Christmas Crochet

Oh boy, it’s time for some quick work with the hooks.  Christmas gift making season seems to have snuck up on me once again.  Though I had thought about it earlier.  In fact, was happily reminded when the Special Newstand issue of Crochet! Magazine came out the end of August.

It was particularly exciting for me as the hat  on the cover is my design, Roundabout Hat (thanks to Carol Alexander, the talented editor of Crochet! Magazine for the name).

Fortunately, I already have a hat done for my beloved because of this design, the hat below was actually the proto-type and will be one of his Christmas presents this year.

I had the ball of Universal Yarns Classic Worsted Long Print in the Black Heathers colorway for ages, intending it for a hat for my beloved.  When Carol asked me for a warm earflap hat design for this issue my mind went to that yarn right away.  

One thing I really love about this design is the simplicity of the color work as the yarn does all the heavy lifting.  The hat is worked top down in half double crochet for a lovely stretchy fabric.  The earflaps are worked in the round as well so there is a cozy extra layer over the ears, which is super handy in cold winter weather.

I may be making a few of these hats this Christmas as they are quick to stitch up and can be embellished to make them more feminine or fun.   There are loads of other fun gift projects in this magazine as well.  So if you are looking for some inspiration for your gift list, this issue is a great place to start.

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Crochet At Cama – The First Ever CLF Retreat

Just got home to Colorado this past Sunday after spending an inspiring, exciting and hilarious 9 days in the Pacific Northwest.  My trip began and ended in Portland and the entire trip was quality time with the Lovely Sarah.  My main reason for scheduling this trip was the CLF Retreat – Crochet at Cama, that was held at Cama Beach State Park (October 17-21) on Camano Island, Washington.

I flew into PDX the afternoon of the 15th, and Sarah and I spent Saturday shopping and cooking in preparation for our journey north to Camano Island.  Sunday morning I managed to pack Sarah’s little red car fuller than it has ever been before.  In fact Sarah really didn’t believe all the stuff we were taking was going to fit in there (I confess I had my doubts too).  Especially as we were picking up the Brilliant Janet at the Sea-Tac Airport on our way.

Despite a late start beginning our trip north all things worked out perfectly.  The car was certainly filled to capacity once we added Janet’s suitcase and bags to the mix, but we all fit and we traveled safely onward to our destination at Cama Beach State Park.

First descriptive for this lovely stretch along the Puget Sound is Wow! When we saw our little cabin and how close the water was to our front porch we were delighted beyond description.

The next 24 hours passed in a bit of a blur.  Sarah, Janet and I got moved into our cabin, grabbed some dinner then headed over to the Firehall to join up with the rest of the folks arriving for the retreat.

Monday morning I had an informative and interesting class with Laurie Wheeler about Yarn.  The next thing I remember is a lovely dinner with our friends Jim (Jimbo) Price and Karen (KRW Knitwear) Whooley.  I was getting a bit antsy at that point as later that evening was to be my debut doing a presentation on Crochet Ergonomics and Hand Health.  My dinner companions jollied me along and helped me set up for the presentation.

Once I was in front of the group and started talking about my subject the audience was a blast.  There were many faces in the crowd that I knew and could call on by name (and my friends refrained from flinging tomatoes as had been threatened before).  Everyone was very interested in the topic and Laurie Wheeler (Fearless leader of the CLF) extracted a promise from me that I will teach at least one class at the retreat next year.

Sad Little Partial Sock

Tuesday morning I was in Karen Ratto-Whooley’s Toe Up Sock class, where I demonstrated my poor pattern reading skills.  My sock did not turn out well. But I had loads of fun and am hopeful that my next attempt will be better.  I’ve decided that it will take lots of stitch markers for me to find the right stitches to work into.  I really want to make sock/slippers for my boys for this Christmas.

Karen, as always, was a fun and well prepared teacher.  She even managed to help me figure out what I had done to create such an oddly shaped sock.  The picture was taken after I frogged the 2nd part of my heel flap.

Walking back to our cabin after the class I hiked around and took some pictures of the gorgeous shoreline and scenery.

