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.

Posted by: mamas2hands | May 2, 2015

Round and Round with Color

Hot Spot Square copyright 2015 M2HDesigns/Andee Graves

Hot Spot Square
copyright 2015 M2HDesigns/Andee Graves

Last weekend I posted my Hot Spot Square pattern and I promised you some further fun with that pattern this weekend.

First a little history lesson. Many of those that have been crocheting for a long time may already know about crochet and motifs, but some of you might not.

A lot of crochet blanket projects that use motifs originally developed as a way to use up the left-over bits and bobs of yarn from other projects or from worn out clothing that had been unraveled, somewhat like the history of crazy quilts. Little bits of yarn would be wound up into small balls and stored for later use.

Some crocheters would work up parts of motifs when a little time could be found. The odds and ends of yarn would be sorted thru and the smallest ones selected to become centers of the motifs. Then more rounds would be added to these until squares of the desired size were completed. Those squares would be sewn together to make blankets.

In the late 60s and thru the 70s the Granny Square became very popular as the building block for all sorts of items; clothing as well as home décor. Color choices would sometimes still be somewhat random for the center of the squares, but often the final rounds of the squares would be a unifying color.

Over the years, the motif was modified and now you can find lots of wonderful books of crochet motif patterns. Some of those patterns are close to the traditional granny square with 3 double crochet shells separated by chain-1 spaces. Some are very far removed from that humble beginning.

Flwr and Grphc together2

My little Hot Spot Square is a nod to the Granny Square in that it is worked in concentric rounds and you can change colors at any point to give a completely different look to the square. I’ve also added a twist by having the circle-to-square thing happening.

Flower Solo

The Floating Flower

For this look you’ll need 3 colors of yarn.

Color 1 for flower’s center: Approximately 2 yards for Rounds 1-2. (Sample shown uses Lion Brand “Heartland” yarn in color #125 Mammoth Cave)

Color 2 for your flower’s petals: Approximately 3.5 yards for Round 3. (Sample shown uses Lion Brand “Heartland” yarn in color #103 Denali)

Color 3 for Square border: Approximately  9.5 yards for Rounds 4 and 5 (I usually pick a color in the green range since I consider these rounds to be the “leaves” of my flower). (Sample shown uses Lion Brand “Heartland” yarn in color #174 Joshua Tree)

If you use the same color in all your squares for Rounds 4 & 5, the effect once joined, will be that of flowers floating on the background. You can use up all your bits and bobs of left-over yarn from other projects for the flowers, then use a single color for the background. You’ll be surprised at how lovely your project will come out despite it’s rag-tag beginning.

Graphic Solo

The Graphic Circle

For this look you’ll need 3 colors again, make sure that your 1st and 3rd color contrast strongly with the 2nd color for the boldest look.

Color 1 for the center circle: Approximately 6.5 yards for Rounds 1-3. (Sample shown uses Lion Brand “Heartland” yarn in color #103 Denali)

Color 2 for the graphic border surrounding the circle: Approximately  3.5 yards for Round 4. (Sample shown uses Lion Brand “Heartland” yarn in color #153 Black Canyon)

Color 3 for the contrasting square border: Approximately 6 yards for Round 5. (Sample shown uses Lion Brand “Heartland” yarn in color #150 Mount Rainier)

This square will also work well with a single color for the square border and that border can be used for a continuous join-as-you-go for all your “spots”.  I prefer to use a method like that for joining all my motifs, rather than sewing them together. I’ll have more about that next month.

Another option for joining your squares is to crochet them together.

The Zipper Join

This join uses a single crochet to join the squares together. You work a single crochet in one square, then in the other square that you are joining. You repeat alternating which square you work into. You can chose to skip stitches to allow the seam to lay flat, or can work in every stitch to get a raised decorative ridge. Either one of these methods are usually worked on the Right Side of your project as they tend to be a design feature.

The Slip Stitch Join

This join is usually worked on the Wrong Side of your project.  Slip stitches used for joining need to be a bit loosier than what you would use to join rounds in your motifs. You may need to go up a couple of sizes in your hook if your slip stitch tension tends to be tight.

Hold your 2 squares you are joining Right Sides facing, then bring your hook thru the edge stitches using the back loop of the first square and front loop of the second square. Work this way across the side of the squares until reaching the end. Generally you want to work one slip stitching into the corner chain spaces.

With either of the crochet joins you can create a full strip by carefully matching your squares stitches in one direction then skipping over or working around those seams when you go in the opposite direction.

