Deacon Needs a Home

Some of you are aware that my family and I foster dogs for the Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue. These wonderful folks arrange fostering and adoption for labrador retrievers and mixes. Most of the dogs that come into the Rescue are in danger of being put down. So Fostering saves a life. Especially as RMLR doesn’t have an actual facility they depend entirely on their Fosters and other volunteers to keep things going.

This is our most recent Foster doggie Deacon.  This guy is a total sweetheart. And he is a BIG dog. Currently weighs a bit over 80 pounds and is about 10 months old. So a very Big puppy. When he stretches out on the floor to sleep in our tiny house he covers a lot of space.

He loves to play with our female dog Kenna, though he isn’t all that friendly with other boy dogs. And he thinks that our cat would make a good snack, wants to chase him every time he sees him. Otherwise he is super gentle. He is amazingly good with our boys, most mishaps are because he is so big and occasionally gets a bit rowdy and knocks them down. Especially my 6-year-old son.

Deacon loves food, doesn’t want to share his food with other dogs but will tolerate his humans picking up his dish or treats without arguing.  He is especially fond of Kongs filled with frozen canned dog food.

He is very good about walking on a leash and loves to go for a nice long walk every morning and evening. In between walks he is thrilled to play fetch, though he hasn’t quite figured out the “Drop” command.

He mostly just wants to be with his humans. He loves to have his ears rubbed and would be happy to be a lap dog if allowed. He is going to be a wonderful forever friend for some lucky household. If you know of someone in the Colorado area that would love to give Deacon a loving home, please have them visit the RMLR website to fill out an adoption application. There are also lots of other wonderful dogs besides Deacon looking for a forever home as well.

It’s Magic!

Crochet is magical.  Any one of us that have even a basic familiarity with the art of the hook know this.

This past week I got to demonstrate another version of crochet magic. I was asked by my kids to create a “Merlin” cloak and hat as a birthday gift for one of their good friends. The birthday party was this past Saturday so I can post the pictures of the finished project now.

I had made a version of this costume for my oldest when they wanted to be Harry Potter for Halloween last year. What I needed: 1 1/2 yards of 60″ wide poly fleece, about 300 yards of acrylic yarn (I used 2 different colors), 24″ wide by 15″ tall piece of acrylic felt, size G hook, sewing needles and sewing thread.

The first part of this project was to cut out the “cloak” from the poly fleece.  The great thing about poly fleece for a project like this is I can leave the raw edge un-hemmed and it won’t fray.  The piece of  fleece I was using had a few bits cut out of it, so I had to work around that. I folded it in half and cut out the shape I wanted with a concave curved bit for the “collar”.  The photo shows the basic shape I cut out with the collar in place.

Then I blanket stitched along the collar area to give me an edge to crochet into. The collar itself was a single crochet base worked into the blanket stitching, then some slight increasing with double crochet stitches to create the shape I wanted. I wasn’t really following any type of pattern. Just going by a feel for how I wanted the finished collar to look, as well as including a “button-hole” for the button fastening.

You can see the button and button-hole better in this photograph.

Of course, it isn’t a real magic costume if you don’t have a hat. So I grabbed some black felt and cut out a shape to make a cone for the crown of the hat. To make the hat go more with the cloak I cut out some of the leaves and stars from the left-over scraps of fabric I had from the cloak.

I then sewed them in place with a simple whip-stitched edge. Once all the appliques were sewn on I rolled the felt into a cone and sewed the seam where the edges overlapped.

I crocheted a brim by starting with a foundation single crochet strip that was the right circumference for a good fit. Rounds of single crochet worked even and then in flat increases created the rest of the brim with a finishing round of double crochet worked even. After the crocheted brim was finished I used yarn and a zig zag hand stitch to attach it to the bottom of the felt cone.

The final costume was finished just in time to be wrapped and ready for my kids to give to their friend. The costume was a big hit and already has had some serious play time.

Curvy Girls Celebrate!

How many of us, over the age of 25, who crochet are a size 0 or size 2 in garments? Not me, that’s for darn sure.

Yet, many of the garment patterns that you see in books and magazines are rarely sized for larger women.  Sometimes you will see them sized up to a 2X.

