Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Classic from the Archives: CROCHETERS CHRISTMAS EVE Poem

Originally posted on Friday, December 22. 2006, slightly updated in 2010:

adapted by me, Dee Stanziano

'Twas the night before Christmas and all around me
The Night Before ChristmasWas unfinished crocheting not under the tree.
The stockings weren't hung by the chimney with care
'Cause the heels and toes had not a stitch there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
But I had not finished the caps for their heads.
Dad was asleep; he was no help at all,
And the sweater for him was six inches too small,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
I put down my hooks to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tripped over my yarn and fell down with a crash.
The tangle of yarn that lay deep as the snow
Reminded me how much I still had to go.
Out on my lawn I heard such a noise,
I thought it would wake both Dad and the boys.
And though I was tired, my brain a bit thick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.

But what I heard then left me perplex-ed,
For not a name I heard was what I expected,
"Move, DyakCraft! Move, Lacis! Move, NaturallyCaron and Clover!
Move, Boye! Move Woolease! Move Ravelry --move over
Paton, don't circle 'round; stand in the line.
Come now, you sheep will work out just fine!
I know this is hard; it's just your first year,
I'd hate to go back to eight tiny reindeer."

I peered over the sill; what I saw was amazing,
Eight wooly sheep on my lawn all a-grazing.
And then, in a twinkle, I heard at the door
Santa's feet coming across my porch floor.
I rose from my knees and got back on my feet,
And as I turned 'round St. Nick I did meet.

He was dressed all in wool from his head to his toe,
And his clothes were hand-crocheted from above to below.
A bright Tunisian sweater he wore on his back,
And his toys were all stuffed in an cool cro-knit sack.
His cap was a wonder of bobbles and lace
A beautiful frame for his rosy red face.
Interchangeable Crochet Hook SetThe scarf 'round his neck could have stretched for a mile,
And the socks peeking over his boots were Argyle.
The back of his mittens bore an intricate cable.
And suddenly on one I espied a small label,
"S.C." was duplicate stitched on the cuff,
And I asked, "Hey, Nick, did you crochet all this stuff?"
He proudly replied, "Ho, ho, ho, yes I did.
I learned how to crochet when I was a kid."

He was chubby and plump, a quite well-dressed old man,
And I laughed to myself, for I'd thought up a plan.
I flashed him a grin and jumped up in the air,
And the next thing he knew, he was tied to a chair,
He spoke not a word, but looked in his lap
Where I'd laid my hook and yarn for a cap.
He quickly began crocheting, first one cap then two,
For the first time I thought I might really get through.
He put heels in the stockings and toes in some socks.
While I sat back drinking scotch on the rocks.
So quickly like magic his stitches they flew
That he was all finished by quarter to two.
He sprang for his sleigh when I let him go free,
And over his shoulder he looked back at me,
And I heard him exclaim as he sailed past the moon,
"Next year start your crocheting sometime around June!"

Want to share this with your online friends? Please give them this link:

*** note: this was a *knitters* poem, based on Clement Moore's "The Night Before Christmas," that I changed in 2005 to reflect crochet. I do not know who the original author of the knit version is/was.  If you know, please let me know so I can give proper credit; thanks.  :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Happy-nings

On this cold, pre-winter day, I have that tune, "See You in September," sung by the group, The Happenings, running around in my head.  (The Tempos sang it first, I'm just more familiar with The Happenings' version.)

I am thrilled to announce I have been invited back to teach for the CGOA at the Knit & Crochet Fall Show that will take place in Greensboro, North Carolina from September 23-25, 2011.

So the question is:  Will I See You in September?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Roving at the Library

It has been a flurry of activity here at the CrochetWithDee homestead.  So when our local library announced they were going to offer a Felting Workshop I decided it would be a good distraction for my kids -- and a great way for them to play with roving.

Sadly, the class booked up so we were wait listed.  Being in the middle of Hanukkah and nearing the shopping craze for Christmas, I didn't think they'd be able to squeeze in another class -- but they did!  (Yes!!)

Earlier this evening I packed up the kids, taking note that there were fine white crystals falling from the sky.  I love snow.  And I love playing with fiber.  I had hopes my kids would take to needle felting as a fun activity.

