Taking a Breath

This has been an amazingly busy week. 4 different deadlines as well as a more than usual busy balancing act with family life.

Fortunately I had scheduled appointments to get a massage and see my chiropractor this past Friday.  That helped with some of the tension in my body. Then I took all day yesterday as a “computer free” day. I read a book, watched a movie with my children and did some relaxing crochet. The computer spent the day all alone in my design office, which I did not set foot in.

Now I feel rested and ready to tackle some more deadlines.

Sometimes in the midst of “busy” we all feel like we don’t have the time or money to do the things needed to take care of ourselves.  But stopping and taking a breath can mean the difference between a healthful quality filled life and a stressful non-healthy life.  Just a reminder to myself and all my dear readers.

Another Crocheter

One of my very favorite things is getting other folks excited about crochet.  So I teach, whenever and where ever I get an opportunity.  Last night I was in Denver at the LambShoppe’s PJ Jam and I had a great time working with the lovely Jill to help her “re-learn” crochet. 

She said it had been many years since she had crocheted and she had known how to make granny squares.  She had inherited her grandmother’s crochet hooks and some other needle-crafting supplies so wanted to get back into the craft.

She had decided to make a scarf for her first project, so I taught her a simple V-st pattern.  And before we all knew it she was stitching away. It was so exciting to see her having a great time playing with yarn. 

She did an awesome job with my rule #1 when crocheting: You have to have Fun!

Lust or Love?

In celebration of Valentines Day I thought it appropriate to post a picture of something luscious….

…my new hanks of yarn from the Skacel Collection. Zitron’s Filisilk (70% Extrafine Superwash Merino, 30% Silk), Filigran (100% Extrafine Superwash Merino) and Fil Royal (100% Baby Alpaca).

I know you must be drooling as much as me. These lovely lace weight yarns are my “carrot” each day as I finish up other projects. I can hardly wait to get my hands on them to swatch with (and i have been cheating by fondling them occasionally).  At this stage it is definitely Lust, though I expect when I do get to work with them it will become true Love.

Hope you are having a day filled with indulgence and some love of your own.

My Little Purple Wagon

Okay, it’s not really a wagon. But it does sort of behave like one.

This is my new Tutto Carry-on. It has 4 wheels that can go in all different directions, an incredibly strong yet lightweight frame, and a nifty telescoping handle that allows me to either push or pull the case when it is full.

After my recent trip to Phoenix for the TNNA Winter Show I knew I needed a better way to carry stuff at shows I attend. My neck, shoulders and back were not happy with me hauling around heavy totes.  My big black bag will still be useful at shows and conferences, but hopefully this little “wagon” will also serve me when I need something that can manage the weight better than my shoulders.

What is really nifty is how it folds up so I can store it easily between trips.  I’ll give a more comprehensive review in the Fall once I’ve tried it out on a trip.

All You Need is Love

Okay, now you have that Beatles tune running thru your head. Right?

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I am keeping with my tradition of offering a heart pattern as a Valentine to my readers.

In 2010 it was my Little Heart.

In 2011 it was my Spiral in a Heart.

So for 2012 I offer the Simple Sweetheart pattern.  This fun little heart takes just a bit of yarn and a few minutes to stitch up.

Simple Sweetheart  designed by Andee Graves

Start with an Adjustable Slip Knot (this is a slip knot that is tightened by pulling on the beginning tail instead of the working yarn).

SwthrtChart wCnotice

Round 1: Chain 2, 7 sc in 2nd chain from hook, sl st to first sc of round.

Needle Join at end of Round 2

Round 2: Skip 1 st, 5 dc in next st, dc next st, dc next st, ch 1 and sl st in top of previous dc, dc in same st, dc in next st, 5 dc in next st, sk 1 st, sl st in first st (or use a needle join into sl st). Fasten off.

Your little Sweetheart can now be used to decorate a card, or become a pin or magnet.  I used the tails of mine to sew pin-backs on them to make brooches.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Record Breaking Snowfall

For those of you that don’t know, my family and I live at approximately 8500 feet above sea-level on a mountain in the Colorado Rockies.  We can get some serious snow, especially in the spring-time.  This is one of many reasons my crochet design inspirations tend to be toward items to keep one warm. Like cozy afghans, warm hats, scarfs and mittens.  My all time favorites are fluffy shawls that can double as scarves or snuggly ponchos (cause they stay put when you are chasing small boys).

According to our neighbor, who is a meterologist at NOAA in Boulder, we have broken some records with this recent winter storm.  This is the most snowfall we have had in February since 1991, and February is only started.  The sun has come out now and it seems the flakes have stopped falling.

One of the beautiful things about Colorado is how we get sunshine even in the midst of winter. I always find fresh snow to be beautiful, but it is even more so with sunlight sparkling off it.  It all inspires me to take some artistic photographs of our yard and views.

My Big Black Bag

Everytime I go to a conference or needlearts show I am trying to find a good bag to carry along.  I have a long list of requirements for the best bag to bring and I’ve tried a number of different adaptations.  Since September 2008 I have been to 6 different crochet or fiber-arts type shows.  But I may have finally created the right bag.

It started out as a plain black commercially made bag of a decent size, it had been in my stash for awhile and I’m not certain where I originally purchased it. Unfortunately it was solid black inside. Which is what I what I refer to as “black hole bags”.  For some reason the commercial bag making business seems to think that nearly all bags should have black interiors. 

Light-sucking black means anything going in there may never be found again. Not the end of the world when you are having ordinary daily adventures, but a bit of a drag if you are trying to find your business card case whilst talking with an interested editor. 

The first order of business then was to line the bag with lighter colored fabric.  Though I am a very good seamstress, I decided to have my friend Val sew up the lining for me.  I gave her fabric and measurements and she created the padded pocketed loveliness you see on the interior. 

Once I looked at the lining I knew the bag would need a zipper closure so I could put it thru the airport security machines without everything falling out.  I created the zipper plackets, which would fold down neatly inside the bag when I wanted to use it as a tote.

I wasn’t happy with the plain black exterior, and needed an outside pocket (a great place for the elusive business cards and my phone).  After a bit of digging in my stash of fabric I came up with some black denim that would work.  I decided, since I would be carrying the bag everywhere at the TNNA show, I wanted something that would reflect my artistic style.

I sat down with wool yarns in my favorite blues and purples, plus some black to tie in with the bag itself and began crocheting a free-form piece that I would felt later in the washing machine.  In 2 evening’s work I had finished a wonderful square of felt to decorate my exterior pocket.  When I began sewing it to the bag and the exterior pocket lining I wanted a bit more excitement to it and added beads.  Many of the stitches holding on the beads also anchored the felt in place on the bag.

It was a great bag for the TNNA show and I think I will be taking it to many more shows in the future. Though I had so much fun creating the decorative felt piece for the front, I may have to make some more of those as well.