A Journey of a Thousand Miles

There is an old proverb I’ve been thinking about lately – “A Journey of a Thousand Miles begins with One Step.” I’m probably mis-quoting it, but that is how I remember it at the moment.

I’ve been organizing old photos recently and just amazed at the distance I have traveled in my life the past 25 years.

I’ve been to the UK and France, something I had dreamed of since I was a little girl in Kansas.

Anniversary Flowers

I’m married to my very dearest friend and, even after being together for nearly 15 years, he still manages to surprise me and make me laugh at life.

I am mother to 2 beautiful little boys, though I do question my sanity at times about entering the parenting adventure a bit late in the game.

I live in the mountains in a simple and comfortable home, surrounded by pine trees and wildlife.

I’ve said good-bye to friends that have left this lifetime and said hello to the arrival of infants to other friends.

I’ve watched some of those children grow up and even graduate from high school and college.

I’ve worked in numerous careers and am now making a living thru work that draws from that lifetime of diversity.

Best of all, I’ve come to a place in my life where I appreciate the joys and grieve the sorrows when necessary.  I know that this journey is not over and life will continue to unfold in ways that I have yet to imagine.

Maybe this calm moment is the product of being tired from working many hours, both as a mother and designer.  Maybe it is my habit of overlaying the rhythm of my crocheting over my daily life.  Either way, my hope is for all of you to have a similar moment.

Who’s a Dummy?

One of the challenges of crocheting or sewing garments for myself is getting a good feel for how the garments will hang on my body.  A handy aid for this is a dress-makers dummy (also called a dress-form).

A few years back a neighbor was getting rid of her dress-maker’s dummy. I was happy to adopt it, but found that the dummy wasn’t a good match for my body measurements.  Still I’ve become fond of her over the years and named her “Betsy”. 

Betsy has been very handy for photographing finished designs or helping me to visualize how design elements can be combined for sketches of potential designs.  Unfortunately, Betsy is far more generously endowed in the chest area than I am.  Genetics being the luck of the draw I seem to have taken after my Mom’s side of the family instead of my Dad’s when it came to chest dimensions.

So I’ve been haunting the JoAnn’s website and drooling over the variety of dress forms they have available.  Then one happy Sunday evening I discovered the one I really loved was on sale!

A week later this box arrived.  Inside was my wonderfully adjustable new dress dummy (she doesn’t have a name yet).  I happy took her out and started measuring and adjusting the various dials to create my twin.

Of course the ego-deflating aspect, of having a dress dummy you can adjust to your exact measurements, is you get a very realistic view of what you body shape really is. 

Oh well, at least I’ll get a good fit for my garments and it will encourage me to get more exercise.

Taking Flight

My bird house art project is finished.  I worked this piece as a dimensional collage using scrap paper, colored tissue paper, acrylic paint, crocheted elements and wrapped wire sculptural pieces.

First I created pattern pieces from thin notepaper to use for cutting out the fitted pieces of scrap booking paper that would be the base for the collage on the front, back and sides of the birdhouse.

After lightly sanding the birdhouse I painted all the surfaces with gesso to provide for better adhesion of the other elements.

Then I used decoupage gel medium to collage the roof of the birdhouse with various colors of tissue paper.

In the meantime I also crocheted the embellishments that I would be using in the last stage of the collage.

Next was the painting of the details on the roof line and front of the birdhouse also sponging paint on the roof to tone down the colors of the tissue collage.

Then I adhered the pieces of scrap paper I had cut out earlier with decoupage gel medium and painted more details.

Next I used hot-glue to adhere the crochet elements and wrapped wire branches to the house. 

I liked the look of the branches so much I decided to make more.  Was a late night finishing it up, but it is now waiting with the other birdhouses for the auction tonight.

Fun and Sparkly Throw

Photo from Caron International

I’m so excited to share that my first throw design is available from Caron Yarns.  The Teen Throw uses Caron’s Simply Soft and Party yarns to create an exciting and fun throw to add some bling to any teenager’s room.

The Spiral Hearts that decorate the corners were an embellishment that I came up with in 2008 as part of a challenge on Jenny Dowde’s Freeformations group on Ravelry.  Jenny is always setting fun challenges to inspire stretching our creativity.

I’ve had many requests for a pattern for that project, so I’m very pleased that this pattern is available to the public via Caron’s website.

My Mission

One  day, about 15 years ago, I met a lady who admired the crocheted scarf I was wearing.  She recognized it as crochet and commented sadly that she used to crochet too, but had to stop because it hurt her hands.  This would not be the only time I would hear this from former crocheters.

While I was in massage school there were numerous times I met people who had to give up stitching hobbies due to hand injury or pain. I also learned that many massage therapists ended up leaving the field of massage work due to injuries to their hands and arms. This motivated me to learn as much as I could about ways to prevent injury to my own hands and to share that information with others. 

In this modern age of technological devices our hands, fingers and arms are subjected to myriad opportunities to develop repetitive stress injuries.  Add all our hobbies and driving in automobiles to this means having a strategy to prevent injury is important for everyone.

