Posted by: mamas2hands | August 20, 2016

Crocheting for the Family

When I crocheted up my sample for my Mountain Top Beanie design, my older son tried it on and really liked it. This is the kid that wears a stocking hat almost all year long. He asked me if I would make him one, I offered the one I had made for the sample, but he felt the colors weren’t right for him.

Mountain Top Beanie - Andee Graves M2H Designs

Thus a plan was hatched to take him to the Longmont Yarn Shoppe to pick out the color he wanted. The yarn is Ella Rae Lace Merino Aran. It is a super soft and cushy 100% Superwash Merino and all the colors have that rich-toned hand-dyed look to them.

I thought we would make it down to the shop long before the summer break was over, instead we finally got there this past Wednesday during my monthly Causal Crochet get together at the shop. Thing 1 and I had been at his Middle School earlier that day for his locker assignment and to get his school photo and ID.

Progress Photo of Beanie 1

Once we got to the yarn shop he looked at the various colors in the Ella Rae and picked this fun one that combines purples and greens. Worked up in the beginning swatch the colors reminded me of a vineyard.

Progress Photo of Beanie 2

I’ve been working on this hat every time I had a spare moment for the past 3 days and finished it late last night. Overall I think it took me about 3 hours of crocheting time. That’s counting a couple of times when I had to pull out some of my work due to not keeping track of my stitches.

Ending Tail Whew

I almost ran out of yarn at the end. I actually had to fudge a little on the last stitch, but it still looks good.

Bits of Tails left

These were all I had left after weaving in the tails.

Happy Boy

I think he is very happy with his new hat. He is 13.5 years old and actually wears an adult size hat already. It’s a good thing my niece and nephew are both having babies this coming year, I need some little ones to crochet for again.

Now I have to make a hat for my poor husband, he was promised one for Christmas and it hasn’t materialized yet. Whoops.

Mtn Top Beanie full view

If you want to make your own Mountain Top Beanie the pattern is available here in my Ravelry Shop. The pattern has detailed written instructions as well as 2 stitch charts for those that are more visual. The pattern also includes instructions for making a child-size or infant-size hat. I’ll also be teaching a project class  for this hat at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe, Saturday, October 29th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. if you are in the area.


Posted by: mamas2hands | August 16, 2016

Scrap Projects: Yo-yos

Pile of Yoyos

One of the easiest of scap projects is the humble crocheted yo-yo. I’ve always enjoyed these fun little circles of color and find them a terrific learning project for new crocheters. When worked in worsted weight yarn with a size I-9 (5.5mm) hook they use just under 2 yards of yarn each.

Beginning chain 4, arrow indicates 4th ch from hook.

Beginning chain 4, arrow indicates 4th ch from hook.

I make my Yo-yos by starting with an adjustable slip knot, then chain 4,

11 dc in ch

11 double crochet in the 4th chain from the hook,

Tightening center, arrow indicates beginning tail.

Tightening center, arrow indicates beginning tail.

Tighten the center of the stitches by pulling the beginning tail snug,

Insert hook in top of Tch

Insert hook in top of the beginning chain 4,

Sl St completed

Slip Stitch to close round of stitches. Fasten off.

Weave in beg tail

Weave in the beginning tail in the center. You can weave in the ending tail as well, or use it for sewing the yo-yos together. For my yo-yos I did weave in the ending tail, because I will be crocheting these yo-yos together.

Weaving in the ending tail. Arrow indicates the slip stitch.

Weaving in the ending tail. Arrow indicates the slip stitch.

To weave in the ending tail I like to insert my yarn needle thru the top of the chain stitch that I had slip stitched to.

Weave in end tail 2

Then I turn the yo-yo over and weave the tail thru the back bumps of that beginning chain and on around the center of the yo-yo. I pull this end gently when weaving it in so I don’t collapse the side of the yo-yo.

Finished Yoyo

I trim off the excess yarn from the yo-yo and it is ready to join my other yo-yos. I will fill a bag with yo-yos until I have collected enough to make them into a project.

You can use yo-yos in any number of projects. My favorite is to make scarves with them. You can also make yo-yos in other yarns or threads. You will need to adjust the size hook you use to get a yo-yo fabric that you find pleasing.

I’ll show you some fun ways to use yo-yos once I get enough crocheted up again.

Posted by: mamas2hands | August 12, 2016

Back to School again

This past week the weather has begun its swing back to cooler temperatures, at least up here on my mountain. It is getting us in the mood for autumn just as school is ready to start up again for my boys.

My youngest son is going into the 5th grade this year. It’s rather bittersweet as this will be his last year in elementary school. In our district 6th graders are in Middle School. So the Bean is looking forward to being one of the “big” kids this year. He also will have the opportunity to join band and learn to play an instrument. We will see if that happens. I’m trying to convince him that music is math, but he remains skeptical about it.

My oldest is going into 8th grade, his last year of Middle School. That means this year is going to be full of getting ready for his graduation at the end of the year and deciding what High School he’ll be attending for 9th grade. This will be the last year that I’ll be driving down or staying in town all day to pick them up after school. Starting next year they will both be able to take a bus home up to our little community after school.

