Thursday, December 17, 2009

Handmade Gifts are Special

Are you feeling the holiday crunch like I am? The dashing around, trying to find the right gift for that special someone on your list? I'm feeling it a bit too! Plus, I'm preparing for the Crochet Workshop I'll be teaching at the Local Needle on Sunday, and the Crochet Meet-up in Jacksonville, FL, on Monday. Yes, indeed, it is holiday crunch time! And what better way to find a few quiet moments than to crochet up a gift, take a crochet class, or meet up with other crocheters?

And you know what makes me feel it's all worth while? When others comment that Crochet rocks! There I was in Old Navy, looking to purchase leggings to match the sweater you see on the right that I had crocheted for my 3-year old niece. As I held the sweater out to check the coloring of the leggings I received a ton of compliments on the sweater -- even some inquiries as to where I purchased it! When I explained I had made the sweater by hand the gushing just went on and on! :)

If you're looking for a last minute crochet gift to whip up with nearly any worsted weight yarn in your stash, that works up quick, all while you learn a new stitch and/or crochet technique -- and you've been looking to treat yourself to my PDF Tumbling Clusters Scarf pattern -- then you'll be happy to know that for the next 24-hours the pattern will be on sale at my website ...! Hurry though, the sale ends at 11:30 AM Eastern Time on December 18th.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Santa Delivers!

For the third straight year, Santa has delivered exactly what I wanted! Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa, and yes, he does deliver people! Especially should that person be a crochet designer named Doris Chan!

Yesterday was my CGOA Chapter's Holiday Celebration; our last meeting of the year. There was food (oh my! was there food!), and gifts (oh my! were there gifts!), and DORIS CHAN!!

Doris brought with her the garments from her first two books, Amazing Crochet Lace: New Fashions Inspired by Old-Fashioned Lace, and Everyday Crochet: Wearable Designs Just for You, which were AMAZING to look at! (I teased her that my holiday shopping/packing is done as I eyed her collection; hey, I only said what everyone else there was thinking! LOL)

Doris also brought an uncorrected proof of her latest book, "Crochet Lace Innovations: 20 Dazzling Designs in Broomstick, Hairpin, Tunisian, and Exploded Lace". I immediately added it to my Wish List!

Of course Doris wasn't done spoiling us. She also had some door prizes ... one of them being the coveted Etimo crochet hooks everyone has been clamoring for ... the same hooks I was RAK'd with by my Fairy Crochet-Mother back in September! She showed us Tahki's new Cotton Classic LITE yarn line -- talk about yummy! and then she taught everyone how to do the Broomstick Lace technique featured in her upcoming book!

Thanks Santa, and thank you Doris! Everyone had a great time! :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

crocheted stitches wrapped with love

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Festivus (think Seinfeld) ... these holidays all boil down to one common thread: crocheting like mad to finish last minute gifts! Are you part of this tradition too?

For me, I just finished a crocheting marathon, working up child sweaters for two important little girls in my life, and am in the final stages of blocking and assembling. One of the sweaters will be parted with tomorrow, so it's important it is finished today.

Once I'm done with the sweaters comes two more last minute gifts ... something for my mother, which she requested; and something for my Mini~Dee which will be a surprise. For these two projects I will have less than five days to design/crochet them up.

The very last project I intend to crochet is a teddy bear -- for donation to my brother's Fire Station ... that project I'll have maybe a day or two to work on.

I haven't started to panic -- yet. Then again, I strongly advise you don't get caught alone in a room with me -- I just might press a crochet hook into your hand and demand you "crochet like your life depends upon it!" ... I'm just saying...

