Another Year Ends

Wow! I think I say this every year, but this one sure went by quickly. Just a few more minutes until it is 2013. 2013 will be a special year for me as I will be celebrating my 50th birthday.

2012 was really full. I made a bit of progress with my various resolutions, but kept getting side-tracked with other things.

What I did do with my 2012:

Went to my first TNNA show in January. It was the Winter show in Phoenix.  I attended as an employee for a vendor friend and to assess if I wanted to join TNNA.

I decided to join and was accepted to TNNA in October.

I spent a good part of the first 3 months of 2012 pulling together sponsors and support materials for the 2012 CGOA Design Competition. This was my first year as one of the co-Chairs of this committee.

It also kept me really hopping at the New Hampshire Chain Link show (Knit and Crochet Show) at the end of June. Lots of set-up and moving the winning entries to various showings during the course of the conference.

An unexpected project I was working on in 2012 was a booklet for Leisure Arts that will be coming out the beginning of 2013. That kept me very busy during May, June and July.

I had 15 designs published during 2012, only 4 were self-published. So I’ll be revisiting that goal in 2013.

I also created 15 additional designs that are scheduled for publication in 2013, not counting the 10 designs for my Leisure Arts booklet. I’ll let you know here in my blog as each design comes out.

Happy New Year dear Readers.

Always say “I love you”

The tragic news of last Friday has had the same effect on me as the events of 9-11. It has been a brutal reminder that you never know when the last time you will speak with someone will be.

My heart broke when I heard of the deaths of the young children and teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary school, it made me realize how devastated I would be to lose my children.  Especially when they are so young.

There are mornings when getting the boys ready for school is a challenge in ultimate time management. Where I am rushing and hollering at them to get their shoes and coats on.  Or for whatever reason it is a morning that they don’t want to listen to me about anything and are existing only in that special world and time-sense that young children occupy.

So I have resolved that I will always tell my children that I love them before seeing them off to school everyday and tucking them into bed every night.

And I will be working very hard to be patient with them when it is a morning that they aren’t listening well.  In the long run, being late to school isn’t as important as my children being secure that their mom loves them.

Hanging on by a Thread

Funny thing about being a crochet designer, sometimes you find yourself being asked to design in a medium that you haven’t work with in ages.

Such is the case with me and thread work.

Long long ago when I was a shiny new penny, back when mammoths still roamed the world (so think my boys), I dabbled with thread crochet. My maternal grandmother had an antique store full of gorgeous vintage thread crochet and other wonders. I could kick myself for not paying closer attention then.

Photo courtesy of Annie's
Photo courtesy of Annie’s

Recently I have been designing in thread quite a bit. I just finished 3 designs for Coats and Clark that are scheduled to be unveiled later in 2013.  My most recent published thread design was “Maurine’s Angel” in the Crochet World December 2012 issue.

Photo courtesy of Red Heart Yarn
Photo courtesy of Red Heart Yarn

Earlier this fall my  “Day of the Dead” earrings were published on the Red Heart website. Thread is great for making jewelry because of the small-scale of the stitches, and tighter stitch work possible especially  with cotton thread.

Plain-Side-of-Measuring-Tap

Size #10 cotton thread is offered in a number of beautiful colors, so really lends itself to fun projects. Like my crocheted cover for my tape measure.

Finished-Birdhouse-frontvie

I love using both size #10 and #3 thread in my art pieces. Adding crochet to my mixed media pieces allows for interesting dimension and texture that I enjoy.

Finished-Birdhouse-backview

Like all the detailed leaves, flowers and butterflies on my bird house last spring.

Finished-Snowflakes

My favorite projects to make in thread are Snowflakes for decorating my Christmas tree, or sending as gifts with Christmas cards. I have family and friends all over, so it’s nice to be able to send a pretty crocheted gift that will travel flat. I offered a pattern for the little snowflake on the right last December here on my blog.