Upon arrival we met our instructor, Katie Stevenson, and many lovely ladies in attendance.  Since I already had felting experience I decided to leave instructing the kids in her hands (as a crochet teacher, I fully understand that sometimes kids learn better if it is someone else other than their parent(s) offering the lesson).

We set to work.  I had originally planned on making a sheep, and Dee Jr. planned on making a pig.  Only it did not turn out that way.  Sometimes it is the project that will dictate what it wants to be -- much like the skeins of yarn that sit in our stashes until they reveal what they want to be shaped into!  So Dee Jr.'s pig became an alligator, and my sheep became a gerbil. ... Or maybe it's a guinea pig... I'm not really sure... lol

Only Mini~Dee's project came out as she had planned -- a cute snowman.  (There's a really cute picture of it on her blog.)

The good news is, the kids really loved needle felting, and they're pretty excited I "happen" to have all the supplies (needles & raw roving) in my stash.  With it snowing tonight, I'm envisioning the kids making more items tomorrow.  Wouldn't it be fun if they created a little mug of hot chocolate, complete with marshmallows?   :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Tour Stop: Baby Blueprint Crochet by Robyn Chachula

Baby Blueprint Crochet: Irresistible Projects for Little OnesRobyn and I met on the internet several years ago.  In fact, she was a participant in my "60 Scarves in 60 Days Challenge" back when it first started!  We met in person a few years later at a CGOA Conference during what is known as Professional Development Day where she was doing a "breakout session;" it felt like we had known each other forever!  :)

I believe there must be something in our DNA that drives us to create items from the hand, and the heart, for the babies in our lives.  When Robyn announced she was expecting, I knew it was a matter of time before her new bundle of joy would bring her a new bundle of design inspirations!  In fact, Robyn acknowledges her muse by dedicating her newest  hot-off-the-press book, Baby Blueprint Crochet, to her baby daughter ....  the book is beautifully packaged with a variety of designs to inspire crocheters to feed that drive, complete with crochet symbols!

My children are well past the infant/toddler stage; however, since my son, Dee Jr. still loves dinosaurs, I decided to quickly whip up the motif from Robyn's "Callum Pullover" pattern.  My plan is to give this cute dinosaur to my son to use as a bookmark.  --  In the meantime, if I can carve out a niche of time before Christmas, this cute pullover might end up on my hook for my new nephew.  And maybe a pair of socks (also featured in the book) too. 

... or maybe the slippers ... there is so much to choose from!  From dresses to flying elephants, Robyn has created a book full of irresistible projects to crochet for the little ones in our lives.  You can see the adorable projects here in Robyn's Flicker Album.  :)

Side notes: I did not use the yarn called for in the pattern, or stop to check my gauge; this means my dinosaur came out chunkier than the one pictured in Robyn's book.  If you plan on making the pullover, please check your gauge first!!!   I also changed the stitches for the dinosaur's scales since I do not intend to sew him onto a garment.

About the crochet hook in the picture:  It is a custom Graydog crochet hook; a gift from my husband from several years ago.  If you are here searching for information on Graydog, I have none to offer at this time.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Crochet History Up for Auction

My son approached me holding out his two bags from the Guinness World Record Attempt we participated in back in June. "Mom, can you sell these for me?" he asked.

I looked at him for a few moments to judge how serious he was. "I'm a Yankee fan, Mom. These items are 'Mets' ... "

"But," I replied, "You were a witness to history in the making. We actually set the record for the Most People Crocheting in One Place! These are your souvenirs from that day!"

"I know." He added, "There is nothing wrong with the Mets, but I'm a Yankee fan, Mom. My heart belongs to the Yankees like your heart belongs to Crochet."

OK, so the boy has a point, and a darn good one at that. How can I argue with that line of reasoning?

And now he has an eBay auction going on where you can bid on his New/Mint MET bags ...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankful for In-laws

Who needs Santa Claus when you have a brother-in-law as great as mine?  Seriously! 

Back in February I actually blogged about two of my brothers-in-law who know what crochet fanatic I am and what they did ( -- well, I am delighted to report, Fred has done it again!

