Posted by: mamas2hands | February 28, 2015

National Crochet Month just around the corner

So February is over after today. I can never figure out why it seems like such a super short month, after all it’s only 2 days shorter than most of the other months. Though, once again, it went screaming by.

Tomorrow is March and National Crochet Month. I’m reminded of the saying, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.” I’m really hoping there is some truth to that this year.

Front Deck to Left

This is the scene outside my front door right now.  It’s rather beautiful with the sunshine and blue sky, but the temperature is a balmy 17 degrees Fahrenheit.

Front Deck to Right

I am definitely in the mood for crocheting warm accessories. As many of my readers know, my very favorite accessory to crochet is a hat. And in keeping with my goal to create “teaching” patterns I am pleased to announce I have published my first one.

Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat

Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat

My “Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat” pattern/lesson is available now in my Ravelry shop for $6.50.

This pattern was based off my Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat class that I have taught the last 2 years at Longmont Yarn Shoppe. I’ll actually be teaching this class at the shop again next weekend. But for those of you that are too far away to join me for a class, this pattern is a chance to be able to learn the skills for making hats that are exactly the size you want.

Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat

Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat

What I like the best about this pattern/lesson is that you can use the formula taught in it to use any size yarn or hook to create a hat that is just the right size. A great way to use up the bits and pieces of yarn you may have left in your stash, since I usually only need about 110 yards of worsted weight yarn to make a standard woman’s size hat, even less yardage is needed to make hats for children.

So celebrate some crochet this month with making a warm hat or 2 for yourself or others you care about. Hoping we will all be seeing a more “lamb” like March by the end of the month.

 

Posted by: mamas2hands | February 21, 2015

So Many Changes

Change may be the natural order of life, but some days it can really throw you for a curve.

This past year, really 18 months, have been full of changes. Some were more in the nature of upheavals, like the 1000 year flood that hit my little mountain community in September 2013.  There were some unpleasant changes from 2014 that involved me not getting paid for a work that took up a great deal of my time the first half of 2014. Then there are the changes in my routine with the boys attending school down in Boulder.

Some of the biggest changes I have been dealing with personally have been in my path as a crochet designer and teacher. The month of December sort of slid by me, I taught some small classes and individual crochet lessons at my local yarn store Longmont Yarn Shoppe. But mainly any spare time not spent preparing for a fun Christmas holiday with my family was spend pondering what was next. So the blog was very quiet.

I went to the TNNA Winter Trade Show the 2nd weekend of January. The week before I left I was hoping that I would discover an answer to the “What is next?” question by the time the weekend was finished. This is where that old saying about being careful what you wish for comes in.

As always, TNNA was a visual feast for my creative soul. Yarn in every texture, weight and color you could imagine and loads of other wonderful products. I also took 2 classes during the weekend: “Digital Marketing” with Zontee Hou and “How to stage your event like a Broadway Show Manager” with Patty Lyons.

Lots of great information in both classes, and many bright shiny new ideas hopping about in my head inspired by them. The hardest part of taking the classes was that they started at 7:45 a.m. Some of you that know me well know that I am not at my best before 9 a.m. Those mornings were a bit of a rough start, though well worth it.

Nothing will wake you up faster than taking a normally 3 hour long class with Patty Lyons when she has to fit it into 2 hours. All I have to say is, compared to her, I talk very slowly.

One thing that Patty mentioned in her class that has been sticking in my head was about trends with crafters and the hobbies they pursue. She said that most crafters switch what is their primary hobby every 5 years. One reason I find this interesting is that it has been 5 years since I started working on selling my crochet designs (and sold my first design). So it got me wondering if that is part of what is happening with my design mojo recently?

I still have lots of ideas for designs, but I’m more interested in pursuing alternate forms of publication. When I sell a design to a magazine or yarn company to publish, I have very little say in how the finished pattern is presented. Most of those sources publish patterns to a set format and style. That format and style is great for some crocheters, but doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.

