Fallin’ Behind

According to the calendar Autumn began a week ago, and according to the Aspen trees in my neighborhood it may have crept up on me even earlier. 

Whatever the case may be, I’m a bit behind on my plans for my independent pattern line.  I’ve said that I would be launching it in Fall 2010.  Now, technically that means that if I launch it before December 21st it is still Fall. 

I’ve benn kept away from working on my indie line by the wonderful good fortune of being busy with designs for magazines and yarn companies.  I am getting caught up though and hope to be back on track with my work on my pattern line very soon. I won’t make any promises of exactly when the launch will really happen, but it will be before the official start of winter.

New Foundations

As many of you that have worked my designs know, I love simple foundations.  Any pattern that asks me to chain more than 50 to start out tends to make me cranky.  A cranky Andee is not that fun to be around, just ask my family.

My favorite designs begin with what I like to call “small starts”.  Nothing makes me happier than to have the beginning directions in a crochet pattern say, “Chain 2, single crochet in 2nd chain from hook.”  Or a variant of that. Which is one of the many reasons I love the foundation single crochet (FSC) for my designs.

But, I know not everyone has my fondness for the FSC.  In fact, it took me a very long time to become friends with the FSC.  I purchased Doris Chan’s books “Amazing Crocheted Lace” and “Everyday Crochet” years before I felt able to tackle the FSC.

I would drool over her patterns and attempt over and over to do the FSC.  Finally one day it all came together and I have mastered the FSC (or at least have a good handle on it).

Recently, I wanted to do a shawl design that would require a long foundation to work off of.  The idea of starting a pattern with nearly 200 chain stitches made me break out in a cold sweat.

I also knew there were quite a few folks that would not be too happy with me if I started it off with that number of FSC (I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to make a foundation with that many FSC). What to do?

I wanted a foundation that wasn’t a complete pain to work, that would look attractive on its own.  Something that wouldn’t need an additional edging to seem complete.

I started looking at single crochet stitches.  What would happen if I worked a bunch of single crochets one on top of the other, then worked into the side of them for the rest of the garment?

Now, I’m pretty sure some other designer has done this at some time or another, though I can’t recall having seen it.  Happily the resulting foundation is stretchy and attractive. Basically everything I was looking for.

One thing I did observe is that with my style of crochet the foundation made this way seems a bit too loose.  I adjusted for this by working the foundation with a smaller hook than that used for the body of the shawl.  Knitters have been casting on for ages with different size needles than the rest of their project is worked with.  So I was borrowing from that tradition.

It could also work to just be very aware and crochet the foundation stitches a bit tightly with the larger hook, then work with a more relaxed gauge for the remainder of the garment.

Either way, this may become one of my favorite new techniques for foundations.

Super Secret Projects

I know I’ve been a bit slow posting lately.  My recent blog posts could convince you that I never crochet anymore.  It isn’t true. 

Piles of Work

I’m actually working on 7 different crochet projects, but as is often the case for designers, I can’t tell anything about them. I am really looking forward to being able to share the stories of each of them and celebrate with my stitching friends once the designs are published. 

Also I still have lots of work to do for getting my Design Office and Art Studio spaces in order.  Hopefully then I’ll be working smarter instead of harder. Of course, everything was a bit side-lined with the wildfire excitement, but I’m back on task again. 

Thanks for popping in once and awhile.

CLF Crochet Retreat

Oh boy, I can hardly wait! In just a little over a month I take off for the Crochet Liberation Front Retreat at Camano Island.  This is going to be a fun time of stitching with pals, taking classes and enjoying the beautiful North West.

Photo from CLF Website of the Ocean at Cama Beach

I have a passion for the ocean. Maybe it is because I was born and raised in land-locked Kansas, and currently live in land-locked Colorado.  The rhythm of ocean waves is one of my favorite sounds. 

Combining the joy of being near the ocean with the joy of crocheting and comaradery of fellow CLF friends. Heaven!  If you haven’t registered for the retreat yet go check out the CLF website.

If being there everyday isn’t an option for you, there are day passes available.  You can join in the retreat activities of the day and take a class or two.  There is a great line-up of classes and teachers, and I’ll be giving a talk Monday evening on Crochet Ergonomics.  Hope to see lots of folks there.

Counting our Blessings

It feels like it has been weeks since I last blogged.  But in reality it has only been 7 days.  For those who don’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I and my family have been having a rather intense week.  We live about 3-4 miles from the Four Mile Canyon Fire outside of Boulder, Colorado.    