For some reason our schools always start the new year with a short week. My youngest will be having his first day this coming Thursday and my other son’s will be that Friday.  I went on a massive shopping trip this last Tuesday and got all the required items for their return to school. I stocked up for my design office supplies too.

Pocket Folders

Inexpensive 2 pocket file folders, I use these for corralling my design notes when I am crocheting a new design and writing the pattern.

Spiral Notebooks

A stack of spiral notebooks, still my favorite to keep with me for scribbling ideas in or design notes when I am swatching for new designs. They also are a sort of ‘catch-all” for anything I need to write down. I fill them up and weed them out as the year progresses.

Pink Comp Notebooks

A few nicer looking composition notebooks that I’ll use when I go to conferences. The slightly smaller profile lets them fit nicely into my bags I carry during the conference.

Writing n Drawing Implements

I also picked up a few new writing and drawing implements. Haven’t used these colored pencils from Pentel before and wanted to see how they compare to others, and one always needs more highlighters and black markers.

Between all the back to school stuff I have been working on swatching for new design projects. It has been a reminder that even with the best ideas and yarn, swatches don’t always come out the way I envisioned. Unfortunately I wasn’t happy with how the yarn I had picked was working with the hook I had chosen. I ended up starting and frogging around 10 times when all was said and done.

The good news is that none of that time is wasted. I always learn a lot when swatching and get to know the stitch patterns I’m working with. I have almost an entire notebook full of notes to work from that will become future designs. I also found out that this was an amazingly durable yarn to withstand being crocheted then pulled out so many times.

I was using the left-overs from a skein of yarn I purchased at the Estes Park Wool Market a few years back. Textiles A Mano’s “La Jolla” a 40% Silk – 60% Wool blend worsted/aran weight yarn. I don’t know if they are still around as I didn’t see them at the wool market this summer and couldn’t get to their website when I was writing this post.

I had used part of the hank to knit my first ever lace project. It was a very large hank with approximately 500 yards in it, and I had plenty left over for swatching. I have 2 other hanks of this same yarn in different colors that I want to make into designs, so the swatching was to develop those designs. I’m hoping to revisit those ideas later this autumn.

The next 7 days should be very exciting. My family and I will be getting in a few last-minute summer vacation activities before the school schedule hits us full force. Then it all starts with my oldest and I stopping by his school this coming Wednesday for his locker assignment and getting his school photo ID. After that he is joining me at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe for my Causal Crochet group from 10:30a – 12:30p.

Mtn Top Beanie full view

He is going to be picking out the yarn for his new hat. He really liked my proto-type for the Mountain Top Beanie, but wanted a little calmer color.  Hopefully I will get it finished for him before the cold weather gets serious with us. If you want to make your own beanie for yourself or as a gift for someone else you can find the pattern in my Ravelry shop by clicking on the highlighted name above.

I’ll also be teaching a class at the Longmont Yarn Shoppe for this project on October 29th at 10 a.m. You can sign up for the class on the LYS website or by stopping by the shop.

I know some of you may have more summer vacation time ahead of you yet, so I’ll wish you a lovely break. For those of you that are in back-to-school mode like myself, buckle-up and away we go.

Posted by: mamas2hands | August 9, 2016

Painting with Yarn

One of the things keeping me really busy the last couple of weeks was finishing a free form crochet piece for the Fiber Arts Show in Mitchell, Nebraska at the Pinnacle Bank.  The show is running from August 5th thru September 2nd.

Finished Free Form Piece

I had started the beginning of this piece ages ago. I even had created a bag full of small balls of yarn in the colors and textures I was planning on using. These were actually from a Free Form class I took a number of years back with Myra Wood at one of the CGOA conferences.

Trying scrumbles on 12x12 canvas

In free form crochet I often don’t know for sure where I am heading with an idea until I have worked a few scrumbles, that is the name many free-formers call for the smaller pieces created). I started this project with some scrumbles I created in my class with Myra. I knew I wanted to make a small piece that could be hung on a wall. Texture and 3 dimensional shaping were both in my mind as I began to create more pieces and add onto my existing pieces.

Developing design on 12x12 canvas

I had a couple of inexpensive small blank canvases in my art studio, 12×12 and 11×14 inches. Originally I was looking at using one of them for the backing of this piece. I kept adding to the scrumbles and making more to begin to fill the 12×12 canvas. I was over-hanging the canvas in a lot of places and wasn’t too thrilled with that.

Switching to 11x14 canvas

I decided to try the 11×14 canvas. I left the plastic wrap on it so I could move the scrumbles around more easily. Still wasn’t completely happy with the way this looked.

Different Arngmt 11x14

This was my second attempt. Not quite working for me.

3rd try on 11x14

Maybe the third time will be the charm? Liking this a little better.

Filling in 3rd arngmt

I started filling in some of the remaining open space on the piece.

Getting Closer to Final version.

Getting closer to my final choices for the finished piece. Still a number of spots that need more work. At this point I’m feeling the pressure to get this piece finished and sent off to the folks putting together the show in Mitchell, Nebraska. Because the deadline crunch was getting intense I have less photos of the process.

