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.

Posted by: mamas2hands | September 11, 2014

The New Routine

Seems like this last month has gone screaming by. I’ve been adjusting to my new routine with the boys going to school in town. We are starting our mornings bright and early, this past week we were up before the sun was and it will be trailing us more as the Autumn moves forward.

Outside Window

I’m still exploring my options for getting work done while I’m down off the mountain. One of my new routines is spending my Wednesdays from 10a – 1:30p at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe.

My little spot at the table.

My little spot at the table.

It is a very appropriate space for me to hang out, surrounded by yarn and inspiration, as well as the lovely company of the owner, Gail and her lovely “shop dog” Kit.

Shop Dog Kit (who doesn't like to sit still for photos)

Shop Dog Kit (who doesn’t like to sit still for photos)

 

Classes Corner

Classes Corner

Gail has the shop set up beautifully. Here is the class section, where there are samples of the various class projects for the myriad classes that will be taught this Fall at the shop.

Cuff Sample

I’m modeling my little wrister cuff that my students will be making this Saturday afternoon (September 13th, 1p-4p) in my Crochet Wristers class. The students will learn all the techniques they will need to make the wrister cuff and will go home with the pattern for my “Spiraling Crosses Gauntlet”.

Spiraling Xst Gauntlet

The Gauntlet was designed in Crystal Palace Yarns’ Sausalito sock yarn. I love this yarn, the gradual and subtle color changes make for interesting striping effects. There is still room in the class if you are in the area and want to join us. Just call the shop at (303) 678-8242 or stop by at 454 Main Street in Longmont, Colorado and they will get you signed up.

Today is chilly and wet,  so I’m hanging out at the Boulder Public Library. Not as quiet as I had hoped here, there is a big construction project underway, but it is warmer than sitting in my car. This might be an option later on as the school year goes along, but I don’t think I’ll be utilizing the library as a work place until the construction is done. I may do some investigating to see if I can find a corner in a friend’s office to rent for a few hours each day.

 

Posted by: mamas2hands | August 23, 2014

Twisted Vs Cowl

Jennifer at Holiday Yarns

At the Knit and Crochet Show I saw one of my yarn company friends that I had just seen at the TNNA trade show in May. Jennifer from Holiday Yarns. Jennifer dyes yarn and her booth is always a visual feast for the eyes.

We have been talking about me creating some crochet designs using her lovely yarns and decided that there was no time like the present. After some conferring we settled on a simple cowl design worked up in a bulky yarn.

4 hanks of yarn and a lovely ball of sparkly pencil roving from Holiday Yarns.

4 hanks of yarn and a lovely ball of sparkly pencil roving from Holiday Yarns.

As you can see in the above photo, I bought a few hanks of her lovely yarns for my own enjoyment. She also sent me off with a hank of her Bea-Ewe-tiful Bulky to design the cowl from. Of course the big challenge would be to see if I could get the pattern written, tech-edited, the sample crocheted and sent off to her in time for her to have it in her booth at Stitches Midwest. Challenge Accepted!

Project modeled 2_edited-1

I spent most of my time on the flight home to Colorado swatching. I tried a couple of stitch patterns but finally found myself returning to an old favorite: The V-stitch. Of course I had to make this a moebius.

The pattern for this snuggly cowl is available now in my Ravelry Shop for $3.99, and you can order the perfect color of Bea-ewe-tiful Bulky at the Holiday Yarns website or check with your own LYS, they might have some of it on their shelves.

Posted by: mamas2hands | August 21, 2014

Winged Columns Wrap

It’s getting to be that busy time of year, just a little less than 18 weeks until Christmas. If you are planning on making your holiday gifts, then you know it’s time to get started.

Cover of Special Issue

Cover of October 2014 issue : Image courtesy of Annie’s Publishing.

Fortunately the folks at Annie’s Publishing know that we are all on the hunt for ideas for lovely gifts that won’t take forever to make. They have just published a special issue magazine: “Crochet! presents 70+ Crochet Gifts in 1-2-3″.

