Posted by: mamas2hands | July 21, 2014

Flower Power Stole

photo used courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com

photo used courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com

Okay,  I love this design, but I might love it even more because of the name Michele Maks (the owner of MainlyCrochet.com) and I came up with for it. One of the very fun things about doing design work with Michele is she has the same zany hippie-chick sensibility as me.

Orig Swatch

My original swatch for this design was using a combination of Red Heart’s “Heart & Sole Sock Yarn” with their “Stardust” yarn. Both yarns are light-weight “fingering/sock” type yarns, so I knew the effect would be very delicate in the finished design. And of course, Stardust has sparkle which is always a win with me. Michele wanted to use all one type of yarn, and that decided us on the Stardust, since Michele likes some sparkle in her yarn as well.

My "test" flowers for color.

My “test” flowers for color.

Michele picked out the colors and once the yarn arrived I began working on the piece.  I played around with the color to check with Michele before I began the project in earnest. I wasn’t too sure about the 2 colors we had for the flowers, so wanted to be sure Michele was happy with the way they looked. Of course the finished design ended up looking wonderful, another lesson in trusting Michele’s color sense.

Photo courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com

Photo courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com

The first version of this design used 52 flower squares in 3 different colors and 36 filler motifs in the green color. What this meant was 384 ends to weave in once the crocheting was done. Yikes!

This is exactly the type of project I have always avoided, though I love the look of colorful multi-motif designs. My entire reason for avoidance was a deep dislike of end-weaving. So of course the universe was going to find a way to make me face this dreaded task and make peace with it.

Whenever I have been faced with an overwhelming task I remember my Dad’s little saying, “How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time.” Yes, my Dad is a very funny guy, and he was right. I needed to figure out how to break this project down into manageable bites.

I realized that one way to make the end weaving less painful would be to do it as I completed each step of the project. I decided to take an “assembly line” approach to this problem.  Of course I was the only worker on this assembly line.

I organized myself with yarn, hook and plastic sealable baggies.  Each of my bags was a “stage” along the line.  First on the agenda was crocheting  26 centers in each of the “flower” colors.  Since each center is only a couple of rounds I quickly had a pile of them finished. I put the centers with dangling tails in a quart-sized plastic baggie, then as I wove in tails I moved them to a 2nd baggie.

Once I started adding petals to the centers I would move them to a 3rd baggie where they waited to have their tails woven in, after the petal tails were woven in they were moved to their final bag. I was finding all this a bit tedious, but the baggies allowed me to hop around in the project so I didn’t get too bored with one stage of the design. As I neared the completion of all the flowers I separated them by color into 2 bags to make the next step easier.

About the time of the PJ Jam in August I had finished all the crocheting of the centers, but still had a lot of tails to weave in. This is the motif project I was referring to in my “Zen and the Art of Weaving in Tails” post back in October, 2012.

IMG_4504

Finally all the flowers were finished and it was time to join them together using the green color. This step was a join-as-you-go method, I found it easiest to work on a flat surface. I would join together a row of flower squares, and then work the filler motifs in the open space. Every few rows I would stop and weave in the tails for the green.

Photo courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com

Photo courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com

When all the motifs were completed I blocked the entire piece. You can see how it opened up nicely. I sent the project and pattern off to Michele and waited for it to be put up on the website. The plan was for a Spring release of it, this was back in Spring 2o13. Unfortunately, as can happen, the yarn we had chosen was discontinued about that time.

Michele returned the original sample to me at the show in North Carolina that Fall, but we weren’t sure what we wanted to do.

Both of us really liked the sparkly yarn for this design and it got me thinking about other yarns we could use. At first I was really stuck to the idea of using a fingering or sock weight yarn. Then I stumble upon the idea of working with a slightly heavier weight yarn. I sent off an email to Michele suggesting that we use Red Heart’s “Shimmer” yarn. The colors would be more intense, but we would still have the same sparkle.

Photo courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com

Photo courtesy of MainlyCrochet.com

Because the motifs would be a bit larger I had to modify the original pattern. One thing that helped was there would be fewer motifs, so fewer ends to weave in. Hooray!

flower stole2 flatb

This version of the design has 33 flower motifs and 20 filler motifs, so is much quicker to crochet up. We also changed the way the colors are mixed together. The centers of the flowers are a multi-colored yarn and the petals are a solid color in the same tone. Then we picked a dark plum to frame out the flowers. I was really pleased with the way the flowers “pop” in this version.

If you are coming to the Knit and Crochet Show this week you may spot me wearing the original version of the Flower Power Stole, or you can see the “Shimmer” version at the MainlyCrochet.com Booth. Be sure to stop by and see all the wonderful projects that are on the site. If you aren’t at the show you can still go visit MainlyCrochet.com and subscribe to have access to all the lovely patterns.

I’m writing this blog post from Jan’s house in New Jersey. Tomorrow we load up the car and drive to Manchester, New Hampshire for the Knit & Crochet Show. Hope to see many of my yarnie friends there and for those that aren’t there I’ll try to have some posts about our adventures as soon as I can.

 

Posted by: mamas2hands | July 14, 2014

Yay Water!

As some of you might have heard, our water was out for 5 1/2 days last week. It was quite the adventure involving hauling in water from a local plumbed spring and a visit to my sister-in-laws to bathe.