We spent Thanksgiving visiting my husband's family.  Shortly after arrival, my brother-in-law sat next to me & pointed to his cheek.  "You'll want to give me a little peck," he said, "as I have something for you."  I smiled and gave his peck on the cheek.  He then opened his hand to reveal his latest finds:  antique crochet hooks MADE IN THE USA by the Susan Bates company.  I squealed with delight!  We chatted about the history of the Susan Bates company, and about his good luck in finding me treasured crochet hooks to add to my collection.

Yeah, I guess you can say I have my own personal Santa Claus, and he delivers crochet goodies!  :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Take Me With You!

Take Dee With You on Your Mobile
If I had a nickle each time a student, or a CrochetWithDee fan said, "Dee, I want to keep you!" I'd be able to buy out an entire yarn shop -- many, many times over!!  Oh, there have been attempts, bribes & such.  But my heart is with my family, and rightfully so.

Still, how does one fill the void of folks wanting to take their Crochet Cheerleader home, or while out-&-about, to be able to turn to whenever they have a CrochetWithDee need?   One student suggested I get one of those huge cardboard photos made and sell them.  Since the cardboard "Dee's" wouldn't be able to answer questions, I don't think that would be a good idea; I can envision the cardboard cutouts used as target practice, knitting needles sticking out of it like a dart board.  LOL

But, what if you can fit me in a pocket, or a purse? ... now you can!  You can visit me on your Mobile Device!  So quick -- so easy!!  ... simply pull up your browser on your mobile device and enter this url address:

Roadtrip anyone?  :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

~ 365 Days ~ to think about Crochet

Dee Jr. asked me this morning what I want for Christmas this year. Told him I want an endless cup of coffee that never gets cold, is always at the perfect temperature, and flavor. He said, "Good luck with that." :/  Mr. Dee added later that we will need to start thinking about getting a 2011 Calendar.  (Was this a hint?) Would he mind if I gave him a crochet calendar?

In 2004 I purchased my first Crochet Calendar.  It was produced by the New York City Crochet Guild, and it was beautiful!  (You can read the back story about their calendar here.)  Sadly they have not produced any more.

Shortly thereafter the "Day to Day" Crochet Calendar came out.  I didn't -- and haven't -- purchased this calendar yet as none of the proceeds go to the designers, or to a charity.  (If this policy has changed, readers, could you please let me know?)  Although I am not a believer that a crochet designer should give their designs away for free in order to promote themselves I do know many crocheters like this calendar.
365 Crochet Stitches a Year: Perpetual Calendar

I didn't get another Crochet Calendar until the 
365 Crochet Stitches a Year: Perpetual Calendar came out in 2007.  What I like about this calendar is that it is not defined by one year; it is perpetual, meaning you can use it year after year after year!  Smart thinking Jean and Rita!  (This is not the first time I've mentioned this Calendar; I blogged about it in early 2008.)  For a timeless Calendar with stitch motifs, this makes a great gift!  (Note to Mr. Dee in case he is reading this: I already own it!)

Now, nearly into 2011, I find myself eyeing three new crochet calendars as possible contenders:
Interweave Crochet 2011 Wall Calendar
The Interweave Crochet 2011 Wall Calendar that promises full-color crochet motifs from The Harmony Guides: Crochet Stitch Motifs (may as well add that book to my Wish List).


2011 Sticks, Hooks and Shuttles Calendar being offered by the folks over at, where 100% of the proceeds are being donated to two charities.  (Visit their website, scroll to the bottom of the page to get an idea of what the calendar includes, and to learn more about where the proceeds will be donated.)

And third, there is always, where there is an abundance of Crochet Theme goodies to choose from.  In the shop, CroOrities, the vertical wall calendar features many great images from other CafePress shops (all used with permission!).  No patterns, but plenty of space to write in all my crochet activities, events, and deadlines.

The bottom line:  I think it is good that we are progressing from having no Crochet Calendars available, to having a variety to choose from -- complete with that perfect cup of coffee, naturally.   :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Checking In

After almost two months, I have decided to give up my new desk to my daughter.  I miss the sunshine too much!  Yes, this does mean I'll be moving back to the kitchen table, but I'm OK with that.  Mini~Dee is ecstatic, of course.  Not just because she's getting the desk, but because we're also ripping down the old wallpaper in her room.  Of course I am thinking of teasing her a bit by telling her I'll be replacing all the wallpaper with my abundant crochet samples ... oh, wait, I kinda like that idea for real!  LOL  ((she'd kill me!!))