 

Posted by: mamas2hands | April 26, 2015

The Annetta Square Re-visited

I’m a designer. Which means I am always fiddling with design ideas. A few weeks ago I posted a pattern for a little square motif that I created rather quickly one evening at a party.

My 2 squares today

I’ve been re-thinking that design since then. There were a few things I wasn’t completely satisfied with. I liked the openness of the round center, but the center circles in the original inspiration photo were a bit more solid and there was a hint of texture. My pattern was also making the center more hexagonal than circular.

5 Rnds of Annetta Sq

The round of stitches that I used to go from circle to square, were not squaring up as nicely as I wanted. Once the final round of single crochets were added it was fairly square but, being the recovering perfectionist I am, I knew I could make them better. Plus I had an idea in mind of a join-as-you go approach for the center circles using the squaring round. More about that later though.

This part of design work requires a lot of tearing out at times. I made 5 different attempts before I was happy with this approach. I hope you will like it too.

Hot Spot Square copyright 2015 M2HDesigns/Andee Graves

Hot Spot Square
copyright 2015 M2HDesigns/Andee Graves

 

With this design the center circle is a little bit bigger and it can be stiffer. So you may want to try a few using different sized hooks with your yarn of choice to get the amount of movement and drape you want in your fabric. I’ve noticed that the fabric with the smaller hook will be especially stiffer with 100% acrylic yarns, you may want to go up as large as a size L (8mm) hook with those yarns.

Hot Spot Square (Annetta Square #2)

Designed by Andee Graves

Skill level:       Intermediate

Finished Size:

Approximately 3.75” square

Materials:

Yarn

Worsted wt (Sample uses Lion Brand Heartland)

Yardage amounts allow for 6 inch beginning and ending tails

Center Circle (Rnds 1-4): 10 yards

Squaring Rnd (Rnd 5): 6 yards

Hook

K / 6.5mm

Notions

Yarn/tapestry needle

Gauge:

First 4 rounds of pattern = 3.25” in diameter

Special Stitches:

3 double crochet cluster st (Cl): (YO, insert hook in indicated st or sp, YO pull up a loop, YO pull thru 2 loops on hook) 3 times, YO pull thru remaining 3 loops on hook. (If you are having difficulty with the cluster stitches you can find a photo-tutorial on my post: Crochet & Springtime)  

Beginning 3 dc cluster st (Beg Cl): Ch 2, (YO, insert hook in indicated st or sp, YO pull up a loop, YO pull thru 2 loops on hook) 2 times, YO pull thru remaining 4 loops on hook.

Pattern Notes:

Start square with an adjustable slip knot. Beginning tail tightens the loop on the hook.

Instructions

Rnd 1: Starting with adjustable slip knot, ch 2, 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook, sl st to first sc of Rnd. [6 sc]

Rnd 2: Ch 1, 2 sc in same st as join, 2 sc in next 5 sts, sl st to first sc of Rnd. [12 sc]

Rnd 3: Beg Cl in same st as join, (ch 1, Cl in next ch-1 sp) 11 times, ch 1, sl st to top of Beg Cl. [12 ch-1 sp, 12 Cl]

Rnd 4: Ch 1, (3 sc in next ch-1 sp) 12 times, sl st to first sc of Rnd. [36 sc]

Change color here to get circle in square look

Rnd 5: Ch 1, sc next st,(*hdc next 2 sts, (hdc, dc) next st, (dc, ch 2, dc) next st, (dc, hdc) next st, hdc next 2 sts,* sc next 2 sts) 3 times; Repeat from * to * once, sc next st, sl st to first sc of Rnd. [8 sc, 24 hdc, 16 dc, 4 ch-2 spcs]

Fasten off. Weave in ends being sure to tighten beginning tail to close center of circle.

Next weekend I’ll show you some fun ways to change the appearance of this square using color changes and a photo tutorial on using a continuous Join-As-You-Go to make a Hot Spot scarf.

Posted by: mamas2hands | April 25, 2015

Art, Crochet and Healing

April is National Stress Awareness Month, so today I thought it appropriate to share a story that I’ve never told on the blog. Last week was the celebration of my youngest son’s 9th birthday. And it got me thinking about how strange my journey to motherhood was. The short version is 8 years, 7 pregnancies and 2 healthy babies.

I had my boys a bit later than is the national average for motherhood in the USA, and quite a bit later in life for the average globally. Some of that delay was planned and some of it was a surprise.

When my husband and I met I was just beginning to attend school to become a medical massage therapist. So we didn’t want to start our family until I graduated. Once I graduated though, we were ready to begin our family.

