Friday, October 31, 2008


Happy Halloween!

Ok, how many of you, like me, have already dug into the Halloween Candy? This year I rediscovered the 100 Grand candy bars. I had forgotten about them! They came in a variety pack and I'm thinking that bag is now broke. Still, my absolute favorite is the Milky Way Midnights, and I couldn't find them at the store (which is probably a good thing!)

Chickee went to school this morning dressed as a witch, though she thinks she wants to be a ghost tonight for 'Trick or Treating'. Chief is not allowed to wear a costume to school, instead he has to wear a T-shirt that is decorated with things that begin with the first letter of his first name. (That's not very fun!) At least, he will be getting candy, hopefully that will make him feel better. I know he is NOT HAPE (translation: Not Happy) about wearing the decorated shirt and said that he is going to refuse. We'll see if I get a call from the teacher later.

In the meantime, I am busy, busy, super busy with deadlines. This is the closest I have ever come to pulling a crochet 'all nighter'. Two more items ship out this morning and it's always such a relief to get them out of my hands!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Qualities Editors/Buyers love in a guesses

What Editors/buyers probably like in a designer:

1. When the designer... delivers on TIME.

2. When the designer... delivers on TIME.

3. When the designer... delivers on TIME. (or early even, LOL)

4. When the designer... makes a quality, attractive, creative project.

5. When the designer... writes an accurate, concise pattern in the correct format.

6. When the designer... follows the given instructions about the tone and function of the item that's needed.

7. When the designer... communicates well with the editor/buyer in a timely manner about any wrinkles/problems/complications that arise so that they can be fixed early rather than scrambling at the last minute.

Of course, these are all about when you have already been commissioned to do a work. I'll need to think about the things an editor/buyer probably likes in a designer who is submitting...

Also, coming soon, The Rev Sc or Crab stitch shown for left handers.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Qualities I LOVE in a buyer...

I work with so many great people. These are some things I love in an editor/buyer:

1. I love it when my editor/buyer... gives me lots of information: It helps to know, what is the theme for the project/issue... what is the function of the item going to be?... who is the project intended for...(boy, girl, neutral?, teen, etc)

2. I love it when my editor/buyer... answers my questions quickly: Sometimes, I want to be sure I'm setting the right tone with a project, and a quick question and a quick answer can solve the issue and help me keep working to get the project turned in ASAP.

3. I love it when my editor/buyer...let's me be involved in the tech editing: Either by letting the tech editor email or call me if she has questions or showing me a PDF of the pattern so that I can look it over again before it goes to print.... I LOVE THAT. Not only does it help make the pattern better and more accurate, it also teaches me the pitfalls of writing patterns so that I can continue to improve my writing skills.... I LOVE THAT. (I've written over 100 patterns and there is always more to learn).

4. I love it when my editor/buyer...tells me where the item is going to end up: 'cuz I just like knowing where my babies are...

5. I love it when my editor/buyer...says something nice about my pattern: because first, I'm a praise junkie, and second because editors/buyers are so busy, if they take the time to say something nice, that is really, really cool. (yeah, I know, if they bought it, then they like it, why do I need it said also? This is what Captain would say. LOL)

Tomorrow, I'm guessing what Editors/buyers like in a designer!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Charlie cuddles

Charlie doesn't usually mix with non-wool yarns, but he doesn't mind sitting real close if it's Caron Simply Soft. Chief also loves it. I made him a Black and Orange afghan out of Simply Soft (mostly because I had a plethora of the colors and also because we live in Bengal territory, although 'Bengals' is kind of a bad word these days, but I digress...). Anyway, Chief likes that blanket the best of all the blankets I have made for him. I ought to show you a photo, I've never even tried to sell the was just an attempt to use up the extra yarn.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Working with Boucle'

Have you ever wondered 'How in the world do you crochet with boucle' yarn?'. Boucle' is that nubby, highly textured yarn. Sometimes it has eyelashes but it's always hard to see. Holding it up to the window is helpful. Ripping it out is also hard, it's more like tug, rip, tug, rip. So the best way I have found to work with it, is to make sure you never have to rip! How do you do that? You place a marker in EVERY stitch. Yep. Invest in some markers my friends. It's the only way for me to insure accuracy when I am stitching with a highly textured yarn. Does this serve as a sneak peek? It could.... wink, wink

