Monday, January 31, 2011

Chickee teaches

Each one teach two, right? Well, Chickee began teaching her friend to crochet this weekend!

  Yay Chickee!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Odds & Ends

Today the opposite of the To-do list, instead, the "Done" list.  What have I done.... giving myself credit for all the things that add up. No more "where did my day go"?

Today the book projects come home!  Going to the publisher to pick them up today.  :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pam's Comfort Cables

Our friend, designer, Pam Gillette, has been battling Breast Cancer the last several months.  Several designers got together to design squares for a blanket for her.  Mine is one of the gray ones. She received the blanket the other day and blogged about it here.  Do you want to see it?  Here it is! Other designers who contributed are big names you'd recognize, 25 in all!  Robyn Chachula, Tammy Hildebrand, Jill Hanratty, Mary Jane Hall, Vashti Braha, Drew Emborsky to name a few.  I'll get the complete list for you if you like.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Live Chat! Tonight!

I know you probably get tired of me talking about Ravelry, but it's such an easy place for me to talk with you all!  Here on the blog, I can talk and you can comment but Ravelry is where we can converse!  Every Wednesday night, 9pm Eastern, we have a "live chat".  Here's the link to the group, on the right is a dialogue box for chat.

I have no idea what we'll be talking about tonight, bring your questions!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Review: Crochet Pillows

This  follows up the book Tunisian Crochet  with 118 pages of clear instructions and photographs.  While there are only a couple of stitch diagrams, there is a large volume of photos of each step.  Several pages of Tunisian Crochet instruction with photos and you'll be off and running. There is also several pages of traditional crochet instruction. The neat thing about pillows is that when you learn the stitch and know how to make it into a square or rectangle, there is no reason why you can't take that information at put it into a scarf or blanket, or poncho made of rectangles, or rectangular stole or any number of things.  

In keeping with the large number of photos is a Visual Index on the last two pages that feature all the projects in the book. There are 10 traditional pillows including a cable pillow, ripple pillow, and miter square pillow.  There are also 10 Tunisian pillow projects including the felted one on the cover and one that teaches how to cross-stitch letters on top of a field of Tunisian Simple Stitch.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Local Friends!

Chickee is selling Girl Scout Cookies.  If you are interested, let me know and I'll have her call you with details. You can also earmark your purchase or part of your purchase to go to the Ronald McDonald House.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Odds & Ends

Another Snow day. O My Goodness.
Despite another snow day, I'm looking forward to crossing 2 projects off my to-do list today.  Last night I had a long and vivid and rational dream about getting a speeding ticket.  A sign that I need to slow down? LOL.  I think so!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tara's Tunisian Scarf

 Here's the first one I made, out of Blue Sky Alpacas, Royal Alpaca.  So indulgent.
And this is the one I made for Interweave Crochet, Accessories issue, in Lorna's Laces Pearl.  Also, lovely.
I sent the peach one in with my submission proposal and I just got it back the other day!  Yay! Another scarf to add to my daily collection.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Guest Blogger: Renee Barnes

Hey Ya'll! No, this is not's me, Renee' Barnes (aka Crochet Renee')! My pal Ellen has allowed me to hijack her blog today to share some news with everyone. Thanks, Ellen!

First of all, have you subscribed to my new online TV show, Crochet Renee' TV? No? Why not? On Crochet Renee' TV, you'll find instructional videos, interviews with celebrity crochet (and knit) pros, including designers, yarn manufacturers, indie artists and other industry insiders. If that's not enough, we also sponsor giveaways for great prizes! What's not to love about that? And unlike regular TV, you don't have to wait for a show to come on at a particular time...Crochet Renee' TV is there whenever you're ready!!! That's right.....hurry on over by clicking the link and subscribe, so you too will be notified when new episodes are uploaded. Feel free to email me with suggestions of things you would like to see on Crochet Renee' TV as well. Sounding like an infomercial yet...?

But wait....there's more!

I am also taking this opportunity to throw out a teaser of my upcoming book, "Crochet Naturally!"

