Learning Something New

Even after 42+ years of crocheting, I am always amazed and thrilled at all the new things there are for me to learn. I have tried over the years to get the hang of Hairpin Lace, but I always ended up with a tangled mess.

The talented Jennifer Hansen of Stitch Diva Studios has been putting out numerous hairpin lace garment designs, like the glorious “Klimt”.

Unfortunately the timing never seemed to work out for me to take one of her classes at the Knit & Crochet Shows, or they were sold out.  When I registered for the Reno Show I decided I would fit in her Saturday classes on Hairpin Lace.

The morning class started at 9 a.m. and was all about learning how to make the strips of lace on the loom. I told Jennifer right from the start that this could be tricky for me, but would be no reflection on her teaching abilities. I was astonished by the end of the 3 hour class to actually feel very competent working the strips.  Jennifer has awesome tips for success with the techniques and a lively humorous teaching style that kept me from tossing the loom across the room.

The afternoon class was the “Hairpin Lace Joining Workshop”. The idea was all the students would arrive with 6 strips of lace ready to join. The class project was a sweet little evening bag. We would get to practice all the various joins Jennifer was teaching us while making the bag.

Yeah, don’t think that I’m getting a bag out of these shorties.

Unfortunately, though I had got the hang of making the strips in the morning class, my strips were a little short to make the bag.

Still I felt very happy with my progress and that I’d gained the information needed to work with the techniques independently. I even went so far to purchase one of the beautiful hairpin lace looms crafted by Ed Jenkins that Jennifer had available for sell. Now I just need to find time in my busy schedule to practice this technique more.

Who knows, I might start designing a few things in hairpin lace myself.

That’s Amour

Yesterday was a bit like Christmas or maybe an early birthday celebration as I got a box in the mail.

It was these beautiful hooks.

I’ve been wanting to get my hands on some of them since I saw this ad in the Vogue Knitting Crochet Issue. First of all, because my Clover Soft Touch hooks were my very favorites until I discovered the Tulip Etimos.  The finish and shape of the hook is ideal for tight crochet work for sculptural pieces like amigurumis and crazy yarn like the vinyl “Jelly Yarn”. Unfortunately I’d never found the handle to be as comfortable as the Etimos.

Well, my Etimos could be facing some serious competition now. These new hooks have the same wonderful finish and hook shape as the Clover Soft Touch, along with a gorgeous silver-colored hook. And the handles, ah the handles are soooo pretty! Not only are they pretty, they have a wonderful softness to the elastomer type material that is easy to hold and effortless to crochet with.

I’ll be giving them a good work out the next month as I stitch up swatches for proposals and finish some projects I’ve already sold. But I am pretty sure these hooks will be finding their way into my hands regularly.

My only whinge is that I love to use a Size J hook (6mm) in much of my crochet with worsted weight yarns (CYCA #4). All the beautiful colors they made the handles and the J hook has a boring brown handle.  Of course it is a sort of Chocolate brown, so I’ll just have to forgive them that color choice. I bet you can guess which is my favorite color handle.

Hot Pink! Oooo Baby Baby!

I may have to do more projects that need an F hook (3.75mm) in the future.

I’ll have a more in-depth product review once I’ve spent some time working with them. So watch for that.

Yarn and Goodies

Just a quick photo of all the fun stuff I came home from the Reno Knit & Crochet Show with. Funny, I thought I hadn’t found time to do much shopping. Clearly I was wrong. This is a happy thing though. Soon, I’ll tell you more about some of the individual purchases.

I’m off to town today for my first ever local CGOA chapter meeting. I’m so excited. I’m hoping we can get a chapter going well in my area so I can meet more nearby crocheters.

Day of the Dead Earrings

It’s definitely beginning to feel like Autumn here on my mountain and this weekend was the official beginning of Autumn. So my mind is on Halloween. My boys are beginning to plan what they want to dress-up as for trick-o-treating.

Photo courtesy of Red Heart Yarn

This year I will be dressing up with some crocheted earrings. “Day of the Dead Earrings” to be precise. This is my new design for Red Heart Yarn. You can find the pattern on their website.

I had a lot of fun making these earrings. The skull is crocheted in Size #10 Aunt Lydia’s Classic Cotton thread, and is only 7 rounds. Then the real entertainment begins, Embellishment!

The sky is truly the limit here, this is a great way to use some bits and bobs left from other crafting fun.  Maybe put to use those beads from a broken necklace?