Friday, October 24, 2008

This is one of the very first garments I ever designed (2-3 years ago). And I tell you, when you are learning, there is no replacement for doing. Even when you don't know what you are doing, you learn so much just in the trying and learning from experience. Like I learned when you are doing a drop shoulder, that the sleeves need to be shorter to compensate for the extra fabric at the shoulder. I also learned that in a cardigan, the neck doesn't have to be as big because there is plenty of room because of the split fronts. As you can see, I had to add a few extra rows around the neck and front edge to help close-up the neck a bit. I also learned, that if you make something purple and add a little fuzz/sparkle to it, even a very picky 5 year old (at the time) will wear it with pride, even if it's not perfect.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Designer Profile: Lisa Pflug

Would you believe I asked Lisa these questions almost a year ago and I'm finally getting around to publishing her answers! It's been so long that I asked her to check it over to make sure it still applies! Lisa is a very talented person in multiple areas, not just crochet. Here's a little bit about her:

How long have you been crocheting?
I've been crocheting since I was about 10 years old. My mother and her friend took my sister and me to a couple of lessons where I made a fishnet poncho for myself. It's funny that those are now back in style. I've been crocheting ever since, teaching myself from books.

What's your favorite technique or item to crochet? I'm a bit dull - I like traditional crochet best and I like to crochet scarves and afghans. One thing that excites me about crochet now is that with all the fantastic yarns available, crocheting is like painting with texture. The color and texture combinations I can make are infinite. Now when I am inspired to create something, I can usually find yarns to fit my idea. When I was a young teen, I only had about 10 flat ugly colors of itchy acrylic yarn to choose from at our local store. What a different world it is today!

When you crochet "just for fun" what do you choose to make?
Usually things that I don't finish. I like to make baby clothes because they are small, fast projects and adorable of course. Now I rarely stitch anything from a pattern and instead stitch simple scarves and purses and hats for fun, using whatever combination of yarns I have available and strike my fancy at the moment. I'm just as interested in the color and texture of yarn as I am about the pattern. I'm definitely most inspired by colors.

Do you have a favorite yarn? hook?
I love bamboo yarn for a garment. I like the earthy colors of Lion Brand's Vanna's Choice yarn, and it is soft and afordable - great for afghans. I've also been a fan of Caron's Simply Soft yarn for years. It's has a silky sheen and good drape for an inexpensive yarn. I just wish it came in more color choices. I'm not partial to any kind of hook. I just need several in every size since I leave them in bags with my multiple ongoing projects.

When/where have your items been published?
I started designing about 4 years ago when I joined CGOA. I've had my designs published in books. Only a few have been in magazines, and I'd like to try to submit more to them. I've tended to publish in books mainly because some have allowed email submissions and those are easiest for me to do. I saw that Crochet! magazine asked for email submissions recently so I have a few designs about ready to go to them.

Your website and Etsy address of course...My website is, and my etsy address is The Miss and Lou in MissLisaLou is for 'MISSissippi' (my home now), 'LOUisiana' (my birthplace).

An interesting tidbit about yourself unrelated to crochet? I don't know how interesting it is, but in addition to my jobs as a scientist and part-time crocheter, I run a mail-order antique rose nursery ( I stay pretty busy. Doesn't everyone who crochets? You can always squeeze in a little crochet while you are doing something else!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My favorite stitch

What is it that got you 'hooked' on crochet? Is it the colors? Is it the fabulous yarns that are available? Is it the meditative quality of the repetitive motion? Is it the challenge of making something from nothing? Is it the feel of the yarn or stitches? I think, for me, it's all of the above! I really love taking a skein of yarn, and then with just a hook and some time it becomes an actual functioning object that can be held and used. Mostly though, I think it is the texture that the crocheted fabric that impresses me. For that reason, I think that among all the very useful stitches the one that offers me the most potential for changing surface texture of a project is the Front Post double Crochet (FPdc). It creates cables and ribs, it encourages stretch in the project. Rarely do I do a project that doesn't have a FPdc in it somewhere. What's your favorite stitch?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sneak Peek

Did I show you this one yet? BOLO (Be on the look out!)