Jugs of Water

We live in the mountains and though we are on public power our water and sewage are handled on our property. We have a septic tank and leech field for the sewage and a well for our water. Unfortunately last Saturday our well-pump gave up the ghost.

Our Heroes

Thursday Dave and Mike from CR Smith Drilling came to put in the new well pump. It was amazing that it only took them 2 hours to do it. They are our heroes. And very fortunately it didn’t cost too much to get this all sorted out.

One of the fun things about this happening is we got to learn more about our well. The last pump had been put in back in 1990 right before my husband bought this house. Our well is 210 feet deep and the water comes up to 35 feet from the top of the well. The flow from the well isn’t intense but is good and steady.  So we have a better understanding of the challenges we have had with our water pressure in the past.

Just the joys of living in the wilderness of Colorado.

Piles of Folded Laundry

This past weekend and today have been about laundry. Lots and lots of laundry.  I am packing for my 10 day trip to the East Coast for the Knit & Crochet Show.  I leave this Saturday and wanted to get the laundry caught up before I left, since my family will likely not be doing any of it while I am gone. There is also quite a bit of hand washing of my crochet goodies and re-blocking them so I have lovelies to wear at the show.

Really looking forward to seeing all my yarn loving friends again. I’ll be taking 4 classes this time and one of them is going to be a knitting class. Will see how that goes, there could be tears.

Posted by: mamas2hands | July 1, 2014

A Gift for a Sweet Baby

My favorite design inspirations usually come from crocheting up a gift for a special occasion or event. Just a little under a year ago my niece became a mother for the second time. Makes me feel a bit old having a great-nephew and great-niece, but it is also the celebration of the circle of life. I found inspiration in the arrival of this new baby girl and decided to make her a “heritage” style crocheted blanket.

The first time I would get to see the newest addition to our family was when we went back for Thanksgiving. So I began to work on the blanket in September, about the time all the upheaval of the floods happened, it was a good calming project to work on each day. The body of the blanket is a simple cushy stitch that doesn’t require a great deal of attention, then an elaborate ruffled lace border finished off the edge.

Corner Detail small

I completed the last bits of the border as we drove across Kansas for our November visit. I didn’t get much in the way of photographs of the finished project, but the photo above is a close-up of the border.

After we returned from our trip my niece posted a photo of her baby with the new blanket on Facebook.  Michele Maks, the founder and editor of the online crochet site MainlyCrochet.com saw it and asked me if I would be willing to create a version of it for her site.

Lila Blanket MC photo

After a bit of discussion we came up with the Lila blanket and it is available thru the mainlycrochet.com website. This pattern was designed using Lion Brand Yarn’s “Vanna’s Choice Baby” in 2 colors.

If there is a sweet baby in your life that you want to make a beautiful crocheted blanket for sign up for a subscription (if you haven’t already) and you can get this pattern and many more wonderful patterns to crochet for yourself or others.

Posted by: mamas2hands | June 15, 2014

Estes Park Wool Market 2014

The first full weekend of June was the Annual Estes Park Wool Market. In 2013 I attended it with my friends April, Brenda and Renee’. All 3 of them spin and Brenda convinced me to give spinning with a drop spindle a try. Though I’ve not had many opportunities to practice my minimal skills since then. Last year I purchased some gorgeous dyed silk fiber to spin. It is waiting patiently for me to find the time to attempt it.

My Wool Market buddies

This year April came out to Colorado with her husband, though Renee was having fun at the beach with her family so couldn’t make it. Brenda and I met up with April at the Market.

Pile of Yarn Buffalo Gold n Bijou Basin

Unfortunately I didn’t get to spend as much time with Brenda and April as I had hoped. Instead I spent most of my time at the Market on Saturday visiting with the folks at the Bijou Basin Booth and at the Buffalo Gold Booth. I purchased some gorgeous yarn and hope to have a few designs to show everyone using these yarns by Spring 2015, earlier if I can manage it.

I was very intrigued by the Buffalo Gold  buffalo down yarns. They are supposed to be very durable and not inclined to shrink like wool. The hank of “Haven” is destined to be used in a fingerless mitts design. I’ll be posting about that design once it is available.

Sheep Dog Demo 1

I caught the end of the Sheepdog demonstration, I’m always amazed by the concentration that the dog has. The dog in the photos is a young one that is just starting to learn the ropes, I was still impressed.

Grown Angora Goat

I did get to spend some time visiting with the Goats. I’ve been dreaming of getting a few goats just because they are great animals for keeping the underbrush trimmed down for fire mitigation. I also just like them, they all seem to have strong personalities.

Baby Angora Goats

The white Angora goat in the front is a 3 month old male and was for sale for $50. I was really tempted, but I think my husband would have been a little startled if I brought a goat home. It can be a bit confusing for some folks, but the fiber from an Angora Goat is Mohair. Actual Angora fiber, as you see it labeled in garments or yarn, is from Angora rabbits.

Fr Angora Luv Bunnies

Before we left the market we all went in to see the rabbits. Brenda got a bag full of lovely angora fluff to spin with and we all admired the fuzzy rabbits. They always make me think of cuddly toys they are so furry and poufy.  There were even a few for sale, but I figured my husband wouldn’t be any happier about a surprise bunny, than he would be about a surprise goat.