I created 4 faces on the pair of earrings you see in the photo. Just to give you some ideas for different ways to embellish I am posting the faces I created so you can get a closer look.

Side One of Black Skull

Side Two of Black Skull

Side One of White Skull

Side Two of White Skull

So let’s see what you come up with. Grab your steel hooks and size #10 thread and crochet up some skulls, then get out some sequins and beads to let your imagination have fun.

Andee & Jan’s Big Adventure Part I

As many of you know I just returned from the Reno Knit and Crochet Show. Since this was the closest that a show has been to my home in Colorado I thought it would be fun to drive to it. So my friend Janet (aka Jan), who lives in New Jersey, said she would fly to Denver and drive with me.

This was the first time in ages that I would be driving a long distance road-trip without my family, I was really looking forward to it because Jan and I tend to make each other laugh a lot.

We figured we would need 2 days to drive one way, so 4 days total for traveling. She came out a few days early with the plan being we would have a bit of time for me to show her some of Colorado before we headed off on our journey. First we needed to get Jan to Colorado, she decided to fly out the Friday evening before we were to drive, giving us the weekend to play.

Unfortunately weather in another part of the country messed with schedules and her flight that was supposed to arrive in Denver at just after 9 p.m. ended up arriving more around the neighborhood of 11 p.m. By the time we collected Jan’s luggage and drove back to my house it was close to 1 a.m. when we went to bed.

The next day Jan and I were to have the house to ourselves as we visited, decided on food for the journey and enjoyed the mountain air. My husband and sons were supposed to be gone on a school camping trip.  But the all the campgrounds were very busy and no one had reserved any spaces. After many phone calls between parents and teachers the school camp-out was canceled. Because my boys were very dissapointed, I made a flurry of further phone calls  to arrange a mini-camp-out with a neighbor friend.

Finally we had the house to ourselves.  It was time to block the shawl that Jan had brought with her. She had wanted to learn about using blocking wires (I’ll have a future blog post about that later).  Then we ate some dinner and watched a movie while I organized my projects for the trip.

I wanted Jan to see more of the beauty in my mountains, other than just my yard. So the next morning we made a quick drive to Nederland. It’s a very beautiful drive along the Peak-to-Peak highway and Nederland is a fun little mountain town with interesting shops and sites.

We visited the Alpaca Store which was full of beautiful garments, where we each purchased a treat for ourselves. Though we managed to resist the yarn they had. Then we visited the Carousel of Happiness, a wonderful piece of functional art that is one of my favorite places to take visitors to in the area.

After a quick stop at the grocery we were back on our way to my house, with a few stops for photos.

When we got back to the house I started working on packing the car, but then got a phone call. My foster dog that had been adopted Friday was coming back. So there was a mad scramble to make arrangements for him while I was gone.  That ate up another couple of hours and we decided it was better to get some rest and finish packing the car in the morning.

The next morning, with all the packing and loading of the car, it was nearly 11:30 a.m. by the time we hit the road.  But we were off. Yay!  We made a stop off I-25 for a lunch break.

We were east of Cheyenne, Wyoming a few hours later. Though I take any photos until we stopped for an early supper close to 5 p.m.  There was a sign at the rest stop that got our attention, “Caution, Rattlesnakes may be present”.

Maybe that was why I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the gas gauge.  After that stop we realized we only had about 150 miles worth of gas in the tank. So we decided we needed to watch for a gas-station. Unfortunately we weren’t seeing any.  The mileage indicator dropped to 50, then about the time it said 20 miles left in the tank I saw a sign for Rock Springs, WY that said 35 miles to go. I snuck a peek at my phone and was relieved that I had full bars for my Cel signal.

Jan and I discussed that we had a good option if we ran out of gas. I carry AAA and help wasn’t far away. Though, since it was getting late in the evening, neither of us was too thrilled with the idea of being stuck on the side of the highway waiting for help in the dark. The indicator was now just 3 little lines and the tank gauge was reading empty, as well as the fuel light was blinking on the dash.  Suddenly we saw a Conoco sign and immediately there was an exit.

We pulled up to the pump with immense relief. I happily filled the tank. I put in 14.89 gallons in my 15 gallon tank. Jan and I looked at each other, “Let’s not do that again.”

After that excitement the rest of the day’s drive was a bit of a blur.  We finally got to Salt Lake City around 10 p.m. and happily checked into our hotel for the night.  We were very quickly asleep. The next morning we packed up to get on the road, but were a bit slow because Jan let me sleep later. She felt I needed to sleep if her alarm clock didn’t even make me twitch.