This and That

Notice, Captain ditched the lawnmower to jump with the kids. Gotta love that. Of course, that was last weekend.... this weekend, Chief spent the entire time on the couch with a really nasty cold.

I feel like I have alot to tell you, but then when I think about what to tell you it doesn't seem like that much! That's all because it's a secret! What's not a secret, is that I'm the new Mentor Coordinator for the Crochet Guild of America.

I have more Designer profiles for you coming up! Two more! WhooHoo! What do you think of this new series of 'profiles'? I think it's important for crochet consumers to know we are really people :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Designer Profile: Jill Hanratty

Look out world, here she comes! Jill Hanratty is just one of the fabulous designers I'm going to profile. Jill burst onto the crochet scene when I met her in line to meet editors at the 2006 Chain Link conference. She was wearing one of her crocheted dresses and wow, she can do great things with hook and yarn. You've started to see a few of her designs since then, she's been published in Annie's Hooked on Crochet, Crochet! and Interweave Crochet. Her talent is second only to her charm and generous personality.

1. What’s your name and website/Ravelry name, etc.
Jill Hanratty. No website or blog (yet?). My Ravelry name is scorpiocrochet; unfortunately, all I have done on Ravelry is choose the name! (Time management is a foreign concept to me, so I cannot find enough time to do all I should do!)

2. When did you learn how to crochet and who taught you?
I learned to crochet (and knit) when I was about 10 years old (give or take--I don’t remember exactly). My mother tried to teach me, but gave up when I wasn’t getting it. My grandmother stepped in and hung tough with me until I finally caught on!

3. When/How did you become a professional?
In 2006, I joined CGOA and attended my first conference (where I met you!). I brought along my portfolio, which consisted of photos of completed items and sketches of items yet to be created, and showed it to the magazine editors at the "Meet and Greet" portion of the conference. When I got home from the conference, I began submitting designs to magazines. Prior to that, I sold finished items.

4. What’s your favorite thing to crochet?
I love making clothes. I also sew, but crocheting clothing feels like an extra treat, since I can sit still and do it--not to mention carrying the crochet along wherever I go. (Can’t carry a sewing machine around and use it!)

5. When you design, do you start with a plan first, or do you start with hook and yarn and see what happens?
Both. I sometimes have a design in mind and set out to find the right yarn and stitch combination to accomplish it. More often, though, I find yarn that I love (we all know that feeling!) and swatch with it until I find a stitch pattern that looks best to me; then I decide what type of garment it will best suit.

6. What are you most proud of in terms of crochet?
This is tricky! I’m sure you know the feeling: It’s great to have designs published, and I’m proud of each design that has been published. It’s also great to have people react with amazement to things I’ve created.

7. Do you have any advice to crocheters who want to be designers?
If possible, go to the National Chain Link Conference and attend Professional Development Day. There is a wealth of information passed along by designers, editors, publishers and yarn company representatives--it is an invaluable experience. Whether or not it is possible to attend the conference, submit ideas to editors! CGOA also offers a mentoring program, which is very helpful. AND, I’ve noticed that your blog is chock-full of great information! Thanks, Jill!

8. Anything else you want to say?
I wish there were more hours in the day. It’s difficult to keep up with everything I would like to design and crochet! (See #1, time management problem, ha!)

Thanks Jill for giving us a little insight into you!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Crochet and Chat, meeting 2

Meeting 2 of the Crochet and Chat at the library was this week! We taught two more people how to crochet, and helped this lovely lady who already knew! Susan M came and visited with us. Hi Susan M! She is making a beautiful afghan out of Malabrigo wools.
Here is LibrarianAnna (on Ravelry) who is our librarian and co-teacher and sign interpreter extraordinaire. Anna here is showing Susan K about making a flat circle. Sorry to catch you with your mouth open, Anna.We also had two new friends join us, Julie and Rachel, who both learned very, very quickly! This meeting, I was very glad that I taught myself how to crochet left-handed! Boy was it hard switching back and forth, back and forth between hands to give everyone the best view, but I'm so glad you all were patient with me. I think it worked pretty well.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