I finished up all the crocheting part and had sewn or crocheted the pieces together. Then I sewed the entire crocheted piece to the backing fabric. At this stage I had decided that I didn’t want to use either of my canvases, instead I cut out backing board in an 14×16 size to stretch my backing fabric around.

Embroidering and beading stage.

The final stage was embroidering with metallic threads and glass beads to further embellish the crochet textures. Once I was finished with the embellishment, I used my hot glue gun to attach the fabric to the backing board.

Angled Close up of middle Left side2.

Close up Right upper corner

Angled Close up of middle Left side.

My boys helped me come up with the name for this piece. It is “Spiral Hills Island”.  I picked the colors for this piece by taking my color cues from a variegated hand-dyed yarn. I used the colors in that to help me select my solid colors and then picked some darker tones of the purples to act as dramatic contrast. I also used some of my collection of novelty fluffy yarns in this project to further emphasis the textural aspect.

If you want to try your hand at Free Form there really are no rules. Find some colors and textures of yarn that you like the way they look together and begin crocheting. It is a meditative exercise and the best bit is there is no wrong or right, though that can sometimes be the hardest part.

I seem to start most of my scrumbles with a circular or spiral motif, but you can start with any shape you like. I do recommend starting small initially and continuing to work on your scrumble until it is about palm sized. Remember to play and have fun with it. I’m hoping to find time to make quite a few more free form art pieces in the coming year. I love painting with yarn.

Posted by: mamas2hands | August 5, 2016

Jan and Andees’ Adventures in Charleston

Magnolia Blossom

My last post was all about the CGOA conference in Charleston, South Carolina. This post is all about Jan and I being tourists in Charleston. If you get the chance it is a city well worth visiting, though I would recommend visiting in the spring or autumn when the weather is not blistering hot.

When Jan and I were planning our trip to Charleston for the CGOA conference she recommended that we tack on a couple extra days for exploring the city. She had been there before when another close friend of hers had lived in the area.

Spanish Moss along the sidewalk outside our hotel.

Spanish Moss in the trees along the sidewalk outside our hotel.

The conference ended Saturday evening so we were leaving on Tuesday afternoon. That gave us 2 full days to explore and enjoy Charleston. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t going to cooperate with us on Sunday. The day didn’t see much sunshine as it was over cast and heavy rain all day long.

Instead we spent the day hanging out with other CGOA friends in the hotel atrium as they slowly began their leave-taking for flights and drives home. Both of us had crochet projects to work on. I even helped Jan with untangling a ball of yarn that had decided to misbehave on her earlier in the week.

Tracee and I

One of the few photos I took with a friend at the conference was this one of Tracee Fromm that Sunday before she left to catch her flight home.

It was fun to see our friends old and new. Some were actually leaving on Monday, so we were all enjoying a decompression day. That evening Jan and I walked over to Bonefish Grill one more time. After dinner we worked on getting a good start on packing up our suitcases.  Neither of us stayed up very late that night, as we both wanted to get an early start on touring the city the next day.

Visitor Center

After getting breakfast in the hotel we walked over to where we could catch an express bus to the visitor center in down-town Charleston. Our timing was great as a bus came about 3 minutes after we got there. Once we arrived at the visitor center we got some maps and picked up tickets for a carriage tour of the city.

Sea Grass Basket info at VC

I had been told by a Colorado friend that has family in South Carolina, to be sure to go by the Market to see the ladies weaving sweet grass baskets. In the Visitors Center was a display about these baskets as well as a lady weaving and selling her baskets right there.

Charleston has great transport for their city. Little Trolleys with routes that take you around to a number of the high points. Jan and I caught the one that would take us to the City Market where we could walk over to catch our carriage tour.

The folks at Old South Carriage had permitted the CGOA to yarn bomb one of their carriages during the week of the conference. Unfortunately Jan and I were too late to see that carriage, but we were able to get our discount on the tour package. When we got to the stable our names were added to the list and they told us our tour would be leaving in about 45 minutes.

Jan and I decided to go explore the City Market sometimes referred to as the Slave Market. We had overheard one of the Old South Carriage guides telling some other folks about the name “Slave Market”. It wasn’t where slaves were sold, it was where the slaves did the shopping for the households they worked in. In fact, the family that deeded the land to the city for the market to be built on, had stipulated that no human beings were to be bought or sold in the market or the land would revert back to the original family.

The Slave Market

The market is still a busy place of commerce with lots of shops and stalls selling everything you could think of. It is a roofed building that stretches along 4 blocks of the city and has streets on the north and south of it. Appropriately those streets are called North Market and South Market. The photo above is the west end of the market. I managed to take this photo during our carriage ride, you can see it was a bit wet as a light rain storm had rolled in.

Our Carriage

Jan and I explored the market for a little while, then headed back to the stable to begin our carriage tour.  This is our carriage, I hadn’t realized how far off the ground the carriage put us until we finished the tour and I took this photo. We actually boarded the carriage inside the stables where we walked up some steps and entered the carriage from a platform.

Our Tour Guide - Elliot

Our guide and the driver of the carriage was Elliot. He was very entertaining and informative about the history of Charleston and the buildings we were seeing.

