Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Beauty of Crochet Creates Kiss

One of the great things I love about crochet is how changing just one thing ... be it a yarn over, where you grab your loops, changing the yarn or the hook ... will change the look of the fabric we're creating stitch by stitch.

One of these simple changes is working its way into one of my designs that is headed for publication. While I cannot give details on the actual project (yet!), I can share the stitch. Before doing so, I want to note that I do not recall seeing this stitch in a publication -- yet. Or perhaps I have, but just can't remember where. I am not claiming to have invented it, but I am claiming naming it the "Kiss" stitch until I can find out more information about it.

Why call it the "Kiss" stitch? Because it reminds me of two great loves coming together to create one special experience -- a simple kiss. Give it a try and let me know what you think:

Readers, if you've seen this stitch elsewhere, please let me know! Thanks! :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Checking In

For the past week I have been blowing through more tissues than yarn, eating nothing but chicken soup, drinking "tea for flu," and sleeping. A most miserable waste of a week!

Yesterday Mr. Dee took me to the Bethel library to take down the display my local CGOA Chapter had up in celebration for National Crochet Month. It was the first time I've been out all week and by the time we got home I was drained. ... I'm thinking today will be another day to stay in the pjs.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Celebrating National Crochet Month

I had a fantastic time yesterday, with members of my CGOA Chapter, celebrating March as National Crochet Month. We offered an afternoon of yarn playing: a free beginners crochet class, and a free Tunisian class at the Bethel Connecticut Library. (for those looking for the history on National Crochet Month, I have information posted about it on my forum.)

Free Crochet Lessons were held at the Bethel, CT, library

We had the pleasure of meeting/teaching many wonderful people who were interested in learning about crochet! We had the full spectrum of learners: newbies, knitters*, and those wanting to relearn the joy of crocheting after taking a long hiatus. Everyone seemed to have had a good time.

So, how can a day get any better than that?!?

Priscilla accepts HHCC donation from HHCC President, Grace

... how about with a donation of a crochet book to the library! We donated Erica Knight's, "Essential Crochet," so that long after this year's National Crochet Month is over, crocheters will be able to borrow this book! (for those interested in checking the book out, please give the library time to get it into circulation.) Pictured is Priscilla, accepting the book on behalf of the Bethel library, presented by Grace, The HHCC's President.

(*Why place knitters as their own classification of crochet learner? Because for many knitters, they already know how to utilize two hands to create stitches/control tension. Even though crochet only uses one tool, the crochet hook, it still requires most crocheters to use two hands to create stitches/control tension. This therefore gives many knitters a slight learning advantage over those classified as "newbies:" those who have never picked up a crochet hook or knitting needles before.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Limerick Winner ...

We've spent the morning in rhyme, here at CWDland, as each contestant's entry was read. Without further ado, here is the winner -- announced in limerick form:
The children compared their notes,
Smiled, and then cast their votes,
Sang some Irish songs,
Dancing like leprechauns,
"Karmasmom!," is what they wrote.
Karmasmom's entry:
There once was a lady from Burton
Whose hobby made her hands a-hurtin'
She crocheted night and day
Wore the skin clean away...
Now she's even too tired for flirtin!!
Thank you to all who participated in this contest; your enteries were great!

Karmasmom, please email me your mailing address so I can send the Shamrock Earrings out to you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ewe'll Love It

I have a busy, busy day planned for today, but before I go I wanted to remind everyone that today, at midnight eastern time, is the last day to get your Limericks in for the contest. Go here for details.

I also wanted to share this little YouTube video that is delighting many yarn & sheep admirers around the Internet ... I'm sure ewe'll agree with me you'll never look at fireworks again without wool in mind ...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dee: Reloaded

Mr. Dee and I watched two movies this past weekend: The Matrix, and The Matrix Reloaded. For those who have not seen the movies yet, I will recommend the first. (The second one has me scratching my head and saying, "Wha??" Maybe the 3rd movie of the series will help clarify?) The Matrix is about living in a dream state, only the dream is real with computers running the world. You SciFi fans will love it.

In my world, computers fear me. I tend to burn through computers at an alarming rate. A brown out here (fried mother board), and other various "accidents" tend to happen when I'm around. It's not something I'm proud of. Nor a title ("computer killer") that I wish to hold. But it's the truth. (Yes, I use a UPS system, and virus protection, but that does not seem to be enough insurance from the wrath of Dee. Iieeeeeeeeeeee!)

And, knocking on wood here, thus far the new laptop (which I use daily), and the new PC are doing well. The only drawback is not having access to files that were stored on those older, fried, computers.

