Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leaf it to Dee...

.. to find a pun. ((grins))

In all seriousness and fun, I got an eyefull of inspiration this morning when I discovered that the International Fiber Collaborative had finished the Interdependence Tree Project! Fifty of the leaves on that magnificent, 28 foot tall & 25 foot wide, tree came from my CGOA Chapter, some of which I helped crochet (mine are pictured on right, most of the yarns I used coming from my Yarn of the Month Club subscription).

Have you seen the completed tree yet? OMG, it has over 7000 leaves from 39 States (go Connecticut! lol), and 23 countries -- and is breath-taking AMAZING!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Batting for Crochet

Me? Attend a Sheep & Wool Festival? What would I do with all that fluffy stuff? I'm not a spinner! I'm a crocheter! ... those were my thoughts once upon a time. Then I took an eye-opening class with Janet Rehfeldt at a CGOA Conference and I've been hooked on batting ever since! ... not batting for baseball, but rather batting as in yarn yet to be spun! Also known as crocheting in the raw! Breaking the rules! Ask a sheep about it and he'll tell you the same thing, perhaps singing it Michael Jackson style, "You know I'm baaaaaa, I'm baaaaaaa..." ahem; we're getting a little off track, which tends to happen to those who attend sheep & wool fairs & festivals, but in a good way. Seriously.

For those who collect archive magazines, you'll want to check out Janet's article entitled, "From Batt to Beautiful," in the November 2006 issue of Crochet! magazine.

First, why would one want to crochet with unspun fibers? One good reason is cost. It cost less because of the elimination of having someone (by hand or by machine) to first spin and then ply it into strands creating what we call string or yarn. This makes working with alpaca, angora, camel, mohair, silk, wool, and so on, more affordable.

(The picture on the left shows the hat I was crocheting during the festival, using roving I had purchased from the event last year. The picture on the right shows the hat nearly done, along with pink/orange wool, and earth tones silk/merino blend "pencil roving" --yummies from this year's CT S&W.)

Second, using unspun fibers makes for a loftier project because the unspun fiber won't have all that twist from the manufacturer-- it will have just the natural twist which occurs with crochet. Natural twist in crochet? Yes! I'm sure you've noticed this happening... you are crocheting along, say with a ribbon type of yarn, and notice that every so often you need to lift the ball to allow it to "unspin" to prevent it from kinking up. That phenomenon happens because of the way we crocheters yarn over, the way we connect to our stitches, along with the direction our work flows. (If you wish to learn more about this phenomenon, then you'll want to be in my Pushmi~Pullyu class this summer.)

Third, think of the possibilities! You can create your own blends, your own colorways! Isn't that reason enough to give it a try?

When you attend the Sheep & Wool Festivals & Fairs, you'll want to purchase the batting that is ready for spinning -- it's called "pencil roving." However, if you go and come home with a sheep rather than "pencil roving," then you are on your own! LOL The key to crocheting with the batting is to understand that the individual (hair/fur) strands that make it up come in varying lengths, so as you pull (called "drafting") from the batting, you'll want to do so gently and to do so evenly so that the thickness of the draft will match that of the crochet hook you wish to use. It takes a little practice, but is oh! so! worth! it! :)

Want to learn more about crocheting with unspun fibers? Check out these links:

...And, as promised, here are some more blogs discussing the 100th Annual Connecticut Sheep & Wool Festival:

With this many people blogging about the Connecticut Sheep & Wool Festival, I think it is proof, that even for its small size, it is well worth checking out! Write it in on your calendar for next April so you can get some batting for your crochet (or knitting) too! ;)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

100th Connecticut Sheep & Wool Festival

I awoke to a bright sunny sky yesterday, knowing the weather would be beautiful for the 100th Annual Connecticut Sheep & Wool Festival. ((Unlike previous years where the weather was cold & damp). This was my third time participating as a demonstrator with my CGOA Chapter, The Happily Hooked on Crocheting Club. I arrived in plenty of time, joining our President, Grace; Elaine; and Nancy. Also there was HHCC member, Irene, who was a vendor; and later in the day HHCC member "Fluffy" joined us at our booth. Also along for the fun day was Mr. Dee and the McDee's, Mini~Dee and Dee Jr.