Our Carriage Horse - Bill 2

This was our horse that pulled our carriage. His name is Bill 2, but he was called Bill by Elliot. He liked to splash the water from his trough, so I had to be quick to get this photo.  Part of the information Elliot shared with us was Bill’s history and capability. Basically being a carriage horse in Charleston is a pretty good gig for these horses. Our carriage fully loaded was actually one quarter of the weight that Bill could pull, and had pulled at the beginning of his life when working as a draft animal on a farm.

Loving all the winding trees

Our carriage tour took us around the area of the College of Charleston and then back along the Market. I was sort of inconsistent in my photo taking. Partly because being on the move made it trickier and sometimes there wasn’t a clear shot. I loved all the tree-lined streets.

Looking up at Oak branches

I especially enjoyed the moss-covered branches weaving overhead. The vegetation in the area is so different from what I am used to here on the mountain and even down in the plains of Colorado. There is a lushness that goes along with all that humidity you just don’t see here in the West.

Beautiful Iron Gate

Elliot told us that Charleston is considered the 2nd most well preserved city in the world. First place goes to Rome, Italy. He said since Rome has over 2000 years on them, 2nd place isn’t too shabby. Everywhere we looked during the tour, and afterward when Jan and I were exploring on our own, there were interesting things to see.  I particularly loved all the gorgeous ironwork gates.

Palmettos Everywhere

The palmetto trees were everywhere along with flowering trees that I can’t recall the name of. I do remember that the ones called “white” had pink and purple blossoms, which was very confusing and amusing. Elliot told as about how Ft. Sumter was originally built from Palmetto trunks. The thinking being that the sponginess of the trunks wouldn’t break under the impacts of canon balls. When the revolutionary war happened the theory was tested and proved true. The soldiers in the fort came out and gathered up the British canon balls and, “Very kindly returned them to the British ships.”

After our tour was over Jan and I headed back to do some real shopping at the City Market. I wanted to get some sweet grass baskets and find gifts for my boys. The day was heating up a bit and we made a stop at a stall that was selling fresh hand-made lemonade. It was delicious and entrancing to watch the lemonade being made. Jan had watermelon lemonade.

My new Vera Bradley bags

Different sections of the market were air-conditioned and in the first of these Jan and I spotted a little shop that had wonderful Vera Bradley bags and accessories. I fell in lust with this purple pattern as soon as I saw it. Turns out it was a brand new fabric release that week called “Lilac Tapestry”. The lady running the shop was very nice and was also a yarn wrangler.

Vera Bradley organizer open

Jan and I were discussing that the large bag would be great as a project bag, and the shop lady showed me the organizer that I could get when I spent $100 or more. I was hooked especially when she pointed out how well the organizer would work for holding stitch markers and all the other accoutrement that we yarn folk need.

There were lots of stalls selling tourist items in the market. I spotted a stall that had lots of different T-shirts and decided to get one for each of my boys, plus one for myself. I also wanted to find a piece of jewelry that had pineapples on it. Pineapples are the symbol of hospitality in South Carolina and they were the theme for our conference there.

Historic Charleston purchases

I finally found the pineapples I wanted at the Historic Charleston Foundation store. I really liked that the profit from these purchases would also help fund their organization. The pineapple ornament will look great on my Christmas tree this year and will remind me of the lovely city. The pendant and earrings were surprisingly light-weight and I loved the glimmering pau-shell that was used to make them. Last of all I purchased the small print of one of the beautiful ironwork gates in the city.

20s style SunHat

Then Jan and I decided we needed to finish up with the shopping part of our day and grab a late lunch. I still needed to purchase some sweet grass baskets so we headed back to my favorite shop we had found earlier. On the way there I was captivated by a stall that was selling hats. This bonnet style one made me think of 1920s style cloche hats, at $10 I couldn’t resist.

Sweet Grass Baskets

Finally we made it to the baskets again. I picked out a couple of small ones, some would be gifts for friends back home in Colorado. I loved a lot of the larger ones, but the price and the logistics of getting them back on the airplane kept me from adopting any. My favorite thing about them was the scent of the sweet grass and while I am writing this one sits on my desk holding paperclips and smelling sweet.

Low Country Bistro for Lunch

At this point Jan and I were definitely hungry so we went hunting for a local restaurant that would fit the bill. One of the very pleasant surprises on this trip was the number of restaurants that had lots of gluten-free options on their menus. We decided to go to the Low Country Bistro. Some other friends at the conference had eaten there and recommended it, and our Elliot from the carriage ride had too.

The air-conditioning when we walked in was quite welcome and our server kept us well supplied with cold drinks as we ate a delicious meal. My favorite part of my meal was the home-made potato chips. I did share with Jan, but it was a near thing.

Cobble stone street

Old cobblestone street

After lunch we decided to do some exploring before we needed to head back to our hotel. Jan wanted me to see Charleston’s version of “painted ladies” which they call “Rainbow Row”. The folks at the Historic Charleston shop got us headed in the right direction. I wasn’t really able to get a good photo of them, but I took lots of other photos as we walked around enjoying the city.

Anchor Gate

So many of the nooks and crannies in the city were intriguing like this gate to a little garden behind a building.

Doorway with lamps

The historic touches were fun too, like the working gas lamps that framed this impressive doorway.

