Posted by: mamas2hands | July 23, 2015

How I Became a Designer

When I spend time with other yarn enthusiasts I am often asked how I became a professional crochet designer.

The beginning of my journey as a designer was learning to crochet nearly 44 years ago. I loved to crochet, but never followed a pattern (which drove my mom nuts). I would just play with the yarn and stitches until an idea popped in my head for how to use what I was doing to make something I wanted. Whether that was a toy, a piece of jewelry or a garment.

By the time I was in junior high and on thru high school I was more interested in sewing, so I rarely crocheted. Instead I increased my knowledge of sewing and tailoring garments. My mother gave me my own sewing machine at age 15 and it became my favorite toy. I would sketch out ideas for garments and then modify existing sewing patterns to create the actual garments. I still sew occasionally, but as my life has become busier with motherhood and working as a crochet designer and teacher, my time for sewing has decreased.

I returned to crocheting about 15 years ago when I tripped over my dog and severely sprained my ankle. To avoid going out of my mind with boredom, while stuck on the sofa with my foot elevated, I started playing with yarn and hook again. I wasn’t great at reading patterns, but I could look at photos of garments or other crochet projects and get the gist of the pattern. After a month I was up and about again, but I was hooked on crocheting again.

I made lots of afghans for my house as well as for many members of my extended family. I made a blanket for our King Size Bed, which was a massive undertaking.  There were also lots of scarves. Finally I decided to try tackling some shaping and made a hat, I kept messing with the stitches and working in the round until I had a hat I liked.  In all my experiments I would write down what I did, but it wasn’t in the conventional sense of a pattern.

One day at the grocery store I discovered some crochet magazines on the newsstand beside the check-0ut. Someone else must have been looking at them and decided not to purchase them. Instead they went home with me.  One of those magazines was “Crochet Today” which had stitch diagrams accompanying the patterns.

I had always found text instructions for crochet patterns to be rather tricky to follow, but the stitch diagrams made immediate sense to me. By using the stitch diagram I could finally figure out the text instructions. Suddenly it was all coming together for me.

I began to write down my creations in more conventional crochet pattern styles. And I would draw up my design notes in rough hand drawn stitch diagrams.  These notes were not organized in any real way and often were on odds and ends of scrap paper tucked into a project bag with the yarn and hook.

In the back of my mind was the thought that someone had to be writing these patterns in the crochet magazines.  I thought it would be great to be one of the people doing that.  Then I discovered Ravelry.com, and joined the site in April 2008.

Jennys-Books

Jenny’s Books

Because of Ravelry I discovered all sorts of wonderful crochet artists and designers and became very interested in Free Form Crochet. One of the artists that I met on Raverly was Jenny Dowde from Australia. I purchased her books on Free Form Crochet and when I heard she was going to be teaching in the United States that Autumn I was very excited.

It turned out that one of the places she would be teaching was the Fall Knit & Crochet Show in Portland, Oregon. That was a short plane ride from Denver, so I decided I would go take classes with her there. That show really did change my life.

When I signed up for Jenny’s classes I discovered the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) and joined it in order to get the discounts for the class fees, little knowing that a whole new world was about to open up for me.  I was excited to go to the show even though I was traveling alone for the first time in 10 years. I was excited to meet other Ravelers and had even made arrangements to meet one of my Ravelry friends there.

In my first class with Jenny, I met Pam Shore and Janet Bates, both who have become two of my very dearest crochet friends. We kept bumping into each other around the show. They were very bad influences when perusing yarn and/or hooks on the market floor. I had such a wonderful and inspiring time at the show, it really marked the end of me “crocheting alone”.

Pam recommended that I join the live chat room during Mary Beth Temple’s “Getting Loopy” podcast on Monday evenings. So I did and became one of the “Loopy Groupies” plugging in my headphones and typing away for 45 minutes each show.  Then Mary Beth offered a class thru Crochetville called “Designing for Print Publishing”.

I decided to take the class, even though I wasn’t 100% sure how to even write a pattern yet. The class was about how to put together a proposal and present it to potential markets. As part of the class we had to create a proposal and send it out to a potential market.

I sent my proposal to “Crochet! Magazine” where Carol Alexander was the editor. I was very excited when I got an email from her saying that they weren’t able to use it in the issue that I had submitted it for, but wanted to hold it for consideration for their next issue. I contacted Mary Beth to see if this was the good news I thought it was. She said it was. A couple of months later I had sold my first design to Carol.

