Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Guest Blogger: Mini~Dee

I've been recruited. Mom took a 3-piece presentation board and stood it next to her work area. On it she posted a sign, "Shhhh! Work Zone!" which means she's super busy and we can't interrupt her. She's working on a new crochet design and stuff for the conference.

I was catching up on my reading. My friends challenged me to read 100 books this summer. I just finished my 81st with three weeks of summer left. My favorite authors are Stephanie Meyer and Terri Farley.

Mom called me over. She said she had a job for me. It seems Dad came up with an idea and I've been recruited to execute/design it. Mom said for being a trooper I could use one of her Graydog crochet hooks! This must be important; she NEVER lets me use her Graydogs!

I wonder if Mom has another 3-piece presentation board that I could set up to announce my "work zone?" This conference is becoming a real family affair!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rioting to a "...whole 'nuther level."

Dee Jr. has helped me take this Riot project to a "...whole 'nuther level." I can't give out any clues or details (or take those bribes of beautiful yarn--thank you for the offers! lol), but I can say that I love that Dee Jr. has been helping me with various projects. Maybe, just maybe, he'll be inspired to eventually want to pick the hook up more than one day a year*?....

(Quote is from a skit Keegan-Michael Key does on MadTV)

*Dee Jr., at this time, crochets only one day a year -- on the day we go to The Big E (on Connecticut Day) to demonstrate the art of crochet. It is his ticket for a day off from school.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Crochet (and books) That Fit

I love my local library. I'm sure I've professed this before, and I'm sure it won't be the last time I do so either. :)

My latest book on loan is Mary Jane Hall's newest book, "Crochet That Fits." I've been wanting to flip through the pages all summer and decided to borrow it from the library. Only one problem: it is not a book my local branch carries. Fortunately, in my state*, they have a solution ... inter-library loan. What this means is that libraries can choose to loan books to other libraries, so people like me can check out material I'd otherwise have to drive a million miles to get! Ohhh, I love that my library participates in the inter-library loans! -- checking out books from the library is a great way to "try on" a book to ensure it is a great fit!! A play on Mary Jane's book title, perhaps. But it is true. Why would someone want to buy a book without first flipping through the pages to see if the content interests them? The library makes for a great "changing room" with perfect guilt-free lighting! :) *I'm not sure if all states do this.

I was excited when my library called to let me know they got the book in...but the timing, for me, wasn't so great. I'm already burning my candle at both ends -- and in the middle. Would I have time to enjoy the book and work up at least one pattern before I had to return it?

The answer is yes!

I needed a project that fit a lot of criteria:
1. used yarn from my stash.
2. worked up quick.
3. needed as little "thinking" as possible (my *brain juice* is being heavily taxed for other tasks)
4. could be used as a class sample
5. could be used for the Secret Crochet Exchange at the upcoming Conference.

... what fit the bill was her pattern for the "Sweater Bag!"

I decided to use her pattern, yet make some changes:
1. bump up the hook sizes (due to the yarn used)
2. stripe up the bag based upon a stripe sequence designed by Dee Jr.
3. use round wooden handles (in my stash)
4. line the bag with vinyl (because I like seeing crochet stitches on the inside too)
5. add a crocheted flower on the outside

Five hours later -- done!

What I liked about the project:
1. it was quick
2. it allowed me to go "off-roading," adding my own personal touches
3. when the handles are flipped outwards, contents are still secure. When the handles are flipped inwards, it opens like a big-mouthed Bass (type of fish)

I'm very happy with it, and I am adding Mary Jane's book to my Wish List for my personal crochet pattern book collection. :)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Planning Ahead...

My mother sent me one of those emails that is making it's way around the internet ... it's theme is on how to make life easier. Since the email was from my mother I looked at it, otherwise I would have deleted it (I normally don't participate in these types of things) and would have missed this great yarn storage idea ...

The email did not include any credits for the items pictured so I don't know what company is offering these steps, but if I ever need a staircase built into my home, this is on the top of my list as a "must!"

I wonder *just* how much yarn each step drawer would hold? Cool, huh?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

We're Expecting!

... a grand Niece or Nephew!!!