My father stopped by to tell me he purchased some tile; he is moving forward to fixing the leaking problem in his basement.  I'm not sure how long that will take, but I've already started letting my mind wander on how I'd want to decorate and organize my studio once I get the green light.  One thought that came to mind is to take a plastic table cloth stamped with crochet that I've had for a number of years and somehow use that to decorate a wall or two.  Either by securing the table cloth to the wall and spray painting over it, letting the spray paint fill in the gaps and then remove the table cloth; or by rolling paint over the table cloth and carefully pressing it against the wall.  I love daydreaming about this stuff!  What would you do?

Oh, and please tell my postal carrier to hold off on delivering the latest Ikea catalog ... I can get lost in the pages for hours!!  If you want some craft room inspiration, and are a member of Ravelry, be sure to check out the "My Craft Room" group. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hip Hoppin' ... at last, again!

About a year and a half ago I announced that I had published the pattern to my award-winning Hip Hoppin' Backpack.  The pattern was included with several other designers' patterns for an experiment with online ebooks we were calling "Straight From Today's Designers."  After the experiment concluded Soooooo many of you wrote to me asking that I republish the pattern for my backpack.

And I'm delighted to announce that my pattern is once again available for purchase -- as a "stand-alone" PDF pattern.  At the moment you can order it through Ravelry using the "buy now" button you see on the right.

A few details: This pattern includes seven beautiful textured crochet stitches and is therefore considered to be for the Intermediate Crocheter. It also includes International Crochet Symbols.  The PDF is 8-pages long, and retails for $4.99

If you don't want to order the pattern through Ravelry, and can't wait for me to add it to my website, please send me an email.  With the upcoming holiday season approaching fast, this is just (excuse the expression) in the Nick of Time.  :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Get Your Heart On"

In the CLF group on there was discussion that a lot of CLF'ers were unable to identify themselves as members while attending Rhinebeck a few weeks ago.  I proposed we consider wearing a crocheted motif to make the next time easier.  Shortly thereafter the discussion on attending the 20th Stitches East event started, I again proposed we wear a crocheted motif; I suggested we wear crocheted hearts.  Mary Beth Temple then announced on her Getting Loopy Show that we crocheters should "Get Our Hearts On" ... that is, wear a crocheted heart, find her at Stitches, and get a ticket for a prize drawing she'd have to help support crochet.

I was busy the entire Stitches East event -- from pre-start to finish; mostly having fun working in the KnitShopGirls booth (Shoutout to my girls, Kendra, the owner; Dina &  Kim!).  I attended my first Stitches Fashion Show (yes, I did crochet while watching) where I found myself falling in love with one of the crocheted garments in Nicky Epstein's new book, Enchanting Collection -- it took my breath away! (and the knit garments in the book were pretty cool too; I just might need to crochet me some knit!  lol).  I found the food at the Dinner quite dee-lish, and the company at our table an absolute riot!

I also attended (briefly) the Pajama Party where I met up with Guido: The Purlman, and Kathleen Sams of Red Heart Yarn.  I also met Benjamin Levisay -- although we've been Facebook friends, this was my first time I had met him in person & found him to be funny -- and blonder than his FB image shows.  I was able to meet up with Cari Clement from Caron Yarns, Penny from Offinger (CGOA management), Arnetta Kenney (CYCA CIP Teacher), Trishia (Save the Children Foundation), Zontee from LionBrand, and of course, Mary Beth Temple.  (There were many, many more people I got to see, but my brain is so fried from the long weekend that it is hard to recall everyone.)  I also managed to sneak in some volunteer time by spending Sunday morning in the Warm Up America/Save the Children booth teaching basic crochet while whipping up a preemie cap with my speedy crochet hook.