Which is why I am so pleased to be teaching at the 2011 Crochet at Cama CLF Retreat this October. 

One of the classes I am teaching is “Getting a Grip on your Crochet” where I will be sharing numerous stretches, strengthening exercises, as well as methods of modifying hooks and different hook and yarn holds to prevent injury.  

The other class is “Contemplative Crochet” where the focus of the class will be about using our crochet time as a way to balance out everyday stresses and connect to the expressive creativity that is inherent in all of us.

Saturdays = Yarn

Gatekeeper at the Wool Market

Well, at least my Saturdays seem to be about yarn.  Last Saturday I went to the Estes Park Wool Market and had a lovely afternoon of petting yarn, talking about yarn and purchasing some yarn. 

Mary Carol in front of the LambShoppe

This Saturday I went to PJ Jam at the LambShoppe in Denver. This is a great way to spend a Saturday evening, stitching and laughing with my crochet and knitting buds. The owners, Mary Carol and Anita, open their shop the 3rd Saturday of each month from 5 pm – Midnight for an evening of stitching fun. Some folks even wear their PJs.

A Legend Lives On

Though Jean Leinhauser passed away this week, I feel like she is still here.

Her name is one many of us that love crocheting and knitting know well. She and Rita Weiss have been a true force in the publishing of crochet books and patterns.  I can’t really recall the first time I saw Jean’s name, it’s been a constant since I started reading crochet publications.  Her work and name are everywhere you look.

These books from my library are the two I have been reading as I remember Jean this week. One of my favorites “Crochet  Embellishments” and the most recent one I purchased “Crochet Master Class”.

There are many stories, from designers that have been in the business far longer than I, about Jean’s encouragement and her dedication to precise work.  The foundation of excellence and encouragement that she and her partner Rita Weiss have laid over the years will continue to grow and prosper in ways that they may have never foreseen or imagined.  I think that is one of the very best memorials to honor Jean.

I was never fortunate enough to spend much time with Jean, but my brief meetings with her made me smile.  Last July after the CGOA dinner and fashion show she scolded me for not entering my Ocean Waves Ruana in the Design Contest.  I promised her I would do better in 2011.  The conversation continued on a lighter note and we shared a good laugh about my gray hair.

I’m a bit sad that she won’t be there in person to see what I’ve come up with  for the design contest this year, but I know her legacy will be with all of us.

Gathering my Wits

Poor little bird house has been patiently waiting on the shelf in my studio for some attention.  So today I gathered up supplies to begin this project. Acrylic paints, various scrapbook and tissue papers, and some crochet thread.

I’m starting to feel very excited about the potential for this art project. I am also thinking there will be some wire work and beads incorporated into it. Still trying to decide if I should keep it simple enough that it could be used to house birds, or if I should go completely wild and artsy.

As most of you that know me are likely guessing….I’m leaning toward wild and artsy.

Summer Arrives

I am doing the “Snoopy Happy Dance” because it finally feels like summer up here on the mountain.  I’ve had all the windows in the house open to encourage a lovely breeze and the thermometer may have actually registered over 85F a few times.

With all this warm weather I’ve decided to do loads of house and yard tasks and a good scrubbing in the shower was a neccesity after all that sweating. While showering I was thinking about my on-going search for the ideal exfoliating bath scrubbie. 

I used to purchase a product call the “Buff Puff” at the local drugstore. It was gentle enough for my sometimes fragile skin and yet effective at helping remove the layers of “ick” that accumulate far too quickly. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find them anymore.

I have played on and off with crocheting my own scrubbies, but haven’t been all that happy with the results. Generally, the best have involved cutting up strips of Tulle type fabric to crochet with.  After my shower the other day though…inspiration struck.

I taught crochet to my youngest son’s pre-school class this spring and had taken some colorful balls of Lion Brand’s Thick and Quick Chunky yarn for them to use. 

This is a very fun 100% acrylic yarn that has some “tooth” to it, yet is quite thick and I theorized that it would be absorbent to lather up nicely without holding onto the moisture so long to become a mold farm.  The yarn is also very washable and can go thru the laundry.

It was time for an experiment.  I used a simple hyperbolic formula to stitch up a mid-sized scrubbie.  My quick little pattern is below.  Stitch up a few for yourself or as gifts for friends. If you want them bigger, just add rounds until you like the finished size, though remember with more rounds you get more ruffles.

Summer Shower Scrubbie – by Andee Graves


Lion Brand Thick and Quick Chunky – Green Mountain (approximately 14 yards)

Susan Bates P/11.5mm hook

1 Large locking stitch marker

Pattern note:  All rounds are worked spirally. Use a stitch marker to mark the last st of each round, moving up as each round is completed.


Round 1: Starting with an adjustable slip knot, chain 2, 6 sc in second chain from hook. Place stitch marker in 6th sc.

Round 2: 2 sc in each st of round 1. [12 sc]

Round 3: 2 sc in each st of round 2. [24 sc]

Round 4: 2 sc in next 23 sts, sc in next st, sl st in next st, ch 6, sl st in next st and fasten off. [47 sc, 6 chs]

Finish by weaving in the beginning and ending tails, and it’s bath time.