Lace With A Twist Wrap - Photo courtesy of Annie's Publishing

Lace With A Twist Wrap – Photo courtesy of Annie’s Publishing

That was how my “Lace with a Twist Wrap” came to be in the March 2010 issue of Crochet! Magazine. Of course there were other adventures with this as it was my first time writing a pattern.  I think it was assumed by the Technical Editor, since I was a “new” designer, that I wouldn’t write the pattern correctly. Unfortunately the corrections that were made to the pattern actually introduced errors to it. Fortunately, many folks have successfully made this wrap and it spawned one of my most popular posts on my blog: “The Twists and Turns of a Mobius

I had to turn in the sample and pattern in July of 2009 for that design, so as soon as it was out of the way Mary Beth was telling me not to sit on my laurels. She advised that I keep working on proposals for other designs and encouraged me to attend the Knit & Crochet Show that August in Buffalo, New York.  I put together some ideas in a notebook and despite some nervousness went to the Meet & Greet at the show, where designers can meet magazine editors and others from the publishing business.

Shari White, Susan Lowman, Me, Joyce Bragg Waiting for Editors at Meet & Greet

Shari White, Susan Lowman, Me, Joyce Bragg
Waiting for Editors at Meet & Greet

While waiting in line I met a number of my colleagues who have become good friends over the years since. This show was also the first time that Mary Beth Temple and I got to meet face to face. I had only met her online before then.

Crochet Lace Fingerless Mitts - Photo courtesy Coats & Clark

Crochet Lace Fingerless Mitts – Photo courtesy Coats & Clark

I got leads on selling 3 different designs at that event, and made the contacts that led to many other publication opportunities later on. My first ever published design was sold to Bobbie Matela of Coats at the Meet & Greet. My “Crochet Lace Fingerless Mitts” this pattern came out in October 2009.

Cover of "Crochet World"

Cover of “Crochet World”

And Michele Maks (who was with Crochet World at the time) was very interested in my “Field the Spring Lamb” who went on to be on the cover of the April 2011 Issue.

I felt pretty confident at the end of that show that I could call myself a professional designer. Since then I have had over 100 designs published in magazines, Ezines, yarn company websites and my own pattern line: M2H Designs available thru my Ravelry shop or on this blog.

Posted by: mamas2hands | July 18, 2015

Getting Ready for Cold Weather Again

I know many of you are experiencing record-breaking hot weather right now and colder temperatures seem a dream. Up here on the mountain though the temperatures are beginning to feel a bit nippy. We are getting emails reminding us that school is starting up again in one short month. Augh! Summer always zips by so quickly.

Of course for those of you that are super organized it’s time to think about projects for your holiday gift giving. I’ll be releasing 5 patterns over the next week that are wonderful gift items that don’t take a lot of yarn or time to work up.

AMC Beauty Shot 1 web

Anna Moebius Cowl

My crochet friend V was looking for quick projects for last-minute gifts for Christmas this past November. So I created this design.  The cowl is worked off a moebius strip foundation with one ball of chunky size yarn and a large hook so you can make one in an evening. I named this design after my friend’s grand-daughter because she really loved the cowl and liked to wear ones with a shorter foundation as an ear-warmer.

amc closeup 1 web

My sample is worked using one ball of Plymouth Yarns “Gina Chunky” with a size L /8mm hook. The 100% wool of this yarn means you get a wonderfully warm cowl (or with a shorter foundation, ear-warmer), and the color changes in “Gina” make the shells in the stitch pattern stand out individually. Or go with a solid color yarn for a subtle textured look to your cowl.

This pattern is available in my Ravelry Shop for $3.99  BUY NOW

I’m heading to San Diego for the Knit and Crochet Show this coming Tuesday, but I will have more patterns posting while I am on my trip. Be sure to check back.

 

Posted by: mamas2hands | July 11, 2015

Keeping your Hands Happy

Fireworks after Game

Last night my family and I went to the Colorado Rockies Fireworks game. Usually it is on the 4th of July or very close to it, this year the Rockies were out-of-town on the 4th so it was scheduled for the 10th. My friend Terie and I have made a tradition of going to Rockies games together since before I was married. So we got tickets for my family, her and her husband. The fireworks after the game is over are always spectacular and we almost make ourselves hoarse cheering during the game.

My knitting 2

Of course, baseball is a very stop and start game, so I always bring along a crochet project to keep my hands busy during the stops. Right now I don’t have any simple crochet projects in progress (more about that later this week), so I decided to take along my current knitting project. It is a simple garter stitch scarf for my son. If I finish this scarf it will be only the second knitting project that I have finished.