These are some dresses that were worn by a family of little girls somewhere around 50 years ago, lovingly crocheted by the mother, without a pattern. This is really common that we run into crocheters who are expert stitchers who have never read a pattern and don't know how. The craft gets carried down from generation to generation just like a story or a song from eras before.
The owner of these dresses recalls, that the mom would frequently change the color of the ribbon (3.5 yards of ribbon) to change the look of the dress. Also, she sometimes would change the color of the petticoat the babies would wear underneath the airy dress to match the ribbon. Can you imagine how cute that must have been? What a treasure! Look at the stitch patterns, a granny square style dc-3 groups for the bodice and the skirt and sleeves are just a simple shell with chs in between. Very, very clever.

A sincere thanks to Mrs. H. for letting me borrow the dresses for a few days so I could share them with you!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Designer Profile: Deidre Eyles

Hi All,
I thought it would be fun for you to meet a few of my crochet designer friends. So I interviewed a few of them. Today is Deidre Eyles! Hi Deidre! Thanks for answering my questions.

1. What’s your name and website/Ravelry name, etc I’m Deidre Eyles, my blog is Crochet A la Carte and on Ravelry you can find me as CreativelyMe. I don’t have a web site yet, but hope to one day.

2. When did you learn how to crochet and who taught you? My Maternal Grandma taught me when I was about 5 yrs old. (My first project was a very lumpy Mexican Hat pot holder, which I still have. It is turquoise blue with bright red trim!)

3. When/How did you become a professional? I don’t know if I’d call myself a Professional yet, I’ve only had 2 designs published so far, but I’m working on it.

My very first published pattern was “Spring Flower” baby afghan for Leisure Arts book #4422 Afghans for All Reasons & All Seasons Nov 2007. I submitted the pattern to a magazine and was rejected. Just as I was trying to decide where to submit it next, I saw a call on the CGOA list from Jean Leinhauser. Her and Rita Weiss were doing a book for Leisure Arts and needed afghan patterns ASAP! Any color, yarn, size, ANYthing, FAST! Since I already had the afghan finished and the pattern written up, I sent an email with a pic of the afghan. They said they would make instant decisions, and they DID! Before I knew it, I was mailing them the afghan for photography and being thanked for my design! Lol!

4. What’s your favorite thing to crochet? That’s a tough question as I like to crochet a lot of things. If I had to pick I’d say probably purses and totes. They are quick and usually easy and they give you a LOT of room for creativity!

5.When you design, do you start with a plan first, or do you start with hook and yarn and see what happens? I usually get an idea for a design in my head first. I see the design in my mind’s eye, then try to work on creating it. Although, on occasion I have found a yarn that I couldn’t resist, bought it and let the yarn tell me what it wanted to be.

6. What are you most proud of in terms of crochet? For designs, that would have to be my Tranquil Ocean free form afghan that won People’s Choice at the Conference this summer. It was my very first attempt at free form and it turned out even better than I could have hoped! I get so many wonderful comments on it when I show it or pictures of it to people.
For crochet in general, that would be to be able to design things and have them published in crochet books and magazines. 2 or 3 years ago I wouldn’t have even dreamed that this was possible! (I still have to pinch myself!)

Do you have any advice to crocheters who want to be designers? Yes. Never think that you can’t do it! Even if you are scared to death, submit that design anyway, because you never know until you try. (wise words from my very good friend, Thank you, Ellen) If you do get rejected, don’t take it personally. They just might not have had room for it. Dust yourself off and submit it else where.
Never think a design isn’t “good enough” or that people will think it’s silly. I thought that about my Tranquil Ocean afghan and it won People’s Choice! You just never know.
And finally, join the Crochet Guild of America and get a Mentor. They help you polish your skills, they teach you the ins and outs of submitting, they can be an invaluable source of information, and best of all, they can be your friend and cheer you on!

8. Anything else you want to say? Yes. Dream big and be open to finding inspiration and opportunities ANYwhere! They can happen when you least expect it. I’ve had opportunities come out of nowhere with perfect timing, and I’ve found inspiration in the most unlikely places. You just have to keep an open mind.