We had many wonderful crocheted items on display with just about every imaginable natural fiber ... wool, alpaca, corn, silk, soy, cotton ... and offered free beginner crochet lessons, demonstrations on Tunisian (also known as the Afghan stitch), and crocheting with unspun roving -- all a hit with the many, many people who stopped by to talk with us!

Because I was busy in the HHCC booth, I gave the McDee's the job of learning about angora rabbits for Pat, who had emailed me stating that her grandson was interested in raising some but would be unable to attend. One of the things the McDee's learned is that you don't feed them lettuce or celery -- I never knew that! Of course my Mr. Dee was given a job to do too -- he was to be my "roving" reporter (ha! a pun!) taking pictures of this milestone festival. In retrospect, I'm glad my time outside of our booth was limited -- it was some 90°F and I would have fried!

When I did venture out, I scooped up just a bit more unspun roving -- and unspun silk for my stash! Mr. Dee also snagged me a commemorative T-shirt and pin, and even stood in line (for a near century) to bring me back a bowl of their coveted lamb stew!

Here are some more blog entries I found detailing yesterday's 100th Connecticut Sheep & Wool Festival (if I find more, I'll post them tomorrow when I discuss crocheting with unspun roving):

After the festival my family and I hooked up with some of our relatives for dinner. We had a great time visiting -- and let me state this: folks, if you haven't had any medical training, you should seriously consider it. You NEVER know when you'll need it. Although my emergency medical card expired, the training I had will be with me forever. ((Yes, renewing it is on my list of things to do)) Well wishes for a speedy recovery go out to my nephew today who had accidently sliced his finger last night with a carving knife requiring immediate medical treatment. And we thought the sheep had it bad during their sheerings yesterday...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Happy Wool on Sticks Day!

Today is the 100th Anniversary for the Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival, AND it's also when many will be celebrating Earth Day! Coincidence, I think not!

If you are going, do stop by the White Barn and say Hi. We'll have a lot of beautiful crochet on display created with natural fibers. And if you're specifcally looking for me, I'll be wearing my special 10th Anniversary CGOA T-shirt, Ravelry pin too ... and oh, yeah, looking at the sheep in a dreamy state, thinking they're wool on sticks ... I wonder if Mr. Dee will mind us adopting a few ((they can always "mow the lawn" as they did on the White House Lawn during WWII...))

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy 15th Anniversary to the CGOA!

In the middle of preparing for tomorrow's big day at the 100th Connecticut Sheep & Wool Festival I came across a beloved T-shirt. It's a special, collector's edition, T-shirt from the CGOA expressing their Celebration of their 10th Anniversary. That was in 2004.

Then it dawned on me -- hey, this is 2009! That means this year the CGOA is turning 15! It's their 15th Anniversary!!

I'm not sure if they have plans to celebrate it -- they soooo should!! Perhaps with a special contest, new collector T-shirts & pins, and an updated website???

I put out some inquiries, and hopefully the news will be good, that we crocheters will be partying like it's 1999! ((Oh, you know you have that song from Prince floating around your head and just needed a really good excuse to sing it! LOL))

In the meantime, if you are a blogger & a CGOA'er, why not help me kick off the celebration by writing about your favorite CGOA memory ...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

More coding ...

... and liking the results:

First: getting the HHCC blog more "crochet" looking ...

And second, reviving the HHCC website, including a brand new url:

Feel free to visit, but do keep in mind that the HHCC website is still under constuction! :)

PS: before anyone says something about purple being my favorite color, let me state it is not! ... it just seems that way! Back in 2001 when the HHCC was formed, the founders decided that the Club colors would be Purple with gold and silver ... so if you're at a fiber event and happen to notice a lot of purple, good chance it is because members of the HHCC are there too, wearing the Club colors. Nothing wrong with purple. I'm more of a cream & cranberry kind of gal ... seriously. Then again, I like green. And blue too. OK, red as well. It's just purple is not on the top of my list, it just seems that way...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Code Blue, Green, Red...