Smoke Plume from our House


Our Labor Day started off as a Very Windy Day.  Generally we are quite sheltered here on our mountainside, but that morning our tree tops were whipping about like the trees themselves were ready to take flight.  By noon our power had gone out, not a big deal since it was a sunny day.  I sat in a comfy spot by the window and continued crocheting on my latest design.   

Once the sample was done I headed over to the design office to type up the pattern notes on my laptop (which fortunately was fully charged).  Later that afternoon, about the time the laptop battery was getting low, the power came back on.  I went back over to the house to check on my boys and see what my beloved wanted to do for dinner that night.   

Before I could say anything though, he told me there was a bad wildfire in Four Mile Canyon.  So my question was, “Do we need to pack up and head out?”    

That was the standing question for the following 4 days as weather and the preceding dry conditions gave our brave fire crews terrible conditions to  battle a wildfire.  At one point residents in the northwest neighborhoods of Boulder were preparing to evacuate.  The latest news reports say the fire is 56% contained and that fire crews are confident that they will have full containment by Monday morning.   

Many of the families that had to evacuate nearer the fire are being allowed back in to their homes.  Best of all no lives have been lost as residents were evacuated in a timely manner and the fire crews have been able to rotate shifts.   

We are safe and have not had to leave our homes and a lifetime of belongings behind.  The winds have worked in our favor and we are even smoke free the past couple of days.  Numerous friends and family have contacted us this week to inquire into our safety and to offer us haven at their homes if we needed to evacuate.  I and my family are heartened to know that we have such a wonderful support system in place.    

During all this waiting I’ve been thinking about the two sides of living in so remote an area.  We are surrounded everyday by beautiful landscapes, pristine air to breathe and not a lot of traffic noise, especially at night.  The flip side is we also get to deal with record-breaking snowfalls, our electric power goes out at least 2 times a year (occasionally for days on end), and wildfire is a constant worry when the dry seasons are on us.   

Despite the occasional inconveniences and the rare life-threatening incident we still wouldn’t change where we live.  The everyday joy is a fair trade-off. 

This excitement has put me a bit behind on some of my design work, but I’m back to work now.  I’ll definitely be scanning more of my work into my computer though, nothing like realizing it could have all been lost to motivate me to carry on with all my organizing and inventory projects.

Searching for the Perfect Bag

I love bags, purses, satchels, totes.  You name it, likely I have at least one in my collection of “containers for carrying stuff in”.  I am particularly fond these days of this bag. 

Kanji Project Cozy by CozySpirit


My dear friend Cozy has a lovely Etsy shop: CozySpirit where she sells bags of all sizes, moth-away sachets to match, and gorgeous yummy hand-dyed yarns.  This bag was a synthesis of both our creativity.  She did all the hard work though. 

I wanted a bag that was a good size to carry a small yarn project in.  I was particularly looking at it from the standpoint of classes at conferences.  I sent her the measurements I was contemplating and she did some figuring for me.

I purchased 5 bags from her and  I used all the bags at this summer’s Chain Link.  They were ideal for the classes, easily holding numerous small balls of yarn, my hooks, class notes and a pen.

The pockets of this bag are a gorgeous Asian style print she had leftovers of.  I had fallen in love with another bag she had in her shop, but missed out on purchasing it.  She only had a bit left and came up with this design to utilize it.  It is perfect in so many ways. 

Stitching on the Go

The straps are long enough that I can slip the bag over my shoulder and keep stitching away on my project while walking around.  The outside pockets are very handy for a place to stow my keys, a small pad for design notes, or even a spare hook or needle when I need my hands free to do something else. 

Interior Details

And the interior details are just as nice as the exterior.  The seams are fully finished, so there are no fuzzy edges to add lint to my yarn or otherwise gumm up the interior.  There is a handy pocket on the interior too for keeping my hooks and such from diving to the bottom of the bag.  A nifty little loop on the interior also provides a good spot for stitch markers to rest when not in use. 

Cozy has numerous versions of this style of bag at her shop now.  She calls them “Project Cozys” and they are very reasonably priced.  I use all of mine on a regular basis. 

Cozy has also come up with a larger project bag that I will be adding to my collection very soon.  Sometimes I need more room in a bag for a project that outgrows the Project Cozy, so I’m looking forward to getting my new bag. This one will be large enough to carry a big shawl project in. 

And even if you are not a stitching kind of person Cozy’s bags are a wonderful well-made addition to your own collection.  The Project Cozy size is ideal for using as an everyday handbag with lots of good spots to stow your wallet, phone, car keys and all those other necessities when running about.