The baby isn't due until mid-December ... I couldn't help but fall in love with this LionBrand pattern. I used Berroco's Comfort yarn (that was in my stash) in colors of green and red ... you know, because the baby is due right before? But I didn't want the lil' amigurumi bunny to scream "Christmas" so the colors are more watermellon-ie.

After the Conference, I'll have to put more thought into what I'd like to crochet for the newest edition to the family.

Note: although this is for the baby, it is not recommended for children under the age of 3 due to the eyes -- they pose a choking hazard should they come off. I'm thinking of popping the eyes off (that sounds so gross; lol) and sewing some on with black yarn.

Friday, July 24, 2009

That's a Riot!

I cannot say what possessed me to do it, but it is done. I was inspired last night, had the yarn in my stash since (I think) 2002 and it whipped up in no time flat. My partner in crime, Dee Jr., knew the history behind it due to his reading (thus far) 31 books this summer.

From the book, “Well, Duh!” by Bob Fenster I can share the following:

In 1797 the English haberdasher John Hetherington invented this. First time he wore his creation down the streets of London, he caused a riot.

“He was fined by the police for wearing this item to frighten timid people.”

It is my hope to wear this item at the ChainLink conference and recreate the 1797 riot.

Please, if you figure it out, do not reveal it until after the Conference.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tinted Rain

It was reported in the news yesterday that this July is one of the coolest on record ... if it stays this way here in Connecticut, there is a good chance we'll beat the 1888 record! This is not a complaint. This is a boast. I am sooooooooo loving this weather! No AC, no fans. It is perfect for crocheting in or outdoors!

Unfortunately, it is also one of the wettest Julys on record. Bleh. I've noticed on rainy days people tend to dress in dark colors and it makes everything seem so drab. Not so for me. I just finished this shoulder wrap that I'm calling "Tinted Rain."

It's made with Louisa Harding's Merlett yarn (a vicose, polamide, linen mixture from Italy), that I mixed with a very fine glittery filament thread called "Lurex," both from my recent trip to WEBs..

As I crocheted each stitch with my amethyst & opal Graydog hook, the reflective shine from the yarn & the filament got me to thinking how cool it would be if raindrops were tinted the colors of the rainbow. There'd be no more gray days!

For more information about this project, please visit my Projects page on Ravelry. In the meantime, the sun is out, and I have much more crocheting to do!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tickled Pink

If you were in the CGOA-chat on Ravelry last night, you might have heard me stating that I wished WIPs (Works in Progress) long set aside, due to the allure of newer projects and deadlines, had GPS systems attached to them so when the time came to finish them a sort of beeping would begin. There is nothing worse than:

A. setting a project aside for seemingly forever,
B. forgetting where the aforementioned project is stored.

Fortunately for some , the WIPs are fairly large, and easy to spot. But what if that project is nothing more than a dozen yards of silk thread and a bunch of beads crocheted together in the simplist of crochet stitchery? Yes, that would mean it is a much smaller, and much easier project to misplace. And this is what I was whining about talking about last night in the CGOA-chat room.

This morning, as I eagerly awaited my single cup of coffee (please don't ask how that is going), I decided if there was going to be harmony between my sanity and the world, I would stop tearing my hair out and push this project out of my mind (for now) and concentrate on my deadlines. I really have no time to spare in digging through millions of skeins of yarn and long-ago forgotten WIPs...

As if by magic, leprechauns, big foot, or an army of tinker bells, the project seemingly magically appeared. It was right there, in front of me the entire time. (or was it?!?) Glad to have found it, I slowly sipped my coffee and ran my fingers over it, delighted to have it back in my hands, and deciding how I would finish it.

Aside from tacking down the silk thread to keep it from slipping/raveling, it is finished. And I couldn't be more tickled!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Conference Organizer: from the archives

For those new to attending Chain Link, I have found that creating an organizer to hold my class tickets, class fees, pages for notes & such to be very helpful. Afterwards, when I return home, I have a unique momento… Below is the link to the 2007 blog enty I wrote on how I construct my “Conference Organizer” …

Thursday, July 16, 2009

mmmmm.... goodies!