For the past two days I have tweaking, and tweaking, and tweaking with html code. And I think I'm just about tweaked out at the moment. But even so, I'm proud of what I've accomplished.

For long time readers, you may remember what my old blog on AOL looked like. In fact, when my blog was up for votes for "Best Crochet Blog" often times points were deducted because I didn't, rather I couldn't jazz the design up the way I wanted. I was stuck. I had a choice of one, two, or three columns and could change the colors. That was it; AOL offered no creative outlets for their bloggers. Then suddenly AOL decided to kick everyone out and I came here.

Yes, I was scared at first. Sometimes, as with creating various crochet stitches, we get stuck and tend to stick with what is comfortable. Venturing out of that comfort zone can sometimes be difficult, but when we do, often times we find the results to be quite rewarding. Sort of like that satisfied feeling we get when we stop our stitching, smooth out our projects on our laps or tables and look at the previous rows or rounds of stitches completed, running our fingers over where we have been, looking at our hook, our yarn, and then looking forward to the future as we set into motion again. This is the feeling I now have with my blog as I near my sixth month at blogger -- I finally got my blog to look the way I'd like it to ... did you notice design the changes? ((sorry, I cannot do anything about the broken pictures/ links from archived entries from years ago, those are forever lost from the AOL shutdown.))

It was a long journey for me to get here, breaking out of that comfort zone, and today I sit here in front of my PC, smoothing out my "virtual" work, looking at where I've been, looking to the future, and being happy with all that code tweaking. ((at least until I get the urge to change everything; lol) Now it's time to celebrate with some actual crochet stitching. :)

Monday, April 20, 2009


I spent the majority of today doing two things, well three actually. The first is babysitting, or rather ANT sitting. My children received ant farms as part of their Easter treats (rather than candy) and one ant farm has been quite active. It has been quite fascinating to watch them work so hard while I sip delicious coffee and play on my computer. Being human has it's perks!

The second task, and most time consuming, has been the reviving/rebuilding of the HHCC website. Initially it was thought that the HHCC would just have a blog, but that has proven to be cumbersome in trying to locate key information, and so a new website is needed. I must say that I am quite excited with how it is coming out and now await the boards' approval before going further with it.

The third task is more along the lines of daydreaming. You see, yesterday my CGOA Chapter had a closed meeting, offering a special workshop just for it's members. It was a sock workshop taught by guest teacher Kim Kotary based upon her new book, You Can Crochet Socks.

We had a fantastic time, and I was almost able to complete one sock (if only I hadn't run out of yarn!) ... and thus my daydreaming today of either crocheting another incomplete sock to match, ripping it all out and starting anew, or just keeping the one sock and using it as a swiffer for those days I feel like dancing around the kitchen. Ah, yes, and then there are also thoughts of (cover your eyes Mom! You don't want to read this part) crocheting a pair of socks to wear with sandals ... a fashion MUST based upon last year's fashion reports... a Connecticut staple/tradition, or so I hear ... perhaps worn with a pair of these, size 6 please.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Strapped for Bags, Volume 3

A couple of years ago, at a CGOA Conference I had attended, I was invited to lunch with a bunch of designer friends. These were people long established, and some just starting to blossom, in the design world and I felt honored to be invited to join them. For me, it felt like I had been invited to the White House for dinner to sit with dignitaries from around the world, except these dignitaries were way better -- they were crochet designers!

One of the conversations that came up was how long it took for their submitted designs to become a book, sometimes taking a year -- or more! And many times, because of the delay, this would cause yarns that were once hot and highly desired while the pattern was under construction to be found discontinued, and hard to come by when the hard cover book finally arrived at the local book stores. (Yes, that has happened to some of my published designs!) Why the long wait to go from concept to printed book? Usually it has something to do with a slow boat from China...