Close up of my Bullions

That evening Jimbo held an auction for a chopstick Bullion hook that he developed with Bonnie Pierce.  Bonnie had signed the hook.  The bidding was fun and Janet and I joined forces to win the bidding.  Using the hook that evening (and with some coaching from Bonnie) I successfully made my first ever bullions.

Jimbo Teaching

Wednesday morning was my Hook Whittling class with Jimbo Price.  Another fun teacher and an informative class with lots of students.  I got my hook looking like a hook during the class and did some further shaping of it once I got back to Sarah’s house after the retreat.  I wanted to try and create a hook with a similar shape to the Etimo hooks from the Tulip Company.  I’m still having fun shaping this hook and am not 100% sure I’ve finished carving and sanding on it.

I’ve been playing with wood carving for about 20 years, but I still learned many new things and different ways of approaching the challenges of making the wood into the object you visualize.  As well as new ways of looking at how I hold my hook and what shape is best for my style of crochet.

My Cherry Wood Hook

That evening was the Good-bye party where Deb and Don Burger gave a wonderful musical performance.  Then it was visiting til we were getting too tired and silly.  The next morning was misty and cold which seemed fitting as final hugs and good-byes were shared.

Our Last Morning at Cama Beach

I am looking forward to next year’s CLF Crochet at Cama Retreat.  Mark your calendars and save your pennies to join us there. October 16 – 20, 2011.

Somedays are Blue

I was feeling a bit blue the other day. Partly due to lack of sleep and my twisted ankle.  But it got me to thinking about one of my very favorite colors. Blue.

Now folks that know me might guess that is my favorite color, as there are subtle hints everywhere in my life and accoutrement.

My briefcase has colors of blue, and a sort of retro thing going on too (which I adore). My poor abused “Better Back” hand bag is a denim blue. I wear blue jeans out and about in my public life (though at home I am more a yoga pants gal, and those tend to be black or gray). I have quite a few shirts that are various colors of blue.

My design office walls are 2 different shades of blue. I seem to have acquired a number of cobalt blue glass items over the years. There are also quite a few glass beads of that hue in my beading supplies.  And of course…there is always lots of blue yarn.

This particular ball of yarn has been tempting me to make something lovely for myself.  I’m not sure that it is the absolute best shade of blue for me to wear, but it is so glorious that I may have to anyway.

I purchased it from the wonderful Gypsy Wools  shop in Boulder.  The owner, Barb Day, dyes the yarn herself and this skein practically jumped off the shelf into my hands.  I have worked with this yarn before in other colors.  Best of all is the name of the yarn: “Andee”.  It is an alpaca and wool blend that is toasty warm. 

I originally made myself a hat in a green colorway (to go with my coat, which isn’t blue).  Sadly I managed to lose the hat somewhere during all my errand running adventures last winter.  I’m looking for a project to work on during my flight next week and another hat would be just the right size.

I’ll have to be more careful if I do make another hat, don’t want to be blue about losing my new blue hat.

Getting something off my Chest

Think Pink it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Yes, not a humorous topic, and something that many may be tired of hearing about.  Still it needs to be said.  I now have the privilege of having lived long enough to know a number of Breast Cancer survivors. Their stories can be heart-rending, and a few of them are still battling the big C.

Cancer is scary stuff, expensive to treat and all around not something anyone wants to think about tangling with.  Some folks get a lousy draw of the cards and others are just exposed to the wrong combo of environmental or food influences that cause cancer to visit them.

Any way you look at it though one thing is quite clear.  The earlier cancer is detected the better your prognosis is (Prognosis is basically Doctor-speak for “your chances for survival” which seemed a bit grim for even me).

So ladies, and any gentlemen reading this, take the appropriate steps to be on guard for cancer in its early stages.  Self Exams, awareness of what is “normal” for how your skin and breasts appear.  Regularly visiting your healthcare practitioner for wellness check-ups and appropriately scheduled testing like PAP smears and Mammograms.

And make an effort to learn what you need to know about your family health history and how simple lifestyle changes can position you for optimal health and wellness your entire life.

Now we will return you to our regularly scheduled drooling over yarn, crochet design, chocolate and art.