Is the rush worth it? I think so! I know the people who will receive my crocheted stitches wrapped with love will appreciate the time (even if it was done during a marathon) I put into their gifts. Just as my Auntie who loved receiving the crocheted hat she requested! :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Question From Reader: Yarn on the Cheap

Kenzie from punkymonkeymissions wrote:

"I just learned to crochet and decided to start doing it for missions and to make stuff for the homeless. Do you have any ideas how I can get yarn for cheap? My mom will only buy me 1 or 2 skeins a week and I ran out of my own money. Here is my blog if you want to see my scarves"
Dear Kenzie,
Thank you for visiting my blog; it's always nice to meet a reader! ... and especially one with a big heart for their local community like yourself! :)

Being on a tight budget myself, I know it can become costly to purchase yarn for our charitable projects. Fortunately, I do know of ways you can get yarn cheaply, and possibly even for free!
  1. Visit you local dollar/discount stores. Often times they'll have yarn for just a buck a skein. I was just at my local Christmas Tree store last week and even they had some for just a dollar!
  2. Join a local group, such as a CGOA Chapter. As a group that crochets for charity you can write to local yarn companies asking for "seconds" -- this is yarn is "not quite right" due to dye lot/quality control issues. Tell them of your charity and they might send you some yarn for free.
  3. Check your local paper for Estate sales. Many crocheters (and knitters) have WAY more yarn than they can use in a lifetime. This leaves family members finding it stored in many various locations in the home. When the family believe they found it all, often times they'll have a sale. (one of the founders of my Chapter recently passed away; her husband has been finding yarn everywhere--including in kitchen cabinets!)
  4. See if there is a "Freecycle" Yahoo group for your area. If there is, join the group and post that you are looking for yarn to create items for charity. Many of these freecycle groups will let you repost your request after X number of months. If a reader has yarn to give, they'll send you an email.
  5. Check the website CraigsList. I'm not a big user of the site, but do know many who have scored yarn there.
  6. Have you seen the auctions on eBay? There was a time I scored 250 pounds of chenille for a song... You might find also find bargains for yarn on Amazon. You never know, so it's worth checking repeatedly.
  7. Are you a member of the community? If so, check around, as there is bound to be someone who is looking to dee-stash for a good cause.
  8. Sometimes yarn companies have a Free Yarn Giveaway ... at the moment Caron International Yarns is giving away a skein of their dreamy Country yarn ... go here for details; the offer will be available as long as supplies last.

Readers, do you have other ideas on where to obtain yarn on the cheap -- or possibly free? If so, please share! There may be other crocheters (and knitters) out there that want to help their local community by donating crocheted/knitted goodies too but are on a shoe-string budget. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Making the Path of Crochet Easier: Lily Chin

I've been crocheting since I was a youngster. Not always has my path of crocheting been easy. If you've taken a crochet class with me, or have been a long time reader of my blog, then you've heard my story of how it took YEARS for me to figure out (as a child) to go from the crocheted chain to stitches to projects. My problem was I rarely bumped into people who crocheted and could help unlock it's secrets to make it easier for me.

Flash forward to today where my own Mini~Dee crochets. As I watch her make her stitches, sometimes I tell her how lucky she is that she can come to me, or members of my CGOA Chapter, or a great number of crochet designers she personally knows, and can ask questions. When I was her age I was stuck. Yes, she's clearly very lucky to have access to so many experienced crocheters.

As if Lily Chin were here listening to this conversation, she has come up with the perfect solution for folks like myself (when I was first starting), and those experienced with crochet (as I am today), offering us her Crochet Tips & Tricks in a handy sized book! So yes, we can have Lily in each and every crocheter's home, having her provide answers to so many questions crocheters have, such as:

  • how do you find the center of a pull skein?
  • based upon my swatch, how much yarn will I need for this project?
  • how does Lily keep her nickel-plated hooks so slick that she's able to crochet so fast?
  • what do those numbers on cones of yarn mean?
  • how does Lily make seaming nearly painless?
  • the edge needs a million stitches spaced evenly across; how do I do that?
  • OMG, I missed a stitch; how do I fix that?
  • how does Lily stop ribbon yarn from twisting?
  • how does Lily avoid crocheting a million chains for a project and being short, or over, in her count?

If you've ever asked yourself these questions, and more!, then I highly recommend checking out Lily's new book based upon her often sold out class of the same title, "Crochet Tips & Tricks." It's written in Lily's voice so it's like having her sitting beside you as you get help from the master! Her book is filled with shortcuts and techniques that will make your path of crocheting easier! Makes a great holiday gift for yourself, or your favorite crocheter! :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

FUN in the SUN: Special Crochet Workshop & Meet-up in F-L-O-R-I-D-A!