After we had all finished at the market we headed to downtown Estes Park for some dinner. It was nice to have a bit of time to relax with April, Brenda and their husbands. This was the first time I had been back to Estes Park since the September floods and it was good to see that the town was making a strong come-back.

When I got home I showed the boys the photos I had taken at the show and they begged me to take them the next day. So the following morning we loaded up the car and headed over again for a few hours of visiting animals.

Herd of Paco Vicuna babies

The boys enjoyed meeting some Paco Vicuna. One had been recently sheared and the other had about 2 inches of fleece. They enjoy feeling the softness, but they found the little herd of baby Vicuna to be very adorable. The babies weren’t interested in being pet, but they didn’t mind being admired.

Gray French Angora

The rabbits were having judging going on, so they were all getting spruced up and the fluff was flying as bunnies were brushed and made to look their best. I was admiring this handsome grey French Angora Rabbit. There were even some bunnies that weren’t Angoras. A few lop-eared bunnies were there to be sold and are supposed to be really nice pets.

There was a lovely fluffy little rabbit, he was full-grown though no bigger than many of the youngster bunnies, who was super friendly and snuggly. A Lions-head something or other, can’t recall the name of the breed, but if he had been for sale we might have ended up with a bunny.

Finally we headed off to meet the sheep. There was a lovely Shetland Ram that a woman was showing. He was on a lead and snuggled up to her like a dog. The boys were good about asking permission to pet him and he loved the attention. His wool felt just like most of the Shetland wool I’ve worked with in yarn, so that was fun to experience.

Shetland Lamb

She had some lambs for sale and we walked all around the sheep stalls looking at the various lambs. This beautiful little Shetland lamb really caught my eye.

Bottle baby

The boys were very entertained by this sweet little lamb. He was quite vocal and bouncing around his pen. My best guess was that he is a bottle-fed lamb, as he had no fear of humans at all.

My favorite little goat

My favorites were still the goats though. This sweet little goat and her pen mate were just as interested in me as I was in them.

Baby Cashmere Goat

The cashmere goats were very soft to pet.

Baby Alpacas

Our last visit was to the alpacas. Only good picture I got of them was this pen of youngsters ranging in age from 6 months to 1 year.

I told my husband that I needed a small herd. Just one goat, one sheep and an alpaca. He didn’t agree. Ah well, maybe another lifetime for that dream to come true.

Posted by: mamas2hands | May 26, 2014

The Humble Granny Square

Spring Break this year involved a long road trip for my family and me. My favorite way to entertain myself on a road-trip is to crochet and listen to music or pod-casts. Makes the miles go along quickly between stops for food, gas and restrooms.

We drove from our home in the mountains above Boulder to just outside of Kansas City, Kansas. All together it took us about 13 hours, that included 5 stops to re-fuel the car and kids and allow everyone to stretch their legs (including the dog).

I was capping off our week in Kansas City by attending and teaching at the First Annual Fiber Arts Day that following Saturday. One of the requests for those coming to the event was to contribute at least one 6 inch granny square. So I decided it was time to re-visit this old friend.

It had been awhile since I last crocheted a granny square and I had to experiment a bit to get one the size I wanted.  After I got the hang of it though, I was crocheting up 2 in no time at all.

Granny Squares

I am a big fan of letting the yarn do the heavy lifting, in this case I got the effect of a granny square worked in multiple colors without the tedium of having to weave in lots of yarn ends. As there are more and more yarns like this, with the long runs of colors changing into the next, you can find something in your nearby shops to use this way. When I use these sorts of yarn, I turn with each round since I am not changing the color, this allows me to work into the next chain space neatly.

The following is my recipe for my granny squares.

I used a size J/6 mm hook with Lion Brand Yarns “Unique” in the picture above, for my samples in the pattern I used Lion Brand Yarns “Tweed Stripes”. It didn’t take as many rounds to complete these squares because these yarns are slightly bulky, 4 rounds were a tiny bit shy of 6 inches though. I ended up putting a single crochet edging round to get the exact size.  You can use a lighter weight yarn, but you will need to add rounds to the squares and you may not get a 6″ square.

Instructions:

Start with an Adjustable slip knot (I use the adjustable slip knot so that the first chain can expand as I make Rnd 1), ch 5, sl st into 5th chain from hook to make a ring.

Rnd 1 Finished

Rnd 1: Ch 3, turn, (2 dc, ch 2, [3dc, ch 2] 3 times) into ring, sl st to 3rd ch of beginning ch-3. Pull gently on beginning tail to snug center opening.

Rnd 2 Finished_edited-1

 

Rnd 2: Ch 3, turn, (2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in next ch-2 sp, ch 1, [(3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in next ch-2 sp, ch 1] 3 times, sl st to 3rd ch of beginning ch-3.

Rnd 3 finished

Rnd 3: Ch 3, turn, 2 dc in next ch-1 sp, ch 1, [*(3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in next ch-2 sp, ch 1*, 3 dc in next ch-1 sp, ch 1] 3 times; Repeat from * to * once, sl st to 3rd ch of beginning ch-3.

Rnd 4 finished

Rnd 4: Ch 3, turn, 2 dc in next ch-1 sp, ch 1, [*3 dc in next ch-1 sp, ch 1*, repeat from * to * until reach corner ch-2 sp, (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in corner ch-2 sp] 4 times, repeat from * to * until reach end of round, sl st to 3rd ch of beginning ch-3.