So the designers said, "Why don't we try producing our own book and see what happens?" and they did; they've published three! Then, about a month ago, I was invited to jump on the speedboat and am pleased to be one of the featured designers in their JUST RELEASED 4th book: Strapped for Bags, Volume 3, produced by Straight from Today’s Designers. The book may be ordered from Ravelry, or from for just $10 and instantly downloaded to your personal computer. How awesome is that -- no need to wait for the slow boat from China!! ((grins))

I am honored to have my Blue Ribbon winning, texture-rich Hip Hoppin' Backpack design featured with today's hot designers Vashti Braha, Doris Chan, Noreen Crone-Findlay, Tammy Hildebrand, Amy O'Neill Houck, and Marty Miller, offering seven fantastic crochet bag patterns!! ((See, I told you they were dignitaries of crochet!) Get your copy today! :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My Graduate ... Lauren

I met Lauren, a college student, last year. She came to me wanting help with the pattern for a Shell vest from Lion Brand. In her hand were several hanks of Classic Elite's "Twinkle, soft chunky" yarn. She was a new crocheter, and this would be her first attempt at crocheting a garment.

Her first lesson went well, learning how to crochet a granny square (each side of her pattern required one), while learning about gauge and why it is important. She went home with the assignment to crochet a matching granny square before proceeding to further instructions for the vest.

And that was the last I heard from her -- until a few weeks ago. She contacted me wanting to resume the project, refusing to let life, and college, get between her and her crocheting again. We met and she was able to pick up where she left off as if the time lapse was never there! She learned about the importance of counting stitches, increasing and decreasing, and how to correctly sew her pieces together.

When we parted last week her project was nearly done (that's her modeling it while the vest was still under construction). She had very little of the Twinkle yarn left, just enough to just crochet the edging around the neck.

Today, I received an email from her stating that she liked the way the neckline looked and wondered if she should purchase another hank of Twinkle to finish off the arm holes and the waistline. She had noticed, on her own, the difference of a project having a finished look verses that of a raw look -- the skill in noticing this is what takes a crocheter from crocheting "home made" items, to that of crocheting "hand made" items. She is now a graduate, no longer a beginner crocheter; now she is ready to take on even more challenging projects! Congratulations, Lauren! :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mmmmmm, Coffee...

Imagine, me, accused of liking coffee too much! Ah, the nerve! Ah, the truth! ((grins))

As I was putting the family groceries away this morning I stopped dead in my tracks. In my hands were two bags of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Have you ever stopped to LOOK at grocery packaging? Those companies spend a whole 'lotta time, energy and money to put the right combo of colors together to create product recognition -- and sometimes it's a winner! Such is the case with the colors on my Dunkin' Donuts coffee bag: mostly a tangerine orange, with a swirl of that sweet inner pink from a guava (fruit) ... I'm digging it! And yes, I will be digging through my vast yarn stash to see if I have colors close enough as I am inspired to play create design with them!

And speaking of fresh brew, while I have heard of antiquing crochet with tea, the thought of dying wool with one's coffee had not occurred to me. That is until today when I came across Barbara's blog entries:

Now that's what I call a rich blend! ... and as soon as it's warm enough to open my kitchen windows (as Barbara states, the smell of wet sheep & burnt coffee is not so wonderful), I'm thinking I'm going to brew me up some coffee wool ... and definitely another cup for myself. Mmmmmmm, Coffee! :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Updates in the Bag

I've spent the day going through my fabric stash. Fabric Stash? Yes, I have a fabric stash, only it is not as vast as say my button, my beads or heavens, my yarn stash. But it is still considered a stash, regardless of size.

Perhaps you've noticed mention of this to the right, in my sidebar? Yes, I'm now on Twitter, and this will give you, my readers, another look into my world of crochet, coffee, and perhaps beyond. I am hoping it fills in the void between blog postings.