Winged Columns Shawl 2

Wrap with a Shawl pin fastener – Image courtesy of Annie’s Publishing

You can find loads of wonderful gift ideas in this issue, including my new design “Winged Columns Wrap”.

Winged Columns Shawl 3

Back view of Wrap – Image courtesy of Annie’s Publishing

The wrap is worked outward from a central back foundation in 2 parts and requires no finishing other than weaving in a few ends. It only takes 2 skeins of yarn, 1 skein for each half. The lacy stitch pattern makes for a lot of fabric without a lot of bulk.

Wrap worn as a Scarf.

Wrap worn as a Scarf.

Because the fabric isn’t bulky it can also be worn as a scarf.

I really love this stitch pattern, the shapes within the columns put me in mind of migrating flocks of birds. Thus the name, Winged Columns.

I hope you get yourself a copy of this Crochet! Special issue. Then you’ll be all set for making gifts for the upcoming holidays. It is currently available on newsstands, or visit their website  to order a copy for yourself.

Posted by: mamas2hands | August 19, 2014

Shopping at the Show

Something I always enjoy at the conference is doing a little shopping (okay, maybe I should say a Lot).  Though it can result in an interesting challenge for packing my suitcases to fly home. This year my time at the conference was book-ended with shopping.

Jan and I had decided, since we were driving up to Manchester from her home in New Jersey, we should figure out a way to go visit WEBS during our trip. Usually Wednesday is Professional Development Day, this year there were other events happening, but we decided to spend our Wednesday at WEBS.

If you’ve never heard of WEBS, you can check out their website at www.yarn.com. They have great yarns and wonderful sales on yarns, as well as a fabulous selection of tools.

Our Picnic spot at WEBS

Jan’s GPS took us on a interesting route to get there, but eventually we did make to our destination. I was having so much fun I didn’t really get much in the way of photos. We ate our lunch at a little picnic area that was across the parking lot from the store.

My WEBS goodies

I exercised a bit of self-control shopping at WEBS because I knew that there would be lots of shopping to explore at the show as well. I did manage to find a few things I couldn’t live without. Some yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks and point protectors for knitting needles.

Jans WEBS goodies

Jan was very focused on getting yarn for particular projects she wanted to tackle and of course she added to her crochet hook collection.

Sheepies as Tower

Sheep Pin Cushion

Thursday evening was the market preview and I purchased a few things. These cute little sheep for my boys and a sheep pillow/pin-cushion for me.

Ellens Motif Book

Ellen Gormley was having a book-signing in the Crochetville booth so I purchased her latest book “Marvelous Crochet Motifs”. I really like that this book includes text and stitch diagrams for the instructions.  There are 24 motifs and 24 half motifs, as well as pattern instructions for making 4 projects.

I spent most of the time at the preview saying “hi” to friends and exploring all the various booths with an eye toward serious shopping on Sunday. After all my classes and socializing of the previous 3 days, Sunday was my day to get down to some real shopping. As always, Jan was available to help me find everything I might have missed.

MBT Arm Knitting Demo

Our first stop of the day was to attend Mary Beth Temple’s demonstration of “Arm Knitting”. I managed to take this photo of her with her eyes closed, but it is so easy to arm knit, that you can do it with your eyes closed.

Armknitting book

I purchased her book “Arm Knitting” from her booth. The book has clear instructions on how to arm-knit as well as 15 patterns for various fun projects.

Then Jan and I got down to some serious shopping. We both had things we had been looking at thru-out the market days and now it was time to make decisions. There were many booths with yarn, but it was a little harder to find things like hooks or buttons.

Big hook

I did splurge on this 18 inch Tunisian hook, it’s a size N (10mm).

Yarn pile

By the end of my shopping on Sunday I had a nice pile of yarn (plus I had Wednesday’s purchases).

Tools, Buttons and Misc

There was also my new “Hooked for Life” bag, a few tools, buttons, beads and other miscellaneous goodies. The little sheep are missing from this photo because the boys would not return them to me for photography purposes.

Yarn from goodie bags.

There was some very nice yarn in my goodie bags from the show as well.

I’m looking forward to next summer’s conference in San Diego. I’m hoping with the show being on the West Coast we will be seeing some new vendors and fun stuff happening in the show marketplace.