Beautiful fountain and garden

I really loved this beautiful fountain with flowers in front of the Charleston Place Hotel. We had seen it while on our carriage tour and managed to stumble upon it again while walking around the city. I couldn’t tell you what street it was on though.

Waterfront Park - A restful place

We ended our day in Charleston at the Waterfront Park. A beautiful area with lots of shade and fountains.

Waterfront Park - Looking off the pier toward Ft Sumter

Jan and I walked out to the end of the pier to see Ft. Sumter better. That pink circle is around the island where I think it is located. It was difficult to really see and I hadn’t brought along binoculars.

Waterfront Park - Pathway

We began walking along the Waterfront park path where we could see some fountains.

Waterfront Park-Looking out of the Shade

Even in the shade we were very warm, but it was preferable to the bright sunshine. I did like the look of the contrast in this photo though.

Waterfront Park - Admiring Hidden Gardens

There were lots of beautiful gardens alongside buildings on the street beside the park pathway.

Waterfront Park - Pineapple Fountain

Of course I had to have a photo of the big Pineapple Fountain.

Waterfront Park -Kids Fountain

The whole Waterfront Park area seems to be designed with families in mind. This fountain in particular was popular with children running in and out of it. If I had been dressed appropriately for it I might have joined them as I was very hot at this point in our wanderings.

Crane Iron Gate

My last photo before we caught our trolley ride back to the Vistor Center was this lovely gate with a Crane on it. I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the highlights of Jan and I’s adventures in Charleston.

I’ve been a busy gal since my return to Colorado. The boys are headed back to school in less than 2 weeks and suddenly our summer break seems to be speeding by. I’m also getting ready for teaching at the Scotts Bluff Valley Fiber Arts Fair in early September.

Finished Free Form Piece

As part of that I’ve been working on a Free Form Crochet art piece for the Fiber Arts Show that is on display in Mitchell, Nebraska for the month before the fair.

With all this stuff keeping me busy I’ve been having a difficult time getting back into my twice a week posting here on the blog. Hoping to correct that in the next week. Thanks for stopping by.


Posted by: mamas2hands | July 26, 2016

CGOA in Charleston

As many of you know, I was in Charleston, South Carolina for the CGOA conference earlier this month. I flew out on July 12th for an all day travel day to get there and returned on the 19th. You heard a little bit about my travel adventures last post. I’m mostly recovered from all of that and finally getting the promised post up about my fun adventures at the conference.

Badge and Pin

It was a great time seeing my crochet friends from all over the US and even some from out of the country. I was absolutely crapastic about taking photos at the conference though. I was producing the fashion show for the “CGOA Grand Finale Fashion Show & Banquet”, and it was a wild time getting everything coordinated and organized. More about that later.

Tuesday evening was just about getting unpacked in my hotel room and reunions with all the other folks as we all began to arrive. Some more would be showing up over the next few days, but by 10 p.m. that evening I had seen many of my dear friends. A big group of us had gathered for drinks, deserts and cold food in the hotel restaurant. The restaurant was having technical issues with their stove, so cold options were all that were available.

The laughter with friends was great though. Best way in the world to recover from the travel tiredness. My journey to get to Charleston was actually quite smooth. My dear friend and roomie Jan did not have a good travel day. Her flight coming to Charleston had all sorts of delays, but she eventually made it to the hotel and I grabbed her off the shuttle from the airport to hug her hard.

Wednesday morning was a fairly easy start. Neither Jan or I had any commitments for early morning, so we slept in a bit then grabbed breakfast and saw friends there. A little later I went over to the conference center with Tamara to help Jessie and Lorene with setting up the room for the judging of the Design Competition. Jan decided to venture out exploring around the hotel area.

That afternoon I joined up with Jan and the two of us found a comfy spot in the lovely hotel lobby/atrium beside a gentle waterfall fountain to crochet and talk. Jan was taking a class that evening, so we decided to go out of the hotel for an early dinner.

Bonefish napkin

We walked to the Bonefish Grill just down the road and ended up having a wonderful meal. We even managed to time it well enough that we didn’t get soaked in the early evening rainstorm. The rest of Wednesday evening sort of passed in a blur as more friends got to the hotel and I prepared my supplies for the class I would be taking the next morning.

Re-invented Broomstick Swatch

My first class at the show was with the talented Linda Dean. She kept teasing me about being nervous that I would be one of her students, but I knew that it would be a very instructive class. This was her “Re-Invented Broomstick Lace” class. Linda had some lovely samples to show us the various ways you could work up the techniques with simple changes. I really enjoyed the class and look forward to experimenting more with the things I learnt in it. My little class sample swatch looks a bit sad, but that is no reflection on what Linda was teaching us.

That afternoon I helped with the Hooked for Life booth set-up. Mary Beth was teaching and both of her other helpers had some back injuries, so I volunteered to be the one climbing up and down the step-ladder and lifting boxes of things into place. Once that was all done I stopped by the Registration desk to pick up the garments and forms for the fashion show.

I took them all to the room we had been given to use for setting up for the fashion show.  I dropped off the garments and then I zipped back to my hotel room to clean up for the CGOA Business meeting and Conference Kick-off that evening.