So what is the hunt for the perfect fabric all about? I'm wanting to create a bag liner for a crochet project -- the CGOA is opening registration for the summer conference tomorrow and I'm thinking I am going to want a crocheted bag to haul my goodies from the hotel to the convention center in (a short walk). I haven't found a perfect fabric match yet, so I'm going to Game Plan B and checking all the blouses I've recently earmarked for charity donation.

I did mange to find a website with great "how to" instructions for sewing a bag liner ... and for those that know me well, they know I'm not a sewer, so the clearer the instructions the better. There's a reason my sweet Mr. Dee calls my sewing machine an expensive winder as I use it mostly to wind bobbins of thread to crochet. To actually use it for sewing, well, won't that be a surprise to Mr. Dee? ((grins))

Friday, April 3, 2009

Why Don't Cha?

I'm running around the house this morning with a tape measurer. After completing my most recent FREE crochet pattern for the "Kiss Me Washcloth," (now available on my website) I've decided to see if there is a commonality with my crochet stitch work, or if there is a fluke, star aligning, type of thing going on with my gauge.

Would my gauge fall into the category of:
A. More stitches than rows to the inch
or B. More rows than stitches to the inch.

Based upon what I'm seeing I now consider myself illuminated! It seems, more times than not, that I fall into category C: my crochet stitch work is measuring equal; I crochet to the square inch! Based upon a workshop I took with Lily Chin last year, she said it is very unusual for a crocheter to measure equally in both stitches and rows.

What does this mean to me? It means I'm still living up to that title I was voted as back in the 8th Grade: Most Unique. {{giggles}} Readers, which category do you normally fall into? Have you noticed? Knowing your normal gauge style will help you make needed adjustments to meet a particular designers gauge. This may mean you will need to loosen or tighten up a bit, pull up loops higher or shorter than normal, and/or change hooks. I urge you to take out your tape measurers and run around the house too; you never know, you just might be unusual like me. Naturally, singing, "Don't Cha wish your gauge was square like me," is totally optional. :)((grins))

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Question from Reader: Single Colored Granny

Dear Dee,
I know how to make a multi-colored granny square. Now I want to make some with just one color but I am having trouble figuring out how to do it without having to slip stitch to get in the right starting stitch. Can you help me?

Dear Linda,

You have awesome timing! I was just discussing the "single colored granny" at yesterday's "Coffee, Crochet & Chat," a local gathering of folks who love to play with yarn.

Yes, I can help you. First, for those who are new to crocheting granny squares, I am not going to explain the mechanics behind creating them today. There are a number of websites and books that cover this topic. ((of course if you, my readers, really want a tutorial on granny squares 101 from me, just ask and perhaps I'll discuss it on another day.))

Linda, what is throwing you on creating the "single colored granny" is that there are no breaking off points as you have with multiple colors. This means, to get your corners and spaces to line up you must slip stitch from point A to point B to start the next round correctly, which you've already noticed. Or, you'll need to turn your work, but where is the fun in that? What you need to do is omit one section of chains and replace it with a double crochet!

I know what you're thinking, a double crochet? Yes, a double crochet!

Try this: when you come to your last 3-dc grouping, omit the last ch 2 & sl st to lifting chain to complete the first round. Instead, replace the ch 2 with a double crochet! This will complete the round and have you ready to properly begin the new round in a corner, which you'll begin by: chaining 3, then creating 2 dc OVER THE POST OF THE DC created in the previous round, and then do your granny bit around. Remember, when it comes time to complete the round, (now that you're on round 2 & on) you'll want to make 3 more dc OVER THE POST OF THE DC and then join with a dc to the top of the previous round's ch 3. You'll do this for each round until you come to the last round. For the last round, forgetaboutit with the dc join technique, instead go back to the traditional ch-2, join with a slip stich.

By crocheting OVER the post of the joining dc, no one will know it's there, and you won't have that tell-tell sign of slip stitching on each round. Give it a try; I'm sure you'll be happy with the results. :)