When it really comes down to it, I like to teach. And when I design crochet garments in particular I like to incorporate unusual techniques, those don’t always lend themselves to the traditional pattern format and style. So I’ve decided that I need to marry my teaching tendencies and unusual techniques into writing “teaching” patterns.

I’m hoping to be publishing a series of patterns over the next 6 months that will have not only the typical pattern instructions, but will include photo tutorials and tips on how to modify the pattern so that crocheters can add to their repertoire of skills and create wonderful finished projects that they will be proud to wear themselves or give as gifts. Eventually I will be adding links to videos that demonstrate the techniques in these patterns as well.

If you are in the Greater Denver area of Colorado this next couple of weeks, you can come take a class with me in person. I’ll be teaching at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe the next 2 Saturdays.

Crochet with a Twist class sample

Crochet with a Twist class sample

Handy HDC Class Swatches

Handy HDC Class Swatches

Saturday, February 28th I’ll be teaching “Crochet with a Twist, Mastering the Moebius” and “Handy Half Double Crochet”.

Granny Fans Class Photo

Granny Fans Scarf class sample

Crochet the Perfect Fit Hat class samples

Crochet the Perfect Fit Hat class samples

Saturday March 7th I’ll be teaching “Granny Fans Scarf” and “Crochet the Perfect Fit Hat”.

Whether you join me for a class or decide to purchase one of my “teaching” patterns I hope you keep on learning new skills in your crochet (or knitting) journey. After all, Change is the natural order of things.

Posted by: mamas2hands | February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine’s Day

Pocket Heart

I made the little “pocket” heart above with some surprise chunky yarn that came to me from Edie Eckman. She was mailing back 2 of my little birdies from the “Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home and Tree” book, and she said she thought they needed a little nest.

I liked the tones of red in the yarn color and felt like the browns and oranges balanced it enough that it wasn’t too feminine for a gift for my husband. 18 years ago he asked me to marry him on Valentines Day, so it’s a special celebration for us.

Even before I had a partner in life though, I always liked Valentines Day. I think we don’t celebrate Love enough in our lives, so it is nice to have one day a year that is dedicated to celebrating that emotion.  I’m very blessed to love and be loved by good friends and dear family members. Plus there is always my love of art and playing with yarn.

It’s simple and quick to make you own “pocket” heart. A great little envelope for a small gift or note for a loved one.

I used my heart pattern from the blog post “A Tour Through Crochet Country”, the chunky yarn and my new Clover Amour Size 7mm hook.

I crocheted 2 of the hearts, completely finishing them off with weaving in tails.  Then held them wrong sides together and sewed the edges together, leaving an opening of 6 stitches along the top of each heart. Tidied up the ends and put some candies inside with a note. Took me maybe 30-45 minutes from start to finish.

I hope you all have a Happy Valentines Day. Now I’m off the computer to go enjoy some chocolate.

Posted by: mamas2hands | February 7, 2015

Where’s Andee?

Hey there, yes the blog has been very quiet.

Mainly because I have been very busy with lots of challenges and changes in my business. I’m working on implementing some new ways I publish my designs and expanding how and where I teach crochet and healthy crafting.

One of those changes may be moving my blog to a more customized website, the learning curve for that has been a bit more extensive than originally expected. I have every confidence in accomplishing it, just takes more time than I have easily to hand.

Meanwhile, here is some eye-candy for you yarnie ones. The following are  few of the wonderful goodies I acquired at the TNNA Winter Trade Show in Phoenix the second weekend of January. Was a perfect time to travel south as the weather in Colorado and on my mountain was very cold and snowy. Spending a couple of days in warm and mostly sunny Phoenix was a nice change. Brutal returning to snow, ice and freezing temperatures when I came back though.

Yarnit

This was an exciting new product that I first saw being used by another attendee. The “Yarnit” is just too darn cool. Completely protects your ball of yarn and travels along with you easily. You can learn more about their products and where you can purchase them at their website.