I have been hard at work, preparing for the upcoming Conference and working on the pattern-opportunity due by the end of the month. Hearing the familar honk of the UPS delivery truck has been a welcoming distraction; he has been here every day thus far this week, mostly with goodies for the classes I'll be teaching! ... look what he delivered today! My CGOA 15th Anniversary Goodies I ordered from CafePress:

Note: fabric pens are not available through CafePress; I got those through They're for all you Conference attendees to sign my tote bag with! :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

MLB Honors Crocheter/Knitter ...

The MLB honored people making a difference at last night's All Star Game. One of those honored is a crocheter/knitter making some 18,500 chemo caps ... you can view the video here:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Guest Blogger: Dee Jr. (again)

Mom has been working hard and decided she needed a break and wanted to go out for some supplies. No surprise here, more supplies means more yarn. She asked me if I wanted to go for a ride with her, maybe ask my friend "Bones" if he would like to join us. (Mom gave him that nickname to use here because his last name is McCoy and he wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Mom said there is guy named "Bones" with the last name of McCoy on Star Trek, and that's where she got the name from.)

Why would I want to ask Bones to go to a yarn shop? Good question! Maybe because she said we would stop at the Basketball Hall of Fame on the way home? I called Bones. He was game. Even my dad decided he wanted to go.

When we arrived at Bones house to pick him up his mom said he had a shopping list from his Grandma. She wanted him to pick out some yarn for her, in baby colors but not in baby weight.

When we arrived at Webs, the yarn store, it was my job to teach him about yarn. I taught him how to look at what the yarn is made out of, how many yards you get, and what dye lot is. Mom said I did a good job helping him. Bones picked out Berroco's "Comfort" yarn for his Grandma. With my dad, we headed outside and tossed a ball around in the parking lot while my mom stayed in the store, chatting with the owner, Kathy.

Afterwards the Basketball Hall of Fame was pretty cool to visit. There was a lot of hands on stuff to do. It was a fun way to spend the day. And when we dropped Bones off at his house, his mom said he made a good choice in picking out yarn for his Grandma! :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Guest Blogger: NLS Stitches

"Crochet aha! moment" by Nancy of NLS Stitches:

I work for mass transit, and about 20 years ago one of the guys on my crew was waiting impatiently for his son to be born. When he was, there were some serious medical problems for the baby. They weren't sure if he would make it even after having surgery.

I was compelled to make that baby a blanket. Now I hadn't been crocheting that long, and hadn't really progressed past scarves and pot holders, but that blanket was going to be made! It was in greens for healing, yellows for warmth and sunshine, blues for serenity and peace, peaches and pinks for love, and reds for energy. Those were the colors that wanted out. Each stitch coming off my hook said "You will make it, little one. Keep fighting. Everything will be fine."

I really had no clue to the fact that yarns came in different weights and thicknesses that didn't always match up very well when mixed in the same project, but that was the fate of that blanket. I was proud I had gotten it done, somewhat embarrassed that it was a bit lopsided from the different weights/types of yarn used. But..........

I wrapped it up and presented it to Steve the next time I saw him and I received a big hug from him and a beautiful note from his wife.

As the ways of mass transit go, our crew broke up a few months after the birth of the baby, and I didn't see him for a few years. I heard thru the grapevine that the baby was doing well and pulling thru better than expected. I ran into him and his wife a couple of years ago at the store, and after some chitchat, was asked if I still crocheted. I said yes, and that I had improved considerably since the making of their son's blanket. That's when I was told he still had the blanket and little poem I had written to go along with it. It still sits on his bed to this day. I like to think that blanket helped the baby pull thru to grow into a gorgeous 20 year old man.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

...going MIA ... Guest Bloggers Wanted

I was looking through a sewing magazine the other day and decided a concept I saw there seriously needed to be translated into crochet ... so I went shopping in my yarn stash and found 8 balls of Plymouth Yarn Sundae Swirl, a cotton/nylon combo. I grabbed my "L" Graydog crochet hook, used one of my favorite stitches, and within two days it was finished. I'm calling it, "Summer Sunday Envelope," and plan on wearing it at the Conference next month. I did not write the pattern down as while I was working on it ...

... I received a phone call from a yarn manufacturer ... with a designing assignment! UPS has delivered the yarn and now I must get to work with swatches until I come up with the right stitch combos I have pictured in my mind. I have a tight deadline. And they want the pattern developed in 4 sizes ...