I don't have the release date firmed up yet; I am still in editing mode, but I am resolved that it will be this year! It MUST be this year!!! (Those of my friends out there who have written books will attest to the fact that editing is so. much. fun. NOT!) So if I am dragging my heels a bit, (because my hands are positively itching to make new things) I am sure you will forgive me. I actually suffer from NPSS (New Project Startitis Syndrome). I can't help it. I have no doubt that I have fellow sufferers out there. There is only one remedy (no cure) for NPSS, and that is to give in and start a new project. Sigh.

You can also keep up with me at, where you will also find links to my published works, my Reader's Gallery, tutorials and news releases about upcoming Crochet Renee' news. You can also contact me through my website with suggestions and ideas.
Thanks to everyone for giving me such positive feedback, and an extra special huge THANKS!!!!  to Ellen for giving me space for a little shameless self-promotion. You rock, Ellen!
Crochet Renee'

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Guest Blogger: Laurie Wheeler

Raise your hooks!
by Laurie Wheeler

Hooksters are you ready? 2011 is our year! I have heard of six separate exciting book projects due for publication later this year, I can’t say who or what projects but I know they are in the works! How do I know? I’m Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front (CLF), I hear all, see all, and know most things crochet related.  (Kinda cool huh?)
The CLF has degreed 2011 the start of the decade of crochet! Ellen Gormley was kind enough to allow me to hijack her blog to announce this! The CLF owes a great debt to our beloved member GoCrochet (aka Ellen), for being the mind behind the wonderful Flamie Awards.
What are the Flamies?
The Annual Crochet Awards, now in its third year, is the height of crochet goodness! Members of the Crochet Liberation Front nominate the best of the best when it comes to crochet design, designers, books, magazines, blogs, online magazines, podcasts, crochet hooks, videos, as well as the most crochet friendly yarn companies. The Flaming Hook of Justice is awarded to a crocheter who has gone above and beyond representing the hook and defending its virtue. Last but so not least, is the Fearless Leader Award. Now that award is mine and mine alone to give, and I often give two of those awards in each award cycle. Normally I award a yarn company or not for profit organization and I try to find a designer that deserves special acclaim. Why? Well, if you were Fearless Leader and could do things at your whim, wouldn’t you exercise it? It’s fun you should try it some time. The voting is for items, publications and popular choice for the goodness of 2010.
This year’s Flamies (named after the Flaming Hook of Justice) voting starts March 15 and runs through March 30th. The award ceremony, hosted by none other than the incomparable Mary Beth Temple on the Getting Loopy Podcast, will take place April 18, 2011.
How you can make the Decade of Crochet fly!
·         Join the CLF on our message board  on and find out about cool crochet happenings
·         Join us and other crocheters on Facebook, Twitter, Ravelry and other social media outlets.
·         Crochet in Public
·         Teach & Take crochet classes
·         Let yarn stores know you crochet! Be fearless and unapologetic about it!
·         Wear the gorgeous items you make
·         Take the surveys on the CLF website so we can use the collective power of our 6,000+ voices to make a difference!
·         Be proud of what you do, even if you’re just learning! Remember skills take time to develop!
·         Post pictures of Ellen’s designs that you have made here in your comments!

Contrary to a great deal of misinformation, crochet has always been cool. Now we just need to step out and show it!

 Guest Blogger:  Laurie Wheeler is that woman someone’s mother warned somebody about…a yarn expert with a crochet passion, Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front, editor, writer, and personal growth instructor. Follow her on Twitter @CrochetLibFront

Monday, January 17, 2011

Guest Blogger: Kathryn Vercillo

Let's face it. I'm swamped. I need help.  I put out a call for help and my Crochet Friends have responded.  Here's the first post from a guest blogger.  Some of my guests are new friends who I am just meeting along with you!  Enjoy. 