I want to thank Kendra for a fabulous weekend ... it was an amazing "behind the scenes" experience from the vendor's point-of-view -- those vendors work their butts off (can I say that here?) and deserve huge kudos for hauling, setting up, putting in long hours for our shopping pleasure, tearing down, and hauling back all of our yarn goodies!  Thank you Kendra!  Thank you Vendors!!
I want to state for the record that yes, I had my "Heart On."  I crocheted my heart out of sterling silver wire -- to ward off scary werewolves, naturally.  (What else would you expect me to wear on Halloween weekend at Stitches East?  LOL)  In the KnitShopGirls booth we saw a lot of people dressed up for Halloween which made the experience that much more fun; and we saw a lot of folks wearing crochet!!!!  (Love!!!)

And, going forward, it looks like the crochet heart will be THE motif to wear to signal to other crocheters, and to retailers, how much we love our crochet.  So go ahead and "Get Your [crocheted] Heart On;" I'll be looking for you at the next fiber event I attend.   :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool 2010

I can't believe Rhinebeck's Sheep & Wool festival was a week ago already! Where does the time go?
Rhinebeck was great; I brought my children kids with me (they're starting to get so big that the word 'children' doesn't seem to fit as a description of them). We went on Sunday and the weather was (singing) "fan-tastic!"

Upon arrival we met up with my buddy, the HHCC Prez, Grace; and with Mary Beth Temple and her daughter LANKYLoopy. Within minutes we met up with Doris Chan, Diane Moyer, Leslie of WoolMountain, Sarah, and several other crochetaholics.  It was like old friends gathering together, excited about all the delicious fibers around us.  I fulfilled my promise to Doris, giving her a bottle of Jones Family Farm wine, for my appreciation of her Ling Collar pattern that won me so many ribbons and awards this year.

I then armed my son, Dee Jr., with my point-n-shoot camera so he can take pictures for his new blog, -- for an 11-year old kid with no photographing experience, I think he has a natural eye for capturing beautiful shots.  Hopefully he'll upload the Rhinebeck images to his blog soon.

In the meantime, as we strolled from building to building, basking in the Indian Summer day, my daughter Mini~Dee, and LankyLoopy enjoyed spending the day together.  It seems they were both drawn to the neon-colored yarns -- a lot! Together with Dee Jr, they also found the maple syrup cotton candy a deelight.  :)

I treated myself to three skeins of Boxelder Beetle by Sanguine Gryphon; a fingering weight yarn in a most lushious orange, made of 70% superwash merino, 20% cashmere, and 10% nylon.  The booth/shop owners wore the coolest gowns, and their yarn was just devine!

The day passed very quickly, and just prior to leaving the park grounds we bumped into Lily Chin.  To my delight I saw a lot more crochet than I have in years' past.  I take this to be a good thing, and am looking forward to Rhinebeck 2011!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Good Type of Busy

Has it been a week? I've been busy, very busy indeed! So busy, in fact, I haven't even opened up my latest order from Amazon that contains new-to-me crochet books! It is a good-type of busy, and well worth the wait in opening that box! LOL

In the meantime, I'm really proud of my CGOA Chapter -- The Happily Hooked on Crocheting Club -- which recently celebrated it's Ninth Birthday! NINE YEARS of CROCHET FUN!! The Celebration took place last Sunday; visit to read all the juicy details.

My coffee cup is empty; break is over. ;)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Frightful Fun

I gave myself a good fright today ... actually this story started last night -- and -- I was the one who initiated it! You see, I had taken my mannequin heads out to prepare to bring them to my CGOA Chapter's Anniversary meeting, and while doing so, I decided to have a little wicked fun: I placed one of the mannequin heads in the kids room while they were eating dinner.

Shortly after dinner the kids went in and got an instant giggly-fun-type of scare.  No screams; just one of those really loud gasps of unexpected pre-Halloween scares. Then came the giggles -- they instantly decided to pay the fright forward by attempting to scare their dad.  Unfortunately (for the kids) Mr. Dee was paying attention and did not get scared at all!
This morning, being coffee-less at the time, I decided to move the mannequin head the kids had intended to scare Mr. Dee with over to the kitchen table. The kids headed off to school, and I went about my morning activities.