I got a job with a local massage therapy office and began to work steadily. Just shortly after Christmas that year I discovered I was pregnant, 4 days later I lost the pregnancy. I had worried about being able to get pregnant, I had never considered the option of loosing a pregnancy. I was devastated.

Unfortunately this wasn’t going to be the only time this happened. I had 3 more pregnancies over the next 2 years that didn’t work out. My husband and I went thru tests and looked at various options for fertility treatment. But after a lot of research and discussion we decided that we wouldn’t do anything other than the diagnostic tests we had already done.

Mixed in among this rollercoaster ride of trying to have a baby was my return to crochet. I crocheted a lot as I stayed up late wondering if I would ever be a mother. I crocheted afghans for friends and family for Christmas, birthdays and other holidays, plus miles of scarves for charity. The hours of simple soothing stitches helped ease some of my heartache and gave me space to just be and not have to explain my sorrow to others.

2GoddessTeardrop

When I wasn’t crocheting or working at the massage office, I was in my art studio. At that time I was working a lot with polymer clay.  I was interested in doll making and of course primitive fertility images. I hadn’t reached my “Ah Ha!” moment where I would be adding crochet to my artwork yet. I created a number of images that I made molds for and then played with the plethora of color options available in polymer clay.

Flat ornament Goddesses

In the Spring of 2002 I became an Aunt for the 3rd time. My youngest sister had a baby boy and we were excited to meet him. We went to Kansas for his christening in April and I spent as much time holding this wonderful little fellow as I could. I told my sister I would just be the auntie that spoils her nephew rotten, since it looked like being a mother wasn’t in the cards.

We were leaving late that May for a 6 week-long trip to the United Kingdom and France. Part of the trip was for my husband’s work and the rest was for us to play tourist.  I was taking an indefinite leave-of-absence from the massage office.  I had also begun the lengthy process of filling out paperwork to return to college, I was going to tackle getting my pre-med degree to become a pediatrician. If I couldn’t have kids of my own, I would help take care of other people’s children.

Finally I had the house ready for our sitter and all our pets were with their care-givers. I hopped on a plane and flew to Manchester, England to join my husband. He had been there for over a week already. When I got there I was exhausted. Long flight plus very little sleep as I prepped for the trip. 2 days later I was still exhausted and a little suspicion had begun to niggle me. 5 days into the trip I finally caved in and purchased a test kit from the local pharmacy. Sure enough, I was pregnant.

This time was different though. I was the classic ill in the morning and tenderness in my body. A phone call back to the States to speak to my doctor was a big comfort when she reassured me that the symptoms I was having were all positive signs. We still managed to enjoy our trip, but I was a little worried.

When we returned home one of the first things we did was go to the doctors office for a check-up. The nurse did an ultrasound to determine how far along I really was, since my cycle calendar was a mess with all the traveling. They told me I was past 10 weeks and that it would be very rare for me to miscarry at this point.

When we got home that day I went to my yarn stash and took out some cotton yarn that I had been saving to make a blanket for “my” baby. I felt a little superstitious but wanted to make this blanket, plus I really needed a crochet project to calm myself. I think this is the first time I consciously realized that crocheting was my way of maintaining my mental health.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I made a simple oversized granny square for this blanket. I worked on it steadily for about 2 months and when my baby boy was born in January of 2003 I wrapped him up in his blanket.

I continued to crochet after his arrival, though not as frequently and sometimes I only had time for a row or 2 each evening. But I now knew that crochet was a wonderful way for me to manage stress, and I knew I was a happier person when I crocheted.

Crocheting an afghan for my mom

Life kept rolling along and after another miscarriage I had a second baby. By this time though I knew how important crafting and in particular crochet was for taking care of myself. In the picture above I was crocheting an afghan for my mom’s Christmas present, cuddling with my almost 4-year old and the baby #2 (also known as “the Bean”) was sleeping in his basket in front of me.

Even now with my busy crochet design and teaching schedule I try to always have a crochet project going that lets me just relax and unwind. For me lately that is usually hats; relaxing crochet and the joy of finishing a project pretty quickly.

The Craft Yarn Council released a video about the stress reducing effects of playing with yarn called “Stitch Away Stress” in honor of April being National Stress Awareness Month. Their video focuses a little more on knitting, but crochet is in there too. You can check it out here. Visit the webpage at the Craft Yarn Council to find even more fun facts about the stress reducing effects of crochet and knitting.

So how about you? Do you find crochet (or knitting) to be your un-winding activity? If you haven’t learnt to crochet or knit, maybe now is the time to do so. It’s a great way to be kind to yourself at the same time you can make something useful.

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