Rnd 5 finished_edited-1

 

Rnd 5: Ch 1, turn, [sc in each st and ch-1 sp til reach corner ch-2 sp, (sc, ch 2, sc) in corner ch-2 sp] 4 times, sc in each remaining st and ch-1 sp to end of round. Sl st to first sc of round and fasten off.

If you want to make your granny square larger, just repeat Rnd 4 until you reach the size you want, then work Rnd 5 to finish.

I’ll be working on more of these fun squares during our family road trips this summer. They are a great little project to carry along when traveling because they don’t take a lot of time or yarn and they don’t take a lot of concentration either. Once you get a pile of them finished you can join them together to make a blanket, a scarf, a bag or even a jacket.

Posted by: mamas2hands | May 15, 2014

When the Hat doesn’t Fit

One of my favorite things about crochet is how handy it is for fixing things. Whether it be making decorative motifs to cover stains or repairs in clothing or in this case making a hat fit better.

As many of my readers know, and can guess from my logo/banner, I really like the color - hot pink.  I am also extremely pale due to my Scottish, Irish and German ancestry. So I burn easily and am a big fan of sun screen and broad-brimmed sun hats.

Last summer when my family and I were traveling I found an awesome Hot Pink and Buff colored ribbon sun hat at a shop along our route. I love these types of hats because they can be rolled up and stuffed into a carryall until needed.  Unfortunately it turned out this one was actually a bit too tight in the crown, so I didn’t wear it much.

This past Easter weekend my family and I went to the Denver Zoo for a wonderful sunny afternoon adventure. As we headed out the door I grabbed sun hats for all of us (my boys are just as pale and easily sunburnt as their pasty parents). Not remembering the fit issues with the pink hat it ended up being the one I grabbed.

I made it work for me during the afternoon, but decided something would have to be done about this hat to make it more comfortable and usable. On the drive home that evening I gave the hat a very detailed scrutiny to determine how I could modify it. My initial thought was, remove the crown and use the brim with a crocheted crown.

This hat, and the other ribbon hats I have, are made by a spiraled ribbon that is seamed top edge to bottom edge with appropriate gathers for shaping. This particular hat also had a grosgrain ribbon sewn inside as a hat band. That was part of what was making the hat too tight.

Deconstructing the Hat 2

Deconstructing the Hat

So I started my modification with removing the hatband. Unfortunately that did not create enough ease for a comfortable fit. Next step was to unravel the stitching that held the ribbon together for the crown of the hat, and down into the brim just far enough that the brim (with an open crown) fit comfortably around my head.

Finished Brim

I then used the loose thread to re-stitch the ribbon and finish the end cleanly.

Crownless Hat

I used the thread I had pulled off to sew the ribbon into place and secure the loose end. I now had a lovely wide-brimmed crownless hat. I was a wee bit tempted to leave it this way, but I never like the way these types of hats look on me.

Cottontots Yarn from Stash

Next I went digging in my cotton yarn stash for some yarn to crochet a crown from. I was very happy when I discovered I had a nearly full ball of Bernat’s Cottontots yarn in the “Strawberry” color.

Now you might be wondering why I was obsessively determined to modify this particular hat (no comments from my friends that think obsession is my middle name). It’s not just that I like the look of the color, it’s that the color is very flattering.  As I said earlier I’m pale.  I’m about as pale as you can get without actually being an albino. But I’m not particularly fond of wearing makeup on my skin. Big makeup for me is mascara and lipstick, most of the time I’m wearing tinted lip balm and my naked, well-moisturized face.

But a hat with a predominantly pink brim sheds very flattering color on my face. When my clothing and accessories can boost my color without me doing any thing extra it is a win. One reason why I wear a lot of pink/peach/salmon/coral colors. They give me a punch of color without having to do more than get dressed or toss on a lovely scarf or hat.

Crocheting new Crown

To begin my crocheted crown I measured around the circumference of the crown opening on my new brim. That gave me the measurement I would need for the completed crown. I used my favorite hat stitch: half double crochet, and worked a flat circle until it was the desired diameter (all these numbers are further explained in my post “Pi Recipe”). Once I got to my target diameter I worked evenly in a simple pattern stitch joining each round and turning to keep the pattern.

Pull the tail up thru the last st and use a needle to draw the end thru the top of the st joining to.

Pull the tail up thru the last st and use a needle to draw the end thru the top of the st joining to.

Use the needle to draw the tail back down thru the ending st and weave into the wrong side of the fabric.

Use the needle to draw the tail back down thru the ending st and weave into the wrong side of the fabric.

After I reached the crown depth I wanted I fastened off with an eight inch tail and used an invisible join to finish, this keeps the join from being bulky or noticeable once the crown is attached to the brim.

Invisible Join is Invisible

My crown was now ready to be attached to my hat brim. I gathered up my sewing supplies; thread, needle, and straight pins.

Openings marked for even joining.

Openings marked for even joining.

I wanted to be sure that the crown and brim were matched well. I put a stitch marker where my join was on the crown then folded the crown opening and flattened it in half to find the point directly across from the join and marked it. I then folded the crown opening so the 2 markers met and used the same method to mark the points half way between the previous points. I continued this way until I had marked the crowning opening with 8 markers. I did the same using sewing pins for the opening on the brim.