While I had the house to myself, quietly working on my secret project, I had completely forgotten about the mannequin. Do you see where this is going? About an hour later I managed to give myself a good fright when the mannequin on the table caught the corner of my eye! (Yes, I did let out a little yelp of horror;  LOL)  Had the kids been here when that happened they'd be rolling on the floor with laughter!

As I posted this experience on my Facebook account earlier today, I found it interesting other designers have used their mannequins (in one way or another) to also give a good fright to themselves and others.

This lead me to thinking about those old black & white classic movies and television programs which I love to watch this time of year. Alfred Hitchcock, one of my favs, instantly popped into my head when I decided I wanted a "scary" looking crochet hook as my new profile picture on Facebook. I grabbed my camera and  played around with a few concepts in my head until I created an image that I really liked; I hope you do too as I turned it into a CafePress shop:

I can't help but to laugh ghoulishly at the thought of crocheters haunting their favorite local yarn shop while wearing one of the T-shirts.  Whahahahaha!   ;)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bringin' It Home...

Mr. Dee and I took the trek to Massachusetts yesterday to pick up the crochet entries from the Big E.  Without the kids, this gave us great quality time to discuss various crochet topics, such as which location (Minnesota vs. North Carolina) I should consider submitting my CGOA Class Proposals.

Upon arrival we learned more about the Special Awards:


    Dee's Pushmi Vest & Ling Collar
  • NEW Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) website:  One award for Best Wearing Apparel entry. Award consists of one certificate for a free year of membership in CGOA.
  • NEW Plymouth Yarn of Bristol, Pa website:  One package of 100% Galway Wool Yarn for Best Use of Pattern Work and/or Color Change
  • Webs/Valley Fiber Corp of Northampton, Mass website:  One award for Most Creative Use of Traditional Crochet (stitches must be used in original clothing or accessories design)

I won two of the three awards:  The Best Wearing Apparel, and The Most Creative Use of Traditional Crochet for the "Ling Collar."  My fellow HHCC'er Elaine, won the Best Use of Pattern Work and/or Color Change for her original Flower Dolls (picture can be seen here on the HHCC's blog).  This was the first time I've ever won a Sponsor Award at The Big E, and this was Elaine's second time.

In reading how the Pushmi~Pullyu vest I designed for my son, and how the Ling Collar scored, the Collar actually scored higher, with points taken off for color.  Why it earned a Red Ribbon, and the vest a Blue, I'll never know.   However, I am very thankful for the Special Awards and want to thank the CGOA and WEBs for sponsoring them.  As to what I will purchase with my WEBs gift card? I'm not sure yet.  :)
Dee's & her CGOA Chapter's entries @ the Big E.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Hip, Hip, Crochet!" with the Lion

Along with participating in the "Feel Good" kickoff on the CBS Early Show, I also got to visit the Lion Brand store for the very first time with my fellow CGOA Chapter members.  As I don't go to the City often, this was a treat I was long looking forward to.

We traveled across the City via car, had an early lunch, and then walked the short distance to the Lion Brand store.  It was just before 11:30 AM, and the store would be opening in mere minutes.  This afforded us time to check out the front window display featuring Lady Liberty.

This store front resonated with me: it merged crochet and knit work together in the shape of the United States; joined together in the afghan wrapped around Lady Liberty's shoulders; and with squares at her feet being collected from customers for Warm Up America.  Togetherness.  Lion Brand did not exclude crochet, or use crochet as a mere footnote.  It gave crochet equal billing.  As it should be.

This theme was echoed in Lady Liberty's crown too; notice in the image on the right how the crochet hooks and knitting needles come together to create the seven spikes in her crown (for those that like trivia, the spikes represent the seven oceans).  Who ever designed this window for Lion Brand did a great job!

Once the store opened we were greeted with a lot of eye-candy ... yarn, yarn, yarn!  Yes, we can purchase Lion Brand yarn at nearly every big box craft store, but not all carry all of the Lion Brand lines -- and/or colors!  So to see it all in one place was fantastic! 

I had some questions of which the staff was more than happy to help me with getting the answers to.  I purchased some Vanna's Choice, and some Cotton Bamboo from the LB Collection.  And for being a CGOA member, they took 10% off my purchase.