The game finished up without any delays, and the Rockies Won…Yay! Unfortunately, toward the end of the game the weather started to get a little wicked. Lots of thunder and lighting and a little bit of rain. The lighting was close enough that everyone in the top levels of the stadium were asked to leave their seats and seek out shelter elsewhere in the stadium. The fireworks were still planned to happen, they were just going to be delayed while the weather passed by.

Fortunately, I had my knitting project with me so I just kept knitting along on the scarf as we waited in the massive stairway of the stadium. Which meant that I basically knit for 40 minutes straight. By the end of the evening I was feeling some aching in my hands, and had to remind myself to do some stretches to relieve my hands.

Stretches are a great way of helping prevent injury to your hands and to alleviate soreness in your hands when you’ve over done things. Ideally you would do these simple stretches every 20-30 minutes when you are crafting or doing any hand intense activities, such as typing at the computer.

Hand Stretch - Push

 

Pushing Open – Spread the fingers as wide as you can and arch them backwards toward the top of your forearm.

Hand Stretch - Fold 1

 

First Fold – Fold down fingers to touch top of palm.

Hand Stretch - Push

 

Repeat Pushing Open.

Hand Stretch - Fold 2

 

Second Fold – Fold down fingers over palm of hand touching base of palm.

Hand Stretch - Push

 

Repeat Pushing Open.

Hand Stretch - Fist

 

Tight Fist – Squeeze your fingers and thumbs into your palms as tightly as possible.

Hand Stretch - Push

 

Repeat Pushing Open.

Remember when you are doing any stretching/strengthening exercises you should only take the exercise to the point that is comfortable for you. You should feel a good stretch when you do these exercises. If you have severe pain from even attempting them, please stop and make an appointment to consult your healthcare provider.

 

Posted by: mamas2hands | June 29, 2015

Getting a Little Crazy

Silly Andee

This photo was taken by my son a few months back, but it is an accurate depiction of what this past week has been like.

Been playing catch-up on pattern writing and proposal writing for new designs and classes. Hopefully will have some fun stuff to share with you later this week.

If I wasn’t crazy enough I realized this past week that Christmas is only 6 months away, as well as all the August, September, October and November birthdays in my large family.  There are quite a few folks on the Crochet Worthy list in those months, so I am going to have to hop to it.

Have you started planning for your gift-giving crafting yet? Now is the time, otherwise you are going to be staying up into the wee hours in November and December with me.

Posted by: mamas2hands | June 20, 2015

Happy Anniversary

Most of the time I’m talking about yarn or silly mountain adventures. But tonight I am reflecting on the hidden part of being a designer.

Designing is in its nature a fairly solitary occupation. Especially when you live on a mountain over 45 minutes from any yarn store. Online communities have certainly helped with finding like-minded yarnie folks to bond with. But having someone in your life that helps keep all the pieces together with kids, home and career is a true gift.

Our Wedding Day Protrait

Our Wedding Day Portrait

Fortunately I have been very blessed in my choice of a life partner. 17 years ago we said “I do” to each other in a ceremony on a mountainside with friends and family. It was a day of laughter, tears and tenderness. It has been 17 years of discovery and growth together and I hope we have many more to come.

He has never been discouraging about my passion for yarn, hooks and creating. Sometimes he has no idea what I’m talking about when I am excited about a new yarn or stitch pattern, he still smiles at my happiness. Being that he is a geek like myself, he really appreciates my rhapsodies on geometries and design math. He even remains calm when I tell him we need to go to Kansas to visit my Dad for Father’s Day, with less than a week to plan the trip.

Anniversary Present

Fittingly, my gift from him this year, was 3 DVDs. One being Season 7 of the Big Bang Theory. Yay! The other 2 movies are also ones I have been wanting to see. Further confirmation that he “gets” me. He surprised me with this gift this morning.

We are in Kansas visiting family. Our anniversary celebration has consisted of playing at a city pool with my niece, her little ones and our boys for hours this afternoon. Then a lovely dinner at the Outback Steakhouse with our boys and my Dad. Father’s Day will be spent with my Dad and will include grilling burgers and sausages on the new bar-b-q that my brother Cy and I bought for him.

Plymouth Yarns

Of course, a blog post on here would not be right without a lovely box of yarn. These goodies came last week from Plymouth Yarn. I am having designing raptures and have already started swatching with the Linaza (lovely mix of Alpaca, Linen and Tencel).

Hope you all are enjoying your summer. We are certainly getting a reminder of what a hot summer can be like by visiting Kansas in June. The boys and I all are a little pink from our afternoon in the sun. But we are enjoying our little taste of Hot & Humid, since we will be headed back to our mountain Monday.