Crochet Circles Meet Book Clubs
I recently read a really interesting article about a crochet and knitting circle that is also a book club. The group of women gathers together to discuss the book that they are currently reading. The books are all related to needlework like crochet and knitting. As the women discuss the book, they also do their own crochet work or knitting.
Some of the things I love about this idea:
•                Books, especially novels, about crochet and knitting are always really interesting to me. There are a lot of stories out there about how this type of work can really help you forge friendships and get through tough times. My favorite one that comes to mind is The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood.
I think it's great that there are people out there who are focusing on reading these types of books. I would love to have a group to not only discuss those books with but also to get crochet book recommendations from!
•                Crochet circles are making a comeback these days. I have seen many examples of groups of people who get together to crochet or knit in the same space. This adds a social element to a craft that can be too solitary at times. It's great because it allows people who may feel weird about new social situations to have a focus for their meeting to reduce that anxiety. It's great, too, because it allows people of all skill levels to share their crochet knowledge with one another. I haven’t actually participated in a crochet circle myself but have been thinking a lot about it lately.
•                Combining a book discussion with a crochet circle is great for multitaskers. Many of us who enjoy crocheting do it while doing other things like watching TV. Why not discuss books at the same time that we're working on our projects?!
•                The books likely inspire new projects. The act of combining discussions about crochet books with the art of crochet is sure to inspire new ideas for different projects. Not that any of us are lacking for inspiration! Nevertheless, new sources of it are always terrific. I imagine just the energy of being in this type of sharing space would inspire new project ideas.

Would you join a crochet circle that was also a book club?

This is a guest post by Kathryn Vercillo, a professional blogger who has just launched a brand new crochet blog named Crochet Concupiscence. The daily blog features crochet news, crochet artist profiles, crochet tutorials and more.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Crazy Busy

I'm crazy busy with deadlines... here are some chicken photos to keep you company. Today I'm working with a combination of a size 4 yarn and a size 6 yarn.  Two yarns in one project!  (Two hooks, too!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Charlie helps with homework

We had a snow day yesterday, a 2-hr delay today... I'm wondering if there will ever be a "normal productive day". This morning we woke up to Chickee having forgotten to do her math homework. REALLY! The whole day off yesterday, plus afternoon homework time on Monday after school and she is doing homework now. Happy Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Crocheting with Boucle'

Crocheting with Boucle (boo-clay), that I used to erroneously call Boo-sha-lay... LOL, can be really difficult.  It is nubby and fuzzy.  I affectionately call it "Poodle yarn" because it reminds me of the close clipped fur of a poodle.
The stitches and be really hard to see, even in simple sc.  Counting stitches is really difficult and making a stitch pattern is just a waste of time.  Much better to let the natural fuzzi-ness be showcased by the shape of the item you are making.  I was recently making a circle when it occurred to me that you might want to see how I navigate working with boucle.  This will also work for mohair and novelty yarns where the stitches are difficult to see.
I start with a bunch of stitch markers in at least 2 colors or 2 types. When working a circle, I generally place a marker in the first stitch of each round and move the marker to the first stitch of the next round as I get to it.  Above, in the green example, I used a different type of stitch marker to designate the first stitch so that I wouldn't confuse it with the other markers.  In the example on the right, I used a different color, the orange, to designate the first stitch.

When working a circle, or in many row patterns, there is a time when you will repeat a set of instructions, I place a marker at the first stitch of each repeat. Then you can easily count how many times you have repeated the instructions and you will know how many stitches need to be placed between stitch markers to help you keep proper count!

If you have to work a larger number of stitches of the same type, like 100 dc, I would place a stitch maker at every 10th stitch or so, or every 5 if I'm nervous I won't be able to keep my count.

With boucle I also rely heavily on the feel of the stitch feeling with my finger tips the "hole" of the stitch where the hook will go. Be gentle when ripping out stitches because you don't want to fray or shred the yarn as it un-knots.

For airy projects, it can be helpful to hold the project up to light or to a window during the day to illuminate the spaces and help see the pattern.  I did this for my Easy Winter Throw pattern.

While tedious, placing markers makes the project go more smoothly and avoids ripping, making the project go much more quickly.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fiction & Non-Fiction

Here's the list of what I've read (or abandoned) the past few months:

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
A children's book that perhaps has deeper meaning for adults.  Our school librarian believes everyone should read this book in their lifetime.  It's a very thought provoking and emotion provoking book about being loved and finding love again. As a children's book, it is short. Plan on reading it twice.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson
Ok, I don't get all the hype... granted... I only read about half of it, then I had to return it to the library because there were holds on it so I couldn't renew it.  But, if a book was really compelling, I would have been able to read it faster.  It was too much effort to keep all the names straight and not interesting enough for me to try.  Maybe I'll go back and finish it later as friends have told me that ultimately, it is worth it.

