Friday, May 29, 2009

Mini~Dee: Published!

My Mini~Dee has decided it is time to release the pattern for her Communion Rosary that she designed and crocheted for her own Communion back in 2005, and later won two Blue Ribbons for!

Many people have seen her Communion Rosary in my photo/blog archives since that time and have requested the pattern. We decided to work as a team this week to release it; and it is now ready! Those interested in purchasing Mini~Dee's first independently published pattern, may do so here. For those new to my blog and wanting to know a little more about Mini~Dee's crochet adventures, you might be interested in visiting her website at ((Yes, she knows she needs to update her blog; she's been busy with school activities and says she will get to it soon.))


In the meantime I'm nearly done with the website I have been busy building, doing a little reading (more on that later), visiting with my mother (from FL), and working on my "Cotton Candy" entry for the CGOA Design contest. Details to follow, soon. :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

the pursuit of happiness

Mr. Dee spoke with a veteran who was collecting funds for the VFW. "People today don't understand," the vet explained to Mr. Dee, "up to 250 American soldiers were buried daily in the Netherlands alone, in the peak of conflict in Europe during World War II. We fought hard, and many died. One battle directed by General Patton cost the US 35,000 soldiers." The vet was 87 years old with a memory as sharp as a tack. He went on. "I was recently interviewed for a program that will be on the History channel. America shouldn't forget. America should remember."

Mr. Dee shook his hand and thanked him for serving his country.

And the vet is right. We should remember. The freedom we enjoy today did not come free. It cost lives. Many, many lives. And it is still costing lives. Remember those who served and gave their lives so that we can enjoy the pursuit of happiness. And, when you see a vet -- not just today -- but everyday, take a moment and say "
Thank You!"

My mother is visiting from Florida. I wanted to surprise her with a belated Mother's Day gift. I took out two hanks of Skinny Dyed organically grown cotton yarn. One was a dark blue, the other in mint. Mini~Dee helped me wrap the first hank into a ball of yarn, and Grammie Gloria helped me wrap the other. Then, as we sat and talked, using my Go Green T-shirt Bag pattern, I set to work.

Soon, my mother decided her long wait to watch the movie "Marley & Me" with her grandkids was over. We popped the movie into the DVD player and got comfortable. By the end of the movie my project was done. I handed it to my mother. "Happy Mother's Day," I exclaimed.

She smiled. "Wow! That was fast!" She ran her hands over my stitches.

"I know you know I crochet," I said, "I thought it might have more meaning if you got to watch it grow from two hanks into a bag before your very eyes -- you know, to have something NOT made in China, but more like something made in America, or in this case, something made at Grammie Gloria's ..."

She hugged her bag. "I love it!," she exclaimed.

Mr. Dee came over to examine the bag and wanted to explain to her the idea of perhaps inserting a sleeve on the inside. She playfully slapped at him to stay away from her bag. "Oh, no you don't, this is my bag!" she laughed. Then she ran out of the room with Mr. Dee giving chase.

"But Mom, wait, let me explain!" he pleaded.

"No! I don't want you stretching out my bag," she said. This went on for several minutes. Everyone was laughing.

"Look at those too," Mini~Dee said to Dee Jr. "And they call us kids!"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

"Aye. I'm workin' on 'em."

What a rough week! ... fought off a stomach virus, strained my elbow and my wrist, and now battling seasonal allergies! Ieeee!

Fortunately there is good news, just like Scotty from Star Trek reports, "I'm workin' on 'em!":
1. I am on the mend!
2. The website I am designing is coming along.
3. The design I'm working on for the CGOA Design Contest that I'm calling "Cotton Candy" is growing quite nicely (now on hold until my UPS driver delivers 'reinforcement supplies'). Even Mini~Dee is excited about my project as she'll be modeling it on the runway come August.
4. I have released a new PDF pattern called Oh So Quick! Adult Winter Hat & Cowl Neck Scarf, and have it available for purchase through Ravelry and my website.

Now, I know my blog entries here have been a bit spaced, and after reading the above I am hoping they are good enough excuses. Remember, anytime you want to know what I'm up to, feel free to look to the right column and check out my Twitter status. Usually that is where I am posting about my coffee cravings (I'm down to 1 cup a day), my UPS stalking episodes, and maybe stating I'm out of the office, watching the latest Star Trek movie, crochet in hand but of course ... after all, one never knows if a cozy for a phaser will be needed...

From Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Kirk: "Do you always multiply your repair estimates by a factor of four?"
Scotty: "How else to maintain my reputation as a miracle worker?"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lucky Sacrifices

Dee Jr. was crushed yesterday that his dad couldn't play basketball with him after school as his dad was attending a seminar. It was a lesson for Dee Jr. about making sacrifices. Dee Jr. was not alone in feeling "crushed" over missing out on things he wanted to do; I was having the same feelings and thus it was an interesting topic for us to discuss.