Tonight I REALLY needed access to one of them. (One of those life or death situations, especially when it's been requested for publication, know what I mean?) I needed access to a pattern I had written for a class series I had taught awhile ago. I asked Mr. Dee if there was any --ANY -- way he could help me retrieve them. He smiled. "I do," he said. He left the room and shortly returned with some computer guts and this cute little box that is now humming beside me.

That's right. I'm now reloaded. Patterns I've written long ago, long thought to be lost forever, are now at my figertips, awaiting to be reharvested. And I am one -- very -- happy -- camper!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pinch Me, I'm Irish

"Wow, Mom! You whipped that up, in what, a half an hour?!", exclaimed my son last night as I handed him a brand new tie, hot off my hook.

Backing the story up a bit, he had said 30 minutes earlier, "All the kids will be wearing green, and I don't have anything with green on it." How could I let my child, with a bit of Irish in his heritage, go to school without wearing a least a pinch of green? Wearing a clover pin was out -- "it's just not cool, mom, for a boy to be seen wearing a crocheted clover pin." So I did what all problem-solving superhero crocheting mothers would do -- I crocheted a green tie for him to wear today, calling him my "jazzman" as yes, he really does play the trumpet.

He was amazed at my speed, crocheting along, using nothing but slip stitches, that the tie had worked up. Mr. Dee set the record straight, saying to my son, "It might have taken your Mom a half hour to wip up that tie, but it took her a lifetime to learn how!"

After steam blocking the tie, Dee Jr. wore the tie, with pride, to school today. He had more than a pinch of green on, he was wearing "coolness." Ah, that's me lad!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy St. Paddy's: A Contest

It's St. Patrick's Day, a day when all get to wear a bit of green and be Irish for a day. So I thought, what better than to have a little contest to celebrate both National Crochet Month AND St. Patrick's Day!

How to enter:
Create a limerick about crochet and leave it either as a comment here, or you can email it to me. Deadline is midnight (ET) on Friday, March 20th. A limerick is a 5-line poem, and the following is my attempt:

With yarn and hooks all strewn about,
a deep closet crocheter no doubt.
With a knock on the door
she/he learned there were more,
"You are not alone," is what they shout.
You can learn more about limericks here.

My children will be the judges, and one lucky winner will receive these shamrock earrings I designed/crocheted up last night using beautiful "Muse" yarn by Zaol, with milky pearl white bead inserts, mounted on sterling silver french wires. (display stand not included)

UPDATE: For those interested in the crochet pattern for the Shamrock Earrings, it is now available as a free PDF on my website.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dee's (lacking) Drawing Skills

Cindy inquired if I would give a little peek, so I took out my marker, grabbed a piece of paper, and well, if you're prone to get squeamish by observing bad drawings look away now...

Remember, you were warned. (click onto the images to make them bigger)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Crocheters and Their Toys

Ever since the announcement for the location of the National CGOA Convention I have been itching to work up some new crochet designs. I want to create some new items for me, as well as for the classes I will be teaching. Then there's the Design Contest, and also the Fashion Show to consider. Sometimes, though, my sketches look little more than doodles; I have always wished I could draw better.

My family, knowing this, gave me a really cool gift for my birthday and today I finally broke it out and started playing with it. It's a book called, "The Handbag Design Sketch Book." It's part of a series by Project Runway.

While I do have some drawing abilities (meaning I'm an expert at drawing stick-figures), I am soooo loving this gift! Oh, the time it will save me! It has nearly every possible shaped bag one can imagine, complete with a variety of handle options! Now I'm having a blast, coloring away with various crochet stitches & techniques in mind! --And, I can't help but want to put the Project Runway Fashion Design Sketchbook on my Wish List! And according to Amazon, there's a Project Runway Fashion Design Projector Kit too -- I wonder how that works?!

Gee, I feel like a kid today -- one lucky kid who is going to have even more fun with her crochet designing! :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Touching History

I'm having a well-deserved lazy morning this morning, sipping on some delicious chocolate coffee while flipping through the March/April 2009 issue of PieceWork magazine (an awesome, awesome magazine which I highly recommend for all fiber enthusiasts!) ...

This issue of PieceWork is based upon"Textiles for Historical Reenactment," for the Civil War era. I have always thought that when a war is waged it is not fought by the soldier alone; the soldier's family and community are also involved because not only must they pick up where the soldier left off (in caring for the family/home/work), but they also rally together to send care packages of items sorely needed -- like socks!