Finished Hat

After I pinned the crown to the brim it was a simple matter to sew them together using  thread that matched my yarn. Now I have a beautiful pink hat that fits comfortably and can be rolled up into my backpack or carryall when I am out and about.

So how have you used crochet to make something you already have be more usable for you?

Posted by: mamas2hands | May 13, 2014

Another Awesome TNNA Show

As some of you know, the first weekend of May (2-5th) was the TNNA Summer Trade Show in Indianapolis, IN. This is the show where all sorts of needleart craft vendors have booths that show their wonderful merchandise for the coming Fall/Winter season.

There is yarn, and tools, and yarn, and accessories, and yarn, and books, and yarn. Yeah, you can tell what I was paying the most attention to.

Most of the folks attending the show, besides the many vendors, are shop owners looking for the products they will be selling in their stores. So there really isn’t much to purchase there. It’s more a matter of talking to the various vendors about how a freelance crochet designer/teacher like myself can utilize their products. The main thing being designing with some of those lovely yarns.

Jill and Tabs on the inbound flight

I took a flight out of Denver on Friday and it must have been the TNNA flight. My friends and fellow designers Jill Wright and Tabetha Hendricks were seated across the aisle from me and one of my seat mates was a yarn company sales rep. The TNNA show is more of a working show, everyone is in and out of meetings so it is sometimes just a quick hug with friends. It was fun to have some time to visit with Jill and Tabs on the flight.

Seattle Skyline Chocolate Bar Karen brought.

Seattle Skyline Chocolate Bar Karen brought.

I was rooming at the Hyatt with Karen Whooley.  We had a great time catching up between meetings and inspiring each other. We also each brought chocolate to share. I brought my usual assortment of Chocolove bars, with extra “Cherries & Almonds in Dark Chocolate” ones to give to Mary Beth and Karen.  Karen brought a wonderful sculpted bar from Dilettante Chocolates. They are a family-owned company from Seattle that has children in school with Karen’s.

Every time I go to a TNNA show I am always a bit overwhelmed. There is so much to see and everywhere you look there is color and exciting yarn. Sometimes I think I get a bit lightheaded from all the yarn fumes.  I always go with an eye toward a particular goal for my business. This time it was to reach out to more of yarn companies there and see about using their products in my upcoming indie published designs.

I am particularly drawn to the hand-dyed yarns. The colors are always so wonderful and get my brain ticking over.  I also spoke to many of the yarn companies about US made yarns. Some companies are really working on having products that are all domestic, sheep-to-skein production of yarn. Something I am strongly in favor of as it creates jobs in our local economies. As well as being better for the environment since the yarn isn’t being shipped across the planet to get to it’s end users.

Pile of Yarn

Some of the yarn companies were kind enough to provide me with a skein or two of their products to swatch with for my designs. Fortunately I left room in my suitcase to bring those home with me. Keep a watch here on the blog as I’ll be letting everyone know when I have patterns coming out using these yarns.

In the tools department I was very excited to see that Clover has steel hooks now in their Amour line of crochet hooks. For those of you unfamiliar with the term “Steel hook” it is usually referring to the tiny hooks used for crocheting with very fine thread. Those hooks can be the culprit for many hand injuries for crocheters, because they are tiny and steel is a very cold conductive metal.

Clover Amour Steel hook

Clover now has 7 different sizes of steel hooks, ranging from Size 0/1.75mm to Size 12/.6mm. I got a Size 8/.9mm to test drive. So I’ll be writing more about these wonderful new hooks very soon.

Thera-glovesSupport Glove

One of the companies that I was excited to see at the show was American Orthopedic Appliance Group with their many styles of “Thera-Gloves”. They were kind enough to share a sample pair of their “Designer Series” gloves with me that I will be doing a more in-depth review of later this summer. They have a variety of styles of therapeutic support gloves that you can see at their website: http://www.thera-glove.com.

Speaking of hands, I’m always looking for lotions to use on my hands. Colorado is a dry climate and my hands tend to really show it.  Back in January I made a trip to Ft. Collins with one of my friends to visit the LambSpun Yarn Shop. They had nifty “lotion bars”.

They looked like soap and it was suggested that you put them in a soap dish as a way to have them available to use. I really like the formulation, but there is no way putting the bar on a soap dish will work at my house. There are boys, dogs, and a cat. Too many opportunities for something undesirable to happen to the lotion bar. Not to mention I am on the go a lot and want to be able to take my lotion with me.

Milk and Honey lotion bar

It was great to find the Milk & Honey products at the show. Davin makes these lovely lotion bars and packages them in a tin that can fit very nicely in my project bag. She had the lotion bars in 3 different scents and I loved how they are molded in a shape. The little tin in the photo is some of her “Anywhere Balm”  that is lavender/mint. This is a great lip balm and is also now living in my project bag.

By the end of Monday at the show both Karen and I were exhausted. Fortunately our flight wasn’t until 8 p.m. that evening. We went back to the hotel and had a late lunch at the restaurant, which revived us a little. Then it was time to retrieve our bags and take a taxi to the airport. As we were doing that we both got messages that our flight was delayed. We were flying out of Indianapolis on the same flight, but Karen would have to switch to another plane in Denver to complete her journey home to Seattle.

Tired but Happy. Selfie of Us at Airport.