I asked him to empty out his short-sleeved shirt drawer so we could go through and pull the shirts that no longer fit him. As he did I reminded him that he should feel lucky. Prior to Mr. Dee's layoff he worked very long hours, often getting home just as the kids were headed to bed. There certainly was no time for basketball during those days. I placed an orange T-shirt in a pile next to me. We continued on.

Then I reminded him that it is important that we pull together as a family to support one another. Your family should be your safe haven. Your personal cheerleading squad. A place for unconditional love, that comes with free hugs and smiles when needed most. He nodded in agreement. I placed a tie-dyed T-shirt in the pile next to me.

Then I reminded him that once his dad finds new employment, he might be working long hours again. So basketball would have to go back to being a weekend treat again. I placed a striped shirt in my pile; watching me, Dee Jr. gave me a funny look. We continued our discussion. I told him how I missed attending the Crochet Friends of Stamford meeting eariler in the day because I took on a job with a deadline that needs to be met. A sacrifice, I said, as my way of helping the family. I placed his Plymouth Rock souvenir T-shirt in my pile.

Then I reminded him how his dad likes to be a private person, but that tomorrow his class at the local unemployment office will be taped for a PBS special, meaning Mr. Dee will have to sacrifice a bit of his reservedness (is there such a word?), that perhaps this special will help someone else in the same situation. Dee Jr. nodded his head. He said he understood. We were done going through his shirts; I picked up the pile of T-shirts I had been stacking. Dee Jr. inquired what I was going to do with his shirts. "That, my sweet boy, is your sacrifice. They don't fit you any longer and I think they'll crochet up beautifully as Go Green T-shirt bags!"

Did I mention how I'll be playing basketball after school today? Yeah. Another sacrifice, abet a fun one. The kid is good; wish me luck in getting at least one basket! :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Some Inspiration

It has been a busy week with designing a new website (not for me), trying to get my DSL connection to behave (it always seems to flake out when we have excessive rain), and in trying to cut out drinking so much coffee.

I'm coming along fine on all three fronts (the most difficult being in reducing my coffee intake) and I must admit that is such a good feeling to be making headway! Even though I have been busy, I did take some time out to be inspired and thought I'd share of the links that made me say "WOW" repeatedly:

The first is a video that you need to dedicate some 15+ minutes to watch. I'd say to grab a hot cup of coffee first, but then I don't want to pass my cafeine addiction on you, my readers. Grab your crochet instead and work up some stitches as you watch this:

The second is, well, for me at least, a jaw-dropping beauty! Not only is it a feast for the eyes, but is also music for the ears as well (and if the universe is listening, I want one). I'm sure you will agree:

And, oh, yes, I will have a new PDF pattern that will be available soon! A sneak-peek preview can be seen at my Goody Shop ... OK, my coffee juice break is over; see you in a few days. :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oh the Horror! Hook Goes MIA!

It is rare for me not to have a project on my crochet hook! Even when design ideas are cooking in my head, I still will have something on the hook. It doesn't have to be a difficult project, or one that is for anyone in particular. In fact, for those types of projects, they're often charity projects like chemo caps to be donated to my local hospital.

This time it was different. I was working on a new project to offer as a new pattern on my site when I got called away. I thought I had carefully set everything down: the project, yarn, and hook. But when I returned I could not find my crochet hook! It was GONE!!! Has this happened to you too?

No big deal, one would think, right? Not so for me. My crochet hooks are handmade, one of a kind -- each with it's own little personality -- not machine made and a dime-a-dozen. So it's not like I can grab my car keys and zoom off to the local yarn shop to buy another when a crochet hook goes missing-in-action. No, it's not like that at all.

I began to get worried. Yes, I could use another of my handmade crochet hooks -- but the feel for the project would be different. Crocheters do more than just make stitches; it is also a Zen kind of thing when the design, yarn and hook all harmonize together. Using another hook wouldn't wrong, because I can match my gauge, it would just feel different; that harmony I had going would be gone. Ugh!! I had to find my crochet hook!

So I called in the Marines my family for a search & rescue operation. Fortunately, Dee Jr. was able to find it! My hero!! It appears the couch had ate it! (Ah, the benefit of having children around! Their thin arms are perfect for reaching deep down into the tight couch caverns between the cushions... And I love their big grin of accomplishment when they grab the prize; my crochet hook!!). ... on second thought, maybe it wasn't the couch that ate my hook. Maybe it was the gremlin that lives in my washing machine? Regardless, I am happy to have my crochet hook back. Crocheting may now resume. :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

As I sit here this morning, enjoying a heavenly cup of coffee (which will be my only cup as I am trying to reduce my caffeine & sugar intake), I have an admission to make.

I'm in love. Again.

If you listened to the Getting Loopy Show, then you heard me profess to the world that I am not a cotton fan. This has nothing to do with cotton itself, but more with dealing with the gremlin that lives in my washing machine. It seems, no matter how delicate I wash cotton I always seem to shrink it down to Barbie portions. ((just one more reason I strongly recommend creating TWO gauge swatches ...))