When I took my children to visit Putnam Park in 2007, we learned every family, during the American Revolutionary War period, was "taxed" to create a certain amount of wool, or weaving to help keep the Revolutionary War soldiers clothed. (The amount of the "wool" tax depended upon the number of people living in the family.) Children were often pressed into service, and items such as the Spinning Jenny (Dee Jr. is pictured on left showing how the wheel was placed low so young children could contribute to the effort) were invented to help meet the demand.

In 2005 I mentioned how my own local neighborhood was part of the Civil War effort, discovering in the official Putnam County Government Records that "Although small, Putnam County played a significant role in the Civil War. ... Declining sheep farming received a boost by a renewed demand for woolen clothing when southern cotton was unavailable."

Getting back to the current issue of PieceWork, I learned most Civil War soldiers were issued four pairs of machine made socks; these were poorly made and thus "Sock Societies" sprouted up both in the South and the North, and children, "boys as well as girls ...[were encouraged] to knit without looking at their work." The article goes on to explain that wool was in short supply in the South so the Sock Societies would use cotton. Cotton socks were "often wet and hard to march on." Northern soldiers had plenty of wool socks, reportedly receiving 80,332 hand knitted socks in two months to the Federal Army of the Potomac. With information like this, I wonder: Would history be different if Southern soldiers had a steady supply of wool socks too? (Naturally I do believe this type of information SHOULD be passed along in history classes, although there are those that argue it shouldn't.)

Ah, but as I drift off on this tangent and see my cup of chocolate coffee running low, I want to mention the best part of this month's PieceWork magazine ... there is an article on Civil War-Era Sontags ... a sort of shawl that wrapped and secured around the body for extra warmth and ease of arm movement. The article states it fell out of fashion somewhere in the 1860's, and I suspect one of the reasons is because the wool was being used for soldiers socks, slippers and gloves. -- Ah, but here's the cool whip for your slice of American Apple Pie: "There is ample photographic evidence to show ... crochet ... was used." So, Civil War reenactors and history buffs, pick up your crochet hooks and know you are touching history with each stitch you make today!

Are crocheters and knitters helping make a difference in today's wars and scrimmages? One nearly needs to surf the internet to find a "Sock Society" (making everything from helmet liners to afghans).

On a personal note: my brother-in-law safely returned home from the Navy in December; it was the greatest Christmas Gift one could ask for. Last week I learned one of my cousins, four years after fulfilling his obligation, was recalled to return to the Army. I will be looking into what his unit will be needing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Tree Project

Yesterday I attended my local CGOA Chapter's monthly meeting. In celebration of National Crochet Month we decided to contribute, as a group effort, leaves for The Tree Project for the International Fiber Collaborative. We created over 50 fantastic leaves that we will be shipping out this week!

Most of the leaves I crocheted for The Tree Project I used the free leaf crochet pattern that can be found here, afterwards embellishing my leaves a bit. (For those wanting to give the pattern a try, should you get confused on where some of the stitches go, use the designer's pictures as a resource.)

For the last two leaves I created for this project I decided to take out my book, Crochet Embellishments (Leisure Arts #4419) by Jean Leinhauser, (Your local library may have it available for loan) as she has a variety of leaf patterns to try in her book. I picked two and, using various yarn samples I've collected from the Yarn of the Month Club, I eventually added my own personal flare to make them unique. I not only got to mix colors, but also textures, weights and fiber content -- nearly every type of fiber under the sun -- and moon! -- and what a blast that was! I guess you could say crocheting the leaves is another "addiction" as I had a difficult time stopping; I just wanted to keep on crocheting more leaves! Who knew they'd be so much fun? Now I am preparing to ship them to the Collaborative.

But, like a little pesky bug buzzing around, one leaf keeps calling to me, "Keep me! Keep me!" (Kinda sounding a bit like the fly/person caught in the web from the 1958 film "The Fly." Spooky if you ask me!) -- So do I dare? What do you think, readers? Should I keep the leaf that keeps calling to me or, pardon the pun, do I let it leave? Have you ever loved the way a project came out and opted to keep it for yourself? If so, please share your story with me.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Oh, dear. Houston, we have a problem!

You know, when I posted the Pickles comic strip the other day, I was sooooo excited to READ the boy was crocheting that I didn't stop to inspect his hands. I should have as it appears he has TWO STICKS. The art of making fabric with TWO STICKS is knitting. It is not the same as the art of making fabric with ONE STICK with a KNOTCH -- which is known as crocheting. So even though it states the boy is crocheting he is, in fact, not.