Clover Amour Large Hooks

I’m really enjoying these new larger sizes of the Clover Amour hooks. They come in a range of sizes. K-6.5mm, then 7mm, 8mm, 9mm and 10mm size. The handles are shaped just like the Amour Yarn hooks, but the material is different. The hook part is a wonderfully smooth hard plastic with the handle a slightly softer plastic.

The best thing about these larger hooks are they have a decent length of shaft above the handle. This is really key if you want to crochet any stitches taller than a single crochet. Most of the larger sizes of hooks with handles on the market sacrifice shaft length to accommodate the handles.

ElementalAffectsyarn

The yarn above is from ElementalAffects and I’m going to be doing some exciting things using their yarns this coming year. The 2 hanks I brought home with me are both Fingering weight, the Cormo is 100% Cormo wool and has a lovely tight twist that gives marvelous stitch definition; the Civility is 70% Merino wool with 30% Mulberry silk so very soft with luxurious drape.

I only got a little bit of yarn during this show. Monday is usually the day at the show that I get samples of yarn, but our time on the floor was cut short when the fire alarm went off around noon. Then it was time to catch the shuttle to the airport and head back home.

Since my return I have been finishing a slew of patterns that will be self-published on Ravelry over the next couple of months. Currently they are out for final testing and technical editing. I’ll let you know as they become available.

Where I am now? Learning new stuff and creating new products for other crocheters and crafters. I’ll be back soon, I promise.

Posted by: mamas2hands | November 4, 2014

Remember to VOTE!

One of the things I love in Colorado is that we can vote early and via Mail-in ballots. We even have early voting polling places for those folks that are more comfortable voting in a booth.

I-Voted

Himself and I filled out our ballots and dropped them off last week. But today is the only day for many folks across the nation to vote. So if you haven’t done so, please find the time to do it.

Remember if you don’t Vote, you don’t get to Moan about how government is working. This is your chance to make your voice heard.

Alright, next post will be about yarn and crochet again.

Posted by: mamas2hands | October 22, 2014

First Bear is Finished

Finished Bear

Today was our local CGOA Chapter meeting and I brought in my nearly finished bear. I facilitate the meetings, so I wanted to demonstrate how I sew my bears together. Kathy and Bear I had filled the arms and legs and head with stuffing and brought stuffing for the body. By the end of the meeting I had finished the bear and given him to my friend Kathy that is organizing this effort. Margie and her bears My friend Margie wins the prize for the most bears completed. She brought in all these bears. She said she cheated a little as these were bears she had made on a knitting loom and were just waiting to be finished with stuffing and bows. Kathy and I both said, they still count and will be very appreciated. Bear and Malabrigo Before my little bear left the shop, he had a cuddle with some wonderful Malabrigo. I am feeling very inspired with ideas about how I want to design my bear. Hopefully I will have a prototype worked up by Christmas time.

Posted by: mamas2hands | October 18, 2014

Another Happy Birthday

Maple Leaves

I can’t believe it, but another birthday has come and gone. Now it really feels like Fall.

It was a great birthday, I spent the day with my family. We went to a photo studio and had some really nice pictures taken of the 4 of us, as well as a couple of boys. Next we headed down to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We explored the new Whale Exhibit and saw the Imax movie “Journey to the South Pacific” which had some awesome under water footage. Afterward we headed home and stopped for dinner at a nice restaurant.

Barn and Pumpkins 3

Now Halloween is just around the corner with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays not far behind. That has me thinking about my gift list and sending off Christmas/New Years cards and letters.

If you are making gifts for folks this year you might find the following pattern helpful. I love getting homemade jams and jellies at Christmas time, and I’m always impressed with the various presentations. Got me thinking though about ways of creating a gift that would still serve a purpose after all the yummy stuff is eaten.