This means while this is an exciting opportunity for me, I need to go "MIA" for a short bit. If you would like to be a Guest Blogger, please email me your post about your favorite crochet "Ah Ha!/eureka" moment. Off to go design...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Guest Blogger: Dee Jr.

Hi. This is Dee Jr., Dee’s son. I'm filling in for her today so she can continue working on stuff for the Conference we'll be going to in August. This is my first time blogging for her.

I was thinking of writing a book called, "What It Is Like to Have Dee Stanziano as Your Mom." Sounds exciting right? (I hope. Otherwise it won't sell) (grins) Having her as my mom is actually quite interesting. Let me tell you about her...

First, she's a big time fan of crochet! There's her yarn stash, (the dreaded stash for most families) which has literally taken over the house! In order to navigate through it we need a compass and 2-way walkie talkie in case we need to call for help in the event of getting lost. (Oh all right! There's a slight chance of exaggeration, but not much!)

Second, my mom knows a lot of people! Through her I've met more famous crocheters than some people have in their lifetime -- and I bet they all have yarn stashes as big as hers! Maybe bigger! Now if only we can get her interested in professional baseball as I would like to meet Derek Jeter! ...

Third, I get to go to cool places I normally wouldn't get to see! I've been to many expositions and fairs such as the Big E (The Eastern States Exposition) and the Bridgewater Fair (a semi local fair), sheep and wool festivals too! I've even gone to the crochet conferences -- and modeled her crochet on the runway! And when my Mom is crocheting up a new cap and needs a head for gauge, she always seems to call my name first! I don't mind because she's crocheted me some great stuff like the tie I wore on St. Patrick's Day

Speaking of cool places, she loves to surprise us. One day she told us we were going out to a yarn shop. This doesn't excite us as much as it seems to excite her, but we go because you never know where we'll end up. One day she said she was lost and said she had to pull over to ask for directions. We weren't lost. It was a surprise for us -- she took us to a really cool truck museum! And another time she took us to a museum with a pedal-car exhibit with a cool park built on the side of a hill. My favorite time was when we stopped for some old fashion ice cream! YUM! And just this week, she slept out in the tent with us! That was fun!

Mom also likes to play games. She's good at chess and at Monopoly, and she likes to play Rummy too. Just don't ask her if she's "Smarter than a 5th Grader," because then she'll start telling stories of WHEN she was a 5th grader -- and yeah, that means stories of yarn and crochet.

Fever 1793

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's DilemmaShe likes to read too. She often times reads crochet patterns like novels, but if we tell her a book is good, she'll read it along with us. Last summer we read "Yellow Fever" together. This summer we're reading "The Mysterious Benedict Society." If we tell her we're out of books to read she'll take us to our local library, to the Goodwill or second-hand store (they have books for $1 each), or to our local Borders. Our house has almost as many books in it as it does skeins of yarn!

She's funny too. Ask her how to spell any word in the world and she will! She'll spell it right out without any hesitation: "D-i-c-t-i-o-n-a-r-y." When she is hanging out with me and my friends, they'll ask her for answers to their homework. She's right there helping, offering answers like, "Pink should be in the rainbow," "R is to the right of the second moon," and of course she's ready to spell any word they can think of asking her to spell ... (Of course her answers are silly and way off base, but it's way better than hearing "do your own work!" My friends agree and we all giggle at her answers.)

I think the best part of having Dee Stanziano as your Mom is that she hugs us every day, letting us know how special we are to her. I wouldn't trade her for the world!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


We enjoyed a nice quiet 4th of July picking strawberries at Jones Family Farm located in Shelton, CT. While many (including myself) have been grumbling about the unusual wet/rainy summer we've been having, the strawberries have been loving it! In fact, as one staff member of the farm put it, "These may be the best strawberries ever!" In looking around at the faces of people picking strawberries, the tell-tale signs of the sweet strawberry juice on their faces, hands, and clothing was a good indicator that this was true. And, I can attest, they were -- and are (as I sit here this morning enjoying some) absolutely delicious! Mmmmmmmmmmm

Along for our outing yesterday was my new finished project ... which is nameless at the moment. Sometimes names for projects are so obvious, you just KNOW it's the right name the moment you think it or say it out loud. Sometimes it takes a bit of time for the right name to come to you, and this is where I am at the moment -- waiting for just the right name to come to me.