5 Snowflakes - Universal Yarn
5 Snowflakes – Universal Yarn

I even designed a set of 5 snowflakes in Nazli Gelin thread for Universal Yarns. You can purchase the pattern leaflet for these snowflakes on the Universal Yarns website. One thing I love about this pattern leaflet is that there is both text and stitch diagrams for the instructions.

If you haven’t crocheted with thread for a long time, or ever, one thing to keep in mind is that it is a bit different that working with most larger yarns. The 100% cotton threads have no “give” to them at all, so remember to rest your hands often.  Who knows you might find yourself becoming a “threadie” before long.

Knitting a Hat

Okay, I know you are surprised to read that title in my blog, being as I am a crochet designer.

But I actually did design a knit hat recently. My younger brother Cy and his girlfriend, K, were here at Casa Graves the weekend before Thanksgiving for an early celebration. We did this early because K owns a retail shop and couldn’t be away during the actual Thanksgiving weekend.

While they were here I was teaching her to crochet and re-teaching Cy to crochet.  After awhile though K decided she would rather knit. She has been knitting since she was very young. But she has only knit rectangles. She said she primarily knits scarves.

So I grabbed a ball of yarn for her and she cast-on and began knitting away.

Meanwhile, Cy and I were crocheting hats and I was teaching him some of the more advanced crochet tricks I’ve acquired over the years.

When I finally started paying attention to what K was making I realized she wasn’t going to have enough yarn to make much of a scarf, but she did have enough stitches that she could make a knitted hat.  I asked her if she would like to have a hat from what she was knitting.

She was thrilled with the idea. So I told her to keep knitting until she had a long enough length to go around her head. Once she got to that length she was to bind-off and I would show her how to turn the length of fabric she had created into a lovely hat.

K was on a mission from that point onward. They were planning on leaving early Monday morning, so she wanted to finish before they left. By Sunday, after we had dinner, she had finished her knitting and was ready to bind-off.  She said it had been awhile since she had knit and she wasn’t sure if she remembered how to bind-off, could I help.

Yikes! Well, with the warning that this could be the blind leading the blind, I was game for it. Amazingly I actually remembered how to bind off. Soon her knitted fabric was ready to be transformed into a hat.

Now, she had been knitting pretty fast and her stitch count on every row wasn’t always the same, but I told her not to worry. This would become a “design element” in the finished hat.  We looked at the fabric and decided one edge was a bit straighter than the other, so it would become the “brim” edge of the hat.

I next set her the task to whipstitch the cast-on and bind-off edges to make a tube, lining up the “brim” edge so it matched on the seam line. Since her fabric was all knit stitches, ie…Garter stitch, there wasn’t really a right-side or wrong-side of the fabric to worry about.

Once that was done I had her take a doubled length of yarn (about 10″/25 cm)  and sew a running stitch on the “right-side” of the hat an inch down from the lowest point of the top edge.  We then pulled the yarn tight and closed the crown of the hat. The resulting gathering of the top edge created a sort of rosette on the crown.  I had her knot the yarn then tie a pretty bow and trim up the ends.

A-Knit-Hat

Of course, we were having so much fun with all the knitting and crocheting I didn’t even think to take photos of any of it.  So this is a picture Cy took for me after they got home.

I got the biggest kick out of how happy she was to have made a hat. I suspect there will be more hats in her future. And that is my story of how I, the crochet designer, designed a knitted hat.

Funny thing is, I have an idea for another simple knitted hat, so I may have to find time to pick up my needles very soon and work it out.

The Last One

121212

It’s been a fun thing watching this new century un-fold. Particularly from a numbers standpoint.

Every year, since 2001, there has been a date that lined up with all the same number. Like 01/01/01.

I don’t attach any special significance to it, but it does entertain me when the dates are interesting numbers. 01/02/03 was a smile too.

Today is the last day of this century that the numbers will all be the same. 12/12/12.

I hope it is a lovely day for you, and that you will find a moment to discover some small joy (like the date) amongst the hustle and bustle of the season.