Purple Backpack bag

I’m not sure what the numbers were, but the first 100 or so folks coming to the meeting received an awesome gift bag. The bags themselves were from Crochetville. They were a gorgeous purple lightweight backpack with a zipper pocket. The bags were stuffed full of yarn, crochet tools, crafting booklets and loads of coupons. I think everyone that received one was amazed and pleased with them.

Yarn from 1st Gift Bag

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the brilliant idea to take a photo of all the items in the bag together until much later, after I had emptied the bag and tucked the various goodies into my suitcases. This is a pile of all the yarn that was in my giftbag that evening.

After the meeting it was the market preview. A great crowd of folks happily waited to get into the show floor when the doors opened. Jan and I decided to drop off some of our stuff back at the room first. We missed the opening ceremony, but managed to have plenty of time to look around in the market place.

Market Preview Night purchases

I bought some yarn and 2 tools for winding yarn (one for me, one for Jan) that evening and spotted some other booths to investigate when it wasn’t so crowded later that week. Jan bought me the fun ruler with colorful sheep on it.

Back at the hotel after the marketplace closed, Jan and I said “hi” to all the folks hanging out in the hotel lobby bar area but didn’t hang around long as we both had classes the next morning. In fact we would be taking the same class – Vashti Braha’s “The Starwirbel Way: Shaping & Spiraling Star Stitches”.

This class was sold out and I was very glad that I had been able to get into it. I always enjoy her classes because Vashti  always knows her subject in depth. She had experimented and broke down the intricacies of the Star Stitch. I hunkered down in the class and happily crocheted away on the lesson.

Starwirbel Swatch

Even in a simple worsted yarn my class swatch is rather wonderful. I had the best time experimenting with the increase method Vashti taught us and increasing the hook size I was using to see how the fabric would change. I am going to really enjoy playing with the star stitch more now.

Tamara, Lily and I

Photo courtesy of Bonnie Barker

The rest of Friday after noon I spent working on prepping for the Fashion Show. I got the room arranged to my satisfaction and started laying out the items for the show in some sort of order. Later on I met with Tamara and Lily to strategize for the show and a couple of our models joined us so we could assign and fit garments. Bonnie Barker came and set up her photography equipment so we would have good photos of all the items modeled in the show that Saturday evening.

Yarn from 2nd Gift Bag

Friday evening was the “Excellence in Crochet” ceremony where the Design Competition winners were announced and Doris Chan received her Lifetime achievement award. I helped model some of the garments that won the Design Competition. There was another gift bag at this event, more yarn and fun stuff.

That evening after the awards were all presented Jan and I headed out to dinner with Karen Whooley at Bonefish Grill again. I was so happy with that restaurant and will be taking my family to the nearest one here in Colorado soon. The food was delicious and there were loads of Gluten Free options on their menu.

Saturday Purchases

Saturday I spent was pretty much all day preparing the fashion show. I took a brief break for quick shopping in the marketplace with Jan when she was on her lunch break between classes. I had spotted a couple of items that I had wanted to take a closer look at the evening of the market preview. That allowed me to go right to the booths that had what I wanted. Got some wonderful yarn, buttons, fun little sheep tools, and of course a marvelous set of Tulip hooks from Vashti’s booth.

New Shawl Pins

These 2 shawl pins were both gifts from other friends at the conference. The pink one really made me chuckle as I had almost purchased it for myself when I saw it in the marketplace.

Then it was back to working on getting all the fashion show garments ready for the evening. There was a bit of last-minute frenzy with the wearables that won prizes in the Design Competition, but most were sorted out. The banquet went by in a blur as I hustled to get the last few items ready.  Despite some of the behind the scenes craziness I heard that the fashion show was great. That is the problem with producing it, you don’t actually get to see the final product.

If you weren’t able to come this year, or you were there and would like to see the fashion show again check out the CGOA Facebook Page. The fashion show was “live-streamed” and you can watch the videos. I have watched them and they give you a fairly good idea of the fun that was on stage, though nothing beats being there.

I couldn’t have pulled the fashion show off without all the other folks that helped with the behind the scenes work. Of course one of those was my marvelous right-hand woman, Jan (Janet Bates). There was also Chel Rattray, Jenny King, Nancy Smith, Deb Seda-Testut, and Bonnie Barker.  And our wonderful volunteer models, they did such a good job.

Margarets Book

One thing not shown in the videos is the drawings for Door Prizes. I won a copy of Margaret Hubert’s 2nd edition of “The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet”. Margaret even autographed it for me later that night. In fact the entire conference was made extra special by the generosity of all the wonderful sponsors that contributed door prizes, products for gift bags and funding for conference events and competition prizes.

Some of the other fun stuff from the various goodie bags.

Some of the other fun stuff from the various goodie bags.

After the banquet and fashion show finished everyone hung out in the hotel atrium/bar area not wanting the conference to really be over. Jan and I were staying in Charleston until Tuesday so that we would have a chance to tour around the city. I’ll share more about that in a later post.

Next year the conference is going to be in Chicago, Illinois.  A nice central location and if I understand correctly it was where some of the very first “Chain Links” were held. CGOA is also returning to its roots in that this will be a “Chain Link” show again by being all crochet guild. Not held in tandem with the TKGA (The Knitting Guild Association). It would be great to have a massive turn-out of CGOA members to celebrate with us all.