I'll be sure to add visiting the Lion Brand store to my stops the next time I'm in the City; this yarn manufacturer (and now retailer) knows how to make this crocheter a repeat customer.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Question From Reader: the 411 on Lands End "FeelGood"

My aunt wants to send knitted squares for the blankets that you are making. She saw it on the CBS morning show. Where does she send them? Jackie

Dear Jackie,
How wonderful your Aunt will be participating in the Lands End Feel Good Campaign!  I know you said she wants to knit her squares, but if by chance she is a CGOA Member, she can have a cone of Lands End yarn sent directly to her by emailing erin.haasATlandsendDOTcom. Please note I do not know if they're making this offer to the Knitting Guild members. -- have her hurry as she needs to do this by tomorrow, 10/01/10.

If she doesn't need yarn, and would like to mail in her squares to Warm Up America for distribution, here is the shipping address and contact information:

Warm Up America
FeelGood Campaign
469 Hospital Dr. Ste E
Gastonia, NC 28054

She can also visit the CGOA's website and search for a Chapter near her, as I understand several, such as my Chapter, are participating in this charitable program.  Another option is to have her drop off her squares at a local craft or yarn store that is participating in the Warm Up America program.  If her LYS is not a participant, it doesn't hurt to ask the store manager/owner to consider getting involved.

For more information, please visit Land's end ( and Warm Up America! (

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Hip, Hip, Crochet!" on the CBS Early Show

At 3:00 AM I opened my eyes to find out if it was 4:00 AM.  Nope.  Back to sleep I went.  At 3:59 I opened my eyes again, beating the rooster-crowing alarm.  It must have been the anticipation of the day as I have no other explanation how this self-proclaimed night owl was able to wake so early in the morning!

By 5:00 AM, with coffee in hand, I had joined up with four other of my CGOA Chapter members -- we were going to New York City to help Brett Bara, host of the popular PBS show, Knit and Crochet Now!, launch The FeelGood Campaign on the CBS Early Show.

Lands End is donating 5,000 pounds of yarn to be crocheted & knitted into 7"x9" squares that will be assembled into afghans by Warm Up America volunteers.  The afghans are then donated to people in need.
The goodies I received,
& my two crochet hooks.
The goal: to get as many crocheters & knitters involved as possible to help make the 64,000 squares.  (Or as my Chapter member Jennifer says, rectangles.) 

We arrived at the General Motors building in plenty of time.  Lands End was giving participants a super soft scarf that retails for $39.50.  We were then directed to select a cake of yarn (yarn wound into a "flat" ball; see picture), and to begin crocheting & knitting squares while standing in the CBS Early Show plaza.  For the first 20 people to finish a square, they received a special Lands End tote -- I was one of the lucky 20.  In fact, during the entire 2-hour taping, I managed to whip out 3 squares for the cause!  :)
Brett Bara & some of the many squares
crocheted & knitted during the taping.

What was the Lands End yarn like?  It was every bit of soft as they claimed.  However, the yarn does not have a lot of twist to it so it is much like using Lion Brand's Micro-Spun yarn.  My specialized "Maestro" Graydog crochet hook, size "J," worked beautifully with the Lands End yarn.  My beautiful "Apple" hook, by Brainsbarn, size I, did a great job too. (In the picture to the right, Brett is holding up one of the squares I completed during the taping!)
CBS Weatherman, David Price
with Zippy's afghan.

One of the funniest moments during the taping was when the weatherman, Dave Price, came over to our area and noticed our newest member, Zippy, working on an afghan.  He asked if he could borrow it, placed it around his neck like a large scarf and said "Hip, Hip, Crochet!" while proceeding to give the daily forecast.  The funny part was that the afghan was still connected to the yarn in Zippy's hand!  She had to keep "feeding" him yarn as he walked the plaza during the taping (see Dave on the left).

After the taping was done, we were invited for a tour of the CBS studio.  Very cool indeed!

It was then time for us to head to the Lion Brand Store, but I think I'll save that story for another time.  It was a very long -- and fun -- day  today and I need some rest.  :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chester, Barbara, Susan, Zephr - All in the Family?

I love living in Connecticut. I love the rolling hills; the various sized cities and towns; and the history -- especially when it it is tied into my crochet world. I also love eBay.