Crochet Chain Tie

I came up with a jar cover. Once all the jam or jelly is gone you still have a pretty jar that can be used to send out your own home-made goodies, or you can remove the little cover and use it as a bag.

Ribbon Tie

The tie for the cover can be crocheted or you can dress it up further by using a satin ribbon. In this example I used a 32 inch length of 1 1/2 inch wide ribbon.

SPARKLY JAR COVER

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS

Jar Cover is 9”/ cm around x 5 1/4“/cm long.

Fits a Pint size Mason Jar

YARN

Lion Brand Yarns, Vanna’s Glamour (96% Acrylic, 4% Metallic Polyester), 1.75oz/50g, 202 yds/185m

Color used for sample is: #150 Platinum, approximately 12g/49 yards were used for sample

CROCHET HOOKS

Size US G=6 / (4mm) or size needed to obtain gauge

ADDITIONAL MATERIALS

Stitch markers

Yarn needle

Pint Mason Jar

Optional:

GAUGE

First 3 rounds of pattern = 2.5” in diameter

SPECIAL STITCHES

V Stitch (V-st): (Dc, ch 1, dc) in indicated st or sp.

INSTRUCTIONS

Rnd 1: Ch 4 (counts as 1st dc and center), 11 dc in 4th ch from hook, sl st to top of beg ch-4. [12 dc]

Rnd 2: Ch 3 (counts as dc here and thru out), dc in same spot as join, 2 dc in next 11 sts, sl st to top of beg ch-3. [24 dc]

Rnd 3: Ch 3, 2 dc next st, (dc next st, 2 dc next st) 11 times, sl st to top of beg ch-3. [36 dc]

Rnd 4: Ch 1, sc in same spot as join, sc next 5 sts, 2 sc next st, (sc next 5 sts, 2 sc next st) 5 times, sl st to first sc of rnd. [42 sc]

Rnd 5: Ch 1, sc in each stitch around, sl st to first sc of rnd. [42 sc]

Rnd 6: Ch 3, dc in next 41 sts, sl st to top of beg ch-3. [42 dc]

Rnd 7: Ch 4 (counts as dc and ch-1), dc in same st as join, (sk 2 sts, V-st in next st) 13 times, sl st in 3rd ch of beginning ch-4. [14 V-sts]

Rnds 8 – 15: (Repeat Rnd 6 then Rnd 7) 4 times.

Tie (Make 1)

Ch 100 and fasten off

FINISHING

Weave in tails.

Weaving in ribbon

Thread the tie (or ribbon) thru the openings in the last round.  Slide the jar into the cover, tie a bow. Tie knots in the ends of the tie, cut off excess yarn.

Posted by: mamas2hands | October 10, 2014

I Love Yarn Day

Today has been declared “I Love Yarn Day”.  A celebration that I can truly get behind, since I really do love yarn.

As many of my readers know, since the start of the school year I’ve been spending my Wednesdays at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe. It’s one of my favorite places to hang out. Surrounded by yarn and other folks that love to play with yarn the hours go flying by, and inspiration always strikes.

Some of the great activities at LYS are all the charitable stitching being done for various organizations. My friend Kathy comes in most Wednesday with another friend and we all sit around the table working on our various projects. Lately Kathy has been working on knitting a Teddy Bear, she is making toys to give to graduates from the Front Range Community College’s Early Childhood Education program.

She asked me if I thought any of our local CGOA Chapter members would like to crochet some bears. Deadline for this project is November 1st, so not a lot of time. Fortunately there were chapter members up for the challenge. I brought some of my leftover yarns to donate to the effort and hunted down some patterns for bears. Both Red Heart and Lion Brand have some patterns available for 12 inch tall bears.

Red Heart's "Birthday Bear for a Prince"

Red Heart’s “Birthday Bear for a Prince”

I found this bear at the Red Heart website.

Lion Brand's "Bear in a Jif"

Lion Brand’s “Bear in a Jif”

And this bear at the Lion Brand website.

