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. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2009 ChainLink: Professional Development Day

The trek from the hotel to the Conference room where Professional Development Day was being held seemed to be miles long. Of course it wasn't, but it did seem that way. I arrived with plenty of time to collect my handouts from volunteers Tammy Hilderbrand and Amy Shelton of Crochetville, and to pull out my Commemorative Tote Bag and start collecting signatures -- which to my delight everyone seemed very happy to do. (Some inquired if the bag will end up on eBay; the answer is no. The bag is for my own personal use/collection.)

Robyn couldn't make it to the Conference so Drew the Crochet Dude filled in as emcee, and might I add, did an excellent job doing so! On the panel was Brett Bara, Edie Echman and Cari Clement. Also in the photo is Marty Miller, our VP. (unfortunately I used a new camera and A. did not read the owners manual prior to use, and B. cannot explain why there are so many "orbs" showing up in my photos. The orbs could be a lot of crocheters in spirit form who decided to attend, or the conference center was really dusty; I'll let you decide.) As we listened to the panel our tables were piled with yarn from Lion Brand and we spent the morning crocheting (or knitting) various sized hats that would be donated. I crocheted two chemo caps.

The Luncheon was held in the room next door, and while standing in line I continued to gather signatures on my bag. (Dee Jr. is telling me I collected a total of 107 signatures!) As we ate, Daniela Barbosa India Donaldson and Zontee Hou from Lion Brand provided a behind the scenes look at how the Lion Brand company runs: everything from marketing to how to submit design proposals to them.

The afternoon session of Professional Development day had what they call "breakout sessions." No, that is not where there is a mass exodus because everyone learned there was a Hobby Lobby just 10 miles away and the Vendors Market wouldn't open for another 24 hours... rather the breakout sessions are where the attendees could go and sit with a professional that would discuss a topic they were interested in. Each session lasted about 45 minutes, and the attendee could pick 3 sessions of their choice. I sat with Amy of Crochetville who discussed Using the Internet to Grow Your Business; with Sheryl Means who discussed So You Want to Own a Yarn Shop?; and with KJ Hay who discussed A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: The What, Why, When and How of Schematics.

After Professional Development Day was over, my family and I joined HHCC'ers Nancy and Kathy in the hotel's lobby. (It seems many crocheters took advantage of the hotel's lobby rather than journeying back to the Conference Center's lobby). Later we took a walk to a restaurant called "Bada Bing" for a simple dinner, then returned to the hotel and invited more crochet friends to join us in our hotel room to wind down a great day...

Journey to the Conference Center:
1. Take elevator down to lobby
2. walk through lobby and gathering area
3. walk behind the hotel's bar, rounding the outside of the dining area
4. go through glass doors to corridor
5a. at end of corridor go through glass doors ahead, cross road, go to #8
5b. or at end of corridor go through glass doors on left to remain inside
6. walk up flight of stairs or take elevator
7. walk across catwalk, then down long hallway
8. take elevator down or go down stairway
9a. if outside, walk around outside of building until main doorway reached. Enter through glass doors to be at Conference Lobby.
9b. if still inside, walk along corridor of classes, then go up short stairway to reach the Conference Lobby.

To get back, hail a taxi.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

ChainLink: 2009 CGOA National Conference

August 3: Monday morning was our goal time to leave for Buffalo. Only I forgot to register my items for the Eastern States Exposition, and I also wanted to mail in my entry forms for the Bridgewater Fair before leaving. A slight delay, yes. However we were on the road by 2PM and entered the city of Buffalo, NY around 9:30 in the evening. This meant I missed tuning into the Getting Loopy Show while it aired live -- and hearing my name called as the winner for the drawing.

While checking into the hotel I bumped into Pauline Turner and Delma Myers, both of whom are well known in the crochet world for their published works and teaching. Soon thereafter I bumped into more crocheters, including the rockstar of crochet, Doris Chan. It was like a huge family reunion at the check-in counter at the Hyatt!

While we unpacked our luggage I listened to the archived Getting Loopy Show and did a little cheer -- hey, I won the drawing!! Whoot! Whoot!

August 4: Tuesday we decided we would go to Niagra Falls (American side). The weather forecast said thunder showers so we wanted to go before they hit. We were lucky, the weather held! We first visited "Cave of the Winds" and got completely wet (there is a myth that if you get splashed by Niagra then you are blessed with good health & luck), then while on our way to enjoy the "Maid of the Mist" boat ride we found Pauline and Delma there too! The Falls were spectacular!

Upon return to the hotel we met up with many more familiar faces. We invited them to our hotel room, opened a bottle of wine and toasted to the days of crochet fun ahead...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A little tease, er taste of ChainLink...

As it is the CGOA's 15th Anniversary, I'm running around like a high-schooler getting autographs ... there are more names on the back, and on the bottom, with more names to be added today. To get your own bag (less the autographs) go to

Monday, August 3, 2009

Guest Blogger: Froggie

**Pattern sale can be found on Dee's website, Sale is over when Dee returns home.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Steppin' On Up ...

My To Do List today is longer than my arm. Seriously. I plan on getting to it just as soon as I finish my cup of coffee here. Hmmm, I wonder how long I can make a single cup of coffee last ......

The packing for the Conference is coming along; there is still much to do, and when you're packing for a family of 4, well, it's just THAT much more stuff to pack -- not including the yarn for TWO crocheters ... My father came over last night, and after surveying the mayhem, highly recommended I invest in those bags you can pack then vacuum the air out to squish it all down; Space Savers is what I think he called them ... I don't think we're at that level yet, and anyways, couldn't renting a U-Haul truck do the trick too?! (Anything to get out of vacuuming! LOL)

One thing I have crossed off my To Do List is in making my new pattern, "The Step-Up Bracelet," available for purchase. I have it on my website and hopefully soon will have it available on Ravelry. The beauty of this pattern is that it requires no turning, features linked stitches, and is great for using up bits of stash, and would be great as party favors for boys and girls. Knowing crochet stitch anatomy is highly recommended.

Well, I see I couldn't make my cup of coffee last as long as I had hoped. It's time to step up to that To Do List and knock it down a few levels...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Let it Sparkle & Shine!

It has been raining for nearly 40 days and 40 nights. Seriously, it rained something like 25 out of the 31 days in July making it one of the coolest July's in Connecticut's history. What this has meant for us is better crocheting weather! And yes, us as in the plural sense!

Mini~Dee finished the project for her Dad and did a most fantastic job! My hand in the project was to instruct her how many chains to start with and to answer her quesions on how to do increasing. The rest was all her! How I thought the project would turn out and how it did turn out -- well, let's just say she ran with the concept and added her own stamp of flavor to it. (That's my girl!) I love it; and think it is so fantastic that she should enter it into competition come fall!

To complete the piece we took a crochet hook, some nail polish and some ultra-fine glitter ... in the picture on the left you can see how the hook now has some color and sparkle to it.

Now that it is August, and that the sun is shining, it is time to start packing up as much as we can for the trip. Rain is in the forecast for tomorrow.