Posted by: mamas2hands | June 14, 2015

Having Fun at the Wool Market

Welcome sign in Vendor Barn entryway

This weekend was the Estes Park Wool Market, and this time I took my family with me.

Saturday, my friend Brenda was meeting us there with her husband and grown son.  Every time I go to the wool market and see all the fiber bearing animals, I keep trying to think of a way of having some of these critters at home. But I grew up on a farm and I know just how much work is involved.

Llamas - 3 amigos

One of our first stops was to watch the Sheepdog demonstration. Then we went to see the Llamas in their barn. The boys were delighted to meet 3 yearlings and their owner, Sandy of Lockwood Dreamstar, told them that llamas like to touch noses with you.

Llamas - Nose to Nose

The light was a bit low, so my photos were somewhat blurred.

llamas - Boys with black llama

This handsome fella was so soft. Sandy was very kind and educational about llamas and the boys were thrilled to get to pet a llama.

Sheep Shearing Demo

After our visit with the llamas we went to watch a sheep shearing demonstration. It was hard to hear the folks that were giving the demo because their sheep were being very noisy. It was lots of fun though to see how gently and quickly the shearer worked. At the end, the amount of fleece that came off each sheep was impressive. Most impressive was when the shearer told us that he could shear as many as 170 sheep in a day, and he had done as many as 262 on one of his busiest days.

Then we headed to the Paco-Vicuna, Alpaca and Rabbit barn. There we got to see how an alpaca fleece is sorted out in preparation for spinning into yarn. Brenda caught up with us in this barn, but the boys still wanted to see the bunnies. Brenda and her family left us to our exploring and I arranged to meet her a little later at the Vendor Barn (where the yarn and lovely hand-dyed fibers live).

Shanas Bunnies

I stopped to visit with a lady that had 4 beautiful French Angora rabbits, she had examples of their fiber that she had brushed off them during the day. The boys were exploring further and they fell in love with a little French Angora bunny that was for sale. He was a lovely butterscotch color, and though I was tempted as well, I knew better. When I said “no” it was clear that we had waited too long to feed the boys their lunch, both of them were in tears and very upset.

After the bunny incident I sent all my men off to have lunch and go to the little amusement center across town; go-carts, miniature golf and a gigantic slide that you ride down on rugs. I headed to the Vendor Barn to meet up with Brenda. I tried to be good and resist purchasing any yarn. But there were some beautiful hand-dyed hanks that I couldn’t say no to. I have very little resistance when it comes to yarn.

Bonkers Yarn

This lovely yarn from Bonkers Hand-Dyed Yarn inspired me with it’s color. Don’t be surprised if my hair ends up some of these colors, I’m going to be taking this hank into my next appointment with my stylist and see what she comes up with. Traci the owner/artist always has a wonderful variety of yarns and fibers in her booth. You can visit her website at www.tracibunkers.com to see many of her wonderful products and artwork.

Galinas DVD

I saw a number of vendors there that I know. I was really excited to see Galina Khmeleva as I have been wanting to purchase her Orenburg Knitting DVD ever since I took her knitting class at the Knit & Crochet Show last summer. We had a lovely chat and I purchased the treasured DVD. You can also download her class on the Interweave website.

Jeny Originals Booth

Brenda and I stopped to explore the gorgeous colors of yarns at Jeny Originals, Yarns & Handwovens. Turns out she also has a shop in Laramie, Wyoming (one of my favorite towns) so the next time I am up there to visit I definitely need to stop by. One thing I really enjoyed is that the tags on her hanks are the her husband’s photos that she takes inspiration from for her colors.

Jeny Originals Yarn

I couldn’t resist these 2 hanks and I think they will become something very lovely. The multiple colored one is seacell/silk and incredibly soft, the other is 100% silk and seems to glow.

Lambspun Ladies

I said a quick hello to my friends at the Lambspun booth. I had a giggle because this is the 25th anniversary of the Estes Park Wool Market and Lambspun was one of 5 vendors that have been there every year. So they had a banner in their booth that said “25 year Survivor”. As I walked around the floor with Brenda we spotted the other 4 booths. If you have never gotten a chance to stop in to visit the Lampspun shop in Ft. Collins you really need to treat yourself. I think of it as the Ali Baba den of yarn.

My Sheep Shirt 1

Diana White from Wyoming Equality Fiber Works had some great artwork. I had to have this T-shirt that says “My Sheep Shirt” on it in letters formed by sheep. When I showed my family my purchases that evening both boys wanted their own sheep shirts so I began to think about going back to the Wool Market on Sunday.