Fortunately there is now a book for crochet patterns that were specifically designed for women built with curves. “Curvy Girl Crochet; 25 Patterns that Fit and Flatter” by Mary Beth Temple is available from Taunton Press.  Official publication date is September 1st, but I know a number of folks that had pre-ordered the title from Amazon have received theirs already.

This book is all about creating garments that look good on plus-size figures. Not only are all the patterns written for size Large up to 5x, but there are 2 chapters giving you the inside scoop on how to achieve the most flattering fit for your figure type.

When Mary Beth was in the process of developing this book she decided she wanted to include some designs from guest artists, and I was fortunate to be one of those invited to propose designs.  My “Skirt the Issue” wrap skirt was chosen and can be found on page 130 of the book.

©2012 Susan Pittard

I wanted to create a skirt that would be flattering, yet not become too heavy from the amount of yarn used in it. So I looked at Hyperbolic math for some answers. 

The sizing comes from the waistband, then steady increases create a fabric that skims over the hips into a lacy fullness that swirls around the knees.  The transition into lace work at the bottom third of the skirt keeps the overall weight of the skirt from becoming too heavy.

There are 24 other lovely sweaters, wraps and wonderful garments in this book as well.  It’s a great addition to any crocheter’s library and will be available to purchase just about everywhere.  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Local Yarn Shops, Annie’s Attic, Patternworks, JoAnns, Hobby Lobby, Michaels. So you should have no problem getting a copy of your own.

Getting Ready for Reno

If you live anywhere in the West side of the country it’s time to pack your bags in preparation to attend the Knit and Crochet Show in Reno, Nevada.  The last couple of years there have been complaints from our fellow stitchers on the West Coast because all the Knit and Crochet Shows were more East or Central, so I’m really hoping that this will be a very successful show and will lead to more shows in my “neighborhood”.

Maybe you hadn’t realized the show was so near you, but it isn’t too late to register. Early registration ends August 27th. Just pop on over to the Knit and Crochet Show Website and you can find all kinds of fun classes for both the hook and 2 needle yarn happy folks. 

I am packing for my trip already. My packet of tickets came and I’ve got them in my show pouch, as well as gathering up all my pins and organizing my notebook where I keep my class information and receipts. This is going to be an extra fun show for me because I am driving to Reno with my crochet show best bud, Janet.

I hope to see lots of my Southwest and West coast stitching friends in Reno. I know it will be a great time, learning and yarning together.

What have I been up to?

The past couple of months have been a flurry of designing as well as all the Summer Family Fun.  I’m finding a bit more time for blogging now that the new school year has started.  So I’ll catch you up on some of the designs I was furiously working on last Fall that are now available for your enjoyment.

For those of you that are CGOA members or otherwise have a subscription to Crochet! Magazine you may have seen my 2 latest published designs in the Autumn issue.

Both of these designs were created for Red Heart Yarns using some of their wonderful Boutique line of yarns.  If you haven’t had a chance to play with this line of yarns these are both great quick projects to dip your toe in the water with.

Photo courtesy of Crochet! Magazine/Annies

The Triangle Magic Scarf really shows off the gorgeous color changes in RH Boutique Midnight.

Photo courtesy of Crochet! Magazine/Annies

And the RH Boutique Sashay works as an exciting embellishment on the Ruffled Sparks Clutch.

Photo courtesy of Crochet World Magazine/Annies

Earlier this summer another project I designed for Red Heart was in the June Issue of Crochet World.  This was a super quick project called “Button Showcase Bracelet”.

I also have 2 articles in the Summer Issue of Interweave Crochet. The first one is “We *Heart* Stitch Markers”, the other is a 2 part series on Crochet Ergonomics called “Sit Up and Get a Grip!”.  The second part will be in the Autumn issue coming out this September.

There are a number of other design projects in the works or just finished, but they are still in the “Secret” stage. Hopefully I’ll get to share more about those soon.

A very Speedy Summer

I don’t know about the rest of you, but my summer is zipping by incredibly fast. Summertime as a “season” is pretty darn short up here on the mountain anyway, but the main measure I use is the summer break my children have from school.

I had visions of more time to keep up with the blog this summer. Then the last week of April my crochet career got a serious kick in the pants.  Leisure Arts contacted me about a proposal of mine and suddenly I was working on my first project for them.