However, taking pictures does not require waiting -- unless it is weather related. With yesterday being the first sunny day since the Age of Aquarius (sorry, I have that song stuck in my head), I wanted to take some shots of my project with the farm in the background, and dang blast it if it wasn't too sunny out!?! Ieeeee! LOL ... at least you get an idea what it looks like, right? ... and please note, I do NOT have the pattern available. And yes, it is made entirely of bamboo and merino wool and is very yummy to pet. (I plan on wearing it at the Conference next month.)

While we were at the Farm, we also visited their winery. I got to sample many delicious varieties and selected many (bottles) to come home with us. I also purchased a new pair of earrings made by my niece, Crista, well known as AmberTurtoise, to go with my newly completed project. Imagine my delight to find she's now blogging! You can visit her blog here: (pictured with my new earrings is one of the closures I mentioned on Thursday.)

You know, I had so much fun at the Farm yesterday, I think that's what I'll name my new project: Jones'n Avenue. See, sometimes names do just come to you. :)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 233rd Birthday, America!

Photo by Dee's nephew, Jeremy PollackWe watched fireworks in Danbury last night, in the same place we've watched for the last 10 years. Due to people unable to behave last year the site owner decided to limit the number of people having access to his property -- and to make this the last year people can do so. It was bitter sweet watching from this location last night ... knowing that this will be the last year marking the end to our family tradition, while enjoying it more because there were fewer people (aka trouble makers). I'm not sure what causes folks to become rude and disrespectful when they are out & about, but I can take comfort in knowing there are people who care. Imagine how great our country would be with just a little more respect. Sing it for me Aretha ... R-E-S-P-E-C-T ... (btw, Aretha Franklin is a crocheter)

Perhaps next year we'll consider making the trek to Shelton and hang out with our nieces & nephews -- check out the awesome shot my nephew Jeremy took! ((to see more of his photography visit his flicker account))

I'm sure you're wondering how this is all crochet related? ... why, I worked on crocheting a swatch for a secret project while waiting! Happy 233rd Birthday, America!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

buttons, buttons, buttons

Every morning this week Dee Jr. has assisted me on The Great Button Hunt. He is patient, has a good eye, and has no problem inquiring, "What were you thinking?" when I'd select a button a little 'off the wall.' I like that in an assistant! :)

We went to a local quilt shop figuring since they sell fabric they must sell buttons. Nope. They specialize in quilting, not in sewing. ((sounds like a yarn shop that specializes in knitting, excluding crochet. ahem, I'm just saying)) They had maybe 5 buttons.

We went to our local Joanns. They had two walls filled with buttons, and many were on clearance. Yes, I did adopt many, but sadly none that exclaimed "This is the one!" for my project.

I was offered some online shops to try ... but without seeing the button/closure against the work it is difficult to decide...

So we went to a local fabric shop that also sells yarn. Although there were many buttons, I didn't buy anything there. (although there was a hank of yarn there I wouldn't mind adopting...)

Maybe I'm being too picky. I decided, for now, I'll use the buttons I purchased at Nancy O's. However, since I am not 100% sure this is the route I want to take, I don't want to sew the buttons to the work. To get around this I decided to create closures like I did for Gloria's shawl. This meant I had to find matching beads, and this would mean another hunt.

I went to a fairly new bead shop in the area. Although the only employee there did not speak English, we eventually were able to communicate what I was looking for and wonderfully she had just the right beads! Yes!

I came home and created four closures. The open stitch work will allow me to insert the closures anywhere I'd like, and as many as I'd like to use, at a given time. And, since my project was already completed, meaning it was too late to crochet the 'Signet' Nancy O gave to me into my work, I decided to add it to one of the closures. (pictured)

My signet is a dragonfly. Some say the dragonfly is symbolic for change, and being OK with that change; this site has more info on the dragonfly symbolism. Interestingly enough, this is the second time I've chosen a dragonfly to be a part of my crochet work -- and to think all this time I thought I was a fan of giraffes!