SeaColors Yarn

My last yarn purchase of the day was at the SeaColors booth. This booth was full of wonderful soft squashy yarn in delicious muted colors. I purchased 2 hanks in a lovely rose-coral mixture. I’m thinking a nice transitional piece for spring-time. The softness and loft of this yarn will definitely lend itself to crocheted cables. You can learn more about Nanne and her farm and yarn at www.getwool.com.

skein earrings

My last stop of the day was a visit to my friends Ron and Theresa at the Buffalo Wool Company. I was resisting purchasing yarn there, since I have a couple skeins I’m working up a design for spring in already. But I had to have a pair of these adorable earrings that are tiny hanks of Buffalo Gold yarn on silver findings. The deal was sealed when I found a pair in magenta.

I had definitely done my bit for retail therapy and felt very virtuous since I had resisted purchasing a bag at one booth. The bags were beautifully constructed and colorful, my 2 weaknesses. They were priced reasonably for the quality, but I talked myself out of it. Next year if they are at the market again I may not be able to resist.

Sunday, my oldest son wanted to go back to the market to explore the Vendor Barn. He and I headed over to Estes Park after lunch. Once we got there we went over to the building where the “Sheep to Shawl” competition was happening. Across the way was the Children’s Tent and he wanted to try learning to spin with a drop spindle. He made about 5 feet of thick/thin yarn and had a good time. It was fun for me to have a review of spinning with the drop spindle too.

As we were heading back toward the Vendor Barn he wanted to say “hi” to the 3 young llamas again. We stop by for a little bit, but only 2 of them were in their stall, the 3rd one must have been in the arena being shown. We headed back down the path and decided to visit the bunnies again.

Alpaca/Angora yarn for a hat

Alpaca/Angora yarn for a hat

This time we talked to the same woman with the 4 rabbits I had met on Saturday. We asked lots of questions about having rabbits and the care they needed. We stopped at a table that was selling some angora blend yarns and my son picked out a hank of alpaca/angora that I promised to make a hat from for him. The color is nearly black, so it will be a definite labor of love.

Boys Sheep Shirts

Finally we made it to the Vendor Barn and headed over to Diana’s booth again. We picked out shirts for both boys. The white one with the bright colors is for my oldest son and the light gray one with purple is for my youngest.

We wandered around the vendor floor then. My son was attracted to the artwork and fascinated by the various drum carders. One nice woman at a booth demonstrated to him how they work.

Carl and Eileen of Bijou Basin

When we found ourselves at Carl and Eileen’s Bijou Basin booth they weren’t busy so we got to visit for awhile. Carl regaled us with stories about their Yak herd and their dogs. My son was completely enthralled and I was petting the yarn.

Allure Fiber Wash

I didn’t purchase any yarn from them this time, but I did get a couple bottles of their new fine fiber and fabric wash “Allure”.  A small bottle of the Woodland Mist scent, and a large bottle of the Fragrance Free. I’m really looking forward to trying this wash product. Unlike some scented products this one did not make me sneeze, and the fragrance free may be the first I’ve encountered that truly had no scent at all.

Theresa and Ron of Buffalo Wool Co.

Our last stop of the day was to visit Ron and Theresa at Buffalo Wool Company. I had forgotten to get a photo of them when I had stopped by the day before. We tried to get a photo of the 3 of us, but our photographer was a little short being he is only 12.

After all the fun with Ron and Theresa we headed out the door to drive home. The smell of the cinnamon roasted almonds was a big temptation though, so we got a little packet of those to share on the drive. On the drive home my son told me this had been an “Epic” day. I think I got some mom points and he is looking forward to next year’s Wool Market. Must run in the family.

The date for next year’s Wool Market is June 11th and 12th, so you might want to plan a visit to Estes Park to come play with fiber and have fun with friends. Estes Park is a beautiful place to visit and adding fiber and yarn to the visit makes it even better.