 

Posted by: mamas2hands | August 16, 2014

Knooking is Cool!

Karen and I in a "selfie" during the banquet.

Karen and I in a “selfie” during the banquet.

I decided to take this class with Karen Whooley on a bit of a lark. I was curious about knooking and I love taking classes with Karen. As a teacher myself, observing other teachers’ class room styles is very educational to me…and Karen is a fabulous teacher. But this class turned out to be so much more for me than I had expected.

My issue with knitting has always been that I feel like the needle in my right hand is lacking something. That’s right, it needs a hook! So this knooking thing was way cool for me. Finally, everything I understood about knitting could be applied to a craft that used a hook. The fabric created with knooking is true “knit” fabric, the tools to create it are just a little different.

Knooking Kit

Leisure Arts very kindly supplied the kits for all the students in Karen’s class. So that made it easy for us all to get started. The kits held 3 hooks of different sizes, 3 satin cords and a handy sized booklet with everything you needed to know to begin knooking.  Having taken my knitting class the day before also helped me. I was rocking along very quickly with my knooking and having a great time.

Different Sized Swatches

I got a lot further along with my swatch in this class than I had in my knitting class.

Curly Knook Swatch

Didn’t bind off very well though, the top of my swatch had a serious curling problem.

One thing I’ve always struggled with in my knitting is twisting stitches and if I pull out a needle accidentally I often put the stitches back on the needle wrong. What I was really enjoying about knooking was I wasn’t struggling to keep stitches from slipping off the needles when making them and could focus more on what was happening with them.

Karen Teaching

I think knooking is going to be the “doorway” craft for me to improve my knitting skills. In fact Karen said that lots of folks that take to knooking eventually end up feeling more comfortable knitting with 2 needles. She helped me see how the way I was wrapping my yarn would make a difference in my knit stitches and whether they would “twist”.

As you work each row in knooking the cord holding the previous row of stitches allows you to correct the new row (if needed) without making a mess of the previous row. Somewhat like using “life lines” in lace knitting. I think it is easiest to knook with a hook that has a fairly pointed hook end, especially since you are working into stitches that also have a cord in them. I actually have some wooden hooks that have very pointed tops I’m considering modifying so I can knook with them. Just need to make the tail-end of the hook a little flatter and put a hole in it.

KW Knooking book cover

Karen has also published a book with Leisure Arts called “Easy Knit Projects”. It’s geared toward kids, but is really great for crocheters that don’t knit and want to try out knooking. In the back of the book are 8 pages that have illustrations and information reviewing the basics of knooking. It contains 9 fun projects to try out once you have the hang of knooking.

After taking this class I can highly recommend it to anyone that has ever wanted to learn to knit, but found 2 pointy sticks to be too intimidating.

Posted by: mamas2hands | August 15, 2014

Russian Coninental Knitting

This year at the Knit and Crochet Show I was stretching my yarn crafting skills, so I decided to take a knitting class. Not only did I take a knitting class, but a knitting class with Galina Khmeleva.

Galina Khlmeleva

I was feeling a bit intimidated before heading to the class, a couple of my non-knitting crochet friends were saying “Whoa, your first knitting class and you are taking it with Galina?! You believe in jumping in the deep-end.” This did not help my nerves.

When I got to the class I was comforted to see that I wasn’t the only crocheter that had ventured into a knitting class. My friends Amy D. and Susan Lowman were there as well as Haley Zimmerman and 2 other crocheters. It was a well-filled class.

Galina started off the class introducing herself and her background with the needle-arts. I could tell that I was going to love the class, even if I didn’t remember anything. Galina had a warm and humorous approach to her subject and students that I found immediately engaging and re-assuring.

I had been concerned that I hadn’t even cast-on to knit for months. Fortunately Galina started us off with teaching her favorite cast on method. The hand-out for this was illustrations from the book she learnt from in Russian. The captions on the illustrations were in Russian. I can’t read them, but it is rather amusing to look at them.  Except for the very beginning of the cast-on, which created the slip knot, this method was very similar to the method I have learnt called the “sling-shot cast-on”.