It seems a lot of people make the same mistake calling knitting crochet, or crochet knitting. For some, it doesn't bother them. In some parts of the world the term knit is used to describe ALL the fiber arts. Of course I would think that confusing, expecially if I were to say, be witnessing someone doing some embroidery work, or perhaps macrame. Would you be confused too?

For others, it tends to drive them crazy, screaming for justice. Or at least demanding a level playing ground -- after all, one doesn't call a piano a harp, or a harp a flute, right? That's how the Crochet Liberation Front, a group on Ravelry, got started -- and they now award various people and their projects or articles the "Flaming Hook of Justice" for getting the word out about crochet. In fact, the CLF has awarded my blog with a "CLF Salute" -- I think that's pretty cool. Thanks CLF!!!

Speaking of crazy, I went down to my local police department last weekend to be fingerprinted. Seems I broke some zoning laws of owning too much yarn stash and had to be hauled in. If you believe that one then I have a bridge to sell you as one can never really own too much yarn, could they?? In all seriousness, I went to be fingerprinted for a new CGOA position I'll be volunteering for. When I arrived for my appointment the officer behind the desk seemed angry at me for interrupting his TV watching (what can I say, I live in the country and usually the biggest crime here is having a bear attack bird feeders). After the fingerprinting, the same CLF group brought this article to my attention: "A Denver Deputy Sherriff was fired because in part ... [failing] to stop crocheting while on duty." They are not embracing her actions (other articles give more reasons for the firing), but they are proud of her remarks for defending her craft:

At one point, a captain asked the deputy, "Was it my imagination or were you knitting on post?"
The deputy replied, "It was your imagination, because I was crocheting, not knitting."
I don't know about you, but I'd much rather have an Officer crocheting -- or knitting -- especially if it was a charity project, than watching TV, as it's so much more productive. And from my side of the glass barrier at the local PD -- I'd be more understandable should the Officer make you wait to finish out a stitch repeat rather than waiting for a television commercial. I'm just saying ...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pickle This: Children Who Crochet

I am very sleepy today ... those long nights of assisting children with their science fair projects have a way of catching up to you. Before I head off for a well deserved mid-morning nap, I thought I'd share these comics with you (embedded here at CWD with permission of the site they are from). I think those who have experienced the joy of teaching children the art of crochet, or have received very "thoughtful" crochet gifts from them will enjoy this greatly:



Sunday, March 1, 2009

March is National Crochet Month

It's here! It's here! No, not the expected 10" of snow (althougth it is expected to arrive later today). It's National Crochet Month! A time to celebrate all that is wonderful about the art of crochet!!

In honor of this celebration, my CGOA Chapter, The HHCC, has a display at the Bethel Library (located in CT). Our focus this year was babies and charities with the challenge of "each one teach two."

As part of NATCROMO, I am going to challenge you, my readers, to learn something new about crochet. Maybe a new technique, or learning how to read patterns, or gasp, learning to love swatching.

Let's take the example of Cindy, who wrote to me requesting assistance with this stitch. She writes, "I want to make a scarf using the thistle stitch but I can't figure out how many to chain. Can you help me?"

The clue in figuring out how many chains one should start a given project with begins in figuring out what the stitch repeat is. For the stitch Cindy was inquiring about, the Thistle stitch, also known as the Leaf Stitch (another of my favorites), is based upon the single crochet.

If we read the instructions it says we'll be skipping one stitch and then making two stitches in the next. So it would look something like this (read right to left, my normal crochet flow direction):

sc, sc sk sc, sc sk sc,sc sk <-first row
ch ch ch ch ch ch<-foundation chain

I have changed the colors above to reflect the skipping of one stitch and the creating of two in the next as the directions state. This means that the repeat, or the multiple is 2, is instructing Cindy to create her chain for as long as she'd like as long as she can divide the number she created by two.

But she is not done yet. The next thing Cindy will need to do is look at what the first stich is. In this case it is a single crochet. The Crochet Golden Rule (in America) states that for single crochet stitches a single chain is equal to the height of a single crochet stitch. So Cindy would need to add just one more chain to her total to utilize the Thistle/Leaf stitch pattern. If you take a look in stitch pattern books the multiple is usually stated for you and will look something like this: multiple 2+1

And there you have it. If you didn't know about multiples, then you've learned something new -- and you learned it during National Crochet Month! If you already knew about multiples, then consider this a great lesson to pass on to another crocheter. Go, get crochet stitch happy, and celebrate National Crochet Month!