 

 

Posted by: mamas2hands | June 6, 2015

Back from the Summer TNNA Show

Here we are again, silence from me for a couple of weeks while I got ready for the TNNA Summer Trade Show. Now I am back and delighted with my meetings I had at TNNA and all the new yarns and other fun goodies that I saw there. I arrived in Columbus late afternoon on Friday and took a taxi with friends to our hotels adjacent to the Convention Center. That evening was the Fashion Show and the Designer Dinner. Sunrise Shawl back view sm My Sunrise Shawl made in Elemental Affects “Civility” was the 12th item in the Fashion Show. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a good photo of it at the show, my phone battery had died and the camera I borrowed from a friend at the event wasn’t up to the lighting challenges. So the photo taken on my dress dummy before I shipped the sample is all I have for the moment. The pattern for this design will be available June 20th (note: due to some family stuff the original release date of June 15th has been moved out). After the Fashion Show it was back to the opposite side of the Convention Center to the Crowne Plaza hotel to join many of my designing colleagues and other yarn industry folks for the Marly Bird Designer Dinner. Again  not much in the way of photos since my phone was still dead. The dinner was interesting though I was sitting at a table with a bunch of folks I hadn’t met before. I did see a lot of my friends in the room and caught a quick moment to chat with some of them. Some were only at the TNNA show for that evening, so I was glad for a chance to see them. Extra Goodies from MBDD During the evening there were a couple fun give-a-ways, I ended up with the little goodies above. I got the yellow clips for having a crochet hook on me, surprising right? Me having a crochet hook (I see you chuckling). MB Designer Dinner Goody Bag After dinner we were all presented with our official Goody Bags. Look at all the fun stuff that was in there! I was really glad the dinner was in the same hotel I was staying at. All I had to do was take the elevator to my floor and collapse into bed. I was wiped out. Saturday morning I was moving a bit slowly, but made it to the show floor only 15 minutes after they had opened the doors.  I cruised around the floor checking out the new products and new yarns. Eventually I met up with my friend Tamara (Mooglyblog.com) and we continue to explore the booths. Clover Amour Hooks We made a stop at one of my very favorite vendors, Clover Tools. As you all know, I love their crochet hooks. I introduced Tamara to them and they showed us their newest addition to their Amour line of hooks, 12mm and 15mm sizes. I’m really looking forward to playing with these more. The rest of Saturday slipped by in a bit of a blur. That evening I had dinner with my friend Mary Beth Temple and then called it a night pretty early. Willow Yarns Sunday morning I met up with Tamara and Jessie (JessieatHome.com) at the Willow Yarns designer brunch. All of us were given a fun messenger bag with balls of yarn and sample skeins. I did a quick dash back to my hotel room then I was off to a meeting. Later that day I caught up with Tamara and Jessie again, as well as Charles Voth and Mary Beth. I stopped by the Brown Sheep booth to chat with Peggy and her family. We were planning for my trip to Nebraska this September when I will be one of the teachers at the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Fair. If you are in the area come join us for lots of fibery fun. That evening Tamara, Jessie and our friend Becky went out to dinner, then joined the big group of designers in the Hyatt lounge. It was after 11 p.m. when I got back to my room and realized I still needed to get all my stuff packed up for checking out the next morning. Yikes! Monday went by in a whirl between checking out of the hotel and then making a last trip around the floor. I picked up some yarn from a few of the vendors and said my good-byes to as many of my friends as I could. Then back to the hotel to get my luggage and rearrange things for my flight home. I had a few adventures getting back to Colorado, delays for flights and delays for luggage, but eventually I made it back (unlike a few of my East Coast friends who got stranded overnight in Columbus and Chicago). It’s been a week of recovery and reconnecting with my family since then. My boys are out of school for the summer break, so everyday feels a bit like a Saturday I’m going to have a lot of wonderful things to share with you this summer, so be sure to stop by regularly. Next weekend is the Estes Park Wool Market and I’ll be heading out again in 6 weeks for the Knit & Crochet Show in San Diego. So if you are going to be at either of those events be sure to look for me and say “Hi”.

Posted by: mamas2hands | May 16, 2015

How Fast They Grow Up.

Puppies made from Washcloths

Puppies made from Washcloths

Today I took a lengthy drive down the mountain to attend a baby shower. This was a very special event because this is my friend Terie’s oldest daughter’s first baby. I met Terie when she was expecting her second daughter, Meghan, and her oldest daughter, Amanda, was a tiny toddler.

Amanda, Meghan and J in May 2006.

Amanda, Meghan and J in May 2006.

I’ve watched these girls grow up over the years and it seems almost impossible that they are both adults with busy lives of their own now. Amanda was married just a few years ago, so I knew that a baby would very likely be in the near future.

Of course, babies and crochet go hand and hand for me. 2015 has been such a busy year for my crochet design and teaching work that I decided I would make a couple of hats for this new baby instead of my usual blanket. Turns out that was a good decision because Amanda got lots of blankets for the new arrival and a couple of them were even crocheted.