Once we all had 15 stitches cast on, Galina walked us thru the steps of how to wrap the yarn on our left hand and hold the left needle (for all us righties in the room, I don’t know if we had any lefties as I was very focused on my knitting). Then she showed us how to knit the working yarn.

I swear it was like magic. For the very first time in my experience of knitting my hands didn’t begin to ache. No. Pain. At. All. I was thrilled. This method encourages one to keep the hands completely relaxed. I have always had difficulty with pain when knitting, and knew there had to be a way to do it that wouldn’t hurt.

Biggest problem all of us crocheters were having was that our left pointer finger kept wanting to creep up off the needle.  Galina would walk around the inside of the U-shape table and to almost every one of the crocheters she would say, “Finger down”.

Swatch from Galinas Class

I don’t have much to show for my tiny little swatch I made in the class. But I was very pleased with my progress. It will take many more hours of practice to develop any real proficiency with this method of knitting. Since my hands don’t hurt when I am knitting this way I might actually be able to put in the hours to improve.

My new Knitting Project

I’ve cast on 20 stitches and have been knitting a few rows each day. I’m still really pleased with this method of knitting. Best of all I now have a method of knitting I can recommend to knitters that are have hand-pain or problems when knitting.

I’m very glad I had the courage to take this class, and would highly recommend taking a class with Galina, especially to my knitting friends that are more skilled than I am. If you want to take a class with Galina and are too impatient to wait til next summer’s Knit & Crochet Show, you can check out her DVD “Orenberg Knitting: Knitting Gossamer Webs” available thru Interweave. Or visit her website: Skaska.com to find out her teaching schedule.

Posted by: mamas2hands | August 13, 2014

Vashti’s Magicial Tunisian Classes

This year at the Chain Link conference I decided to challenge myself and take classes that really stretched my yarn crafting boundaries.

My first 2 classes were on Thursday with the talented Vashti Braha. “Tunisian Eyelet Meshes: How to turn TSS into Lace” and “Tunisian Filet Lace: Skill Building Basics”.  I’ve always struggled with Tunisian crochet but thought that taking a class with Vashti could change that.

2 years ago I took her “All About Love Knots” class and finally felt I had a basic mastery of a stitch that had always mystified me. In fact Vashti made the love knot seem incredibly easy in that class, so I hoped for the same result taking Tunisian classes with her.

I was not disappointed.

Once again Vashti presented the work in such a way that it really made sense to me, and though my “Ah Ha!” moment took a little longer this time, by the end of each 3 hour class I felt confident in my ability to re-create the techniques she was showing us.

The only homework we had for either class was to review the Tunisian Simple Stitch (TSS). I hadn’t really gotten a chance to do that and I’ve never been all that happy with my TSS fabric. Fortunately Vashti got us started with our class swatch doing TSS, and that helped.

My dear friend Jan was taking the class as well, and she was able to point out some simple tricks that improved my TSS, so I was ready to tackle the techniques that Vashti was introducing. I confess there was a little time there that I began to think Tunisian crochet and I were never going to make friends.

Vashtis Class Vest

One of the funniest moments in class happened when Vashti was talking about the lovely vest she was wearing. She told us that it was made with 1 ball each of 2 very expensive yarns.  She wasn’t sure how large a piece of fabric she was going to be able to make. So she made a length of fabric, then cut the armholes for the vest. The entire room gasped in tandem, and Vashti giggled. She assured us that it wasn’t as drastic as it sounds.

From this adventurous experiment was born the “Maze Vest” and the pattern is available in the 2014 Summer Issue of Interweave Crochet Magazine. You can see photos of the vest from the magazine and find out more info on Ravelry.com.

The afternoon class was  “Tunisian Filet Lace: Skill Building Basics”. It was really fun seeing all the ways Vashti had applied her ideas of using Tunisian style crochet to create traditional filet stitch patterns. She had loads of swatches to show us and some beautiful designs as well. Check out her “Aero” wrap.

I worked successfully on my swatch in class, but have to admit I’m not sure how I did it now. One of the best things about taking a class with Vashti though is that she always provides a good hand-out that helps jog my memory once I am re-covered from “conference brain” and I get a chance to sit down and play with the techniques again.