Tired but Happy. Selfie of Us at Airport.

We headed off to the airport and decided to see what the airline folks could do about Karen’s flight. She ended up having to take a different route home. So we said good-bye at the airport when it was time for her flight. As it was, we both got to our respective homes very late that night.

The next morning I slept in late and then spent the rest of  the day unpacking from the trip and making lots of notes about my meetings from TNNA. A week later I am still feeling inspired and excited about the yarns and products I saw there.  I’ll let you know more as I test out some products and swatch with the yarns. Looks like I’m going to be even busier this year.

 

 

Posted by: mamas2hands | May 12, 2014

Accidents Will Happen

This past week has gone by in a flash, I’ve been playing catch-up with work that was on hold while I was gone for the TNNA Summer Trade Show in Indianapolis, IN.  I knew I was on the schedule for jury duty the following week, so was trying to get as much done as possible before being busy with that.

View from my Front Door May 12, 2014

View from my Front Door May 12, 2014

Of course, Mother Nature, decided to throw her own particular twist into things and we got a serious amount of snow that fell for the past 24+ hours. I woke up this morning to over a foot of snow.  We had just gotten the snow tires off the car last week (which makes me superstitious about doing that too early in the season).

Usually when storms like this come thru I hunker down and don’t budge off the mountain until the warm weather returns to melt it all off the roads. Generally that only takes a day or so. With needing to report for jury duty, I did not have that option this morning. So I bravely ventured out to head down the mountain to the Boulder County Courthouse. Unfortunately it didn’t take long to realize this was not going to go well.

Less than 2 miles from my house I slid downhill sideways and into the guard rail.  There is nothing more frightening than the vehicle you think you control suddenly going in an unwanted direction, particularly when that unwanted direction is toward a fairly steep drop off. Guard rails look incredibly flimsy in that moment. Very glad the guard rail was there and that no one was coming up the hill from the opposite direction before my car was stopped by the guard rail.

I ended up rather abruptly coming to rest parallel to the guard rail, concluding the journey with my forehead hitting the driver’s side window. Sat there a bit dazed for a moment, then decided to see if I could pull away from the edge of the road. I was stuck pretty firmly in the snow bank.

A kind soul coming up the hill offered to give me a tow out. He said he would get turned around and come back so he was facing the right way to tow me. Minutes ticked by and he didn’t return. So I put into practice my hours of driving experience and managed to rock my car out and back onto the roadway. I drove just far enough to safely get out and inspect the damage to the driver’s side wheel well. Not horrible but not great either.

I decided I would prefer to pay a fine for missing jury duty, rather than attempt to drive the remaining 20+ miles to town on roads that slick. So I headed very slowly and carefully back up the hill to my home. On the way I saw my would-be-rescuer. He was stuck in the ditch and another neighbor was getting ready to tow him out. We had a chuckle and I headed the rest of the way home, where I got stuck at the bottom of my driveway.

And that is why I wear snow-boots in May. Trudged up the hill to the house and told my boys they weren’t going to school today. Called the school to let them know the boys wouldn’t be there and then sent an email to the Jury Commissioner about my accident. So I’m now rescheduled for Jury Duty in July, when I should be completely safe from icy snow on the roadways.

Tomorrow I’ll share some of my TNNA adventures and show you the goodies I brought home with me.

Posted by: mamas2hands | April 24, 2014

Springtime on the Mountain

Springtime weather on the mountain bears a distinct relationship to a Yo-Yo.  Officially the first day of Spring is March 20th, but it generally doesn’t start to feel very warm here until a bit later.

Our springtime teases us, we get a day with a few hours of warmer temperatures and then the temperatures plummet and we wake up to snow. Sometimes significant amounts of snow.

Bird tracks in the morning snow.

Bird tracks in the morning snow.

But I think the weather may be trending to more warm and rainy days than cold and snowy.

 

Kitty paw prints in the snow.

Kitty paw prints in the snow.

Last Thursday morning we woke up to a thin layer of snow, but by 9 a.m. it was melting. I went down the mountain a bit to Jamestown to see a friend. We went for a walk around her garden and in town.

Squills and a Daffodil ready to bloom.

Squills and a Daffodil ready to bloom.

The Squills are blooming in her garden. These are so pretty with their bright blue spiky flowers.

Fore foot and Back Foot print from a Black Bear running.

Fore foot and Back Foot print from a Black Bear running.

On our walk we discovered evidence that the bears are out of hibernation and starting to look for food after their long sleep.

Buds on the Aspen trees

Buds on the Aspen trees

Yesterday I heard the familiar whirl of hummingbird wings and today I noticed the aspen trees are beginning to bud. So true spring time has finally made it’s way to our mountain.

There will probably be a few more snow storms before summer arrives. But it is nice to enjoy the warmer days and seeing the world come back to life on the mountain.

Very soon I will be sitting out on my deck to crochet in the cool breeze while the hummingbirds zip around at the feeders.

 

 

Posted by: mamas2hands | April 13, 2014

I Love New York

Running a little late getting a blog post up this weekend.  I was having too much fun traveling last weekend and have spent the time since my return playing catch-up for work. So this post will be a bit longer than usual.

I took a flight into Newark airport Friday April 4th.  For whatever mysterious reason, the flight was 2 hours late leaving Denver. Fortunately I was prepared and had plenty of yarn projects along to crochet on, as well as books to read. Including a hat I was working on for my husband.