3 generations of Mothers

The one I liked the best, was crocheted by Terie’s mom for her new great-grandbaby. A lovely oversized granny-square blanket in blues and browns. This was accompanied by a couple of books that made Amanda and Terie get teary-eyed. Turned out they were books that Amanda’s Grandma had read to her when she was tiny.

My gift was a couple of crocheted beanies, one in a cotton/acrylic blend and the other in 100% cotton. Unfortunately with all the rushing around this week, I didn’t get a photo of the finished hats. In fact I was finishing the 2nd hat during the shower, which kept me from being tearful during the festivities.

CottonTots Yarn

For the second crocheted beanie I used my standard hat pattern adjusting it to fit a baby’s head. I wanted it to be comfortable for summer-time wear as this baby is due the end of next month. I choose to use some Bernat’s CottonTots I had in my stash, 100% cotton and machine washable. Sadly this yarn is discontinued, but I still have quite a bit in my stash.

book for the baby

I also got the new baby a Sandra Boynton book “Barnyard Dance” that was my boys’ favorite when they were tiny. The photo above is of our very well loved copy. It is one of many things that are going into my box of items that will come out again someday in the distant future when I become a grandmother.

So my dear readers, what are your favorite baby gifts to make?

Posted by: mamas2hands | May 10, 2015

Life is Better with Chocolate

Chocs from Truffles in Paradise

I love chocolate. I also love my family. So I was very excited when I found out that the Colorado Chocolate Festival was happening Mother’s Day Weekend.  I contacted my dear friend Terie and told her we had to go.

My boys overheard that conversation and made it known that they wanted to come too. So we have all been very excited this week waiting for Saturday to arrive. The Festival actually started on Friday, but I figured I only really needed to spend one day at a Chocolate Festival. Especially since my treadmill conked out on me Wednesday.

We woke up yesterday morning to icky weather. Snowy and nasty up here on the mountain. Terie sent me a message asking if we were still a “go” for Chocolate. Normally I would have punked out with weather like that, but hey, we are talking about Chocolate here. We did decide to meet a little later than originally planned.

Herded the boys out the door and we were on the way. The top of the mountain wasn’t the nicest drive, but half way down the roads were just wet. We made a stop to grab an early lunch, since eating lots of chocolate samples on an empty stomach didn’t sound like a good plan.

Finally we made it to the Denver Merchandise Mart building where the Festival was being held. Saturday was clearly the day everyone had decided to be there. The parking lot was very full, and we ended up parking some distance from the entrance. All to the good though as it allowed me to get a few extra steps in. There was a small fee at the door for entry and then we purchased “sampler” tickets. These tickets allowed you to obtain samples from the various vendors.

I had purchased 24 sampler tickets and split them among my family. Himself is not quite as wild for chocolate as the boys and I. So he took 3 tickets while the boys and I each had 7. We also got 2 complimentary tickets for a dip in the Chocolate fountain that the boys laid claim to. As they were waiting in line for the fountain I went in search of Terie.

Terie and I

Terie and I

Amazingly, even with the crowd and the size of the venue, I found her fairly quickly. She finished making her purchase and we went back to say “hi” to my boys. When we got back to them the boys were finishing their chocolate dipped marshmallows (I was exceedingly grateful I had fed them “real” food first). My youngest was a bit enthusiastic with his enjoyment and had chocolate all over his face.

While searching for Terie I had found there was an activity area for the kiddos.  We headed that direction with the boys before Terie and I resumed our chocolate quest. There was a bouncy castle for the littles, plus an inflatable obstacle course and these big inflatable balls called “Hamster Balls”. Those were too tempting for the boys and they needed to try them. I got tickets for the boys and then Terie and I headed off to explore the chocolate options while the boys waited for their turn to be hamsters.

My purchases from the Festival

My purchases from the Festival

This was a very well attended event and the crowds made it nearly impossible to get much in the way of good photos, but I did get a couple. There were booths selling various other items beside chocolate as Gifts for Mother’s Day.  There were temptations at every turn, but I did manage to behave myself somewhat.

Jenny at Sheaberry

Jenny at Sheaberry

I couldn’t resist trying the testers at the Sheaberry booth. They had lovely lotion bars and lip balms.

My Sheaberry purchases

My Sheaberry purchases

In keeping with the spirit of the Festival the lipbalms were Chocolate Buttercream. They have a lovely chocolaty scent to them, but no chocolate flavor. I got a couple of them and added one of their Solid Lotion Bars in Lavender to my purchases.