I will be spending my day, typing up crochet patterns, writing articles and getting some gift stitching finished for packages that have to be mailed out.

The Best Brother Ever!

There is that old saying, “You can choose your friends, but you are stuck with the family you’re born into.” Fortunately I am pretty lucky on that count. I have undoubtably the very best younger brother in the world. We have gotten closer over the years, and it is really funny how similar we are. I love the rest of my siblings too, but Cy has always held a very special place in my heart.

Cy and I

When my parents brought him home from the hospital my 7 year-old self was thrilled to have a real live baby to play with instead of dolls. Of course as he has grown he has gone from being my “baby” brother to being my “little” brother onto being my “younger” brother. Cause let’s face it, when the little brother towers almost a foot over you in height, you really can’t call him “little” anymore.

Cy is a very talented and expert woodworker. He started learning his skills from our father as soon as he was old enough to hold tools in his hands. He’s been making amazing djembe drums and other tribal musical instruments for over 20 years, you can check them out on his website: Djembeanddidge.com. He even made a massive drum for the Kansas City Cheifs Football Team this past Fall.

I’ve been bugging him for years to make crochet hooks. He finally decided to create some as well as other lovely fiber arts tools like knitting needles, nostepines, and spindles. He is even making yarn bowls.

The weekend before Thanksgiving he and his girlfriend came to visit. When they were here he and I talked about hooks a lot. I showed him various hooks in my collection and told him what was good or bad about them.

I helped him refresh his memory of how to crochet, since it had been a long while for him. My siblings and I all learnt to crochet from our mother when we were little. You could say that with making fiber tools he is marrying the 2 talents he inherited from both our parents.

During his visit we talked about hand health and how different shapes for hook handles can help reduce stress that leads to injury. So he has been experimenting with various handle shapes, and we had talked about me testing some out for him.

HooSet-from-Cy

Last Thursday I got this wonderful surprise in the mail from him. I was only expecting a page with his and his girl friend’s footprints so I can make them some slippers. He had told me there would be a little something extra in there. But I figured at most it would be just one hook, not a lovely set of 5!

Pencil-hold-w-Cys-Hook

I really like the shape he used for these handles. It works great and fits comfortably in my hand, no matter what hold I use: Pencil hold (pictured) , Knife hold, or Modified knife hold.

These hooks are made from Mulberry wood, which is very lightweight as well. Funny thing, when he was about 3 years old I had to rescue him from the mulberry tree at our house. I’m wondering if he remembers that and it guided his choice in the wood? Wouldn’t surprise me if he did as he has an incredible memory. I’ll have to remember to ask him next time we talk.

Either way, I predict that I will be creating lots of wonderful new memories crocheting with these lovely hooks. My hands and heart will be happy as each time I work with them will be a reminder of my dear brother, who my sons call Uncle Cy.

If you would like to have one of his marvelous hooks for your own crocheting joy you can find them at his Etsy Shop: UncleCysWoodworking.

Only 17 days Left!

Okay, it’s been way too warm and not at all wintery feeling the last couple weeks. So I’m very slow getting into the Christmas groove.

If you are a bit behind too, here are some quick crochet projects for fun little gifts this holiday.

Snowflake-w-Shadow-Trees

There is this pattern available here on my blog for a sweet little snowflake.

Little Christmas Wreath - M2H Designs
Little Christmas Wreath – M2H Designs

Or for purchase on Ravelry is my Little Christmas Wreath pattern.

Little Christmas Wreath worked in Fingering Weight yarns
Little Christmas Wreath worked in Fingering Weight yarns

Depending on the size of yarn and hook you choose it can be tiny or about dessert plate sized.

Last year one of my stitching group friends made a wreath from this pattern using super bulky yarn. It was really cute. She decorated it with some fun beads for extra bling. She said she was going to use it as her Wreath for her front door, she could have been teasing though.

So grab a hook, after all you have 17 whole days left to get those gift projects finished up.