One of my eBay finds arrived today. It is a an antique Susan Bates crochet hook, still in the original packaging.  It is known as a Clipson crochet hook.

On the bottom, it reads:

"C. J. Bates & Son, Inc. Chester, Conn. 06412
Made in U.S.A. Manufacturers Since 1873"

According to the papers turned over to the Dodd Center at UConn, C.J. Bates was Carlton J. Bates, born in 1848.  He founded the company in 1907 at age 59.  However, if we use the date on the crochet hook packaging, C.J. technically was producing manicure sets, crochet hooks, and knitting needles since he was 25!

In the early years of manufacturing, the name Chester was stamped upon the products, such as the crochet hook pictured below (I acquired it in 2008).  The manufacturing company was located on a 17-acre site in  Chester, Connecticut, until they discovered that the sludge waste stored in a lagoon was contaminating the groundwater.

Based upon a discussion on Crochetville, the Chester brand name was changed to Barbara Bates, and then Susan Bates sometime in the 1940s (after the passing of C.J. Bates in 1941).  In another online group discussion, is it said the name was changed from Chester to Zephr. Based upon an exchange I had with Jean Leinhauser, the Susan Bates name change happened in the 1930s.  The only evidence I have is what is before me ... a hook and its' packaging -- so I know the link between Chester and Susan Bates is solid. 

To further the discussion of Chester/Susan Bates hooks, you might find these links interesting: The Hook Lady's blog post: has some great pictures of more Chester/Susan Bates  hooks for me to add to my collection. (She's such an enabler! lol)   And, she has a great picture showing vintage & modern Susan Bates crochet hooks here:

Is this Susan Bates?

 Today Susan Bates is part of the Coats and Clark Company.   If you know more about the history of the Chester/Susan Bates crochet hook, I'd love to hear from you!  :)

Edited to add:  After reading this blog post, HHCC President Grace emailed me this evening stating, "'Marcia Lynn' is also a line of hooks & needles made by CJ Bates out of Chester Ct, not sure how this line fits into their history"

It seems CJ may have been very busy in the naming of his crochet hooks.  ;)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Winning At The Big E

I love attending the Eastern States Exposition Fair held in West Springfield, Massachusetts. It is the ninth largest state fair in the United States. I've been attending since the late 1980s, and never tire of it.

I was there yesterday with my family, and with my CGOA Chapter, The Happily Hooked on Crocheting Club. We had a booth in the New England State building to promote crochet. Here are some of the highlights, in no particular order:
  • The father of a childhood friend sought me out to say "Hi."  It was so nice to see him!  He dialed my friend's number and let me say hello to her; she just recently moved back to Florida. It was good to chat with her.
  • I got to meet some of my blog fans like Firemanshunny.
  • I screamed. Rather proudly.  My Mini~Dee won "Best in Division" for her crocheted shawl in the Junior Division.
  • I got to line dance on stage with the Connecticut Line Dancers.
  • I won some prizes for my crochet entries -- I won't know what prizes until after the Fair when I pick up the entries.
  • I helped my Chapter put on its First Ever Crochet Fashion Show featuring the shawls from the Fiddler production back in April. 
  • I got to meet a crocheter from Bethel, Connecticut, who specializes in miniature crochet; she showed me pictures of crocheted doilies she made that are about the size of a US dime!!!
There was so much to see & do yesterday!  SOooo much fun!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Miracles, Saints, and ... ????

Ah, there I am, hard at work at my new desk; correctly spelling out my name and letting the ink dry.

I love to joke with my crochet students that the United States Postal Service likes to recognize me as a saint, as in "St. Anziano," (much as they did for Santa in the movie Miracle on 34th Street) but for me it isn't true.  It is just a typo.  I might have the patience of a saint, but I am not a saint-- yet. LOL

Miracle on 34th Street
What am I doing in this picture on the left?  It is a moment captured in my personal history, documenting that I am at the very first stage of fulfilling what you, my crochet fans & students have been asking for for ages -- and it is something that has been on my Bucket List for a very, very long time.  Can you guess?

I cannot give any other details other than, well, that this is way cool!  (Feel free to speculate.) What I can say, quite loudly and excitedly, is this: "Whoohoo!!!!!"