Treats for the Dogs

There were even booths with goodies for the furry four-legged members of the family alongside treats for the humans. Terie and I stopped at one booth that had sold out of all her brownies for people, but she still had a few bags of canine cookies. I had to purchase a bag of them for my dogs.

There were lots of chocolate companies there, but I was excited about the discovering some Colorado Chocolate companies that I didn’t know about. Both of these are small companies with a specialist chocolatiers hand making all the delicious goodies.

The Lovely Marisa

Marisa of Truffles in Paradise from Longmont, Colorado. She had a beautiful booth presentation, and divine chocolates. I loved her gorgeous little sample sized chocolates so much that I decided to splurge on a little Mother’s Day gift for myself.

Open Box of Truffles

This little box of 4 truffles was perfect. Though I am really trying to pace myself on eating the chocolates I got from the Festival, these little hearts have been tempting me all day. If you want to acquire some of Marisa’s goodies for yourself you can visit her website at: TrufflesinParadise.com.

Kim at Toute Douceur

Kim of Toute Douceur from Conifer, Colorado. I did a terrible job taking this photo, with such a busy booth I had to take it quickly when there was no one standing in front of her company sign. Kim was quickly selling out of her delicious chocolates. I fell in love with her Chocolate Ganache truffle. “Toute Douceur” is old world French for ‘All Sweetness’ and Kim has aptly named her business.

Dark Chocolate Expresso truffles from Toute Douceur

Dark Chocolate Expresso truffles from Toute Douceur

When I went back by her booth to purchase some chocolates to take home with me she had sold out of the Ganache. Instead I purchased a couple of the Dark Chocolate Expresso truffles. These should be perfect this week when I need an afternoon pick-me-up. You can find Kim’s website at: www.toutedoucercustomsweets.com.

It was wonderful meeting these chocolatiers, and hearing a little of their adventures with chocolate. I’m inspired to learn more about Chocolate and how these delicious confections that I adore are created. Watch for a few more blog posts about chocolate the next couple of months.

Posted by: mamas2hands | May 6, 2015

The Next Best Thing to a Hug

Eleonora Shawlette

Eleonora Shawlette

Sometimes we can’t be with those we love, but we can send our love to them. My favorite way of sending a package of love is in the form of a crocheted goodie. Usually it’s a shawl. They are marvelously useful and the closest to a warm hug that I can give when I can’t actually put my arms around a loved one.

Back View sample

My Eleonora Shawlette is a quick wrap project to crochet up. The shawlette size is made using just one ball of Berroco Boboli Lace yarn, but you can make it larger by using more yarn. The simple stitch pattern is easy to catch on to and makes a snuggly drapey fabric.

Eleonora Shawl

The pattern comes with instructions and charts for both the body of the shawlette and the lovely lace border. You can find the pattern in my Ravelry shop here.

I also wanted to share some links to wonderful shawl patterns that are available free from the blogs of my crochet designer friends. These lovely designs are available as free patterns because these designers have ads on their websites to help them make ends meet. I hope you enjoy checking out what they have available.

Branching-Out-Shawlette-1

Branching-Out-Shawlette-front

Tamara Kelly’s “Branching Out Shawlette” This is a terrific shawlette pattern that is interesting for experienced crocheters, yet simple enough that intrepid beginners can tackle it. If you want something different take a look at the other wrap patterns that Tamara has on offer at “Mooglyblog.com”.

 

16586498017_ec5142b21d

Jessie Rayot’s “Juliette Shawl“. I think this design is so clever. I love that it is actually a sort of “poncho” that won’t go slipping off your shoulders and getting lost.  Jessie made her sample in a variety of lovely colors. If this particular shawl doesn’t catch your fancy, take a cruise around her blog “JessieAtHome.com” where she has lots of other lovely shawls and fun designs.

 

butterfly-fling

Kim Guzman’s “Butterfly Fling Wrap“. This beautiful wrap is an intermediate pattern and with the open stitch pattern is a perfect layer for warmer weather. I can totally see wearing this all scrunched up around my neck in the Fall and winter season as well, especially if made with an animal fiber blend like wool/silk. If this pattern isn’t quite the one for you, don’t worry, Kim has got loads of other beautiful wraps as well as garments to share with visitors to her blog, “CrochetKim.com”.

I hope everyone finds a shawl that is just right for making a “hug” for their loved ones.  It may be too late this year to make a shawl for mother’s day, but you can put it on your “To-Do list” for next year. I’ll be celebrating Mother’s Day this year with my boys at the Colorado Chocolate Festival on Saturday. I’ll have lots of photos and news about that for you this weekend.

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