I was heading out to visit my dear friend Jan, who lives in New Jersey. As part of our weekend we had planned a Sunday trip into NYC to visit the Lion Brand Yarn Studio and the Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya (home of the awesome sauce Japanese Stitch Dictionaries).

Jan had it all figured out for us. We would park her car at the train station near her house and take the NJ Transit to Penn Station, walk to Kinokuniya and meet Mary Beth Temple and my friend Maven there, then have a picnic lunch in the park across the street. Afterward Maven was going to introduce us to the adventure of taking the subway to travel to the Lion Brand Yarn Studio, where lots of my NY area friends would be meeting us for some fun time yarn shopping and visiting.

While I was having a delayed flight Jan hurt her foot very badly. Wasn’t broken but it was very swollen and painful to walk on. She managed to pick me up at the airport, but was having real doubts about the advisability of her going into NYC on Sunday.  She suggested that I go to NYC without her, but I didn’t want to do that. Afterall, I came out to NJ especially to spend time with her.

Jan and I have a joke from all our adventures together. We hit a snag in something, or I hit a snag in one of my genius ideas, and I say “I have a plan!” or as is sometimes needed it is, “Okay, Plan B (or C, etc…).” So I looked at Jan Friday evening once we were back at her house. “Plan B time”.

First of all we needed to help Jan’s foot. Fortunately I never travel without my Arnica Gel and my homeopathic Arnica tablets. Referencing the first aid formula for injury, R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), I had Jan sit down and elevate her foot while I treated the bruised area with arnica gel then iced and bandaged the foot. We spent the rest of the evening visiting and crocheting, then got Jan tucked up with her foot elevated and newly iced.

By morning her foot was feeling a bit better but it was clear that she shouldn’t be tromping all over NYC on it. So it was time to investigate another way of doing things. I knew that Mary Beth was planning on driving into the city for Sunday, so I sent off a text message to let her know what was happening.

Mary Beth. being the awesome friend she is, said that she would be happy to come get us Sunday and drive us into the city. Of course Jan felt bad because she lives further south than Mary Beth, so it would be a lot of back tracking to come get us and return us home.

Time for a Plan D at this point.

“Mary Beth what is your address?” I put it into my handy-dandy GPS program on my phone (have I mentioned how much I love my phone?). Jan and I look at it and realize it is actually an easy drive for us to go to Mary Beth’s house. “Okay, how about we drive to you and park there? Then you can drive us into the city?”

The activities for Saturday were a trip to see our friend Pam who lives only 20 some minutes away from Jan. First we made a stop at a local Target store though. I needed supplies for a compression bandage for Jan that would fit inside her shoe.

Ghiradelli Chocolate

And we needed Chocolate. Ghiradelli’s new Intense Dark line is lovely, especially the Cabernet Matinee squares.  I discovered these on our family trip for Spring Break and they are my new favorite chocolate that is easily available commercially.

We had a great time at Pam’s house. Took about 35 minutes to get there because it was a beautiful out and everyone that had a car in New Jersey was on the roadways (okay, probably an exaggeration, but that is what it seemed like). Pam fed us a wonderful lunch then showed us some of the beautiful stuff she has been crocheting lately. She also showed us her gorgeous collection of crochet hooks. The antique steel hooks and their ingenious little cases and such were really amazing. I was having so much fun I didn’t take a single photo. After crocheting together for a while and visiting we headed back to Jan’s house. Fortunately the traffic had improved.

That evening Jan and I spent looking at her hook collection and listening to music while we crocheted and visited. Her foot was feeling better and looking much improved. We were very glad that we weren’t going to be walking all over NYC though, and confirmed with Mary Beth what time we would be arriving at her house the next morning.

The next morning we packed up a lunch and what we would need for the day, then got in the car and drove to Mary Beth’s house. My GPS on my phone was working great and we were on track, though we kept seeing signs saying we were headed for the George Washington Bridge. Jan was getting a bit worried because she knew we didn’t want to cross the bridge. Fortunately all worked out, turned out Mary Beth would be taking the George Washington Bridge into NYC when she drove us in.

MBT Driver Extraordinaire

Mary Beth Temple: NYC Driver Extraordinaire

At Mary Beth’s house we met Cinnamon, the attack angora rabbit. She was very cute, but wasn’t going to let us pet her. We also got to say hello to Mary Beth’s daughter and see her prom dress, then into the car and on our way to NYC.

We drove around in NYC for a bit and Mary Beth pointed out some of the sights to us. I tried to get a picture of the Empire State Building, but wasn’t quick enough. Soon we were at the Kinokuniya bookstore. Mary Beth dropped us off in front of the store and went to find parking for the car. We actually were there a bit before the store opened at 11 a.m. Just across the street was Bryant Park where we were planning to picnic later.

Once we were in the store we headed straight to the section with all the Crochet and Knit books.  The next 45 minutes sped by as Jan and I explore the books and tried to narrow our choices down. I was amazed at my self-control.

My new books

I ended up choosing only 3 books to purchase, I already have a pretty wonderful assortment of Japanese Stitch dictionaries at home, so that helped me to limit myself. Jan had quite a few that she wanted to get, and since her birthday is next month, I picked one of them to purchase for her as an early birthday gift.