My Swatches, hooks and yarn from Vashti's class.

My Swatches, hooks and yarn from Vashti’s class.

Vashti very generously shared “Lotus Snacks” with her students, these were 80 yard balls of her new “Lotus” yarn from Designing Vashti. This yarn has a Z-twist making it ideal for crochet with terrific stitch definition.  The yarn comes in 14 colors and you can order it on Vashti’s Website. I ended up with 2 balls since I took 2 classes, I picked the “Rose Red” colorway. It was the most popular color in the class. I really liked the color as it is a cool red shading more into the violet spectrum than orange.

She also handed out a Tunisian hook in each class. These were provided by ChiaoGoo which was very kind of them. Vashti showed us a wonderful thing about Bamboo hooks is you can adjust the shape of the hook easily with an emery board if you want.

If you get an opportunity to take a class with Vashti I highly recommend doing so. She is a talented teacher who continues to explore the boundaries of crochet and share that with her students. 2015’s Chain Link Conference (aka The Knit & Crochet Show) will be held in San Diego, California July 22nd thru 26th and there will be lots of wonderful classes to take.

 

Posted by: mamas2hands | August 11, 2014

Very Big Bears

Many of you have heard about my bear adventures up here on my mountain over the years. Bears come with the territory when you live on a mountain in the Colorado Rockies. We make decisions about when to take in bird feeders and how early we put out our trash for pick-up based on bear sightings in our neighborhood.

Last week when I took my boys shopping for back-to-school supplies they found bears they couldn’t live without. We were at our local Costco and they had 53″ tall cuddly toy bears. These bears are big, I’m talking crazy big. Big enough to completely fill a single twin sized bed. They were soft and squishy like over-sized pillows.

I had noticed the bears before, when I had been on solo shopping trips to Costco, and knew that my boys would love them. As soon as the boys saw the big boxes of them they made a beeline for them. “Please mommy, could we get one?” tumbling one off the top of the boxes into eager arms.

I was laughing “Where would you put it?”

“It could stay in my bed.” says Thing 1.

“No it could stay in my bed.” says Thing 2.

Quick look at me, “We would share.” says Thing 1, with Thing 2 nodding his head yes.

My next question “How much are they?”

“$29.99, so $30″ says Thing 2, who is always quick to spot the price tags. “Is that too much?”

Inside I’m thinking, that really isn’t too much for such a large cuddly toy. And I’m remembering a very large cuddly toy I had wanted when I was about 10 years old that was $120 (with inflation it would probably be around $400 – $5o0 these days).

I smile, “Well, it would be fun to get one and put it on Daddy’s side of the bed to surprise him when he comes home on Friday from his trip.”

“Yes, Yes, Yes!” “That would be so funny.” boys are now bouncing all over and trying to decide which color of bear they want to get.

“Listen, we need to finish the rest of our shopping first because those bears are going to take up a lot of room in the cart” I now have their full attention, “So let’s shop and you two can think about what color bear you each want to get.”

Thing 2’s eyes become wide, “We each get a bear?”

“Yes, you may each have a bear.”

A small riot ensues until I remind them that my generosity might change if we don’t get our shopping done. Once all the rest of the shopping was finished and we are headed to the front of the store they had almost forgotten about the bears. Then I said, “Okay, go pick out your bears and we will go check out.”

They each picked out a bear as I tried not to fall down laughing. I offered for them to put them on the top of the cart, but they wanted to carry them to the cashier. Since the bears were almost bigger than them it was an entertaining walk to the register. Once we paid for all our purchases the boys decided the bears could ride in the cart out to the car.

Bear in the Cart

One woman in the parking lot jokingly called out to me, “You’re making me look like a bad mother.” I just laughed.

Passenger Bear

Then we had the challenge of how to fit the bears into the car with all the rest of our purchases. The boys first thought that it would work to put both the bears in the passenger seat with them, but they were way too crowded. Only one bear was going to fit in there. Then I had a brilliant idea, I put a bear in the front passenger seat and buckled him in.