Posted by: mamas2hands | July 20, 2016


As most of you know, I was in Charleston for the Knit & Crochet Show which is the annual conference for the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) and for The Knitting Guild of America (TKGA) this past week. I had great plans for getting a post up yesterday evening, but the whims of weather and airline travel did not agree that should happen.

Jan and I had stayed a couple of extra days after the show ended so we had flights out on Tuesday afternoon. I left Charleston at 3:30p with no delays for my flight, which made me hopeful that I wouldn’t have any worries for my flight out of Dallas/Lovefield.

Art along the ceiling in Lovefield Airport

Art along the ceiling in Lovefield Airport

I had a 2 1/2 hour lay-over for my connecting flight in Dallas/Lovefield. I spent it exploring the airport and doing a little crocheting. My flight was set to board at 7:oop and we all headed onto the plane.  But the weather in Denver was doing some nasty stuff and all the flights going there were delayed. My flight that was going to leave at 7:35p ended up pushing away from the gate at 10:10p instead. Between flight time, waiting for a gate in Denver, picking up my luggage and the drive home from the airport it was 1:30a when we got home and 2:30a before I was in bed asleep.

Today was the Causal Crochet meet-up at Longmont Yarn Shoppe, so I dragged myself out of bed at 9a and headed down the mountain an hour later. I was a bit tardy, but I did make it there and was glad I did, had 6 crocheters in the group (not counting me). We all had a great time, though it was a little tough helping with crochet with a tired brain.

Knit Picks Order

I also have this lovely box of goodies from Knit Picks that came while I was away. So many temptations. I’ll have a more significant blog post for you this Saturday with lots of fun photos of the goodies I brought home from Charleston. For now though, I am completely knackered and headed to bed.

Posted by: mamas2hands | July 13, 2016

Time to Fly

Yesterday was my big travel day to Charleston, South Carolina. Unfortunately there were not any direct flights to Charleston from Denver, so it was a long day of travel including a lay-over in Nashville, Tennessee on the way.

This meant some careful packing to be sure I had crochet projects with me to keep my hands busy during the waiting parts of the trip. I also packed a change of garments and the items needed for today’s activities at the conference. Just in case my luggage got mis-directed during the flight changes.

Fortunately that seemed to work like carrying an umbrella to prevent rain.  I was happy to see both my both my suitcases at the baggage claim in Charleston.

Himself drove me to the Denver airport and half way down the mountain I realized I had forgotten my sun hat. Fortunately I got thru security quickly and found a fabulous hat for $15 at one of the gift shops on the concourse.

Aviary Photo_131129320458309720

Jan and I agreed that this hat practically had a sign on it that says “Andee’s Hat”. Hot Pink and Sparkles?! Too perfect, maybe it was a good thing that I forgot to pack my other sunhat.

I’ve already seen lots of my CGOA friends in the past 24 hours. If  you are here and you see me, be sure to say “Hi”. I may not have another post up until next Wednesday since internet seems to be a bit patchy here.

Posted by: mamas2hands | July 9, 2016

A Few Quick Projects

I’m down to the last minute stuff for my trip next week to the Knit & Crochet Show a.k.a. Chain Link.

Been a busy week getting the household in shape for me to be gone 7 days. My boys will have it completely destroyed by the time I get back, but I try to have it looking nice before I head out the door.

I’ve gathered up everything I want to take, now I just need to weed it out to what I really need so that my suitcases don’t go over the weight limit.

I’ve finished 2 sweaters that are currently blocking and I’ll be sharing more with you about those after my return from this trip. Meanwhile I wanted to show you 2 fun neck wear pieces that I finished for the trip.

Loopy de Loop Necklace

This is my “Loopy de Loop Necklace” made with just one ball of Classic Elite’s “Santorini” yarn. The variety of colors and textures really looked great in this simple fluffy necklace. I’ll be sharing the pattern for it along with a fun video later this month autumn.

Sweet Song Decorative Scarf

This is my “Sweet Song Decorative Scarf” made with one hank of Lion Brand’s Silk. I bought this yarn and the beads at the Knit & Crochet Show a couple years ago and finally came up with the perfect project for it.  The toughest part of working this project is that is starts off with a very long chain foundation and the regular chain stitches are periodically interspersed with beaded chain stitches.

I’m hoping to have a helpful video up for this project soon, though it could be as late as August. In the meantime here is the written pattern.

Sweet Song Decorative Scarf

design by Andee Graves

Skill Level: Easy


Yarn: Lion Brand Yarns “LB Collection Silk”, 100% Silk (1.75 oz/50 g; 163 yds/150 meters): 1 hank

Hook: Clover Amour Size 7/4.5mm

Beads: 600 Size E glass beads thread all on yarn before starting project.

Gauge: 27 chains = 5.25″, 9 rows Shells = 3.25″

Special Stitches

Beaded Chain Stitch (BdCh): slide bead up near hook, yo and pull thru loop on hook capturing bead on back bump of chain stitch.

Slanted Shell Stitch (Shl): (dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in indicated place.