Mary Beth visits the store regularly so she was set for books, but needed to find some stickers for her daughter, she kept wandering back to check on us. Then Maven joined us, she was exercising self-control and wasn’t looking at the books on this visit. Mary Beth showed us the Moleskine graph paper books she had found. She likes to use them for planning designs and likes them in a variety of colors.

3 Moleskin Sketch books

So I had to go investigate the options available. They even had the blank page ones I love, and in every size you could ask for. I chose a set of 3 19x25cm books with gray covers. I like to draw on the outside of them. They are the perfect size for when I travel, large enough to sketch in and slim enough to not add a ton of weight or bulk to my luggage.

Irrestible Earbudsclose up of Owls

I had my choices lined up and Jan had hers, it was time to head up to the cashiers to make our purchases. But then I saw these awesome ear buds. I have been needing to replace my old ear buds for my MP3 player, and who could resist these adorable hot pink little owl ear buds. I was going to, but Jan always helps me indulge. And they are so cool when I’m using them, sort of like jewelry.

Our picnic in Bryant Park

Next on our agenda was some food. We knew we were going to be tight on time during this visit, so we brought our lunches and planned to have a picnic at Bryant Park. We so lucked out because the weather was amazing. It was warm but not too hot and there was music happening at the park, though we had to chuckle at Mary Beth because some of the music was a bagpipe band (her daughter is a champion Irish Step Dancer).

The other Kelpie

One of the really neat things at the park was a display of the maquettes from a project in Scotland called “The Kelpies”. They were so graceful and wonderful to see and are only going to be exhibited at the park until April 22, 2014.  You can see more about the large installation in Falkirk Scotland and some photos of them in Bryant park at this website.

M J and I at Kelpie sculpture

Maven took a photo of Jan, Mary Beth and I in front of one of the Kelpies. Then it is time to head off to the Lion Brand Yarn Studio. I had been wanting to visit this store since it opened. Lion Brand is a sponsor at many of the CGOA events I attend and have been telling us about the shop since it opened.

LBYStudio

Finally, we were there! And the display in the front window was the yarn Taj Mahal. We all took some photos of it then headed inside to explore the shop.

Jessie and me

I had been telling my friends in the NYC area that I would be at the shop 1p – 3p.  We got to the shop about 12:45p and one of the first people we see is my dear CGOA mentee, Jessie Rayot.

Me and my friends at LBYS

Then other friends kept showing up. In the end there were 9 of us. We all had a great time shopping for yarn and goodies at the shop, as well as meeting other yarn enthusiasts. We even saw Lily Chin who was teaching classes upstairs in the classroom that day. She was surprised at seeing all of us as well.

MBT and the Lovely Sarah

It was really wonderful to see my dear friend Sarah, who moved from Vancouver, WA to Brooklyn, NY last summer. She came to the shop with her daughter and almost 2 year old granddaughter.

Loot from LionBrand Shop

Jan and I were having a great time checking out all the yarn and other yarn implements. I managed to find a number of goodies that needed to be adopted. I purchased 3 different color balls of the Martha Stewart glitter ribbon yarn (sparkly) , 2 colors of the Wool Stainless Steel thread cones (more sparkly), and 2 hanks of the amazing bulky wool. I also got some nifty bamboo stitch pins (Jessie thought they would make good shawl pins and I was thinking they look like miniature knitting needles), a set of Hiya Hiya crochet hooks, and a cool South Hampton foldable tote.

Hiya Case Open

I’m very excited about my new set of Hiya Hiya hooks.  This set was amazingly affordable for as many hooks as it contains, as well as the beautiful case. The case even has room for tape measure, scissors and needles.

Tote Bag Open

And this really neat tote bag, it folds up such a handy size to travel with. But opens out into a very generous size. It will definitely be joining me on my trips this spring and summer.

As 3pm drew closer everyone prepared to say good-bye. We loaded up in Mary Beth’s car and settled down for the return trip to her house, then Jan and I hit the road for the return drive to her house. I got to drive for most of it as I am trying to get used to driving her car. This July I will be flying out to Newark again and we will be driving up to New Hampshire for the Knit and Crochet Show.

Monday was my last full day visiting Jan. We had an All-day Jammie day, playing with hooks, yarn and our new Japanese books.  I also got online and registered for the July Knit and Crochet Show. It’s always more fun picking out classes when Jan and I are plotting together.

Tuesday was a rainy drive to the airport. Fortunately I managed to get thru Newark airport security without too many delays or adventures. I had gotten to the airport with time to spare and was glad for it. While waiting for my flight to board there were 2 other crocheters at the gate, so we had fun talking about yarn and different crochet projects. Once the flight boarded I continued working on the hat for my husband and read my book.

After, what felt like a very long travel day I was back home and ready to crawl into my bed and sleep for about 10 hours. That was about 7 p.m. Colorado time, though my day had begun at 7 a.m. East Coast time (5 a.m. Colorado) so it was understandable that I needed some sleep.

As always it was a wonderful time visiting with Jan and seeing the rest of my yarnie friends. I’ve definitely decided I really enjoyed my NYC adventure and I need to go there again in the not too distant future. It certainly is a city with a lot to offer, though I was continually amazed at how many people there were out and about. And that was on a Sunday, which is basically NYC Lite.

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