Before I got so busy designing and writing I used to crochet lots of charity projects. Blankets for Project Linus and premie hats for Save the Children were some of my favorite projects. I decided that I wanted to make some bears too, at least they are quicker projects than blankets.

So I’ve started with the bear from the Lion Brand website and I’ll be making the one from the Red Heart website next. It’s been really fun crocheting a project from someone else’s pattern for a change. I just have to follow along and pretty soon I’ll have a bear finished.

Pieces of LB Jif Bear_edited-2

Above is a photo of my progress so far, I’m finished crocheting all the pieces except his body.

I’ve actually been surprised at how quickly the crocheting for this project has gone. Of course, I had to tweak things a tiny bit. I’m crocheting his eyes and nose from size #10 cotton thread then sewing them on firmly, instead of using safety eyes and embroidering the nose. These bears will be in the hands of little ones, so I’m upping the cautious factor. Plus the crocheted eyes will be more washable than plastic eyes.

I’m also coming up with something a little different for his “scarf”.

A Bear for All Seasons Photo courtesy of Annie's/Crochet World

A Bear for All Seasons
Photo courtesy of Annie’s/Crochet World

Working on my bears made me realize that I need to design a teddy bear of my own. I’ve designed a little bear that was published in Crochet World in their December 2012 issue. But that bear is much smaller, I think my next bear needs to be snuggly size.

Okay, back to work on this bear. Hopefully I will have a photo of the finished bear very soon. Though I am reminding myself that it takes nearly as much time to put all the pieces together and stuff the bear as it does to crochet the bear.

Posted by: mamas2hands | September 23, 2014

A Little Birdie Told Me

I’ve been crocheting and designing like crazy, but nothing that I could share with everyone quite yet.

Image courtesy of Storey Publishing

Image courtesy of Storey Publishing

Finally I can tell you all about a wonderful new book: “Christmas Crochet for Hearth, Home and Tree: Stockings, Ornaments, Garlands and More” by Edie Eckman.  I was very honored when Edie Eckman asked me to contribute a design to this compilation back in January 2013.

My original sample prototype.

My original sample prototype.

Edie selected my Little Bird Ornament, called “Bird Trio” in the book. I love to decorate my Christmas tree with symbols from nature. Which meant a bird ornament was the perfect design for me to create.

One of my favorite things about this book is that all the designs have written instructions and stitch diagrams. When working sculptural projects I always find stitch diagrams to be very helpful.

Sparkly Birdie

I decided to work up another bird for my tree this year. I used Lion Brand’s Vanna’s Glamour in the Silver color, and switched to an E hook for the thinner yarn. I also added some pearly white glass beads along the edges of his wings for some extra sparkle. He is going to look marvelous with the Christmas lights, I might need to make a few more.

The book is available from Storey Publishing on Amazon.com as both a paperback or Kindle Ebook. Get yourself a copy soon and you can Crochet your Christmas this year.

Posted by: mamas2hands | September 15, 2014

Signs that Summer is Over

Last Thursday evening was very cold. Compared to some of our winter weather it really wasn’t that cold, but after 80-90 degree temperatures it felt very chilly.

Friday AM Snow

This was the view out the front door first thing in the morning.

Frost and Fog1

Then I headed down the mountain a little ways to have some crochet time with my friend V. When I drove back up a few hours later the top of the mountain was socked in with fog. It was beautiful and I decided to stop and take a few photos.

Foggy Valley-1

Valley Frost and gulley

Looking back down the mountain I couldn’t see the tops of any of the ridges around the valley.

Afternoon Fog Frontyard

A few hours later things were warming up a bit and the sun had come out. I looked out the window and noticed the daylight fog.  In my front yard it wasn’t super noticeable.

Afternoon Fog

But the backyard looked absolutely magical.

I have the feeling this is just the beginning of our Autumn yo-yo weather, definitely the signs that summer is over are getting clearer.

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