expecting two badly needed packages and the hotel staff kept saying nothing had arrived. Admittedly I was beginning to become very concerned. At 11:30 last night I went to the hotel lobby and, after a discussing the situation in detail with the hotel staff, wouldn't you know it -- my packages had been there all along. Whew!!

This morning I slept in -- until 7:15. Perhaps not a big deal to many, but I am a night owl. To me, the 45 extra minutes of sleep was a sweet treat! I passed on drinking the hotel's coffee ((shudder)) and pondered what I was going to do ... I was to teach two classes today AND attend the Past President's Luncheon. This meant I had no time to zip back and forth from the conference center to the hotel and Mr. Dee had plans on taking the children to the local marina to see the big ships, so I couldn't call on him for assistance. I had to come up with a solution.

Fortunately I am an expert packer. I have moved so many times in my lifetime that packing seems second nature to me. That and the fact I was a Girl AND a Boy Scout (long story). I looked around the room and found that Mr. Dee had brought my emergency luggage rack carrier to the room, along with a bungie cord. Score! I took my two totes (already on wheels) and attached them to the bigger carrier. I would estimate the bags, when combined, weighed around 60 pounds -- and I was good to go!

I arrived at my first class, MaCroMe, which was on blending the art of macrame and crochet together. At the beginning of the class I had students wondering in due to the same confusion of class Number and classROOM number being too similar. Once this was straightened out we settled in making pretty bracelets while mastering the square knot. We had interesting discussions on macrame and how it is becoming popular again, and all were invited to join the Ravelry group, "Macrame: All Knotted Up."

It was now time for the Past President's Luncheon where members could sit with former CGOA Presidents and reminisce, and could also fill out forms* on sharing their memories of the CGOA in honor of the 15th Anniversary that the Crystal Jubilee Committee is compiling. ((it's not too late to contribute! Ask how!)) At our table sat Past CGOA President Karen Klemp, and several currently serving CGOA Board Members: Marty, Drew, Vashti, and Amy. Other crocheters briefly stopped by our table, many were on their way to also attend the Exhibitor's Fashion Show. ((*the Memory Pages were in one of the packages I was awaiting delivery for.))

After lunch it was time for me to teach the Pushmi~Pullyu class. This class is named after the two-headed llama featured in George Orwell's classic book, "Animal Farm." Pushmi Pullyu is the crochet technique of making crochet stitches forwards (Pushmi) and backwards (Pullyu) within the same row, or by alternating hands for each row without the need to turn work. This creates a unique look in the fabric, almost like Illusion Crochet.

It is now time to dash back to the hotel and prepare for tonight's festivities ...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

ChainLink: Day One

The first class I was to teach at this year's ChainLink was Crochet Your Knit, a class I enjoy teaching using crochet techniques to create fabric that either looks like -- or is! -- knit. When I first walked into my assigned classroom I panicked a little: Tatting? Why were there tatting students in my class?!? It seems the class number and the classROOM number were too close, and since none of the individual classrooms were labeled (as they were last year) both students & teachers were a little confused. Once I confirmed I was in the right place I sent the tatting students on to their proper class and soon my Crochet Your Knit students started arriving. Whew!

Mr. Dee took the children to the Discovery Museum so I was on my own for lunch. I had just enough time to haul my class supplies back to my hotel room, and microwave some leftovers while reloading for the next class. I discovered on the walk back that if I exited the hotel from the front door and walked around the building, across the street, and around the front of the Conference Center I could knock off a few minutes from the hike. I was thankful I had totes on wheels as I watched other teachers struggling with heavy boxes ...

My second class was Tunisian on the Short and it had sold out! This class focused on linked stitches and the possibilities it offers, such as the "floating single crochet..." (if you don't know what a "floating single crochet" is then this class is for you!). It was great watching my students catch onto this and start playing with the concepts.

Tonight would be busy -- very busy! Mr. Dee and the children had not returned to the hotel yet, so after hauling my class materials back to the hotel I ventured back to the Conference Center to watch the announcing of the CGOA's Design Contest winners. The designs were all spectacular!! The complete list of winners can be found on the CGOA's Ravelry group. The People's Choice Award won't be announced until the Fashion Show on Saturday night.

Afterwards the Vendors Market opened. I walked around the floor while listening & reporting in to the live "Getting Loopy Show" hosted by Mary Beth Temple. By now I was very hungry, and was very happy to see Mr. Dee & the children delivering a large order of Arby's for me and some fellow HHCC'ers. What did I purchase at the Vendor's Market? I'll report on that on another day.

In the meantime, after the Market closed, we headed back to our hotel room with a group of crocheters to wind down the day. If you haven't figured it out yet, room 309 was the place to be...just ask my hotel neighbors who also joined in visiting with us. :)