Of course I was also finishing up other projects that I had commitments for, adopting and integrating a new dog into my family, going on a 2 week family vacation road-trip, preparing for the Manchester Knit and Crochet Show (which included lots of work for the CGOA Design Competition that I was Co-chairing), and having my brother come out for a week-long visit with his kiddos and my Dad. Whew!

Somehow I did manage to finish the pattern writing and crocheting the samples for the Leisure Arts project. Now all that is left for that project is some waiting. The latest news is that it should be available to purchase in January 2013. Don’t worry, you’ll hear more from me about it when it is.

Now I’m playing catch-up with getting proposals put together for more crochet designs, as well as writing patterns and crocheting samples for designs I’ve sold from earlier proposals.

It is one of the truths about being a freelance designer. You have to keep “feeding” the pipeline if you want to be working regularly. I’ve actually not sent in submissions for some of the deadlines of late since I really need to get caught up with stuff for my house and family. Of course, some submission deadlines I had to let pass because I was just too busy with everything else.

My boys will be starting back to school in just 10 days. First day of school this year is August 15th. Kinda looking forward to them being back in school and not.

The good news is, they will both be in school all day this year, so I won’t be making 3 trips to the school for drop-off and pick-up.  And I will have an entire 6 hours everyday with-out small voices saying “Mom” every 20 minutes. My beloved has been warned that interruptions during that 6 hours should be well-considered or there might be violence.

The bad news is, there will be no more sleeping in for mom. My boys are independent enough these days that I can occasionally indulge in a late morning. But once school starts, we will all be getting up bright and early to be sure a healthy hearty breakfast is consumed and that everyone is dressed and ready to go on-time. I will only be allowed late mornings on the week-ends, and even those seem to get rather busy during the school year.

Inline vs Tapered

This little vase full of hooks is only a small representation of the hooks I own. There are times when my friend Janet and I laugh about which of us has the worst case of H.A.S. (hook acquisition syndrome for those of the uninitiated amongst my readers).  I show you this bouquet to demonstrate that I love all types of hooks.

If you are an American crocheter or even if you spend much time on the Crochet boards at Ravelry (or possibly any other crochet sites), you have likely heard numerous debates of the merits of Boye versus Susan Bates hooks.

Much of that discussion is about the shape of the throat. Tapered or In-line. All hooks fall into one of these categories for the most part.  Boye is a very good example of Tapered shaping and Susan Bates hooks are a very good example of In-line shaping. (There are changes in the shaping of Boye and Bates hooks depending on the year and where they were made, but that is a subject for another post at a later date).

Tapered hooks throats are generally shaped with a strong narrowing from the “shaft” of the hook  to the head.

In these images you can see a continuum of hook throat shaping. Starting on the left with the very tapered Boye hook and ending on the right with the strictly in line shape of the Susan Bates hook. The wooden hook is a Laurel Hill hook, they are a bit unusual in that the throat is mostly in-line but the overall shaping is tapered starting from the thumb rest thru the point.

When I teach beginning crochet I prefer that students use an in-line style hook.  Beginning students tend to have a very tight tension on their yarn and more commonly they have a harder time with that using a tapered hook. A tapered hook allows the yarn loop to become smaller as it is pulled up the throat of the hook, making stitches harder to work into in subsequent rows, these 2 things combined don’t trend toward a positive first crocheting experience. 

With an inline hook  most beginners can keep their loops a consistent size, making it easier to work into their stitches. Though the beginner death grip can still get tight tension even with an in-line hook.

If you are past the beginner stage of your crocheting though it’s time to branch out. Whatever style of hook you started with, try the opposite. Especially if you are having particular difficulty with a yarn. Oftentimes switching the style of hook or size of hook can help.  As many of us know, not all yarns are right for all projects. The next thing to keep in mind is that not all hooks are right for all yarns.

And the hook I find ideal for a certain yarn and project, might not be the right one for you.  We all tend to use our tools with slight differences. One of the reasons that our handwriting can look quite different.  Same is true of crochet hooks.  An example, I adore the Tulip Etimo hooks, but some crocheting friends of mine find them not their cup of tea at all.

The best way to find out which hooks will work for you is to take the time to play with some yarn and a variety of hooks.  Afterall, playing with yarn is a pleasure we can all agree on, whether we think we prefer In-line or Tapered hooks.