We couldn’t really see the Great Salt Lake as we drove away, but there were these interesting canals with salty patches all along the highway. We got out to take pictures and were surprised at how stinky the air was.

Further out from SLC we saw huge mountains of salt with trains and semi-trailers around to haul it to destinations unknown. Jan shot a quick picture out the car window as we drove by.

This Gas-station name was too funny.

This was to be the shorter leg of the journey, but road construction slowed us down enough that it took about the same length of time.  We stopped regularly to fill the tank and for meals.

We discovered that rest-stops in western Utah and most of Nevada were not as nice as the ones in Colorado and Wyoming. We took this picture at one of the few rest-stops that had a nice little park-like area around it.

After what had begun to feel like a very long drive we made it to Reno and our hotel, the Grand Sierra Resort. The place was massive and we stood in line for quite a bit waiting to check in.

We were thrilled with the size of our room, though the decor made us chuckle. Personally, if I had a bigger living room, I would love to have a chair like that.

The view from our window was pretty good, especially at sunset.

A couple of friends that were arriving that evening and afternoon called us.  We went back downstairs for a while and explored, but soon called it a night as we had to be up early the next day for PDD (Professional Development Day).

I’m Back!

Whew! It’s been a busy, crazy, fun-filled 2 weeks.  I just got back from the Reno Knit and Crochet Show last night and today is all about catching up.

I really just want to play with my new yarn and practice the cool stuff I learned from the classes I took.

I was in Vashti Braha’s Introduction to Slip Stitch on Thursday. Which was just as incredibly inspiring as I expected. I can hardly wait to explore the options for the fabrics we were creating in her class. Will definitely be designing more using these stitches in the future. You can learn more about Vashti and her amazing fount of crochet knowledge on her website Designing Vashti.

Then took 2 Hairpin Lace classes with Jennifer Hansen on Saturday. I didn’t expect much from myself for learning hairpin lace, but Jen proved to be the amazing teacher she always is and I am now a hair-pin lace crocheting stitcher. Wooot! Honestly, if you’ve never taken a class with Jennifer Hansen/Stitch Diva treat yourself and get into one ASAP. She really breaks down what seems complicated and confusing into manageable bites. You can learn more about Jennifer Hansen at her website Stitch Diva Studios.

I promise more photos and news from the Reno Chain Link very soon.

Books at my Fingertips

Well, while I am being busy playing working at the Knit & Crochet Show in Reno, I thought I would share this photo I took before leaving on my trip.

This is the shelf full of books just to the left of my computer desk/work area in our house.  These are not my only books in my library, crochet or otherwise, but they are the ones that I am currently either referring or fascinated by that I need them handy.  Of course, I may have more to add to there before this trip is over.

By the way, the book spine you can’t read well is Edie Eckman’s “Around the Corner” edgings book. Lurve that book!

What are your favorite crochet books, that you use the most?

A Lovely Rose

Who doesn’t love flowers? Especially Roses?

Unfortunately, despite my love for their beauty, roses make me sneeze violently. Being the artsy creative gal I am, I decided to seek out some way of creating some non-sneeze inducing blooms.

Being Crochet is my main expressive art form these days I first looked to this beautiful “Irish Rose”. I found this particular stitch pattern in my well-loved copy of “The Harmony Guides, 220 more Crochet Stitches, Volume 7”.

I used some Size 3 cotton thread I had in my stash and my D-3 /3.25mm Etimo hook.  I stopped with the 9th round because I liked the way it looked.  It reminded me a bit of the wild primroses that grow up here on my mountain. But I wanted a rose more like the densely petaled beauties in my first photo.

This crocheted rose was quite simple to make. I used a very fluffy wool blend yarn from my stash (Paton’s Soy Wool Solids – unfortunately discontinued).

Leaving a long beginning tail, I chained a length then worked a sc, hdc and dc in the 2nd chain from the hook, then 4 dcs in each chain until I’d reached the original beginning of the chain.

Afterward I flattened the spiral then used the beginning tail to sew the chain into the spiral shape. I think one reason this Rose worked well was I crocheted with a larger hook than usual for the size of the yarn.

I’ll keep experimenting with making more crocheted roses. I want a more ruffled look to the spiraled rose, and I’m thinking there has to be a better way to create the base for it.  Maybe I’ll create a crocheted rose-bush.