Thank you so much Deidre!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Captain builds basement

This busy October means that it's going to be a blockbuster Spring! This is the only thing I can think of that I don't care for about the crochet/publishing industry. It is so hard to wait sooo looonnnggg for projects to be revealed. It takes a little of the 'instant gratification' out of the whole process. Because, let's face it, when you finish off a project you want to show it off! (At least I do!) By the time it hits the magazines, I have practically forgotten it and have moved on to the next thing (the next 5 or 6 things!). Let's just say that I have so many projects that are going to be revealed in spring that you are going to have "Reveals" galore! I might just have a "Reveal Bonanza" of some sort with special events!

Here is Captain in our basement. The man cannot sit still. He always has to have a project going. His current project is to install a bathroom in our basement. Chickee took the photo of his progress. I can't complain, because he really will get it done in a timely manner. It's not like some husbands who start projects and three years later your house is still in disarray. I'll give him extra time for his demanding work schedule, but I'll bet this will be done very quickly (as finances allow!)

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Global readers!

Oh My Gosh! I have readers from all over the world! Look at the wonderful, long, diverse group of readers in our little corner of the virtual world. What a thrill. Thank you all for being here.

Number, Percent, Country Name
340 68% United States
34 6.8% Brazil
30 6.0% Canada
16 3.2% Mexico
11 2.2% Belgium
10 2.0% United Kingdom
9 1.8% France
9 1.8% Australia
5 1.0% other
4 0.8% Thailand
4 0.8% Argentina
3 0.6% Turkey
3 0.6% Ira
3 0.6% Portugal
3 0.6% Japan
3 0.6% Hong Kong
2 0.4% Peru
2 0.4% Germany
2 0.4% Ireland
1 0.2% Netherlands
1 0.2% Greece
1 0.2% India
1 0.2% Chile
1 0.2% Croatia
1 0.2% Costa Rica
1 0.2% Italy

Now, hoping I don't scare off all my virtual friends... here is Chickee with a Skeleton craft she made for Halloween. Good friends of our sent these "kits" to Chickee and Chief in plenty of time for the holiday. For some reason, it is Chickee's favorite holiday...could it be the candy?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Shirley, Where are you?

Shirley, Did you get the issue of Country Home I was looking for? Please e-mail me with your mailing address at

Ellen at GoCrochet dot com

by October 20th, or I'm going to open it back up to everyone!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sneak Peek

Another Sneak peek. Yep, it's fuzzy. Yep, it's soft. And Haley will like it because it's blue!

Friday, October 10, 2008

With each new shipment of yarn....

...comes a twinge of anxiety, a dash of excitement... a smidge of procrastination! Just a little procrastination. Unless I'm on a very tight deadline, I don't usually start a project the same day the yarn arrives. I let the yarn set a day at least, just to let it, uh, adjust to our time zone... I mean to let it breathe after being in the box.... uh, would you believe that it needs to sit at room temperature before I use it?
There is a really good chance there will be a sneak peek tomorrow. I just need to wait for daylight to take the photo. Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Little Dude

I'm working on another sneak peek for you! Maybe tomorrow. It occurs to me that I have never told you about the other critters at our house. This is "Little Dude". He does not belong to us, but he lives in our barn and grazes in our field. All the delight of having a horse without us having to do the work. I feed him carrots and apples, and the owner comes and cleans and feeds him. He has one blue/whitish eye and one brown and though you can't tell in this photo, he is a little disconcerting to look at. He just got a barn mate, a new horse, that I haven't taken a photo of yet. This has nothing to do with crochet. I'm desperate for material today. :) I could have waited until today to post the Knit and Crochet Today clip, but I was too impatient.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Knit and Crochet Today show on PBS!!!

It's back! The second season of the emmy nominated Knit and Crochet Today show with even more great projects, fascinating interviews, and cool guests.

I hope this widget for the video works, let's try! It worked!

Ok, I'm saying it out loud.... One day I want to be on this show! That would be so much fun!