Sunday, December 20th:
Pushmi~Pullyu Crochet Workshop @ The Local Needle, Macclenny, FL

This workshop is named after the Pushmi~Pullyu animal featured in the Doctor Dolittle novel written by Huge Lofting. A Pushmi~Pullyu is the beloved two-headed alpaca/antelope (depending upon which version of the story you know) that delights everyone.

Many crocheters look at their work in one direction, from left to right, or from right to left. Is it possible crochet can have more than one direction? And if so, what are the benefits?

In this popular 3-hour workshop taught at the National CGOA Conferences, Dee will have participants exploring the amazing possibilities of what happens when crochet is turned around! Not just by turning your work, but by watching what happens when stitches are created backwards! Crocheting in opposite directions has its rewards! Pattern to create Dee's award-winning scarf will be provided to participants.

Materials Needed: 2 skeins of smooth DK or worsted weight yarn, simple in texture and color. Crochet hook for yarn chosen. Optional: beaded trim.

Crochet Experience needed: participants should be comfortable with creating the foundation chain, single crochet stitches, keeping tension, counting stitches.

Class size is limited; contact Joan to register!

Monday, December 21st:
Crochet Meet-Up!
Wear your crochet finery, or bring your favorite crochet projects for some Show & Tell while enjoying great food and great crochet conversation! Bring a crocheted/knitted/purchased teddy bear to donate to Fire Station #25 located in Jacksonville, FL. Firefighters will then donate your teddy bear to children in distress when they are out on calls!

When: Monday, December 21 at 2:00 PM
Where: Harpoon Louie's (
4070 Hershel St, #8
Jacksonville, FL
RSVP: to me by leaving a message here, on Ravelry, or send me an email. Headcount is needed so the restaurant will know if additonal staff is needed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Crazy? Double Shells Save the Day

Normally it does not take me weeks and weeks and weeks to crochet a specialized baby shower gift. However, this set did!

The blanket is my design. I started with six chains, my jeweled "F" Graydog crochet hook, a skein of Plymouth Yarn's "Dream Baby dk" yarn in soft mint. Six chains Dee? Yes, six chains. I used what is known as "The Crazy Stitch," a series of "blocks" crocheted diagonally.

Once I reached the size I wanted the baby blanket to be I became stumped. What was I going to do for the border? I poured through books, gandered at seemingly thousands of other baby blankets looking for the perfect border solution to no avail. Was I being too picky? I don't think so. My problem was in not knowing if the baby would be a boy or a girl -- this made it a bit of a challenge in picking the perfect border for my project!

At my CGOA's Chapter meeting last month I brought the blanket with me. Time was starting to run out! As I doodled with my hook & yarn with possibilities, I decided to begin the border using shells. Shells? Yeah, I know what you're thinking: crochet shells are used so often! They're a staple of crochet! How could I possibly make the border "more original" when crocheting shells? I had a plan! The last row would be DOUBLED shells, something I don't recall seeing before!

How to create Doubled Shells as a Border (in a nut shell):
1. crochet shells in front loop of designated stitch, leaving back loop unworked.
2. anchor shell with traditional single crochet going through both loops.
3. continue this process around, join with slip stitch after going completely around.
4. crochet shells in back loop of designated stitch using extended dc stitches AND adding 2 more dc stitches to the count.
5. anchor shell to sc with a sl st.
6. continue this process around, join with a slip stitch. End off. Tuck ends in.
7. happy dance; it looks awesome!

Unfortunately I never made it to the baby shower because I had come down with the flu. This also meant I decided not to design my own little sweater for the baby. Instead, I turned to the Leisure Arts booklet called "Lullaby Layettes" (leaflet #2614), and used pattern # 4 called "blocks." This is another variation of the crochet crazy stitch, and when worked in the same yarn in white, it matched my blanket beautifully.

I gave the set to the expectant parents on Thanksgiving Day; they were tickled. The parents-to-be loved the colors, how soft the blanket & sweater came out, the stitch pattern AND the double shelled border! ... any day now I'll find out if I have a grand-niece or grand-nephew. ... maybe this means I have time to whip up a little bonnet....or cap..... :)