Once we got the bears home they were tucked up in the boys’ beds to be their snuggly pillows, I even tested out the comfort and they were great body pillows. I had no difficulty getting the boys to go to bed each evening.

Bears in Bed

When Friday rolled around, the boys were very excited to set up the bear surprise for their dad. The bears were carefully positioned on the bed with another little bird toy sitting on the brown bear’s shoulder. Then they had to wait for their dad to make it home from the airport.

It was all worth the wait, Dad was properly surprised and amazed. Then the bears were moved back to their beds, where they are continuing to be the favorite snuggly pillows for both boys.

Who knows, I may be using the bears to model some scarves and shawls over the next couple of months. I just hope the boys don’t decide the bears have to go with us on our next family road-trip, these are some seriously big bears.

Posted by: mamas2hands | August 8, 2014

Always Learning

Education is on my brain big time lately.

I took 4 awesome classes at the conference this year. 2 with the amazing Vashti Braha; “Tunisian Eyelet Meshes” and “Tunisian Filet Lace”.  My other classes were knitting and knooking. The knitting class was “Russian Style Continental Knitting” with Galina Khmeleva. My Saturday morning class was the eponymously named “Knooking” with my good friend and enthusiastic teacher, Karen Whooley. I’ll be posting more about all the great stuff I learnt in these wonderful classes soon.

The main reason education is on my brain right now is that in less than 2 weeks I will be on the adventure of having a middle-school student. This also means either my husband or myself will be driving the boys down to Boulder every school day. That is anywhere from a 35 minute to hour-long drive. Just found out yesterday that my youngest’s school day will start at 7:50 a.m. Ouch! This means we will have to be on the road by 6:50 a.m. every morning.

Now to some of you that might not seem such a big deal. Clearly you are morning people. I can not be described as such and neither can my oldest son. Himself and the youngest do a little better with mornings, but even they enjoy a later start to the day.  This means I am giving a great deal of thought to the best ways to organize myself. The goal being to make mornings the least painful for all involved.

Boys BTS supplies

There is a fun bit to all this back-to-school madness though. Going shopping for school supplies. We’ve acquired pretty much everything on the lists provided by the boys’ schools. I’m thinking I might need a trolley to convey it all to the schools on the first day.

Mom's Goodies BTS

As always when the back-to-school sales are happening I acquire a few supplies for myself. I especially like to get small scissors that I can take with me when I’m out and about and especially for air travel.

My Favorite Fiskars

My Favorite Fiskars

Then if TSA decides to take my scissors I won’t weep because they are my favorite Fiskars.

I will be learning a great deal along with my boys. Both of their new schools are going to be a huge change for them as well as me. Afterall, going from a school with a total enrollment of 25 students (at its largest) to one with anywhere between 500 – 650 students is going to be an adjustment.

I’m hopeful that having this more regulated schedule will contribute to me being more productive. One of the benefits of being down off the mountain so frequently; I will be able to spend more time at my favorite local yarn store, Longmont Yarn Shoppe. I’m planning on being there most Wednesdays during the school year from 10a – 2p. I’ll be teaching some classes on Wednesday’s as well as facilitating the daytime CGOA Chapter meetings on the 4th Wednesday of each month.

More information about the classes available at Longmont Yarn Shoppe can be found at the website: LongmontYarn.com.  I’ll be teaching 4 classes, 2 will be offered on Wednesdays and 2 will be offered on Saturdays.

Class Project Cuff

Saturday, September 13th; 1p-4p:  Crochet Wrister

Purple Hat on Table Model small-1

Saturday, October 11th; 12p-3p: Perfect Fit Crocheted Hat

Shawlette cropped photo small

Wednesdays, November 5 & 12; 10a-12p: Eleonora Shawlette

Lace Border Class Promo shot 3

Wednesday, November 19; 10a-1p: Lovely Crocheted Lace Border

So if you are local to the area, come join me for some fun classes or just stop by Longmont Yarn Shoppe. And if you aren’t local but want to take a class with me, plan a trip out to Colorful Colorado and have some crochet fun while enjoying my beautiful state.

 

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