Flannery O'Connor  Habit Of Being 
Every once in a while I try to read something 'lofty' that I think will elevate my intelligence.  This didn't work as I couldn't get past 50 pages or so.  It's letters that Flannery wrote as she was working on her various books.  Letters to her editor and letters to her acquaintances. It was a valiant effort on my part, but I really just wasn't interested.

Nick of Time by Ted Bell
The first book of a series that many people will enjoy.  A wildly adventurous story about a 12 year old boy during WWII England.  The risk of German attack, submarines, time travel, pirates.  It was a quick moving book.  I liked the fact that there was a cat in the book and the smallest little girl in the book turns into a rather clever little girl. My kids would definitely enjoy this one.  It's a reading level of 4th or 5th? grade?  It was fun.

Aloha Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini
I listened to this one on audiobook.  I'm so glad that I listened to it instead of reading it!  All the Hawaiian names would have thrown me off because I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to pronounce them in my head.  It was a very nice book about a woman who in the midst of an ugly divorce goes to Hawaii to visit a friend who has a bed & breakfast (convenient!).  There is much about Hawaiian history and interesting facts about Hawaiian style quilt-making.  I enjoyed it, but not likely enough to follow up with other books in the series.  If you are a quilter, however, you might really enjoy this book.

Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
This was my favorite book on today's list.  A story of two friends through their lifetimes during early China.  Arranged marriages, superstitions, matchmakers, the struggles of class and poverty, disease and war.  The harsh realities of foot-binding and rituals of daily life.  Fascinatingly told within the structure of a story.  The meaning of friendship, the pain of betrayal and of regret.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Crochet for Charity!

Interested in crocheting for charity?  Some of my Ravelry friends are!  Members of my Ravelry group 'GoCrochet with Ellen Gormley' are organizing a square share... you make as many squares as you want toward the effort and mail them in to be assembled.  This time, the group is considering donating to Project Linus. The National organization supplies new, handmade blankets to children with serious medical conditions or children who were traumatized in some way.  There are 371 chapters in the United States (if you aren't interested at this time, look up your local chapter and consider donating in your area!)

Right now, the Ravelers are discussing which of my free patterns they want to use, then a color scheme will be chosen and a plan made.  If you are interested, please visit the Ravelry group. You'll need to be a Ravelry member to participate in this particular effort with my friends, but it's free.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Medallion Throw

is now a FREE Pattern and remade into budget-friendly yarns... here's the link to and the free pattern.
The pattern was originally seen in Crochet Today magazine in shades of pink and lavender. Here's the Ravelry project link.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Starting NEW

I'm back... after my computer crash yesterday :(
What are crochet designers all over the world doing this month? Printing out our end-of-the-year balance sheets!  Gathering receipts for tax returns (you've been keeping up with these diligently all year, right?).

Reviewing the past year's goals!
Making new GOALS!  This year I'm starting my goals list with DREAMS.  What would I love to see happen and what smaller incremental steps do I need to take to get there? That's where my head is right now. 

In addition, I'm in huge production mode... I'm currently juggling many, many new projects for January while trying to keep an eye on the future... submissions and the CGOA conferences in Minneapolis and.... South? Carolina. I will be in Minneapolis in July, and my book will be out by then!  Start saving your money, friends, and see me there.

I don't put up very many photos of Sweets... and even fewer of the hens.  Maybe I'll take my camera out with me when I go to collect eggs today.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Never crocheted before and want to start?

What do you tell your friends when they want to begin crochet for the first time? This is what I say:

To begin, start with a color or colors you LOVE, because you'll be seeing it for a while!  Start with a smooth yarn like Simply Soft or Red Heart SuperSaver or something that isn't a huge investment until you decide how much you enjoy the craft.  Start with squares, that way you can quit at any time if you get bored, or you can make more if you get hooked. Also, if your early efforts are less pleasing the more you practice, you don't have to use the early attempts. Here's a youtube video from Coats & Clark on how to make a granny square.

I'd say, Don't plan on your practice attempts being part of the finished project!  Be patient with yourself. Don't expect perfection on the first attempt.

Crochet short periods of time, many times, over many days.  It's better to stop and take a break before you get frustrated. Also, I think learning over many days cements the skills in your brain and hands better than a crash course all in one day.

What other tips do you have for beginners?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Thanks for your patience... I'll be back Monday... Tuesday at the latest...