But this doesn't mean I don't like crocheting with cotton. Rather, I do! -- And I did! And this is when I fell in love, with yet another cotton! I used my Go Green T-shirt Bag pattern, increasing the stitch repeat and using a smaller hook with two hanks of Cotton Flamme by Crystal Palace Yarns to make the bag pictured here. ((I won the Cotton Flamme at the CGOA Conference last year.)

So what is a girl to do with her love/hate relationship with cotton? Why, hand over the laundering to Mr. Dee! Today's photo is by him too. What does he have to say about it? "Happy Mother's Day!"

*Disclaimer: flower on bag shown NOT included with Go Green T-shirt Bag pattern. Keep reading:

Loopy Flower by Dee Stanziano
Rnd 1: Ch 2, sc 6 times in 2nd ch from hook, join with sl st.
Rnd 2: (Ch 3, sl st) around. (6 loops)
Rnd 3: Push loops from Rnd 2 forward, (Ch 5, sl st to st from Rnd 1) around. (6 loops)
Rnd 4: Push loops from Rnd 2 & 3 forward, (Ch 7, sl st to st from Rnd 1) around. Finish off. (6 loops)
Add bead to center; sew on.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Getting Loopy Show

It has been a very busy week, starting off with guesting on the Getting Loopy Show on Monday, where I had so much fun! If you haven't listened to the Show yet, you can go here to listen: BlogTalkRadio: Getting Loopy Show. If you like prizes, you'll need to listen for the "magic" word and send an email into Mary Beth to enter. One of the prizes will be for my Go Green T-shirt Bag!

We discussed crocheting with human hair in the Victorian era (modern link: knitting with human hair), various crochet hooks, crochet stitches, classes I'll be teaching at the Summer CGOA Conference, and more!

In fact, I just received this response from Karen A.:

I just listened to your interview on Getting Loopy and was very interested in your method of crocheting without extensive use of your wrist. I've been doing a lot of crocheting lately and would love to not have to stop and rest my wrist so often.
BTW the interview was great!
Thank you, Karen! It is on my "TO DO" list to eventually made a video showing how I crochet with the twisting/jutting motion using my finger tips, as discussed on the show. In the meantime, anyone wanting to see how I do this while we are at a Sheep & Wool, or crochet conference, or in my crochet class, please ask. I'd be happy to show you.

((giggles)) We didn't get around to discussing crocheting with toilet paper as I alluded to in my last blog entry, but if you are so inclined, you CAN crochet with it. Keep your tension loose, and use a really big crochet hook (size "S" or larger is highly recommended)!

Thank you, Mary Beth, for a great time on your show, and a very Happy Anniversary to you for bringing such wonderful guests & topics to the crochet world!!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Getting Loopy

Hey, tune in tonight! I'll be guesting on Mary Beth's Getting Loopy show which won the Crochet Liberation Front's award for Best Crochet Podcast for 2008 ... discussing ... ???

... could the image here be any sort of hint?? You'll have to tune in to find out! :)

Go here, at 9:00 PM eastern time, to tune in:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Go Green T-Shirt Bag!

Wow! What a busy day! Taking photos, finalizing the pattern layout, attempting to list it on my Ravelry Shop (couldn't; still need to look into why); opened an Etsy Shop, added onto my Goody Shop ... all so I can say: Ta Da! <--so proud of myself!

Here it is! My first solo, for sale, pattern, named Go Green T-Shirt Bag!! It utilizes T-shirts, cut into strips, with a big crochet hook so that it works up quickly! The best part, and since I'm the designer I think it's OK for me to say this, is that the design of the bag bypasses the need for foundation chains -- no unsightly seam at the bottom, and no unsightly seam for the handle! Oh! I love that!!

AND! You get to use old T-shirts, meaning you are recycling (thus saving some money), and since you are recycling, you are saving old T-shirts from going into landfills! (I love that too!!) It is roomy -- 14" high and 10.5" wide -- so it can carry your favorite crochet books, beach towels, even purchases from your local yarn shop!

On the right is the same bag worked up with Lion Brand's "Incredible" ribbon yarn. Although a little difficult to photograph, it is beautiful in person! This will be a gift to my Grammie Gloria in honor of Mother's Day. Knowing her passion for bags, I think she will love it. And you will too!

PDF Pattern is available $3.99 US, for personal use only.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Dee likes to vandalize ...

If you have been following me on Twitter for the last two days then you know I've been up to some vandalism -- otherwise known as good 'ole fashion recycling -- by cutting up a T-shirt and then having fun designing a new crochet bag.

The good news is the bag is completed -- and so are the instructions.

The bad news is my camera refuses to cooperate today. Maybe it knows I enjoyed vandalizing the T-shirt, cutting it into beautiful strips? I've decided, rather than sail the camera through the air in a fit of frustration, that I will set it aside and go enjoy the 1950s movie, "The Fly," with my children. Perhaps tomorrow will be a better picture-taking day?

In the meantime, please visit this blog, I think it's a riot and will certainly bring smiles to your face!! :)