Pattern Notes

The first 2 rows are the most difficult, check count carefully while working them.


Row 1: Chain 11, *(BdCh, ch 2) 4 times, BdCh, ch 14,* Repeat from * to * 11 times.

Row 2: Turn, dc in 4th chain from hook, *ch 3, (BdCh, ch 2) 4 times, BdCh, ch 3, sk 19 chs, dc next ch st, sk 3 chs, Shl next ch st, sk 2 sts, dc next ch, * Repeat from * to * 11 times.

Row 3 – 11: Ch 3, turn, * dc in next dc, sk 3 dc, Shl next ch-2 sp, sk 1 dc, dc next dc, ** ch 3, (BdCh, ch 2) 4 times, BdCh, ch 3, sk 19 chs,* Repeat from * to * until reach last Shl segment, Repeat from * to ** once.


Posted by: mamas2hands | July 5, 2016

Before the Instructions Begin

As my long-time readers are aware, I put a lot of work into my pattern writing. This has been amplified since I started my independent pattern line “M2H Designs”.

My goal when writing a pattern is to create a document that will be clear to follow. Many of my patterns are fairly easy by design and when I use more complex crochet techniques I try to have explanations or links to tutorials for the crocheter to use.

Some of my designs are published in magazines or at yarn company websites. In those cases I have less control over how the pattern is edited and presented. Even so, with attentive reading of the pattern most crocheters can figure out the pattern. Since I started my designing work by writing patterns for magazines I tend to follow a similar format in my indie line.

One thing to remember, all the information in the pattern is important. Sometimes you might want to skip right to the instructions to get started, but that can make completing the project much more difficult than it needs to be. The information at the beginning of the pattern isn’t there just to take up space. Reading thru it can make a big difference.

Skill Level

This is an estimate for the average crocheters skill. Keep in mind what your crochet experience is. You may have been crocheting for 30 years, but if it is the first time you’ve tackled a garment or item with shaping you might find you need to take it a bit more slowly and you might find aspects of the pattern confusing.

Finished Size

This is handy information especially if you are making a wearable item. The finished size should be the actual size of the garment, not necessarily the size you have made, ie….your bust size is 34 inches, but the finished size bust is 40 inches for the size recommended for your bust measurement. That is because the designer has created a garment that will have 6 inches of positive ease. Knowing the finished size can help you make decisions about the fit and help you estimate how the item will fit the body it is intended for.

In the case of blankets or afghans this size information can also help you decide if the finished project will be as large or small as you want. For example, if you want to make a baby blanket from a larger blanket pattern, you know that you will have to change the length of your starting foundation. Or the reverse, you want to make a larger blanket from a baby blanket pattern. You will need to purchase more yarn at the start of your project to be sure you have enough.

materials gathered


This is where the Yarn, hook and other tools needed for the project can be found. Under Yarn you will see information on the brand and name of the yarn used, the yardage needed, and the fiber content of the yarn. You will also be given the size of the hook that was used, though you may want to use a different size once you check your gauge.

Also listed in this section will be things like buttons, beads or zippers. It is a good idea to gather all these materials ahead of time.


Ah gauge, everyone’s favorite part of yarn crafting. Not really. But it is important if you want your finished project to come out the right size. Being off in your gauge can mean that you will not have the right amount of yarn or that the finished fabric will not drape properly.

Gauge is especially important when you are making a fitted garment like a sweater or skirt. It’s a little less important for items like blankets or wraps, but being off in gauge for those items can still run you into difficulties like yardage or the quality of your finished fabric.

Special Stitches

This is one of the sections most over-looked in a pattern. Lots of times folks assume they know what a listed stitch is, but there isn’t really a standardization of stitches in crochet. Checking this section over gives you a clear definition (and the abbreviation) so you can be certain what the designer means when they use a term like “V-st” in the pattern instructions.

A V-stitch could be 2 double crochet stitches worked in one stitch and separated by 1 chain stitch or 2 chain stitches, could even be 2 single crochet stitches worked in one stitch and separated by 1 chain stitch or 2 chain stitches. Reading the special stitches section beforehand and referring to it while working the pattern will keep you on track.

Pattern Notes

This section is a great place to understand the pattern better before beginning. This could be an overview of how the garment is constructed, ie…Cardigan is worked in 2 sections off top and bottom of a center back foundation row, then joined at under-arm and sleeves worked outward. Remaining fabric is worked around the body opening to create the rest of the cardigan.


After reading thru all the previous information and preparing for the start of your project you can now concentrate on working the instructions and completing your project. It’s a good idea to read thru the instructions once before you start crocheting. They may not make complete sense to you, but if you do one read-thru before starting you may find them easier to follow when you start crocheting.

If the pattern is in a book or magazine you own it can help to highlight areas that you think will be tricky for you. If you are making a garment from a pattern that has instructions for more than 1 size, it is a good idea to highlight the instructions for the size you are making.

Highlighter Tape

If the pattern is in a publication you can’t mark up purchase some “highlight” removable tape. I found mine at my local yarn shop and it is very handy. You may be able to find it at your local office supply store or college bookstore.

Hope this all helps you the next time you are tackling a new pattern.



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