Sneak Peek

You know its fall when the crochet world gets busy! Whew, October is going to be a crunch month for me!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Handmade Birthday card

from Grandma Glenda! Isn't it sweet! Does anything make you feel more special than a handmade birthday card? Except maybe when your 7 yo and 5 yo kids throw you a surprise birthday party! I knew the kids were trying to make a surprise birthday party for me, Chickee was cleaning the house, and Chief was cleaning his room. They were tying yarn on the staircase as "decorations". But I really didn't think that Chickee could pull it off! She tricked me several times telling me that she tried to get a party together, but it was too late. And then, everybody showed up (at our house) bringing dinner and salad and dessert and it was alot of fun. (And Chickee and Chief got to play with their cousins, no ulterior motive More on the birthday present I bought for myself in another post. Here's a hint.... I shopped victoriously!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Designing with a paper pattern

Did you know that some designers make a paper pattern for their garment? Yep. Get the really big pad of grid paper that is 1 square = 1/4". You'll cut your paper to the exact dimensions and shaping you want. Then crochet to fit the paper. I generally don't do this, but if I want help visualizing where the shaping should go in relation to armholes and necklines, it's helpful. I find that I am a very concrete learner and it helps to have something in my hand that helps me see what I'm trying to create.

Some designers take their paper pattern and make a fabric "muslin" and sew a garment out of fleece or other midweight material to help them construct the garment.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Missy's Hat

Uh, Missy, I guess I should have warned you that this is your hat... uh, I hope you like it. :)

This is what I was working on when I showed you the reverse sc stitch in the previous post. But, ironically, I didn't use the rev sc on this hat, I only did it to take photos, then I frogged it out.

On an unrelated note, Chickee scored her first GOAL in soccer! We are so proud. She worked so hard that game.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Reverse Sc aka the Crab stitch

Many crocheters have difficulty with this stitch, but you need to try it because it is really fun. I use it pretty often. Ok, the photo above is a typical sc if you are right handed, and you are working from right to left. (let me know if anyone out there needs left handed photos and I'll do that in another post)
Above, this project is worked in rounds, and if you are doing a regular sc, the next logical place to put the next stitch is in the marked sc beginning the next round. But, we're not going to do that because we are working in reverse.

Above, instead of going into the marked st to the left, I am inserting the hook in the stitch just worked to the right. (working in the reverse....)

Above, just like a regular sc, I inserted the hook, yo, pull up a loop, yo and pull through both loops on hook. The only difference is where I put the stitch (to the right instead of to the left). Here is the first rev sc stitch completed.

Above, here is starting the next rev sc in the next available stitch to the right...

Above, here is 7 rev sc. Yes, it is lumpy. Ya know how crabs walk sideways? This sorta feels like that. This is what it is supposed to look like. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Crochet Today Nov/Dec 2008

Now, for the rest of the issue! This issue features 6 afghans! There are afghans for everyone in this issue. Everything from fuzzy to lacy to dense, motifs and rows, it's all here. There are some adorable home dec items including pillows and a table runner, notion baskets. Plenty of gifts, hats, scarves, etc. A few garments, a tunic, a men's vest, a sexy mohair camisole, a longer tunic. It really is very good variety. One of the most clever ideas is the amigurumi style Menorah by Robyn Chachula. Really clever.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Big plans

Above is Chickee pondering what to feed her Webkinz. Charlie hugs the computer, he loves it as much as I do. Yes, I'm posting this today, Wednesday morning, but I wrote it late last night. Here is what I was thinking....

Some days, I have big plans. Big plans for what I want to accomplish. Everything from dishes, to writing a book and everything in between. Then, at the end of the day, I look back and see what got accomplished, and what didn't! Today, I got the dishes done. (Don't worry, the dishes always get done eventually.) Today, I finished crocheting a small project that is due Oct 10, but I haven't gotten around to re-editing the pattern yet. Maybe tomorrow? Today, I got 90% done with a submission package of 2 designs that I want to send out tomorrow (or maybe Thursday?). That's actually pretty darn productive for one day. Because in between doing those crochet tasks, I got two kids off to school, went and exercised, went to lunch with a friend, had my SIL (that's "sister-in-law" in computer speak) over for a little who needed to use one of Captain's tools, made lunch for Chief, made dinner for both kids, folded laundry, (but it didn't get put away....) got a shower, printed a few photos, downloaded a few photos, took a few photos, (not in that order!), and helped both kids with homework. Whew. And now, the best part of every day, 10 minutes after the kids go to bed. When they are down, asleep, safe, healthy, and did I mention, asleep?